Saturday was the BarCamp session at FUDCon Blacksburg. This year there were workshops scheduled at the same time as BarCamp, which was different than usual. I wasn’t at any of the workshops so I’d be interested to know from those who held them whether they felt this was useful. I do know that most of the BarCamp sessions I attended had good attendance. The sessions I attended:
Overall, this year’s BarCamp was one of the best in terms of depth of technical content. It also had an excellent spread in terms of technical complexity — meaning there was plenty for new hackers to sink their teeth into, as well as stuff that appealed to more experienced folks. We had the usual assortment of great speakers from all around the community and they all delivered impressive presentations. You should be seeing a lot of these on blogs through the Fedora Planet with downloadable content. (If you delivered a presentation, make sure you make it available widely!)
Saturday evening was the world-famous FUDPub. I was only around for a little while — since I was still trying to shake off the illness that had been dogging me since the middle of the week, I didn’t want to make things worse on my immune system by celebrating too much. Plus, it started to snow while we were enjoying the food, drink, bowling, and billiards, so I wanted to move my car back to the hotel before the roads got too dangerous. (Virginia is not known for its rapid and rational response to adverse weather conditions.) Later in the evening we gathered for poker at the “mezzanine” level of the hotel’s conference center. A few people played well into the wee hours but I headed to bed about 1:00am.
Unfortunately, the medication I took caused me to oversleep a bit, but I still managed to get over to day 3 of FUDCon by 9:00am. Once there, I got together with Peter Borsa, Pascal Calarco, and Maria ‘tatica’ Leandro to talk Insight, our Drupal installation, which the team is trying to branch out into new and useful functions. Jared Smith and Robyn Bergeron also stopped by to give some input on our calendar project. We took notes throughout the session on Gobby, and will post them on the wiki shortly along with some additional context and plans. I feel like the Insight project is starting to take on a little more life, with a designer involved and some solid ideas about functionality that will help the project.
For instance, we discussed the events calendar being able to automatically notify event owners or FAmSCo about milestones or other necessary activity, to promote better communication and awareness. A content management system makes it possible to build some fairly robust workflows around information — making the system not just another place to deposit information, but a facilitator in the process. The team has yet to figure out exactly how this should look but thankfully Maria is on the case and will help figure this out over the next few weeks. My day job is making it harder for me to lead this team, but the other members are committed to working on some exciting new features, and I’ll continue to find ways to contribute, and wherever possible remove roadblocks and continue to scale out access, privileges, and empowerment to the rest of the team.
By this time, it was close to noon. I started saying goodbyes to various people, and made sure I had picked up as many riders as I could to drop off at the airport on the way out. I ended up taking Máirín Duffy to the airport, as well as Jared’s son with me (since they live within a half hour of me). It was good to finally get home at about dinnertime. My daughter was hosting a sleepover with a friend so it was pretty boisterous at our house, but nice to see my family again.
All in all, it was a great FUDCon. I could have done without the illness the first few days, but I managed to pull through, doing a good portion of what I intended at the event. To everyone who was there, I hope you had a fantastic time and were able to really use the event as a jumpstart for collaborations of your own. Now, make sure you spread the word on what you’re doing, and carry some of that energy and ingenuity into our discussion lists and other venues! I hope everyone has or had safe travels home and we’ll see each other soon online.
The global Software Freedom Day was held Saturday, September 17th. However, as with previous years, the SFD organizers landed their event on the same day as Fredericksburg’s downtown Oktoberfest celebration. We love a good party as much as anyone, but we found in previous years that even though we had more foot traffic our SFD event, most passersby were not interested in software as much as beer and bratwursts. (Go figure!)
So this year we decided to move our local event a week later. Personally I think software freedom goes great with beer (and other beverages). If we’re going to man a table all day to promote software freedom, though, we should at least make sure we’re not fighting for audience. This probably means we’re not eligible for whatever “best event” competition is happening for 2011, but at least we believe our event will be more successful educating people this year.
