Tag Archives: conference

Flock 2015 thoughts.

Getting started at Flock

Like everyone on the Fedora Engineering team, I was in Rochester for the Flock conference last week. After several flight delays on our direct flight from DCA to Rochester, Justin Forbes, Ricky Elrod, and I finally arrived a little after 9:00pm — about four hours late. Thankfully Josh Boyer came to pick us up at the airport.

Flock had a team of organizers within OSAS (and Josh also assisted throughout). As a former FUDCon organizer, though, I know the value of extra hands showing up to do work. Since old habits die hard, I showed up expecting to help out behind the scenes. That means I didn’t get to see a huge amount of content I was personally interested in. But in return hopefully everyone had a smoother Flock experience, especially speakers.

When I arrived, I reported to Tom Callaway, Ruth Suehle, and Josh. They got the conference rooms opened, and I helped set up the speaker workstations. We worked pretty late, well after midnight. Things were looking a little bleak at that point, with execrable network bandwidth, no projectors, no screens, and no audio for the ballroom.

Fears and worries abate

Nevertheless, the next morning Josh and I got up early and grabbed coffee at nearby Tedward’s. This place was a godsend, although their 7:00am opening time forced us to walk around a bit until we could get in.

We went down to do some additional setup. The organizers had worked with Remy DeCausemaker to get a bunch of loaner projectors from RIT so we’d be ready for the first sessions at 10:00am. (EDIT: According to Remy, Tim Duffy and Dan Schneiderman are the heroes of this particular day; see comments below.) So at least our speakers would be in OK shape. I helped Josh and Tom get everything ready in those rooms, while Ruth made sure registration and other logistics were under control. I missed Matthew Miller’s keynote, but I’d seen at least some of the material previously.

After lunchtime, things continued to drastically improve. The rental projectors showed up, along with small screens for each room and big speakers for the ballroom. The wireless internet improved quite a bit when a switch flip occurred due to our conference starting up. (It was dismal Tuesday night!) We had all the speakers trained on how to record their talks locally, to get around the constrained network bandwidth.

Suddenly things were looking up! Not surprisingly, the Fedora Engineering team dinner that night at The Old Toad was much more enjoyable. Since I wasn’t overly worried about the conference experience for the speakers and attendees any longer, it was easier to relax and enjoy the company of the team. I was so happy that we were able to get together in one place, since we really only get to do that once a year. (Incidentally, our friend Stephen Smoogen was absent from Flock due to family commitments — we missed you, Smooge!)

Fedora contributors at Flock gather at Victoire for dinner
Fedora contributors at Flock gather at Victoire for dinner

I continued to monitor speaker rooms most of Wednesday and Thursday. I managed to make it to a couple sessions where I wasn’t sure there would be any senior Fedora leadership around. For example, I attended the Fedora Magazine session by Chris Roberts as well as most of the Fedora Hubs session by Máirín Duffy and Meghan Richardson.

I attended and loved Major Hayden‘s (of Rackspace fame) Thursday keynote on fighting impostor syndrome. It was one of the most practical that I’ve seen on this topic. I feel impostor syndrome is just a fancy way to refer to insecurity, a common trait for conscientious people. But that doesn’t make the strategies Major outlined any less useful or thoughtful. He gave a great talk — engaging and humorous without diluting the material. If you have a chance to invite him to a conference to speak, definitely do so!

I gave my own talk on Remote Ninjutsu on Thursday afternoon. The slides for the talk are here, although the video will be more useful for context. All the Flock 2015 videos are supposed to be available at some point in the next couple of weeks. Stay tuned for announcements about them.

The Thursday night social event at the Strong National Museum of Play was fantastic. It was a great way to blow off steam and enjoy the company of fellow Fedorans. I’m not sure how the organizers managed to find such a perfect venue!

Workshops and Flock wrap-up

On Friday I enjoyed the keynote by Jon Schull of eNable, the community that is flipping the script on prosthetics provision through 3D printing. It was a very moving look at how people are applying open source to make the world better for people in need.

Then the workshops beckoned. Now that I’d finished my Flock duties helping speakers and attendees, I was able to attend several sessions that were relevant to me personally, including the Fedora/CentOS rel-eng joint session, and my own on revamping the Flock software stack.

