by Rob Flickenger

Last week, I had the marvelous opportunity to meet Stuart Cheshire, one of the founding fathers of Apple's Rendezvous implementation. (If you haven't heard of Rendezvous, think of it as a simple way for computers on a network to find services, without the need for a sysadmin to set anything up.)

Poor Stuart. He heroically volunteered to throw a couple of impromptu Rendezvous sessions at FOO camp, the last of which ran pretty late. And what talk would be complete without a pile of nifty Rendezvous-enabled gadgets and a live demo using the local wireless network, feeding directly to the video projector?

What a trusting soul. Of course, he couldn't possibly know that a third of the audience was made up of wireless hackers who have been fiddling with Rendezvous for well over a year. Seeing that Stuart was about to demo a nifty little Rendezvous print server dongle, some nameless troublemaker in the audience fired up RendezvousBeacon, and created a new "printer service":

And so, when Stuart Cheshire, champion of Rendezvous and hacker extraordinaire, went to select his printer device from the list of available Rendezvous printers, he (and everyone in the audience) saw this:

Things just got funnier when he fired up SubEthaEdit (formerly Hydra). Five or six of us (er, them ;) in the audience already had it running, and started a running commentary of the presentation. No one (not even Doc Searls) was spared from the now interactive video projector.

And don't even get me started on the fun we had with Safari and advertising available web sites.

Taking it all in stride, Stuart managed to reign in the laughter from the audience and bring the point of the exercise home: Rendezvous is tremendously powerful and easy to use, even for the beginner. It presents network information (which has a history of being unintelligible and involving yucky looking hex numbers and dotted quads) in plain English, or indeed, plain UTF-8.

This was just one of the innumerable FOO moments of the weekend, where phenomenally bright people continually tried to out-hack each other, not for ego or some sort of "cred", but in celebration of the possibilities of technology. Whatever you might hear about FOO camp from other circles, it was unquestionably a fun (and stimulating!) weekend for all who attended.

Seen any neat Rendezvous tricks?