Some of my best friends are unicorns

Well, has been and gone. It was quite a ride!

I flew in at about stupid o'clock on Sunday morning, and the fogged windows of the shuttle bus revealed nothing of the city I had landed in other than it was dark, wet, and very windy. Getting out of the bus confirmed these observations, and - dressed in my summery clothes from sweltering Brisbane - I hurried into the warmth of the Ustay dorm rooms. For student-style accommodation, the rooms are actually really good. But then, at 2am, just about any bed probably would have felt like heaven.

And so, a mere few hours later - the fun began. It started off with brunch in the Cuba Street Mall with some of the LinuxChix members who had already arrived, kindly escorted by Joh Clarke who is a local Wellington-ite (and chief organiser of the Haecksen miniconf). The afternoon brought a presentation workshop, which I eagerly attended, and was rounded out by the Newcomer's session run by Jacinta Richardson and Rusty Russell. Of course, there was a pilgrimage down to a local pub after the session had ended, and with that innocuous beginning, the networking started. I met so many amazing people, and discussed so many interesting (and fantastically geeky) things that my head spun with the awesomeness of it all.

Monday dawned with a crisp start, and I navigated my way down Willis Street where I was staying, and across to the Wellington Convention Centre. The morning started with a session covering conference administrivia, including an humourous introduction video to Wellington. And with that, it was across the hall to the Haecksen miniconf.

The miniconf started with an introduction and welcome by Joh, and then it was straight into the opening talk by the wonderful Emma-Jane Hogbin. Emma-Jane discussed versioning systems, with emphasis on Bazaar. She speaks very well, and she really got her point across that versioning can be easy to use, and vital to any project.

After that, Sara Falamaki stood up to deliver her talk titled "Happy Hackers == Happy Code". Sara's philosophy is that by creating a great environment for developers in the workplace, they will naturally start to produce better code. She called for ideas and suggestions from the audience, which were rewarded with lollies thrown from the front of the room. It raised a lot of laughs, and more than a few tweets on the back-channel about her pitching arm.

Just before the lunch break, the inspirational Elizabeth Garbee (Bdale's daughter) stood up to give us all an enlightening view of open source as looked at by a teenager. Elizabeth graduated from high school last year, and described some of her experiences with bringing open source to her school and friends.

After lunch, it was my turn. The title of my talk was "Creating Beautiful Open Source Documentation" or "Writing FOSS Docs that Don't Suck". The audience laughed at all the right places (which is always a relief) and I was gratified when afterwards a number of people expressed their enjoyment of my talk, and asked for further information. Unfortunately, there had been a mix-up in the talk schedule and, despite prior assurances that it wouldn't happen, I was rushed through the final half of my talk. Thankfully, a lot of people found me afterwards and we shared contact details, so the message wasn't lost.

Angela Byron then stood up to discuss how to 'get your feet wet' and start contributing to your very first open source project. This led to a fascinating audience-driven discussion about getting started in open source, and that overwhelming feeling that we all experience at first that everyone else knows so much more than us. This hit a real chord with me, and it's something that I'll probably explore further in another blog post.

Liz Henry rounded out the afternoon session, speaking about the work she is doing with BlogHer, and the different ways we can encourage and support other women in open source. She had some truly inspired ideas about hacker meets and other social events, and she spoke from a position of knowledge about the challenges women face in the IT industry.

Unfortunately, I missed the final talks (including Joh's security talk, which I am assured was awesome) but I will be catching up on them as soon as the video links go live on the website.

Thanks must go to Joh who made the whole thing happen, and to all the Haecksen who turned up and made the day something to remember. Also, thanks to Sara for the use of some of her photos. If your photo is here, and you're not happy about it, just email me and I'll fix it up for you.

The complete Haecksen miniconf schedule for 2010 can be found here.

The next is being held in Brisbane in 2011. - haecksen miniconf