Once again, the Friday night social event at the George Eastman House was marvelous. It was a beautiful, grand mansion and the tour was quite interesting. I’d love to go back there sometime to see the exhibits I missed!

The music parlor in the George Eastman House
The music parlor in the George Eastman House

Flock conferences are always especially great for their hallway track. So many discussions can be had or progressed that way with high bandwidth. The challenge is always to move that discussion to a transparent context if it involves people not present, though. I’ve been seeing many trip reports from people’s blogs about Flock, and resulting list discussions, so I think that process is well underway.

Of course, that means Flock is a very engaging event. It takes a lot of attention and brainpower to shift focus for all those conversations! As a result, by Saturday afternoon I know I was fairly exhausted — in a good way, though. Several other people I know felt likewise, and commented on how well the conference had gone. In fact, I heard a number of comments that this was the best Flock, and even Fedora premier event, yet. The OSAS folks deserve special recognition for pulling off a fantastic conference.

Sunday started with a couple meetings, including with Matthew Miller and Jan Ku?ík, our new Fedora program manager. Then, after seeing a few other friends and colleagues off, I got to the airport. I relaxed in a lounge over beers with Kevin Fenzi, Jan Zeleny, and Stephen Tweedie, before we went to our respective flights. Then after a quick flight home, it was the usual “fun” making my way down I-95 from the airport to home. Monday morning was right around the corner…

Here’s to another great Flock, and to doing it again next year!

Flock attendees wind down after the conference ends... with more hacking!
Flock attendees wind down after the conference ends… with more hacking!

Flock Day 4.

Here’s a summary of Saturday’s activity at Flock 2014 where I participated or attended. I also have blog entries for Day 1, Day 2, and Day 3.

  • The constant stream of late nights was really getting to me. Didn’t arrive at the venue until about 9:15am. I skipped the first session and had some coffee, courtesy of Smooge.
  • Caught up on email sent overnight from people in the USA, and did final preparation for my talk.
  • I gave my session on the connection between RHEL and Fedora. I also discussed how well things went for RHEL 7 due to work in the Fedora community. I feel like it went very well. You can watch the complete video here.
  • I had an excellent conversation with Alberto Ruiz, who manages Red Hat’s desktop applications team.
  • Went with Alberto and Patrick Uiterwijk to lunch at the cafeteria. Got to know Patrick a little better, since he will soon be joining us on the Fedora Engineering team.
  • Sat in the hall with Patrick and got a Taskwarrior server running on one of my boxes.
  • Joined the session on revamping governance in Fedora, which was run by Toshio Kuratomi and Haïkel Guémar. This was hands down the best accomplishment of Flock. There will be a proposal for Board revamp coming from this session (finally!). I’m looking forward to the ensuing discussion and resulting improvements.

At this point I was finally exhausted. I headed back to the hotel early to do a little more reading and writing. I met up with some of the Anaconda team for a late dinner. Then I packed so I’d be ready in the morning to catch my flights back to the USA.

The Flock conference was excellent this year. It was nice getting back into the swing of community things. I enjoyed meeting up with everyone I saw. If I didn’t get a chance to see and talk with you personally, I’m still glad you were there. I hope you had a great time at Flock in Prague. Let’s do it again next year in the USA!

Flock Day 3.

Here’s a summary of Friday’s activity at Flock 2014 where I participated or attended. I also have blog entries for Day 1 and Day 2.

  • Didn’t make it up quite so early today, due to not turning in until about 2:30am the previous night. I got to the school basically on time, but worked on email and day job stuff for a little while.
  • Attended Matthew Miller’s joint session on Fedora.next.
  • Got lunch late, ending up at a table with Stephen Tweedie and a few others. We talked about containers and strategy.
  • Touched up my slides for Saturday, getting straight in my head how I wanted the presentation to go. Reveal.js is cool.
  • Attended Richard Hughes’ session on building an application installer. GNOME Software is a huge step in usability, and it was enlightening seeing the huge amount of work that went into this tool. I wrote an article on Fedora Magazine covering this presentation.
  • Attended Ralph Bean’s excellent workshop on making tools with fedmsg, the Fedora messaging bus built on Zeromq. We learned how to use just a few simple lines of Python to build a Twitter feed from Fedora Badges. Amazing!
  • Attended the workshop on DevAssistant. I talked with the developers to learn about their future plans and to discuss desktop integration.
  • Met up with Garrett LeSage, Chris Roberts, Matthew Miller, Haïkel Guémar, and others for a great dinner at an Italian pizzeria. It was delicious.
  • Late hangout with friends kept me up yet again too late!

