Tag Archives: fudcon

FUDCon Blacksburg, days 2-3.

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:

  • Spot’s talk on making Fedora packaging easier — featured not just what could be a replacement for the current pkgdb, but also a cool new app called Tagger that makes improving package search part of an achievement/trophy oriented game, for maximum  fun
  • Katello — a next generation system environment management platform that helps manage content and deployment
  • Pam Chestek’s session on the new draft of Fedora trademark guidelines — with extra tweaks to make guidance clearer for publishers, hosting providers, cloud, and spins/remixes
  • Chris Tyler’s talk on Raspberry Pi — which was packed! A great update on this affordable ARM hardware for hacking, and what’s needed from the Fedora community to take it to the next level
  • OpenShift — Mike McGrath showed off the latest capabilities of OpenShift, a PaaS (platform as a service) offering by Red Hat that makes it dead-simple to for developers to get an entire OS and framework operational in the cloud in just a couple of minutes

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.

FUDCon Blacksburg, Day 1.

Yesterday was a hackfest/workshop day at FUDCon Blacksburg. I spent a little time listening in on secondary arch work going on around Fedora. It sounds like there is a lot of effort going into keeping secondary arches rolling really smoothly through Fedora 17 and beyond. There were some folks from IBM and Red Hat in attendance as well as other interested community members. This workshop went most of the day, but I wasn’t able to attend the whole thing.

I had to prep a short deck for my workshop on Drupal internals, which I managed after lunch. The idea behind this session was to start walking through internals of Drupal modules and the Drupal API. The goal was to convince the attendees that not only is Drupal fairly easy to customize, but you don’t have to be too skilled to start writing a Drupal module.

To reach that goal, we walked through a fairly simple module I wrote that allows Fedora Insight to authenticate users and map roles via the Fedora Account System (FAS). he great thing about the workshop was there were a couple of Drupal professionals in attendance! So as a bonus I got some excellent suggestions about my module as we went through it.

Isn’t that what open source is supposed to be about? Yes, Dear Readers, it is — more eyes on my code, live in a session, meant a bunch of shallower bugs for me to fix. So, needless to say, the workshop went quite well.

I visited the “Try My Keyboard” workshop that Toshio set up, along with the Das Keyboard Silent Professional that I use at home. I tried several there, and one of them was a model based on Cherry MX Blues (like the non-silent Das Keyboard I considered) I really liked. It was fun to try out each unit in a really discriminating way and compare feel in terms of stroke, feedback, and effort.

I then attended the Board session which was a review of 2011 and how to move from the level of very high-level strategic goals to actually fixing some problems in Fedora and improving life for contributors. The consensus seemed to be that the Board members will champion specific fixes themselves — by contributing directly to the solutions. In other words, they’ll roll up their sleeves and get involved, which is always an approach that works well in a community like Fedora.

The only suggestion I offered, which I hope the Board will take to heart, is that as they think about what they want to accomplish for 2012, they should consider how they will know their fix works (measure it in some way). The Board is made up of fantastic individuals and I’m sure they will come up with worthwhile initiatives and bring their formidable skills to bear on helping the community work through them as a team. We’ll be hearing more about this at the beginning of February from what I understand.

Finally, I got together with Red Hat trademark attorney (and my buddy) Pam Chestek, Spot, Jared, and Ian Weller to go through the Fedora trademark guidelines with a fine toothed comb in advance of the session to cover those revisions on Saturday. We were able to tease out a lot of additional bug fixes and extra clarity and it was time well spent.

Unfortunately, by the time we finished, around 7:45pm, I was starting to feel pretty low. I’d been teetering on the edge of a cold (or some sort of bug) for a few days, but I actually became a bit feverish in the evening — feeling cold in rooms that were clearly not, even when I dressed too warmly, and so forth. But there was more to do; no rest for the wicked as they say.

I caught a quick but tasty dinner with Pam, and we enjoyed discussing the adventure of buying a car. I’m sure I was not as chipper as usual and hopefully wasn’t bad company — sorry if I flagged a little, Pam! After that I met briefly with Spot and Robyn to go over logistics for the next morning’s BarCamp and keynote activities. Robyn, being the saint she is, brought me a couple doses of NyQuil. So immediately after that, I headed to my room to burrow under covers and try and sleep off the fever.

Unfortunately, that meant I missed the Fedora Insight hacking I’d suggested for Friday night with Peter Borsa and Pascal Calarco. It was awful to feel so sick I couldn’t take advantage of having a wonderful team of collaborators in one place — especially since Peter was here from overseas. (Fortunately they generously forgave me!) Thankfully, though, I got a full night’s sleep and in the morning I felt better than I had in a couple days, so I could be up early and help get ready for BarCamp.

