Convention,  Photography

After Report – Penguicon 2013

Hold on to your keyboards folks, this one is going to be lengthy! I have ton of photos to share, along with summaries and thoughts on the convention and panels.

Welcome to Penguicon banner

So just what is Penguicon? First, let me tell you what it isn’t: it isn’t just one thing, one genre. I mention this because when I talked about Penguicon to friends I heard “Oh, but I don’t really know Linux.” Let me stop you guys right now, because it is WAY more than a Linux con. It is everything geeky, nerdy, open-source, Sci-Fi, and a bit of things in between.

Panels ranged from “how to promote yourself” to “creating 8-bit music” to “making pasta from scratch”. If you like anything DIY at all, from cooking to electronics, it’s here for you. I hope by the end of my write-up, you’ll be super excited to get your hands on a 3-day badge for next year (which will be May 2-4, 2014 at the Westin in Southfield).

This was my first time attending Penguicon. Technically I’ve been to it once before, a few years ago, as a dealer selling my buttons. It really didn’t focus on artists at all at this time (they have an Artist Alley now) so I didn’t deem it worthwhile to return as a dealer, but I liked what I saw and did want to come back and attend.

This year I got that opportunity as I was approved for a Press Pass. Not to say I wouldn’t have attended without a pass, but given how full my schedule is lately, it makes the decision easier on what to keep versus cut on my calendar.

This year they had laser cut signage everywhere. How cool are these?

convention map

badge prices

Artist Alley

CFTP (Cinematic for the People) were showing off their twist on B-Movie riff tracks. Re-subbed and in some cases re-cut as well as adding their live commentary, this was awful cinema at its best. They had DVD’s and some custom Servo’s (with functional mouths!) at their table.

Rosemary was selling copies of her book – a young adult fantasy novel called Basajaun. As I recall, she completely sold out by the end of the weekend.

Tiki Bar

The hotel whipped up this awesome Tiki Bar for the con-goers and had a selection of mixed drinks and pizza slices. One of the employees even ran out and got some FX makeup. In fact, much of the staff was not only allowed but seemed to have a BLAST participating.

Everytime I had my camera out, he snapped into character.

Undead bartender

Getting a strawberry daiquiri


Acts of Shameless Self-Promoting
This was very informative. Even though I’ve already checked off several items, there were defnitely useful tidbits to take away. Shetan had an easy way of talking too, you could tell she was comfortable in front of a crowd.

Shetan Noir

Mead Making
While I think most were here for the free mead, I enjoyed hearing about the process of making it. Unfortunately, it’s a little too close to wine (which I’m allergic to) and I didn’t much care for the taste, I was nonetheless happy I attended.

Three flavors were offered.

Open Soda Demo
Watch as a home-made custom flavored 2 liter bottle of soda is made right before your eyes. Flavor is chosen by crowd majority vote. Today was Champagne and Cinnamon Roll. It was surprisingly tasty!

All the flavors

Bill Putt discusses the process

Anthony Distel pours in the sugar

Mixing the flavor oils and gum arabic

Just need the bubbles now

Cooking for Geeks
I’m probably one of the last people to hear of Jeff Potter and his book, which combines cooking and science in a way that would make Alton Brown proud. Jeff is eloquent and funny, and kept the entire audience engaged. Several folks wanted his book right on the spot (a request to “shut up and take my money” was made at the end) but Jeff finds it easier to just direct you to the online shop rather than lug books around. I don’t blame him one bit.

If you haven’t gotten it yet, and especially if you haven’t even SEEN his book yet, I strongly suggest you check it out and get a copy here: Cooking for Geeks: Real Science, Great Hacks, and Good Food

Venn diagram of geekiness

Jeff Potter

Variety Show
This was fun to watch, though the MC did apologize in advance that they had less participants than in years past. Much of it was lip-syncing and/or dancing while I sat in. Entertaining, but not much in the “variety” category.

Amy was adorable.

Shane performing Dropkick Murphys – Kiss Me, I’m Shitfaced

Alice was all sparkles

Performing Greenskeepers – Lotion (and if you’ve never heard it, take a listen)

Jameson performing Kid Rock – All Summer Long

Getting Drunk with Shannon and Maggie
These ladies are a riot! They recorded a podcast while doing their panel (it’s what they are known for – drunk podcasting). You can find them on various podcast sites which are linked on their webpage. So hop over and take a listen while you scroll through the rest of the pictures.

Shots! This guy got a “Dirty Girl Scout” for the ladies.

Cracking up


I hit the bar after and had to try out the Dirty Girl Scout for myself, so here it is:

1 shot Bailey’s Irish Cream
1 1/2 – 2 shots vodka
1 shot White Creme de Menthe (shown with green)
1 shot Kahlua

Learn how to make ice cream with Sarah Elkins and Phil Salkie using liquid nitrogen! Flavors during this were chocolate, chocolate almond, and lemon.