DevConf.cz, days 1 and 2.

DevConf.cz day 1, Friday.

Friday was the first day of sessions at DevConf.cz, the biggest and best Czech open source event by developers, for developers. The event was packed, with over 900 attendees even before the weekend started!

First up at 9:00 sharp was Tim Burke’s keynote about how Red Hat sees the IT market, specifically Linux and open source technologies. He covered how the various pieces of cloud, applications, storage, and platform fit together. It was pretty breakneck because there wasn’t a lot of time until the sessions started, but well observed and thoughtful. It’s clear the technologies built by people at this conference will set the pace for the future. The market has placed its bets on Linux and open source, and now it’s on us to deliver!

Langdon White followed with a story of startups. He covered how the tradeoffs between agility, stability, and maintenance can be mitigated by Software Collections. Software Collections allow IT groups to add stacks on their platform without affecting the deployment itself, while meeting more needs for developers and users.

Alex Larsson did a talk to a packed room (the biggest at the conference, no less!) on Docker, the open source container engine rapidly sweeping the community with its speed and flexibility. Fedora is rapidly developing a great grasp of Docker, and you can already install it on all supported Fedora releases. Obviously Red Hat has taken a huge interest in Docker too, so it’s no surprise the talk was SRO.

I went to Colin Walters’ session on OStree, a new way of distributing Linux operating systems. I found this session incredibly compelling, and I hope we look seriously at OStree in Fedora because of the problems it solves. There are clearly some issues that still need to be worked out, but Colin is up front about them, and he’s motivated and eager to collaborate with people to solve them. He’s truly one of the good guys of free software and I enjoyed this talk a lot.

I also attended Ondrej Hudlicky’s session on software usability, which was entertaining but also thought-provoking. A lot of what goes into making good software we either take for granted or completely miss. It’s so easy for software to suck when you don’t start by thinking about what the user is trying to do, and making that easy. Although the slides were quite dense, Ondrej did a great job explaining the concepts and why they were important.

I also attended sessions on DNF’s SAT solver, caught a bit on static analysis that went way over my head, and saw Richard Hughes’ session on GNOME Software. DevConf.cz is so packed with content, it’s impossible to see more than about half of what you’d like. There’s so much more content for Java folks, low-level network and hardware hackers, and kernel jockeys that it makes your head spin!

In the evening I went with a bunch of folks to get pizza at the hilariously named Pizzeria Al Capone down the street. The food was quite good, and the beer plentiful as we swapped stories and jokes. We had people from all over the globe at the table so it was a great night. Afterward we retired to the famous bowling bar in the basement of the Hotel Avanti. And of course, more beer and stories. I turned in rather late, around 1:00am, but in good shape for the next morning.

DevConf.cz day 2, Saturday.

Started out the day early again, with a 9:00am session on Cockpit. Cockpit is a new Linux server management user interface that beautifully fits the look and feel of modern desktops. It’s also has already grown a lot of capability including user and storage administration. This is a great way for us to break away from clunky and individually deprecating system-config-* tools. Instead we can move to a tool that’s more flexible, extensible, and network transparent for scalability.

Following was a talk by Russ Doty on security concerns in platform and application development. It was mainly general but made some good points about where threats usually come from (hint: not Igor the evil state-funded hacker).

Of course, no DevConf.cz event would be complete without a rapid-fire presentation from Lennart Poettering, and this year was no exception. Lennart covered kdbus, a new kernel implementation of IPC based on the excellent D-Bus. Kdbus is on its way into the kernel and will make Linux even slicker, starting with early boot and extending all the way to latest shutdown.

I also sat in on Ric Wheeler’s excellent presentation on Persistent Memory, which is next generation storage technology. Ric covered some of the challenges in supporting new types of storage in the Linux kernel, and the relative strengths and weaknesses of each.

