Networkshop Conference

I’ve been at the Networkshop conference at the University of Manchester this week. It was quite an interesting event but, with techie-types from all UK colleges and universities attending, it’s a bit like Nerdsville. 😯

Wednesday morning’s first speaker was a lawyer who gave a very interesting session on “Keeping the Right Side of the Law”. That was to be followed by someone from Microsoft talking about “Security Essentials” but they never turned up so the lawyer did a question and answer session instead.

Next on the agenda was “Ethernet – Wired, Wireless, Gigabit and VOIP – A Single Analysis Solution”. This turned out to be nothing more than a boring sales pitch for a packet analyser product. 😡

Then it was “High Performance Networks for Grid and Cluster” presented by someone from Force 10 Networks who talked about Supercomputer Clusters and multi-Petabyte transfers. Way out of my league. 😕

After a spot of lunch and a potter around the exhibition area, I went to a very interesting session about “Local Loop Unbundling” where someone from Lancaster University talked about how they had done this to provide inexpensive 8Mbps ADSL services for their staff and students. 😎

The next speaker was from the University of Highlands and Islands. He talked about how they had blown several million pounds trying to network dozens of learning centres all over Scotland, using techniques such as wireless and satellite. 🙁

Then a talk about “Community Wireless Networking” by a third year PhD student from Southampton who, basically, spent two years setting up a small mesh-style 802.11b network to provide internet access in student flats etc. A free PhD eh? 👿

I then went to see a talk on “An Overview of WiMax” but the speaker didn’t turn up so I ended up watching “3G and Beyond – Looking to the Future” hosted by a chap from Orange. Very dull. 😕

The next two sessions were “Implementing an IP Telephone System” and “Linking Telephone Networks Using IP”, case studies of two separate VOIP projects carried out by universities. Since we haven’t yet looked into voice over IP much we thought we might gain something from these two sessions. We did: avoid VOIP until we have to do it. 🙄

The final workshop was a “Wireless Security” discussion group which reinforced what we already know about wireless – it’s not a viable alternative to wired networks yet and poses numerous security risks.

The best thing about these sort of events is that you get all kinds of freebies from the exhibitors. Pens, mugs, torches, pads. One of the HP resellers was giving away USB memory sticks. 😀