Come by the Central Rappahannock Regional Library’s Headquarters branch this Saturday (the 24th!) to join the festivities. We’ll give away plenty of goodies and show off some of the best freedom software available.
One of the hallmarks of the Fedora Users and Developers Conference, or FUDCon, is that it’s gone global. We just wrapped up another stupendous European event in Zurich this weekend, and we’re already deeply into planning another FUDCon in Tempe in January. Lots of people may also know that we make sponsorships (subsidies) available for our global FUDCon events.
But how do these sponsorships actually work, with regard to paying for stuff like airfares and lodging?
The cost of actually getting from Point A to Point B can be a hindrance for contributors. So we try to make it easier for people who are doing good work to get to FUDCon where they can collaborate in person. The way we do that is by directly buying airfares or other travel tickets. To some extent, we become a little travel agency that serves a small pool of attendees who otherwise couldn’t get to FUDCon. Sending cash advances is possible in some cases, but it’s non-optimal because of the way the accounting works. Buying directly saves time and effort, plus it’s a little more of a personal touch.
No matter the method, there’s always some work involved. It’s worth it, though, when you consider not only what contributors get out of the event, but what they put into it as well! A day of person-time to book travel for a dozen people yields a dozen people coming to FUDCon and clocking several dozen hours of learning, teaching, and good old-fashioned work. That’s a pretty phenomenal ROI before you even start counting the thanks and goodwill of colleagues that you get to send to a fantastic event!
We rely on the subsidized people to make their own hotel reservations. Most people who come to FUDCon can cut their costs by sharing a room with someone — double occupancy saves money. The logistics of finding roommates can seem complex, but I’m hoping this post makes it simpler:
At the hotel, sponsored folks should have to worry as little as possible about their lodging. We take care of the bill for anyone we’re subsidizing at checkout time — it’s that simple. Having a group set up at the hotel where the organizers can deal directly with the hotel management makes things easy for everyone, and also ensures us a good rate on the hotel.
By the way, for the upcoming Tempe event, we were able to secure a rock-bottom price on lodging for a very popular area (the Phoenix area in wintertime) because we knew there were a lot of people who would be participating in the event and would want to stay for the weekend. You can help by making your reservations as soon as possible. Our group rate ends on November 5, so visit the lodging section on the FUDCon Tempe wiki page now, and use one of the handy links to make a reservation!
We have a wiki page devoted entirely to the sponsorship/subsidy process. The decisions are made by those who show up to help plan and execute the FUDCon event, and they’re all Fedora community members who want to make sure the maximum number of participants can attend. And just like other FUDCon events, the planners work hard to include people from other regions, ensuring we have some participation from LATAM, EMEA, and APAC regions for the North American event for example.
In the specific case of the upcoming Tempe event, the planners focused on bringing in people who would commit to help plan and execute future FUDCon events in their region, regardless of whether it was held in their locale or country. That helps us spread the sparkling, rainbow-shooting unicorn magic* of FUDCon globally, and increase the community’s ability to drive and improve these events.
While we have hit our limit on subsidies for the moment, we are still looking for other ways to enhance our subsidy fund. For instance, some of the event organizers are reaching out to potential sponsors who love free and open source software, to see if they’d like to help us defray a few costs. That helps us divert more funds to sponsor additional community members. You can see our current ticket list in the Trac instance we use for planning.
If you’re interested in helping with the work of planning and organizing, why not join our mailing list and come to a meeting? We welcome community participation and you’ll find it’s a great way to help your fellow Fedora community members. See you there!
* Just seeing if you’re still reading.
Yesterday the Ohio LinuxFest kicked into high gear, with dozens of talks and sessions geared toward free software aficionados of all skill levels. I don’t know the attendance numbers but I heard people saying the conference felt even bigger and busier than last year. (I was last at Ohio LinuxFest in 2008.)
We had discovered that, besides the Fedora booth, the generous folks at OLF had also set up a booth for Red Hat, who sponsored the conference in part as well. Since we had a fair number of Red Hatters in attendance — Spot, Ruth, and myself — and had a full complement of Fedora Ambassadors on hand as well, we decided to work that booth. The booths were helpfully right next to each other so we could all easily collaborate and converse with each other during the day.