Afterward, I went to lunch with Ralph Bean and Pierre-Yves Chibon from the Fedora Engineering team. With us were Patrick Uiterwijk and folks from Red Hat that work on infrastructure and tools for RHEL and JBoss engineers. We discussed some areas of potential collaboration, including a messaging bus for Red Hat Bugzilla. That could be an awesome new input for contributor data.

Then all the smart folks went off to find better broadband at the hotel to pore over some code together. Since I wouldn’t have been much help, I went back to the conference to catch Simo Sorce’s talk on Kerberos.

Following Simo, Dan Walsh talked about secure Linux containers. As always he was tremendously entertaining. Dan joked about how he’s been a big proponent of libvirt-sandbox for secure container support, but recently “got religion” about Docker. I hope this was taped because it was really informative. No wonder Dan’s consistently rated as a top speaker at the Red Hat Summit. (Note, you can still register for the event; I’ll be there in San Francisco too!)

Next Kyle McMartin talked about the pleasure and pitfalls of porting the Linux kernel to new architectures (hello, aarch64!). I admit a lot of this went over my head, but Kyle told some funny stories about stalking weird bugs in test suites exposed by porting. At least I think they were funny. Or rather, I think some people thought they were funny, since they were all laughing. I don’t understand kernel people, but they’re mostly lovable, and many of them have awesome beards.

Finally, I saw a talk on Arduino Yún. This model includes a small, embedded Linux computer that you can make do all sorts of cool things with the built-in sensors and other capabilities. The talk made me wish I had more spare time to spend on learning how to do hardware tinkering. Where’s my time machine?

I bowed out of the lightning talks (even though some of them looked awesome) so I could drop my bag at the hotel before the night party at Klub Fléda, a sort of warehouse-y bar/music club nearby the conference venue. With beer beckoning, it’s time to relax a bit with friends and colleagues!

Tomorrow there will be Fedora focused sessions, so I’m really looking forward to that. More later…

Ohio Linux Fest 2011 report.

Following a truncated workday on Thursday, I quickly packed, threw my stuff in the car, and raced up the road as quickly as torrential rain would safely allow to Reagan National Airport. I took a short flight to Columbus, Ohio, where this weekend the Ohio Linux Fest 2011 was set to go. I got into the hotel around diner time and fortunately I was able to hook up with a variety of folks including Ruth Suehle from opensource.com, Jared Smith, Red Hat mega-architect and superstar Thomas Cameron, and Fedora Docs hackers John McDonough and Zach Oglesby for dinner at Bucca di Beppo. Yum!

Friday was sort of an “early penguin” day, with fewer sessions organized into a couple tracks such as medical/open source crossover and a catchall track for other FOSS related talks. I got up at about 7:00am and took care of a few emails, which turned out to be a good idea since the rest of the day would be devoid of connectivity; any plans I had for productivity were killed by the complete lack of 3G and wifi at the convention center. There was a good amount of docs hacking that was rumored to take place back in the hotel, though.

Meanwhile, I spent most of my time meeting up with various acquaintances from around the FOSS world and attending early talks. I saw a good presentation on representing open source in economic models, for instance, and also caught Ruth’s talk in the medical track about tech advancements in open source and how they reflect the collaborative nature of health science. I didn’t catch much of the cloud talk but I understand there were some last minute changes. Hopefully people who attended that track still found plenty of worthwhile material.

A bunch of Fedora folks started appearing in a flood by afternoon, including my roomie Clint Savage. After dinner with Ruth and some new friends at BD’s Mongolian Grill, I met up with him, Christer Edwards, and Aaron Toponce and we headed to Barley’s for brews with Robyn Bergeron, Jeremy Sands, and a couple other folks. I helped Aaron get some printouts done for the GPG key-signing event at the Drury Inn’s complimentary business center, so he wouldn’t get robbed by the Hyatt’s ludicrous money-grubbers, while Robyn, Clint, John Mark, Zach and I played a game of poker in the lobby. We couldn’t actually finish before people were too tired to continue (but too competitive to throw in the towel). So we called it, and of course Robyn was in the lead, so she gets the pride and kudos this time. Clint and I finally hit lights-out around 2:00am.

