Weekly Rewind #88

Greetings one and all. It’s been a little while since weekly rewind 87 hasn’t it? Last time we spoke it was my 31st birthday back on May 25th. Since then I’ve traveled to Dublin and back, recorded and broadcast many shows, met many interesting people, made some music, and even managed to catch a cold in what passes for summer here in the UK. So let’s talk about it. I won’t attempt a blow by blow recap of the last 3 weeks, that would be overkill. Instead I’ll just concentrate on the highlights.

A picture of fiction chat show host Alan Partridge on his chair
Alan Partiridge... ah ha!!!

On Sunday May 29th I went to practice as usual with my band 20lb Sounds. After that I returned home to set up for Rathole Radio 53, in which I would interview Wayne Mayers, AKA Fit & The Conniptions. Wayne and I tested the audio quality over Skype about an hour before the show. Everything worked great. Then I opened up proceedings and played the first 2 or 3 tracks, before attempting to bring Wayne on again. I say “attempting” because things didn’t go to plan at all. Wayne couldn’t hear anything from me and that makes a conversation pretty hard. I played more songs to fill time and tried not to sound too panicked on air. I was reminded of that great sit-com moment from Alan Partridge where he’s expecting the actor Roger Moore to join him on his chat show. Throughout the show they get reports that Roger is moving ever closer to the the BBC, you can see Alan is worried. Finally they resort to a phone call instead. All we hear is a brief “Hello Alan…” and then the phone call fails as well. Leaving Alan to cry out in anguish “Roger?… Roger?!… ROGER?!!!”. I felt a bit like that as repeated attempts to get Wayne on the line failed. Even calling his mobile phone didn’t work. It was only then that I realised the problem was on my end. It seems the developers of Flash have changed how it works with audio on Linux. I didn’t realise this but in allowing Ustream to get audio from my studio PC, I’d inadvertently blocked audio to Skype. This was all after our test call so I hadn’t picked it up. Luckily a quick reboot did the trick and I was able to call Wayne’s phone. This was all during a live broadcast. It wasn’t the end of my troubles as I realised my Skype credit was shooting down fast and we were going to get cut off our call any minute, live on air. It really wasn’t my day. So as we talked I bought more Skype credit online and prayed it came straight onto my balance before losing the call. The gods were smiling on me and it did credit my account right away with nobody noticing. Phew!!

Despite all this it was a great show and I enjoyed it a lot. I really like Wayne’s music and we discovered we have a lot more in common as well. He’s also a fellow geek and Linux user. I cut all this padding out of the podcast version of the show. You can download it here. I’d also like to thank the live listeners for being so patient, they were (and still are) fantastic. It’s been that long since I blogged that there’s also another new Rathole Radio to listen to. I released it earlier this week. You can grab episode 54 here.

My new red Fedora hat propped on a speaker with my Red Hat staff badge
My new Red Hat and conference badge

Let’s move on and talk about Linux Outlaws, which has ploughed on strong as always. We’re pretty much back into our Monday night rhythm and it’s going well. We did miss a live show on Monday June 6th though as I was in Dublin, actually recording material for the show. I talked about the build up to this little adventure in my previous post. I was very fortunate to be invited to the Red Hat Partner Summit in Dublin, June 5th to 8th. I have to particularly thank Jan Wildeboer, Werner Gold and Esther Dalerup from Red Hat for helping me out. They were very accommodating and took care of everything as I went about the conference centre interviewing people. My whole time in Dublin was great and all too brief if I’m honest. Dublin is very like Liverpool in many ways and I’ve always enjoyed going there, it never feels like long enough. I was only there 3 days and I could write 3000 words on that alone probably. You’ll have to forgive me as I gloss over this a bit. I actually told the whole story in detail on Linux Outlaws episode 212, where Fab and I discussed the summit. We also played the interviews I did in that show. I met Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst. He was great and very approachable, really nice guy. I also discovered he knows a lot more about the technical side of things than I would ever have guessed. Jim came to Red Hat from the American airline Delta, and like a lot of people I assumed he was purely a business guy with little knowledge of software side. It turns out I was wrong. He’s used Linux since long before coming to Red Hat, he used to run Slackware and even compiles and patches his own kernel. That’s pretty impressive. You can hear our interview for yourself on the podcast I linked to above. I also took my guitar to Dublin and sang at the opening event in the Conference Centre. That was quite an experience. I don’t think most of the crowd were listening as they mooched around the trade stands and tried to talk business, but I enjoyed myself and a few people clearly liked it too. In a gap between songs Jan came over and put his trademark Red Hat on my head. Afterwards he even said I could keep it and I was very grateful. I have the hat in pride of place on a speaker in my living room now. All great fun and I was very fortunate as I said.

