Linux, musical road-dogging, and daily life by Paul W. Frields
Bojangles or Bust.

Bojangles or Bust.

At FUDCon, between the late night talk, trying to catch up with email, and the realization that HOLY CRAP I HAVE TO FILL MAX’S SHOES NOW, I got a total of roughly nine hours of sleep divided over three nights. Let’s take a tour from the perspective of someone who doesn’t roll out of bed into a vi session. (Yes, I’m talking about you, lmacken — you so pimp.)

I start Thursday night with a rainy 200 mile drive, and check in at the hotel where I find a gaggle of Fedora buddies preparing to find sustenance. I find out that Bojangles is the place to go for some downhome style cooking if time is of the essence. I file this away and resolve to try it out while in Raleigh.

I meet up with Max shortly thereafter for a great working dinner to talk about succession and strategies, and transfer control of the Fedora Orbital Laser briefcase. We have some great kebabs, conversation, and coffee, and then Max drops me off back at the hotel. Due to uncontrollable flight delays, I end up picking up my friend Jared Smith at the airport at about 1:00 a.m. (Seriously, NO WORRIES, man.) When we get back we get into a fistfight over who’s crashing on the couch, meaning we both want to nobly take the couch. I fade a little by the third round and then he’s got me on the ropes throwing crushers at my kidneys, so I crumble and Jared takes the sofa by decision.

Friday morning (3.5 hours sleep).

Seemingly unaffected by lack of sleep, I arrive with Jared at the NC State Alumni Club, which is sort of like the trophy wife of conference buildings: lots of sparkle and a nice view. Unfortunately this particular trophy wife is under threat of pillage by an onslaught of under-dressed überhackers, most of whom haven’t seen the memo about the jeans thing. Or the T-shirts. Or the thongs. Or the body paint. OK, I made up that last one to see if you were still reading.

To be fair, though, I’ve missed the memo too, and have made a madcap morning run to the “boring pants” store before we got to the Alumni Club, so I won’t be mistaken for someone who knows what he’s doing. I probably should have brought enough for the whole class, but I can’t find everyone’s sizes on the wiki. Oh well, spending so many marked bills in one place would be a bad idea, anyway. (Thanks for the khakis, Uncle D.B.!)

Seth Vidal takes over early with a hackfest plan, organizing the groups by time and number of participants into a battle plan for seizing the entire complex, or at least the parts we’ve paid for. Max does a quick intro, brings in SNACKS!, and lets people in on the Really Big News — that even though about twice as many people are here to hack as we expected, there should be enough lunch for everyone. Oh, and he also spills the beans about turning over his job to some wacko, but by then everyone has pretty much lost interest because, you know, snacks and hacks.

I spend what’s left of the morning (after the gods of the network smile upon us and shower us with gift of key) pitching wiki gardening ideas back and forth with ace writers Karsten Wade, Chris Tyler, and Jared. Let me tell you, friends, the closest you’ll ever get to a Congressional committee — or want to, for that matter — is watching four writers discuss how to write an outline. It’s MAGIC, I tell you. Finally, however, after some lunch and probably aided by my frequent departures to take phone calls and talk to other attendees, the donkeys and the elephants hug and kiss, and we now have a great solution to align all project areas on the wiki in a way that’s simple to fill out, simple to understand, and simple to use to get involved (remember that phrase, there will be a pop quiz later).

Later in the afternoon we start talking about my idea for a “Developer Guide reboot.” It’s what I’m supposed to be doing the next day, but I want to get input on the topic from some fresh eyes and brains. Since the way the chairs are jammed together make it very difficult to run away, the other guys give up trying and instead help me figure out my next day’s material. The Developer Guide quickly morphs into something new and — while also containing material for developers — infinitely more important in the bigger scheme of Fedora: a Get Involved Guide. Now you might think that ties it all together, but don’t get all cocky on me yet.

Friday night is a great Thai dinner with Clint Savage, Michael DeHaan (love that cobbler!), Toshio, authorial superstar Chris Negus, and Jared. Both the tom kha gai and the goong obb are fantastic. Spend the rest of the night following Clint and his hapless passengers around Cary and Apex, trying to find some sort of game store which apparently sells a board game to which he and Jared are addicted. Judging by the amount of ground we cover, I’m guessing it’s made out of 50% crack, 50% Salma Hayek.

We have a get-together at our room with Karsten and Clint, and I finally get a new solution to my chat needs, which is dircproxy running on my home server.

Saturday morning (2.5 hours sleep).

Second day of insomnia starts with my face cracking open and evil imps flying out of what used to be my sinuses, or at least that’s my dream, since it might be a relief from the crushing headache that apparently has followed me back from the Land of Nod. Lack of caffeine and sleep causes me to miss a turn ramp, then try to make up for it by almost going the wrong way on a one-way boulevard. Fortunately my companions stop me from sending them to Valhalla slightly ahead of schedule, and we do make it to Red Hat HQ in one piece and on time. As a penance, I return to the hotel to make a second ferry run, but it seems no one else needs their adrenalin jump-started. Make a note to self, when leading by example, do not use driving as that example.

Wolfing down some coffee results in eventual bliss as imps retreat to bide their time. Meet the one and only Jim Whitehurst and score enough of his time to find out how crazy he is about Fedora and that he wants to meet up at some point either in Raleigh or Boston to talk again. Wonder if he knows I’m holding him to it, and whether his administrative assistant is packing.