Saturday was the full-on conference experience, and talks started with a 9:00am keynote. I attended talks in just about every track, including Klaatu‘s talk on the new Novacut project which was very interesting, a session on building job experience through work in the open source community (complete with testimonials from actual hiring managers), and one on password theory and encrypted file systems.

I also gave my own talk on PyGObject for beginners, which had a very robust and responsive audience. It was great to have so many people interested in a subject I enjoy talking about, and to get such great feedback and questions. Hopefully Ohio Linux Fest will have audio from this talk available in the future, since I understand it was recorded. I was happy with my performance although it was quite a lot of material to fit into a 50 minute period. If you attended and have feedback, feel free to comment here of course. The presentation is licensed CC BY 3.0, and it’s available on my fedorapeople.org space.

After Maddog’s final keynote, I went with a large group of friends (many of the above plus Eric ‘sparks’ Christensen, David Nalley and wife Pam, and several others) to the Spaghetti Warehouse. It was a fair walk from the hotel but it helped us all feel better about a pasta dinner, I think. We came back to the conference after-party but it wasn’t quite our taste, so we went back to Barley’s.

On Sunday, since my plane wasn’t scheduled to depart until almost 7:00pm, I got up in the morning and joined the Docs guys in a meeting room downstairs that was graciously donated by the Ohio Linux Fest organizers. What we did is already being reported and discussed on the Docs mailing list, so I won’t reiterate it all here. I definitely noticed there — and this is indeed not new, but rather a constant challenge — the importance of keeping a group session on track by focusing on specifics.

This is a characteristic of good sessions that I’ve many times seen Greg DeKoenigsberg or Max Spevack manage extremely well, and from which I’ve tried to learn. Sessions tend to produce lots of results by focusing on specifics, such as “We need to fix the following two things about our licensing statements, and here’s why.” It’s a lot harder when the problem you try to solve isn’t well articulated already, such as “We need to make contributors’ lives better.” When one doesn’t focus on those specifics, and driving to action as efficiently as possible, it’s easy for discussions to veer off into many different kinds of weeds, to the extent that you forget what problem you originally were trying to solve.

In any case, the Docs session went fairly well by focusing on specifics, and it was good to see friends from the team that I hadn’t met, or hadn’t seen in a while. Clint gave me, Zach, and Robyn a ride to the airport, where we proceeded to cool our heels for several hours (myself longer than most, I think, since my plane was delayed by local thunderstorms). I arrived home a little before 11:00pm, and basically dumped my suitcase out and went to bed so I could get up at 6:00 the next morning and start my workweek!

All in all Ohio Linux Fest was better for me this year as a speaker than as an attendee. In terms of the value I got from them personally, the quality of talks was not quite as good as what I’ve seen in recent years, but there were a few I definitely enjoyed and learned from. And of course it was fantastic was to see many Fedora contributors there, and collaborate and catch up with colleagues and friends. In closing, the organizers did a tremendous job with conference logistics and they definitely deserve a nice rest after all their efforts. Good work, folks!

Ohio Linux Fest 2011.

Just wanted to note that I’m going to Ohio Linux Fest 2011:

Ohio Linux Fest 2011 - Sept 9-11

For a long time, Ohio Linux Fest has been one of the great community shows in the nation. This year I’m proud to be selected as a speaker, doing a talk on PyGObject for beginners. I’ll also be happily catching up with some friends from Fedora and many other cool communities, and taking in some of the spectacular talks. (For example, I can’t wait to catch Klaatu’s talk on the emerging project Novacut — but how am I going to reconcile that with another good talk at the same time by Mel Chua?)

Notable members of the free software community will be abundant, with lots of ways for you to meet and collaborate with like-minded freedom lovers from all around the region and the country. The registered supporter package for Ohio Linux Fest is extremely cheap, especially considering the days of awesome content you’ll find at the conference. Plus, you get some cool gifts and a swank t-shirt to show that you put your money where your mouth is.

I’m very much looking forward to the show and a great weekend of Linux and free software. See you there!

Your money’s worth in “aha!” moments.

Hey, not to toot my own horn or anything — but I feel really fortunate and grateful to announce that the speakers committee at the Ohio Linux Fest 2010 put me on their list of speakers for this year’s conference. I last attended the conference in 2008 and it was a fantastic event, with wonderful organizers, a great crowd, and plenty of information-packed sessions and other events for attendees to visit. It’s truly one of the best shows in the USA and I’m happy to be returning.

