Tuesday, 27 August 2013

OHM Festival, Netherlands

Monday 5th August 2013
OHM 'Hollywood' sign
For the past week Adam and I have been at a very different kind of festival called OHM, Observe Hack Make. Adam being an electrical engineer and having just purchased some little techy projects like the Arduino and Raspberry Pi (I am as clueless as you may be), he wanted to go check out what the Dutch hacker camp was all about. I agreed as there would probably be some sort of pac man marathon involved which you can't pass up on.
All I really knew about the festival beforehand was that it was run by a small main group of people but then everyone who bought a ticket and attended was then also a volunteer and could help out at the festival however they wanted, and there would be lots of talks and workshops on things I probably wouldn't understand seeing as my hacker knowledge probably goes as far as knowing how to turn the screen upside down using the arrow keys.
When we arrived a few days before the events started I was surprised to see how big and organised it was. I should have known that a bunch of people with amazing computer, electrical, blacksmith, logistical and many more skills would obviously want to show this off to their fellow brainy brothers. There were big top tents, LED street lighting, food tents, a 'lounge' tent with massive beans bags and fairy lights, bars and stacks of old TV screens that you could play any game on. A talk on hacking  much easier to listen to when it starts with lazers and a smoke machine.
Lounge tent
I did go along to a few of the more technical talks even though I didn't understand many of the specifics but the bits of the week I most enjoyed were what people presented about 'hacking life', such as hitch hiking, and there was a big focus on whistle blowers such as Julian Assange, Edward Snowdon and Bradley Manning. Another big topic discussed was the war on drugs and how the governments are supposedly loosening their grip on this, as seen with two states in America making use of recreational cannabis legal, as their new focus is the war on terror. It was certainly interesting. 

It was a very surreal festival with people giving out free melon and moatloaf all day, groups making things outside their tents and an impressive lazor show at night. There was a sort of organised chaos to it all, a life size unicorn outside a bar (assuming of course unicorns are the same size as regular horses, I've never seen one), more bandwidth than the whole of South Africa and one morning I opened our curtains to see a fully suited Stormtrooper climb out of the camper van next to us.
We took time out to cycle into Alkmaar, the closest town and I saw my first windmills. Very pretty. Today we found a small lake to lounge by, Adam tried fishing but didn't catch anything. I topped up my tan (first time I've ever been able to say that). Someone even brought their horse down to the lake for a splash around which was very cute.

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