Max does a typically exceptional State of Fedora address, which is videotaped many times over and should be on the Web very soon now. A well-deserved standing O follows, and darn if I don’t see him get a little misty. (Just kidding, he’s a model of stoicism.) And then all hell breaks loose as Greg DeKoenigsberg hits the mic, and BarCamp is underway!

There are, at final count, over 30 sessions of amazing content at this BarCamp, which I think tops last year’s total in Boston. The first entry of the day — and so popular we cleared the rest of the schedule to accommodate it — is Michael Tiemann’s amazing talk on “Fedora in the Enterprise.” No, not a plot to replace enterprise distributions — it’s a way of getting commercial entities to engage more fully in the open source process in a way that benefits both the community and the private sector. Fedora can complement RHEL in this way, with the company building a community around its products while having a compelling value proposition for customers. I hope someone taped this, and that it will be licensed in a way we can post it for everyone in the community to see. This is where I realize that the whole “Get Involved Guide” has a larger future — bridging the gap between the existing Fedora community and not just individuals, but companies, governments, and other large entities. This is the part where the score swells and Spielberg dollies in on my face entering a bliss of enlightenment. Yes, now you can applaud for my epiphany.

Unfortunately, due to the tight schedule, the talks I’m co-presenting, and other demands, I can’t seem to make it to everything — or rather, hardly anything — I want to attend, although I do fit in a barbecue lunch at Ole Time with Jesse Keating and other Fedorans.

I have to give up hopes that I can pop into the “Bug Triage” talk to tell Jon Stanley he’s my new hero for getting together with Fedora comptroller John Poelstra to kickstart a revitalized bugkilling rampage — because I’m tag-teaming with Marvelous Mike McGrath, Fedora Infrastructure community leader, on the future of FAS2, single sign-on, and leveraging these to make getting involved dead simple for new contributors.

I also manage to miss Chris Tyler’s presentation on getting students into FOSS, and my buddy Jared’s session on Asterisk — now in Fedora repositories near you! — because there’s a gaggle of superhackers, led by Casey Dahlin, talking about taking SysVinit out back and shooting it, and they desperately need someone to videotape. Since I brought my homemade steadicam and a MiniDV, I’m in like Flynn. BarCamp only works because everyone pitches in! I think I may invest in a vest mount, though, so I don’t end up looking like Freddy Rodriguez in Lady in the Water.

I then adroitly blow my chance to see Dimitris Glezos do a session on the fabulous Transifex system, since there’s a once in a lifetime photo op with all five people who have held the position of Fedora head honcho. I use the occasion to plant my foot firmly in my mouth by uttering the dreaded word “Core,” probably because while everyone has their arms around each other in cameraderie, Greg grabs my butt. No, that’s a lie; it’s really all part of my next big plan, which is that F9 will have the codename “Core.” Ha ha! That’s a lie too. I just think we’re getting too complacent and friendly with all the grand unification of Core and Extras back before F7, and shaking things up would be a good way to get some activity on fedora-devel-list, because the recent thread on choice simply wasn’t long enough, and you guys are going to have to really STEP UP YOUR GAME.

Ahem. Can we still be friends?

I redeem myself (partially) in a very awesome one-on-one interview with Max that may make it out to Fedora space at some later time, when you can hear about my awesome life as a “govvie,” what I think about performance-enhancing drugs, and how I see Max serving out the rest of his time in Red Hat with his diembodied head in a fishbowl just like Tricky Dick and those other wacky ex-Presidents in Futurama.

Finally I’m back to teach again with authorial authority Jared Smith, doing a session on DocBook XML and Docs Project tools and futures in Fedora. I’m bowled over to have so many people interested, and a few have already come by the Docs Project to pitch in. Plus, Jared and I discover we don’t do too badly as a teaching tag-team with basically no prep except for a title (“You Too Can Write a Book in DocBook XML”) and the idea that we want to excite people about writing using FOSS tools.

Finally the day is ended, and I ferry people back to the hotel (safely) and then get ready for FUDPub, an evening of fun, frivolity, flying saucers and bratwursts, very short skirts, and awesome Queen karaoke. If anyone believes I do not, in fact, rock the mic, I challenge you to a duel. That means you too, DeKoenigsberg, yes you, with your Bryan Ferry crooning and your look-at-me-I’m-snazzy jacket. Return from events entirely in right mind, but too energized to sleep, so I stay up until 4:00 am answering email, finding out that Jeff Spaleta finds me Fedorable, getting some other reading done, and waiting for my brain to shut off.

Sunday morning (3 hours sleep).

OK, now I’m just plain wiped out. A real breakfast and caffeinated beverages help quite a bit, as does a casual round-up meeting with the sitting Fedora Board. No one appears to be plotting my iminent demise, except maybe Seth Vidal, because that’s just how he shows his love.

Lunch is served pretty much immediately thereafter along with a generous helping of Marketing whoop-ass — thanks to the design thinking genius of Red Hat’s Leigh Day — in which we discover that Fedora people know how to sloganeer their asses off, and now it’s time to pull it together into a consistent Messaging Guide for our gunslinging Fedora Ambassadors and other community members.

The future, first.

Now that is what I call a bloggie-style magnum opus, my friends. Too bad I never did get to Bojangles. Maybe next time….


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