Not only that, but I’m joining amazing dignitaries in the Linux universe like Stormy Peters, Jon “maddog” Hall, and Red Hat’s own Christopher “Monty” Montgomery. (I can’t wait for Monty’s talk on codecs, but I’m hoping it’s not filled with math. Math is hard, I’m going shopping!*)

I get to present a revision of my PyGTK for Beginners talk that I did at the Southeast Linux Fest in June. I’m planning to eliminate some of the introductory material, because if the SELF audience was any indication, the audience in Columbus will probably know some of the very basic concepts already. I’ll be spending less time on setting up tools, and more time on delving into the way that GTK works, and showing a specific, simple example of how it’s put to work using easy Python code.

By the way, if you’re going to this event, and you plan to attend my talk, let me know what you would like to see there. I’ll be limited to about 40 or so minutes of speaking material so there’s time for questions and answers. But if there’s something specific on which you’re stuck as a novice (or wanna-be novice) PyGTK programmer, I want to help!

If you’re an expert, you’re welcome too. I might have you answer a question or two though, maybe even mine. I like to think of community learning sessions as just that — of, by, and for the community. I may not have all the answers, but chances are someone does. And it’s far less important for me to look smart than for the audience to learn. I try to give good answers, but I don’t mind saying “I don’t know” or asking an experienced audience member if it helps. In one of my previous lives I was an instructor and I still enjoy teaching when I can.

I often enjoy diving into deep water where I’m not an expert and just trying to get people over the same humps that baffled me when I started. I’ve learned enough to write some simple interfaces and code, and reaching that plateau has been a real eye-opener. A few short years ago, I would have told you it would never happen. But it can, and what I want to do in this talk is give people a couple “aha!” moments that will dispel all those fears and make it happen for you, too. Basically, if I get you even one step closer to the powerful belief below, I consider my trip a success:

You can write free software too!

If you care to see my earlier slides, they’re in my Fedora People space, available under a CC BY-SA 3.0 license here (OpenOffice.org Impress format). Be aware that these will change for Ohio Linux Fest, though, and “aha” moments aren’t always predictable from a raw slide deck. Hey, I’ve gotta have some hook, right?

Whether I see you at my talk or not, though, don’t fail to register for the Ohio Linux Fest 2010! Let people know you’re coming, too — use the #ohiolinux hashtag on Identi.ca and Twitter, and tell a friend!

* Lest anyone think that joke was at anyone’s expense other than mine… rest assured it wasn’t. 😉

SELF 2010 trip report.

One of the hardest parts of being FPL and attending a conference is getting a trip report done while you try to catch up to everything you missed while you were gone! But better late than never, here’s my report from this past weekend’s Southeast LinuxFest (SELF).

Thursday I packed up and headed to SELF v2.0. A short flight from Reagan National landed me in Greenville, which incidentally has one of the most pleasant access roads I’ve seen. The organizers had arranged the conference at the Marriott in Spartanburg which was relatively new and very nice accommodations. Of course most of the staff was busy rushing around making sure everything was ready for the conference on Thursday, but I ran into David Nalley, Dave Yates, Amber Graner, and others who were responsible for making SELF happen. That evening not all the Fedora folks had arrived, but I did get to have dinner with Robyn Bergeron of Fedora Marketing {fame,infamy} and Steven Dake, who works on corosync and high-availability stuff for Red Hat. Turns out Steve is a cigar guy and was kind enough to offer me one, which I gladly accepted. It was a relaxing, cool evening, and the SELF organizers came out and joined us eventually as conversation went into the wee hours.

David Nalley is a funny guy.

But Dave Yates is funnier.

The next day most of the Fedora folks gathered in a conference room to plan and then work on cleaning up various areas on the wiki, particularly the Docs Project contributor and process pages. They’ve gone wild and unweeded for a while and this was a good chance for us to make a fresh start. Ohio LinuxFest core team member Beth Lynn Eicher was on hand as well, and her fresh eyes really helped us find places where we needed to do some serious revamping. Ian Weller and Eric Christensen drove us to write several texts, and we even came up with an idea for a team contact template that will be available soon. We’ll be swapping in the new content and sweeping out the old shortly as well. It was nice to be able to have this “bonus meeting” in addition to the planned activities for Saturday and Sunday. Friday evening there was a nice speakers’ dinner planned by the SELF staff, after which I skipped the party so I could have a nice long jaw with Max Spevack, and so I could be sure to rise early.