It was a wonderful day spent talking to enthusiastic software freedom lovers from all over the region. There was one aggressively rude individual who wasted a lot of people’s time at many booths (not just ours), but he couldn’t put a damper on an otherwise fantastic day. I probably could have seen a few talks myself, but just when I thought I might slip away to do that, we would get some visitors at our booth and it was simply more interesting and fun to chat with them and answer questions!
I think shows tend to let me do a sort of “extrovert sprint.” Generally I like solitude and quiet, but it seems like a one-day show is the perfect length for me to be a 100% social animal and really enjoy it.
In any case, I was also at Ohio LinuxFest to do a talk on “PyGTK for Beginners,” which I did in the afternoon. Despite my talk happening at the same time as those of David Nalley (SELinux) and Amber Graner (burnout), but even so I had an enormous audience who asked great questions and appeared to really enjoy the talk — as much as I enjoyed giving it! I had done a longer version of this talk at the Southeast LinuxFest conference in June, so I felt more at ease with the material and a little more “loose,” in a good way, doing it for the Ohio audience. Hopefully that came through — someone in the front row of the audience told me he had recorded it so I hope he’ll make it available.
I did manage to catch Monty’s (of Xiph.org and Red Hat fame) evening keynote, in his inimitable style which I find very enjoyable — both eloquent and engaging. I think his talk was really more like two different talks spliced together, with one part being about loving what you do, and the other about the promised subject of the state of codecs. I liked both parts and I hope the rest of the audience did too.
In the evening we had several groups going to disparate places for dinner again — I ended up with a different group from Friday night, at a Mongolian BBQ place down the street which was not bad. Later we made a rendezvous with the rest of our crew at the next door Hyatt Regency bar, and were joined by our dear friends who had organized the Southeast LinuxFest conference. They generously picked up the tab for a bunch of us and everyone had a superb time socializing, laughing, and winding down from a great conference.
A big “thank you” to Bethlynn, Moose, and the entire Ohio LinuxFest crew for their hard work on this event, and for giving me an opportunity to speak. It was a great event and I look forward to the next one!
I also want to say a special thank you to the magnanimous Brian Pepple, who provided Spot and me with rides from and to the airport. We’re killing time at the hotel for a little while, then off into the wild blue yonder and returning home.
I’m writing this from the Red Hat booth at Ohio Linux Fest 2010, which is bustling with visitors, so sorry if this is a little brief. For me Day 0 was yesterday (Friday). Some people, like Mel Chua, Ruth Suehle, and Robyn Bergeron, were here yesterday doing some awesome talks and generally spreading open source gospel here in Columbus, Ohio. Meanwhile, I drove about 2 hours to Baltimore, Maryland to catch my flight to the event. When I landed I met Brian Pepple at the world famous Cup O Joe stand, Spot landed soon after, and Brian took us to the hotel.
After a quick emergency email triage, we met up with everyone in the lobby. Several of us, including Robyn, Dave Nalley, and Mel, headed over to the speakers dinner where we proceeded to schmooze and enjoy a nice dinner. Meanwhile, Spot took a bunch of Fedora crew out for a nice sushi dinner (my dinner was good, but I missed out on the sushi, darn). Later, there was a spectacular party thanks to the wonderful folks at Nagios, who set everyone up with shirts, pizza, veggies, snacks, and drink tickets. You guys are fabulous, thanks!
Today, Spot, Ruth and I are pimping opensource.com heavily at the Red Hat booth, while the Fedora Ambassadors — including of course the intrepid Ben Williams and son Jamie — are passing out loads of cool swag to the crowds around the Fedora booth, showing off the software, and generally being great . I’m going to go over my talk once more in a few minutes to make sure I’m prepared.
Yesterday I sent a big update regarding FUDCon Tempe to the Fedora announcements list. Among the other important stuff in the update was highly anticipated lodging information. You can find the links you need on the FUDCon Tempe wiki page. Find yourself a roommate if desired and note it on the pre-registration table, and then make your hotel reservations!