I’ll post more about the BarCamp and Day 2 tonight or tomorrow!

FUDCon Blacksburg, Day 0.

I’ve been a little ill for the past few days, but not gravely so; there was no chance I was going to skip FUDCon when it’s in my own home state. So yesterday I had a great drive from home to Blacksburg — the roads were clear, the weather was mostly sunny and 60 F, and of course I was in the swanky new funmobile, so it was a totally enjoyable ride. I picked up Jon Stanley at the Roanoke airport, and since Justin O’Brien happened to be on the same flight, I grabbed him too for the ride to Blacksburg.

We checked in at the Inn, and saw a number of Fedora folks already there, including Spot, Robyn, Kevin Fenzi, and Peter Borsa who flew in from Hungary! I also ran into Red Hat genii Phil Knirsch and Karsten Hopp, in from Germany. I had dinner with Dan Walsh, Bill Nottingham and Eric Paris at a typical collegiate hole in the wall nearby called “Top o’ the Stairs.” It was very nostalgic, between the good barbecue, “unassuming” decor, and beer in plastic cups. Great company and a good time. My navigational skills proved barely adequate to get us back to the hotel but we did make it without disaster, fortunately.

I said hi to many other Fedorans at the hotel when we returned, and since I wanted to get some sleep to conserve health before FUDCon started today, I turned in a little early. (Well, early being relative; I stayed up until midnight catching up with work email and a couple other tasks.)

We’ve started the day on a great (albeit incredibly cold!) note, with temperatures around 25 F here in Blacksburg but a very warm and hospitable environment in McBryde Hall at Virginia Tech. I’m currently sitting in an early session regarding secondary arches with Phil, Karsten, some IBM guys, Garrett Holmstrom, and a smattering of other Red Hat and Fedora folks.

Later today, assuming my voice holds out, which is not a given, I’ll be blundering my way through a session on Drupal internals. Also, I’m going to drop by a “try my keyboard” session that Toshio Kuratomi put together. I brought my new Das Keyboard Model S Silent with me, so it will be one of the models available to try. Looking forward to a great FUDCon!

Comin’ round the mountain.

On Thursday, I’ll be driving to FUDCon in Blacksburg, VA. FUDCon in North America is an event I look forward to attending annually even though I’m not neck-deep in Fedora as often these days. I used to love going to the international FUDCons as well, and I’m thrilled to see those events being planned in advance on a regular basis.

I get to drive to this particular event, because it happened to end up only about 4.5 hours drive from where I live. That suits me fine, because I got a new car (warning: Flash) I can’t wait to take on its first long trip. Weather should be fair for this time of year, I hear. I also got some new vanity plates that will touch the hearts of Linux geeks, but probably elicit only head scratching from others. However, this post is about more than my car, as much as I like that topic!

I wanted to say a couple things about what I’m planning to do at FUDCon. First, I plan to spend some time with the Fedora Insight crew on Friday night and on Sunday morning. I want to see the feature sets the amazing Peter Borsa has been working on, and hopefully we can make some progress on streamlining deployment so other people can help. We’ll also be working on Sunday with a designer (cross fingers!) to design an interface for a project/events calendar. Unfortunately, I’m leaving Sunday afternoon to get home that night, but I will try to provide a ride out of town to the airport for anyone whose schedule matches up.

By the way, you may want to check out the travel planning page if you need to arrange rides.

The other thing I’m planning is an open workshop on Saturday on Drupal internals. I still haven’t decided whether this is best done as a workshop vs. BarCamp. I’m interested to know how many people really would show up — which means it might be good for me to pitch this at BarCamp. If there’s very little interest, I can spend the day learning instead of blowing hot air. But if it turns out people are interested, I have some books and materials I’m bringing with me that I can recommend too. As usual, I will be taking on the role of “person with meager skills who managed to scramble onto the first plateau with help, and wants to pass it on.” (It worked for PyGTK, maybe it will work here too!) Thankfully Peter will be on hand, and I trust he won’t let me get away with horrible errors.

There’s an enormous list of proposed hackfests and workshops on the wiki page. That’s fantastic, and it means we’re going to have a very content-rich conference as usual. I also see the General Schedule on the wiki is quite bare. I believe the organizers are encouraging talk owners to try to schedule in advance — at least when it comes to the hackfests and workshops. My understanding is that these form an outgrowth of the BarCamp — essentially widening the schedule for Saturday. That means there will be a lot to choose from, so I hope everyone brings not just their thinking caps but also their voices and appropriate input devices to participate. UPDATE: Robyn has a great FUDCon blog post on scheduling. Go read it. Now.