On Saturday I spent the morning getting ready for my talk at 10:00 on the Fedora Project and what our four foundations mean in theory and practice. My talk’s available for download under a CC BY-SA 3.0 license, and when the video is available from SELF I’ll post a notice here. My room was pretty full, so I was pleased, especially since it didn’t seem that most people had made it out of bed for an 8:00 start time. I think I gave a solid talk, although I think it wasn’t as humorous as some of the talks I saw or heard about during the day. Reminder to myself: it’s OK not to be so serious when presenting! Meanwhile, our erstwhile Fedora Ambassadors held down an awesome booth:

Fedora 13 gives me the strength of ten men.

I saw some other interesting talks such as Ian Weller’s presentation on “datanommer,” Doug Vann’s on Drupal, and Daniel Chen’s on how to help unbreak Linux audio (the answer is not turning off PulseAudio, by the way).

Ian lectures on datanommer.

But one of the highlights for me was getting to see a talk by Wietse Venema from IBM’s T.J. Watson Research Center. Dr. Venema is famous in one of my previous fields of endeavor for a seminal textbook, which I brought and had him sign. He was a nice guy, and he even joined us at the lunch table later.

Wietse Venema lecturing on security -- first, kill all the programmers.

And I was gifted with a remarkably great-smelling bag of chocolate cappuccino from Klaatu of Hacker Public Radio (among other outlets), to which I hope everyone is listening. In the afternoon along with all the other Fedora folks I attended Max’s excellent keynote. I had the privilege of doing the keynote last year and it was nice to see another well-known Fedora personality tapped for this year’s closing remarks. I think Max really took advantage of the keynote to talk about open source issues in general, and how it could be leveraged by people in their business, making the talk about more than simply Fedora. It was incredibly enjoyable and Max spoke passionately, as he always does.

Max makes the case for going all-in when it comes to open source.

I have a great photo that happened to catch Max at a moment when his face has a look that’s completely out of context to the presentation, which I’m saving for a caption contest later on. A couple amazing things happened after the keynote. First, Ben Williams, one of our Fedora Ambassadors, won not only a brand-new Nexus One phone by random drawing, but also a raffle for a decked-out Pogo Linux workstation, the winning ticket for which he purchased at the last minute after already having bought five others. What a stroke of luck! Just as amusing was this prize, won by Jon “maddog” Hall — good to see he might have the chance to be important in software one day:

Sure, resumes are fine and all, but...

We stayed around to attend maddog’s BoF session on Project Caua. Then while everyone else was prepared to start partying, a few of us including Max and Michael DeHaan slipped off to a marvelous Thai restaurant, where I had a duck panang that was just about perfect and we all had a good time trolling, and being trolled by, our boisterous waiter. We returned to the hall to catch the end of nerdcore rap group Dual Core’s set, and have a brew or two. Once again, it was important not to stay up too late because Sunday was starting at 8:00 again.

There will be pwnies.

int eighty and c64 rock the mics.

Or maybe that was 9:00? Well, that’s when the first real session of DrupalCamp began anyway. I was only able to attend a couple talks which were very much introductory. Since I’d already read about, installed and played around with Drupal they weren’t too helpful for me personally, and the advanced talks were beyond my experience. But I got to meet a few people who were doing Drupal and make some contacts that might come in handy in the future for Fedora teamwork.

The Fedora crew gathered (at the Krispy Kreme where yr. humble narrator stoically refused all manner of tasty fat pills) to sketch out the battle plan for the Fedora Activity Day coming up that afternoon. This FAD, because it was attended by people with a wide variety of skill levels, started with an incredibly fun session where we debunked Fedora myths and exposed Fedora truths (think “dependency hell/yum is slow” or “just disable SELinux”). One of my favorite parts of that hour was when Dan Walsh piped up to say that, from his developer POV, anyone filing a bug against his work was making a substantial contribution that he very much appreciated.

