Graham Wooden

Diary of a Serial Geek

The final day of Linux Expo ’99 had already worn out its welcome when our private Planet Red Hat party kicked off Saturday night. We arrived — five “geeks,” a reporter from Linux Magazine, and myself — ready to encounter a realm beyond our imagination.


The Red Hat party truthfully lived up to my expectations. I got to shake hands with people I have only read about: Dr. Mike from RHAD and Robert Young, CEO of Red Hat, just to name a few. Sure, 99 percent of the attendees mingle with these people on a daily basis,but I was in a personal Linux heaven.

About 12:30 a.m., now Sunday, the party got broken up, and we were forced to begin our trek to Wilmington Beach, N.C. Don’t get me wrong, after mingling and partying on my feet all day, I was itching to log into the wireless T1 awaiting us. After a far-from-unanimous road vote, we decided to hit a very crowded International House of Pancakes, where we barely squeezed our motley crew into a booth. I ordered two eggs with orange juice, and reflected on the buzzing late-night oasis.

Some time after docking at IHOP, things turned ugly with Jason, a traveling journalist in our camp. We gave Jason hell from the moment we met him. He is a guest on our adventure, and since Red Hat is supplying only enough beds for the geeks,we decided to banish him to the beach and nickname him “couch boy.” During the course of the day, he had been introduced to every big wig within earshot not as Jason, but as “couch boy.” Finally, he snapped. He blew up, right outside IHOP. I suppose I can commiserate. I personally wouldn’t want to be introduced as “couch boy” to the CEO of Red Hat.

Regardless, “couch boy” decided that he couldn’t drive, and I happily agreed. At roughly 2:15 a.m. I threw in a Bloodhound Gang CD, and we took off for the beach!

We arrived in Wrightsville after 4 a.m., and let out a collective ‘aaahhhhhh’ when we pulled into the driveway. This pad is huge! The house has four main floors, a hot tub, a pool, and an elevator (which came in handy when moving the 100-pound Toshiba video decoder server for the RealVideo!).

So, what hedonistic impulses did we succumb to upon our arrival in Eden? 1. Sleep? (Most of us hadn’t closed our eyes in nearly 24 hours.) 2. Unpack and explore? 3. Gorge? 4. Prepare our LAN for the wireless T1?


You are a true computer geek if you chose option number four. Tim, Paul, Kristina, and I burned the midnight oil and got the network set up. By the way, mad props go out to Linux Hardware for all the hardware they donated. Their representative, Kip, was really cool for letting us use the hardware and for carting in the extra supplies weneeded.

We experienced some trouble at first due to the fact that our T1 came with no documentation or explanation. No IPs, no DNS numbers, no gateway. After tinkering around a bit, we found some traffic coming over the T, so we spoofed the IPs to get out. After roughly two hours, we found out that everything was running on DHCP. A few commands later, and BOOM, we were up. At that time, I decided to sleep. That lasted about 10 minutes.

Red Hat canceled our plans for the day out of kindness and regard for our sleep schedules. Shortly after noon, however, we decided to head out for lunch. We snacked at a local deli then Tim and the girls decided to browse for sunglasses. Paul, Phil, Jason, and I walked to beach, but after five minutes of sand, water, and bikinis, we cravedmore stimulation. The geeks opted to stick with our original schedule for Day One, and drove to a nearby film and television production studio called Screen Gems. The tour was cool, but now I feel compelled to watch “Dawson’s Creek.”

Following the studio excursion, we ventured to the grocery store, which somehow morphed into a battle ground where I nearly witnessed needless geek bloodshed. Keep in mind that most of us (myself included) were going on 36 hours without sleep. For some reason, this gave us license to share our personal problems with every unsuspecting shopper in the place. So far on the trip, I have attempted to raisethe group’s spirits by acting goofy. My remedy apparently fails miserably when people simply want to stay in a bad mood. Fine by me. But I still don’t know why we need three different mayonnaise brands.

Thankfully, there was a caterer waiting for us back at the house. Ribs and chicken always provide quick Band-Aids.

Later in the evening, Red Hat took us on a supply run. I needed a power cable for my laptop, so I went along with Phil and Nikki, our resident Red Hat representative. Despite the fact that we stumbled through Wrightsville for three hours praying for a Wal-Mart and circling around in confusion, the three of us had a good time. Nikki has been really cool to us, and I enjoyed her company. Phil has beenreally cool, too. He and I are alike in many ways, which is really nice in a situation like this.


So, my first official day at Geek World ends on a high note. I returned to the beach house before midnight with a power cable in my hand, then called my wife, Bianca, and finally drifted off into a deep, well-deserved sleep.

Graham Wooden, Tridia (Atlanta, Georgia)

Tomorrow’s Diary