I’m looking forward to seeing a bunch of my Fedora friends there, and of course celebrate at the ever-entertaining FUDPub event. Remember, though, that Sunday starts early, so don’t go overboard! The statute of limitations has expired on my one FUDCon event that was a little too entertaining, so I’m allowed to revert to schoolmarm mode now. But seriously, there’s so much to do and see at FUDCon that I’m sure people will put the priority on content and collaboration as always.

Hope I see you there!

Wireless at FUDCon Blacksburg.

In case you hadn’t seen it elsewhere, and you are attending FUDCon in Blacksburg, there is a pre-registration available for wireless. All attendees are asked to follow these instructions to grab a guest wireless account — before they show up!

Usually I’d have a much better entry for my first post of 2012, but I was really pressed for time. I’ll try and do better next post. Until then, you’ll have to just say hello to my beefy friend.

The extra mile (of track).

Depending on your background, where you live, and your personal predilections, you may or may not be used to any kind of overnight noise. When staying in a hotel, this is a concern for any guest. Even if you frequently stay in hotels, each new location is an unfamiliar environment, and humans just like any animal are predisposed to be less comfortable in a place they don’t know.

Because there are railroad tracks that run nearby the Courtyard Tempe Downtown, the planning group for FUDCon Tempe wanted to do a little extra to make your stay comfortable. We bought disposable earplugs (the kind you can roll and insert) — you can pick up a pair Friday night to help you sleep easier.

It’s impossible to predict whose sleep is bothered by train noise. For example, my family stayed once at a bed and breakfast located right next to the old L&N railroad line where it ran through downtown Henderson, Kentucky. During our stay, my wife didn’t seem to have much problem sleeping through the train noise. (It’s probably fair to say she’d been conditioned over years of my snoring.) On the other hand, it really bugged me and our kids, so we gave them earplugs. Problem solved!

Anyway, just wanted to let people know that we had comfort aid available for anyone who thinks they might need it. If you decide to use earplugs, though, remember to turn your alarm device up so that you can hear it! We’ll be opening FUDCon promptly at 9:00am Saturday.

We love stinkin’ badges.

For a few years now our FUDCons have always included attendee name badges. Often people coming to FUDCon are meeting face to face for the first time with people they know from online interactions. Name badges make it easy to put a face to a name or IRC nick.

At FUDCon Tempe, though, we’ve added a little twist. Name badges this time around will feature a QR Code that includes a little bit of contact information for each attendee. This code can be scanned by certain smartphone apps, so if you meet someone and you’d like to keep in contact later, you can scan each other’s badges to make it easier to do so. The excellent suggestion for using a QR Code came from contributor Juan Rodriguez (nushio), and all-around superstar Ian Weller provided the script to create the badges.

Here’s how the QR Code works:

  • If you included your Fedora Account System (FAS) username in your signup, either with a wiki link or as a comment, we’ve used that to construct the contact information in the QR Code (your @fedoraproject.org email, and your User:Username page on the Fedora wiki).
  • If you didn’t include that information, your QR Code will only indicate the name shown on your badge. It’s still minimally useful, in that you can let someone scan the code to get the spelling of your name correct.

The information on the badge is based on what you made public in the wiki, since we don’t want to just start throwing people’s email addresses around if they haven’t given us one. (If you want to give anyone details beyond your Fedora email or wiki page, you can do that manually.

The badges were printed this weekend using the template Ian set up, and here’s a demo. Hint: if you have a barcode scanning app on your phone, you can probably test my badge directly from your computer screen!

Example QR Code on a FUDCon Tempe badge

We even left a line on the badge for informative or funny comments. Unfortunately in a couple cases these comments were much longer than we could include on the badge. If your comment fell into this category, you may find it truncated or missing on the badge. You can feel free to write it in by hand once you get your badge, but I recommend you avoid writing over the QR Code, so it stays useful. As I mentioned earlier, we were careful not to put any information on the badge you didn’t already provide publicly through the Fedora wiki. But if for some reason you don’t like the idea of this QR Code, you’re welcome to mark it out with a dark marker or pen to render it useless. (That’s a pretty effective opt-out measure.)

We look forward to seeing you at FUDCon, start gearing up your blogs!

GTD at FUDCon.

The upcoming FUDCon in Tempe will be a rather interesting experience for me, because in a sense I’ll be returning to a role as an individual contributor in Fedora. One of the things I’m looking forward to doing in that role is sitting down with any contributors who are involved in, or interested in, working on our Drupal instance called Insight.