The special $99 rate at the hotel is a real steal for the Phoenix area in wintertime, so don’t delay. The block rate is only guaranteed until November 5th!
You probably already know that the Southeast Linux Fest 2010 is coming up in just a few weeks (June 11-13). The Fedora Project will, of course, be there as well. Last year I was honored to be one of the inaugural event's keynote speakers. Apparently those crazy guys at SELF never learn, because this year I'm doing a couple sessions, one on Fedora and one on PyGTK for beginners! Kidding of course. They are an amazing team of people who put on one of the best inaugural community conferences I have ever seen in 2009. This year promises to be a barn buster as well, from what I hear.
But did you know we're also holding a Fedora Activity Day on Sunday? Both Yr. Humble Narrator and Max Spevack will be there talking about Fedora myths and truths. Our wiki czar, Ian Weller, will be giving a talk on gardening the wiki as well. It's an easy way to help keep Fedora information fresh and plentiful for everyone. Many other fine Fedora friends will be there too, and we plan to cover some keen technical topics like remixing Fedora into Live USB form.
Remember that our activity is free and open to everyone — just like the Fedora community. Hope to see you at SELF 2010!
People have already posted about much of the goings-on from Day 1 of the Marketing FAD, such as the draft of our new, low-drag marketing plan, and our approach to spins, but I wanted to call out a specific area for people to notice. Back in the fall the board talked a lot about expanding the user base of Fedora, and ultimately set out four points to describe a user base that represents a wide audience of people, yet includes our current contributor base. One way to think about this user base is as a minimum bar. If, at a minimum, you fit all of these four descriptions, you are someone Fedora can make very happy — or if we’re not, then we should:
A lot of details about these descriptions are set out on the wiki and come directly out of the discussions from last fall. We spent a good deal of time at FAD day 1 describing the intersection of these very broad groups of people. I illustrated this on the board with a simple Venn diagram, with these criteria as four large circles that shared a very broad common area in the middle (the intersection).
That intersection is still a very large population of people, and we contributors are a small subgroup somewhere in the middle of that intersection. We all have particular interests in Fedora that can make it easy, if we’re not careful, to exclude a lot of people from that large population. And sometimes we may have to re-tune our own expectations or priorities to effectively serve them. (Providing a more stable update user experience is just one example.)
Does this mean that we don’t want people outside these areas to use Fedora? Let’s take some guy named Edward as an example. What if he’s not a likely collaborator, but still wants to switch to Fedora and be productive? We want him to be comfortable too. But when we make decisions about how to set up certain systems in Fedora, we want to make it easy for people to collaborate. We’ll make decisions to encourage them. Often that will have no bearing on Edward, and his experience will be no worse for it. On the other hand, there might be some tool installed that offers collaborators an opportunity in which he’s not interested. Who knows, one day Edward might change his mind and take advantage of the opportunity presented. If not, he’s welcome to ignore or uninstall that thing.
After talking about these concepts, John Poelstra popped out a nice pyramid-style graphic illustrating the concept without painful Venn diagrams. I’m hoping he’ll post it in his blog at some point. (Hint!) Mel Chua also brought up the Dreyfus model of skill acquisition and the four stages of competence. These are worth understanding as they affect our approach to users, and ability to look beyond our personal skill levels and understand how to properly on-ramp users into new contributors. It’s interesting to see how many of the conversations around change play directly into the pitfalls predicted by these models.
The beginnings of our new marketing plan are less scholastic than our previous attempt (seen for now on the wiki) but make a lot more sense in terms of broadening the user base, and more importantly, determining how future Fedora plays a part in helping more people get things done that are important to them. Getting out of our comfort zone may be difficult, but I believe it will be rewarding in the long run, and do nothing but increase Fedora’s relevance. Moreover, it will increase our ability to advance free software, pursuant to our philosophy of open collaboration.
