USENIX the perfect conference for uber geeks

Monday, 23 June 2003, 12:32 PM EST

The first thing you need to know about USENIX is that it is not a trade show. It is a technical conference of the Advanced Computing Systems Association. Unlike LinuxWorld Conference and Expo, which is a trade show produced by suits for suits. The difference in dress by attendees at USENIX and LWCE is obvious. At LWCE, you see a lot of suits dressing down to knit shirts and slacks. At USENIX, which got its start in 1975, you see many programmers dressed in casual geek chic: shorts or jeans, lots of sandals (with or without socks), and t-shirts. Especially black t-shirts. For an old dweeb like me, it was like re-discovering the lost continent of Dweebonia.

Brian Noble and Erez Zadok (USENIX Program Chair and FREENIX Program Chair, respectively) got things rolling. Rick Adams of UUCP/UUNET fame was awarded the Flame, the USENIX lifetime achievement award. Awards for the best papers were also presented. I think it bodes well for USENIX that the majority of awards went to college students. Then came the keynote by the popular science-fiction writer Neal Stephenson.

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