I only got a bit of the chocolate almond but it was divine. They talked about all the ratios of ingredients, and how to judge taste. Since it’s a frozen concoction, there’s no smells for your brain to use to assist with flavor. It’s all up to your taste buds. So before you freeze everything, you want to taste it as is and tweak everything right from the get-go.

After midnight, adult flavors (read: alcohol) were mixed in.

CFTP (Cinematic for the People) played Gamera vs. Jiger. If you want to see what its like, hit their website. They have online videos of everything, and DVDs with bonus content if you want to torture yourself offline.

Paint ‘n Take
Dean and Linda ran this panel – bringing everything you needed to take home a painted mini-figure. They had a wide selection of plastic figures completely free (one per person) or for $5 you could get a metal one. Otherwise, the entire panel was free, and a lot of fun.

Each seat had a water bowl, lid for paint pallette, and a selection of brushes and paint colors.



I chose this flag bearing knight, and spent a solid hour perfecting him.

It was awesome to see how many kids were having a blast here too – below is the archer that 11 year old Chloe created. It was her first figure painting. She was a bit dissatisfied with the eyes, but I told her that was the hardest part for anyone, and why I chose a guy with a helmet. ;)

Archer – I love all the forest colors she worked in. You can see all the thought and time she gave to painting him.

Learn to Solder
My favorite interactive panel/class. Mostly because it’s only the second time I’ve soldered anything, and despite some initial frustration, I pressed on and finished it. It even worked! Woot!

For $20 you got everything you needed to assemble this LED badge. Light colors were up to you, so I did a rainbow (ROY G BIV) flanked with plain white on the ends. You can change the speed settings of the lights (they race back and forth like a Cylon or KITT depending on your childhood sci-fi reference). With the USB port, you can also presumably reprogram it, though I did not look into doing that yet.

Love the sign on the door

LED selection

I was laying this out to take a photo for myself, as I wasn’t sure if I’d have time to finish. Someone saw it and was thrilled, as it made for an easy way to photocopy all the parts as a hand out reference sheet. Yay for good ideas!

Video of the chasing lights in action:

Finished badge – composited the photo so all the lights are on.

“untitled panel”
This one I’ll leave unnamed, as I’d already reported to ops that the listed host never showed up. Wolfgang Diehr was walking by and popped in to ask what was going on, and the crowd gang-pressed him into moderating. For a last minute substitution it was a good chat.

Communication for Geeks
Just how it sounds – learning how to communicate, listen, resolve conflicts, and generally be a little less intimidated by conversation.

Edward Platt

How cute are the placecards?

Creating Video Games with Arduino
Maik Schmidt talks about one of the simplest ways to create a video game on an arduino, and have it output to a simple black and white display on a TV. This panel actually made me want to try this, and programming/electronics are not my first choice(s) for hobbies. He showed off an arduino board that had a wii-mote connected for controlling a simple breakout clone.

Maik Schmidt

Discussing the challenges of the process

For demo: arduino board hooked up to the projector (TV out) and Wii-mote

Cheese Tasting and Pairings
I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this panel actually. I like cheese, have been known to get a loaf of french bread and some brie and make a dinner of just that, but truly this was a fun panel to visit. I tried both cheeses that were new to me as well as pushed myself to try the pairings that I never would have on my own.

Brie and fig preserves? Ricotta and cherry jam? Cheddar and apples? It was a mix of sweet and savory that I normally wouldn’t go for, despite having a fairly varied palate for foods to begin with. So thank you cheese wenches, for broadening my cheese plate and all that should go with it.

All the cheese! :popcorn:

Our cheese hosts :pirate:

How I Became an iOS Developer for Fun and Debt
As you can guess from the title, Mark gives a completely honest talk on the requirements of coding for iOS. From starting a business and all of the associated fees and paperwork to using RubyMotion and submitted your app to the Apple App Store (multiple times…) it was a very enlightening overview of how to get started in app building.

Mark Stansislav

Controlling the World!
The last panel of the weekend. This was run by Phil Salkie and he discussed some of the hardware he encounters at his day job as an industrial automation engineer. It was a really interesting panel, and I’m glad I stuck around to listen. Since his panel description didn’t make it into the guide, he very kindly added it to the bottom of the post. Thanks Phil!

Rocky Horror Picture Show

There was a dance and a few film showings for RHPS. Everyone was having a good time everytime I popped in. It actually got standing room only at a few points. I loved the decorations.

Who doesn’t need a head in a globe?