We also collected post-mortem information about our F12 marketing efforts, where we were successful and where we were not, and everyone took back homework to complete, such as collating all the existing ideas for marketing tasks into a list we can prioritize and then assign or defer at the next couple of Marketing meetings. (That will help us ensure we’re not taking on too much and under-delivering, but rather picking the things that are really important to do, and exceeding expectations.) I drafted my homework, a general page on post-mortem information collection, after returning to the hotel.
Before that we watched the ‘Canes be outplayed by the Coyotes from the comfort of Red Hat’s swank private box at the RBC Center. We were joined by Russell Harrison’s lovely wife Doracy, and Greg DeKoenigsberg and his wife Mel stopped by as well. It would have been nice to see the home team make good, but we had fun anyway — especially Robyn and Ryan who are from Phoenix!
By the way, there’s a reason I called out open collaboration earlier. We have a great treat coming up for Day 2 — we’re being visited by Chris Grams (of New Kind), Jonathan Opp, and John Adams to talk about evaluation, growth, and spread of brand, and how to expand our opportunities to do those things in a community. Our agenda continues on the wiki today, and we’ll again be on IRC Freenode at #fedora-fad.
I had a pretty uneventful drive from Fredericksburg to Raleigh, and arrived at the hotel with plenty of time to unwind. I met up with Henrik, Ben, and Neville at the lobby, and after a couple quick phone calls I rejoined them and we did a little catching up. It’s great to have the opportunity to host some non-US folks for this FAD and I’m so grateful that Neville and Henrik were able to spare the time and make a long journey here to be with us.
We felt bad about being the only people hanging around the lobby being boisterous and having fun, so we repaired to one of the rooms to hang out. Henrik is an expert photographer and was willing to impart some of his experience and recommendations to me, an eager novice. He gave me a couple tips for cheap but effective equipment that was suitable for beginners and beyond. I got to see some of the goodies he had with him, like a simple flash diffuser, which I tried and was amazed at the effectiveness. I quickly placed an online order for some extra stuff for my Canon DSLR, which I will hopefully receive before I leave for Westford next weekend. I know my wife reads my blog so I will take a moment to reassure her it was not expensive stuff.
We headed out for dinner at the Carolina Ale House, which some of my readers who attended the previous and very wintry FAD down here in Raleigh will recall. Any place with Dogfish Head ales on tap is tops in my book. Ben and I conspired to pick up a gift for Mel and Robyn as well, which will be awaiting them in their room when they arrive.
We’ll be picking up Robyn, Ryan, and Mel at the airport late tonight, and tomorrow morning we’ll head to Red Hat HQ for Day 1 of the event. You can see the entire agenda laid out on the wiki, and we’ll be on IRC Freenode at #fedora-fad where interested people can join in as remote participants. The Marketing team will definitely rock it astarting tomorrow. (These are the jokes.)
Starting with this release, a few of us have tossed around and then quickly ramped up a process for link tracking. This started with a question from Mike McGrath on the logistics list, and the purpose is to know where people are finding our download site and other properties. Eventually we can build some of this into our community maintenance practices. We’re not doing anything fancy yet, but certainly we would love people to help improve the idea and the process, and help make it easy to find ways we can better promote Fedora.
It would be helpful if everyone pitched in with links they make to the Fedora 13 Alpha release (and beyond, to the Beta and then the final). You can read about how to do it on the wiki. We’ve also set up some additional links for your use in status tools like Identi.ca, Facebook, Twitter, and so on.* You can copy these links to use in your own status updates and blog entries:
If you think of other major areas where we might want to track links, so that we know where people are finding their download links, feel free to contribute to the link tracking wiki page.
UPDATE: Forgot to mention — this is all being coordinated by the community Fedora Marketing team, and since we have an event coming up this coming weekend, hopefully we’ll have a chance to see how the idea and execution are working out.
UPDATE 2: Two new link trackers added above for your blogs and status updates, totally free software services!
* Of course we prefer fully open source platforms for these services, but we also know there are a lot of reachable people out there, and want to leverage all the channels we have available.