Now, I’ve completely messed up the time line here folks but allow me to jump back to the week before my Dublin trip quickly. I did FLOSS Weekly on Wednesday June 1st. I’d booked 2 of the guys from ClearOS and was due to co-host with Randal. Around this time my email server got really messed up and I wasn’t getting my mail. Randal had tried to contact me to say he was ill and couldn’t do the show, but it didn’t get through. Unfortnately there was no bounced message at his end either and I didn’t realise until right before show time I was the only host. It didn’t worry me too much as with 2 guests I was confident I could keep a conversation going. It’s not something I normally struggle with, if you’ve ever been caught in a one way conversation with me you’ll know exactly what I mean. I can talk. The show actually went really well and the guests were interesting. I even managed to keep rambling during the opening and closing sections where there’s usually chat between the hosts. Doing a show on your own is a lot harder though, knowing that if you drop the ball nobody is going to catch it for you. I think my training and messing up on Rathole Radio the last 2 years prepared me well. If you want to hear the resulting show you can find it here.

Last but not least on the podcasting front in recent weeks. I co-hosted Free As In Freedom with Bradley again and edited that show while in Dublin. It felt very outlaw to sit and watch all the suits walk past at the conference with my headphones on. I also managed to upload the finished files to Bradley via the conference wifi. Another thing to thank Red Hat for I suppose. You can hear Bradley and I discuss the OpenOffice / Apache situation and many other things in episode 0x11 of Free As In Freedom.

A picture of the Dublin Conference Centre at night from across the river Liffey
The Dublin Conference Centre At Night

Jumping forward again to my return from Dublin. I developed some kind of cold quite soon afterwards and it’s still lingering as I write this. Nothing serious and I’m sure I’ll be over it soon. Apparently there’s a theory among seasoned conference goers that colds and coughs always get passed around. I suppose that’s probably true with all those people from different parts of the world in close proximity. Anyway, it didn’t stop me heading to Manchester on Friday June 10th to see Jonathan Coulton. I don’t know why it is but when I go to Manchester in a car it never ends well. Maybe I should stick to public transport. After leaving at 4:30pm to be there for 5:30pm (usually pretty easy to do), I ended up just about getting to the venue in time for the gig at 7:30pm. A combination of bad traffic (it was rush hour to be fair) and me having no sense of direction extended my journey considerably. I missed dinner before the event with Lucy and some other friends because of this, but luckily I caught up with them at the gig. I also saw my good friend Jon Spriggs at the venue which was unexpected. Jonathan Coulton was very good, singing a combination of crowd favourites and material from his upcoming album. He has some great songs and a lasting memory for me will be hearing the crowd sing in unison “all we wanna do is eat your brains, we’re not unreasonable”. This is the chorus to Jonathan’s zombie-themed classic “RE: Your Brains”. I encourage you to take a listen if you haven’t heard it. All his music is licensed under Creative Commons too which is great. I enjoyed the support act Paul & Storm a lot with their combination of comedy and melody. Jon even briefly chatted to Paul at the merchandise stand during the interval. I’ll be checking them out more I think.

Lots of other stuff has happened but this post is already long and I’ve covered the main points I wanted to. Just to fill in gaps the following things have also happened in the last 3 weeks:

  • I migrated most of my websites from my increasingly ailing server to a new host. Lots of SSH and geeky stuff going on.
  • I attended LivLug on June 1st.
  • We wrote 2 new 20lb Sounds songs taking our tally of originals to 11. Not bad hey?
  • I attended Ignite Liverpool at LEAF on June 2nd and saw some great talks.
  • I’ve also caught up on a ton of housework hehe 🙂
  • I’m sure there was more but that’s all I can remember.

So now that we’re up to date, let’s talk about what’s coming up in the next week.


I’ll be practising more with the band and looking to book some gigs. If you’re interested leave a comment or send an email seriously, we’re up for playing anywhere. There’ll be another live Linux Outlaws on Monday June 20th at 7pm UK (6pm UTC). Come along and join in with the chat as we go, it’s always fun. On Wednesday June 22nd I’ll be doing FLOSS Weekly again with Randal, hopefully he’s feeling better. We’ll be joined by my friend and cohort Bradley Kuhn to talk software freedom. That’s at 5:30pm UK time on Wednesday and can be watched live via the TWIT website. I’ll be doing some more development stuff and also writing some articles in the next week too. I’ll let you know all about that next time.

Till then, take care of yourselves,



  1. Caught your podcast on FLOSS Weekly today. First time I have seen you on screen and like many “radio” personalities, you looked much different than I had envisaged. Great podcast and I enjoyed it. I have been listening to Linux Outlaws for about six months now and I especially learned a great deal from your interviews at the Red Hat Conference. Keep up the great podcasts. As a linux newbie (less than 5 years) I look forward to them.


    • @Bill – That’s great to hear, thanks. I know it’s always tough to guess what people will look like from their voice. You should hear me sing, then you’d really be shocked hehe 🙂 5 years is not new to Linux in my eyes, that’s almost the same length of time Fab has been using it. Keep exploring and enjoying it, you can never know everything no matter how experienced you are. There’s always something new to learn.

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