Glittery lips

Plasma ball

Audience watching the film

Of course Dr. Frank-N-Furter was in attendance

WoW Questing Game

Throughout the hotel were these quest stations – with random scrolls of missions. You either had to seek out an item or a person and most of the attendees playing seemed to not be WoW players but just loved the scavenger type hunt of the game.

These two kids spent most of the weekend going through all of the quests.

So she was just so bummed when she finished the quest.
That there was no more to do outweighed the fact she had won. Awww.

WoW Quest winner – and didn’t even muss up her gown, just like a proper Princess.

I congratulated her on completing the quests, and said not many had done that.

One of the random games – this one based on the Evil Dead movie. You are tasked with finding Ash’s Boomstick, Chainsaw, and Necronomicon.

I saw all of them lying on a table just before the convention ended – I’m not sure what the prize was though.

Everything Else

First day self portrait. Hey, this is not easy with a full DSLR camera!

If the zombie apocolypse starts – at least there are weapons around

Can I take a moment to thank this staffer (and the rest who made it happen) for operating the Express Elevator during peak times over the weekend? Because you rock! Sticking yourself in a small box for hours just so we can get to our destination quicker is an awesome sacrifice. I never winced about having to get from floor 1 to 11 for something, knowing you were there!

Yay express elevator!

Parkway Grille menu

I love that the hotel customized the menu for the con

Captain Mal

TinyLily – mini processor board. Someone at the Coding Conversations BoF session had this. I never realized just how tiny these things were!

Hey, this one speaks for itself

Saturday selfie – after many happy drinks :haha:

I did not attend the Bad Porn Party – but I hear it was hilarious and awesome. I should expect nothing less after seeing a poster like this.

Get all the ribbons! How awesome is her tentacled hoodie?

Ribbon Fairy – give a ribbon get a ribbon

This guy was in the hallway showing off his didgeridoo skills – and then my husband (not pictured in the video) challenged him to juggle at the same time.


Dalek plus a Creeper!!

This hotel staffer had just the most bubbly attitude and an adorable smile.
I actually turned around and came back to ask for a photo of her.

Three lost pieces or three people wanting to be the one to finish the puzzle?

Penguin Eggs – there were gashapon balls with random ribbons inside.

Don’t Panic – the backside, once the machine was empty it was turned around to this until it could be refilled.

Ah ah ah, too late to run Waldo, I’ve found you!

Wolfgang Diehr and his friend – Mortis. Mortis was completely sauced up, you could say he was practically full of vodka. :mrgreen:

Mortis playing it cool.

With the con suite closed for cleanup, Bill was outside his room with the last of the Open Soda.

“Open Dew”

Hit me soda-man!

Can’t go home without a shot of the Tron Guy.

Orvan Ox making his delivery rounds. :D

Closing Ceremonies

A standing round of applause for the hotel manager and head chef.

Both who seemed slightly embarrassed at the attention. Note the long string of ribbons on Adam’s name badge. Love it!

Random door prize! I almost didn’t wear a red shirt today – but decided to risk it (harhar) anyway. For once it paid off. There were a few choices, but a camera/photography book? Totally there just for me.

And that was just one person’s view of Penguicon. I encourage you to bookmark the site and check out all the amazing plans for next year. Hope to see you in 2014!


  • Phil Salkie

    The title of my presentation was “Controlling the World!”

    Wound up having to fly to NJ for a memorial service on Saturday, then back to Detroit on Sunday, this all got ironed out just when the programs went to print – so the blurb got cut from the booklet, and the reschedule didn’t make it back in. Here’s what my flyers said:

    Controlling the World!

    So having feasted on Raspberry Pi, you brandish your Arduino Shield, reconstitute a brace of loyal and fearless Insta-Minions (“Just Add Water!”), and venture forth to make a name for yourself in the world of Industrial Control and Automation. But wait! Why does nothing look familiar? What is all this strange equipment? Since when is “Ladder” a language?

    Learn what factories, buildings, and industrial installations around the globe do to control and monitor the equipment and processes which run the modern world. Learn about Programmable Logic Controllers, Operator Interface Devices, SCADA systems, Distributed Control Systems, Sensors, Actuators, and the software and specialty languages that make them work. Much of this is currently proprietary and closed source, but the open-source ethos is making inroads here, too – we’ll look at some projects and vendor
    solutions which embrace openness to varying degrees, and talk about increasing open-source awareness in the industrial world.

    (Of course, I managed to cover about 50% of what I’d hoped to, while taking up 150% of the allotted time – I’ll just have to do more panels next year…)

    Thanks for the great Penguicon coverage!

    • Melanie

      Oh – excellent. Thank you for the info. Yes, you should do more panels! I’d happily attend.
      Sorry to hear about the memorial service. I’m glad you could work out still being able to attend and enjoy the weekend.

      Thanks for reading (and taking the time to comment)!

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