We have a very small group of people — albeit truly wonderful ones — who have been working on the system for a while now:

  • Pascal Calarco, as an editor-in-chief of Fedora Weekly News, has been involved for some time because we share a desire to get the Fedora Weekly News published more formally outside the wiki. He’s helped test with content, and started us down the road to using custom Views settings to group FWN issues.
  • Peter Borsa came in late last year and has helped with packaging, research, and development efforts. He and I have been making a lot of headway on getting the “Top 10” modules for Drupal into Fedora, and we expect to be finished with that effort very shortly.
  • Jon Ciesla, who owns the core Drupal packages in Fedora, has been of inestimable value in getting us toward a side goal of being able to put parallel installable Drupal instances (i.e. Drupal 6 and Drupal 7) on the next Fedora release and beyond. It’s been a challenge to navigate all the packaging issues but he’s risen to it with gusto; and fortunately Drupal’s excellent (and strict) licensing standards have made things quite a bit easier than they could have been.
  • The seemingly omnipresent Robyn Bergeron has helped with testing and with asking questions that made us all think a little harder about what we were doing, and how to make sure other people understood it better.
  • Sven Lankes and Volker Fröhlich have helped with packaging issues as well, both on the construction side and the review side, finding issues as we go. Thanks guys!

Although that sounds like a lot of people, every one of them has other things they’re working on, both inside and outside Fedora. As a result, our progress has been slower than any of us would prefer. That’s why I’m looking forward to sitting down with a few people and taking some uninterrupted time to push this project forward.

Not all the people on this list are going to be in Tempe, but that’s why we have IRC and other communication methods. A lot of what we need to do is easily done over the network. Nevertheless, having a few people in a room who are committed to sit still and pay attention to one project at a time will be very valuable.

I’m arriving on Friday afternoon for FUDCon, and leaving on a red-eye flight on Monday night, just after midnight. Since my new job at Red Hat doesn’t revolve as much around attending Fedora community activities, I really want to make the most of my time there. Happily there will be great weather and robust attendance from a lot of fantastic contributors, so that’s not going to be a difficult goal to achieve.

FUDCon sponsored folks, take note(s).

Thanks not only to the auspices of Red Hat’s Community Architecture team but also to generous sponsors Google and Rackspace, the FUDCon Tempe planning team has been able to sponsor the travel of numerous community members to the event. For every person who’s able to travel to the event, there are always many more who aren’t. Whenever travelers are sponsored for an event, therefore, we ask them to repay that favor by helping spread information about it to the rest of the community.

If you’re being sponsored to come to FUDCon by getting help with travel fare and/or lodging, we would like to see you prepare one blog post per day about your experiences.

There are lots of ways to write a FUDCon blog entry. I know that the “daily journal” format is fairly popular, but you needn’t feel limited to producing a summary of what you did all day long. You could, for example, concentrate on one or two sessions or collaborations that were most important to you, describe what you learned, what you contributed, and (here’s the kicker!) what you intend to do in the future that connects to your FUDCon experience. Frankly, speaking as a reader, I find that type of blog to be very interesting and compelling to read.

But no matter what you choose to write about, it’s your choice. Make sure that a feed of Fedora related content from your blog is carried on the Fedora Planet, using the instructions found on our wiki page. Then make sure you tag or categorize your blog post so that it gets picked up by the Planet. (What’s that? You don’t have a blog? Never fear — visit the Fedora Blogs site and you can set one up.)

Published blogs are useful beyond just keeping the community current about FUDCon. They become part of news feeds beyond our community and can get other people interested in Fedora as well. So be descriptive and have fun with your blog entry — your readers will enjoy the time you put into it.

It’s great to be able to see so many contributors at the upcoming FUDCon Tempe event. I’m really excited about the opportunity to see old friends in a brand new venue. (It’s gonna be great not to be freezing!) But at the same time, I also want to make sure that we aren’t forgetting about all our community friends around the globe who won’t be in Tempe. Let’s all make a commitment to involve, inform, and inspire those who aren’t able to attend in person!

FUDCon sponsorships, fares, roommates, and you.

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?

Travel fares

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:

  • We have a space on the wiki pre-registration table for Room sharing. When you mark a yes there, it means you want or need a roommate to share costs. When you find a roommate, you mark your roommate’s name in that box — and so does your roommate.

  • We ask the people we subsidize, wherever possible, to find a roommate who is also subsidized. That means we can simply put their room on our “master account” at the hotel, and the subsidized folks don’t have to worry about a thing when they check out. Putting together people whose funding comes from one place just makes sense. If we get all the subsidized folks rooming together, it’s much easier for other people to figure out open roomsharing connections.

  • Finally, all the people who have an open connection for roomsharing — a yes in the Room sharing column but no identified roommate — can easily contact each other through email or IRC to find roommates. It’s like the way BarCamp works. The crowd can solve the problems more easily in a pareto efficient way than just a few planners.

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!

Decision making

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.

Current status

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.