I had to slip off after the first hour because I was giving a two-hour PyGTK talk for beginners. Although it was difficult to cater to the expectations of a variety of skill levels in the audience, the talk seemed to go over well. A few of the more advanced folks were likely a bit bored in the beginning of the talk, and a few of the people with no experience were probably lost near the end, but I think most everyone got something useful out of the talk as a number of people told me afterward. It was a lot of fun presenting on something semi-technical and I expect that the eventual video will be more useful, since people can fast forward through the boring parts, or review the easy stuff while trying things on their own systems. One of the parts I most enjoyed about giving the talk was pointing out that FOSS is global, and that even new developers should keep internationalization and localization in mind when programming so they maximize their audience and their impact.

When I returned to the FAD, the numbers had shrunk somewhat as attendees departed the SELF conference via car or plane for home. But there were still about a dozen people around, and we continued to talk about current projects and ways to get involved in them. One young man named Adam seemed particularly interested in our Infrastructure team and Python web programming (which he does for a living) and I encouraged him to come by a meeting on IRC when he gets a chance.

Finally it was time to bid everyone goodbye. Max, Ian, and Eric and his friend Tim had departed already. I had a few conversations with FAD attendees on the way out, including a very constructive one about Fedora’s freedom principles and the way they apply to things like Adobe’s Flash software. I ran into some of the SELF organizers and again thanked them for their superhuman efforts at making the conference a great success. Then I met up with a couple associates attending SELF at the hotel pub and had a nice quiet dinner to unwind, after which we joined Robyn and Steve on the patio for some great conversation about programming, geek history, chess, music, and life in general. It was a superb way to end the weekend and a fabulous conference.

Three amigos.

Monday morning I woke up at about five in the morning to catch my flight home, and took the rest of the day as my substitute weekend. This coming weekend I’ll work on getting the rest of my photos uploaded from the conference, or at least those that were worth a hoot. I want to thank all the Fedora friends who helped make SELF such a great conference, including our Ambassadors who manned the booth, those who signed up to help improve free software, people who shared their thoughts about where we’re doing great and where we could do better, and of course the SELF staff for their many tireless efforts. I’m looking forward to SELF 3.0 already!

Power punch.

Fedora Talk, Gobby, and IRC make for a great combination when it comes to inclusive conferencing. I joined a bit late, but there’s a fantastic online-enhanced teleconference going on today to tease out all the details around No Frozen Rawhide.

Developers and maintainers will undoubtedly have questions about how the NFR changes might affect the different things they do every day in Fedora. So we have an excellent opportunity to get all those details elucidated, and then written up for easy reference.

The write-ups are being built as different use cases that will help us be crystal-clear about how NFR might affect someone (if at all) depending on what they’re trying to get done. Whether it’s building a brand-new package, pushing an update into the new pending tree, helping to test one of the branches, administering a mirror — there will be clear information for everyone.

Fedora Talk is great for a high-bandwidth, “Oh, I see what you mean” type conversation. But we scribe everything down to Gobby where anyone can watch the work as it happens — which in this case, is the development of the use cases.  And we’re also on IRC Freenode at #fedora-nfr to invite questions and comments.  This multiplication of communication doesn’t have to be confusing as long as everyone present is focused on the tasks at hand. On the contrary, it gives us many ways to react to input and get the work done faster, and more collaboratively.

Thanks to Jesse Keating and John Poelstra for putting this little mini-conference together!

Incidentally, our Docs team has been talking to Shaun McCance about using this type of multi-channel solution at the Desktop Help Summit so the conference can get more assistance and participation from remote attendees. It’s worked well at our Fedora Activity Day events which are very much the same kind of “can-do” context.

FUDCon Toronto 2009.

Today we announced FUDCon Toronto 2009, our North American event for this year. FUDCon, as always, is free and open for everyone to attend. This year some excellent contributors in Toronto stepped up to deliver a great location and some logistical support that will help us put on an awesome event.

We’re going to try something new at this event, by adding a track or two of technical sessions on Saturday aimed squarely at end users. We’re also working on some ideas to offer even more improved content for developers and other contributors, and as we work those out, we’ll be delivering additional news through the announcement list and the FUDCon wiki page. Registration and other logistics information will be forthcoming, stay tuned!