Posts tagged conferences

Thoughts on Progress

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I tend to measure the success of an tech event (such as FUDCon) not by how many people show up or what talks were given, but by the work that happens in the days and weeks after the event.  By that measure (along with the traditional measurements), our recent FUDCon event was a huge success.  I have also been inspired by the friends in our community who have publicly posted their post-FUDCon to-do lists, so that we can all have insight into the work that FUDCon helped bring to light.

Rather that give a day-by-day account of my own FUDCon activities, I want to just highlight some of the the things that resonated with me at FUDCon.

First, I was impressed with the Virginia Tech campus.  It was a beautiful location for the event, and the amount of space we had was absolutely fantastic.  Thanks again to Ben Williams and the Math Department at VT for their awesome support.

Second, I was impressed with the number of people who had planned ahead for the conference, and came prepared to both learn and share.  I didn’t see too many people this year just hanging out in the hallway checking email, so that’s probably a very good sign.

I was happy to see how many of the various Fedora groups really had their act together for FUDCon.  Just to highlight a few that caught my eye: The Docs team had several introductory sessions and a hackfest, which helped get some new people up to speed in the docs tooling.  The Cloud SIG had a wide variety of talks on different aspects of cloud computing.  I didn’t get to participate with much of the Infrastructure team’s sessions, but they all seemed interesting and were usually completely full. The ARM SIG also had a huge presence at the conference — with a marathon run of non-stop ARM work happening throughout the conference, and some nice give-aways to help entice more people to join the SIG and contribute.

As a Fedora Board, we met a couple of different times (once on Friday and once on Sunday) to discuss Board goals and work on other Board business.  The board decided that in order to lead by example we would each choose a project to champion over the next year, and that we would make regular reports on how those projects are going.  I’ve asked each of the Board members to pick their project over the next week or two, and be prepared to present it at our Board meeting on February 1st.  If you have ideas or causes that you would like the Board to take up, please don’t hesitate to let the Board know, either personally or via the advisory-board list.  I know a couple of the Board members already have their projects picked out, but I’m sure other members would love feedback and ideas.  I really enjoyed the opportunity of meeting with the Board in a more personal setting, and having the chance for higher-bandwidth communications, and I hope that we can make that happen more often in the future.

Besides all of the technical discussion that happened at FUDCon, I was happy to participate in a number of different talks aimed at making the human side of Fedora more enjoyable.  Whether it was talk about how to better attract new participants or improving exiting processes for Ambassadors,  really enjoyed the ideas and brainstorming that came out of those discussions.  I’m looking forward to seeing how we can improve things in this regard over the coming year.  I also enjoyed the chance to interact with many of the community members in some light-hearted activities as well, including getting bowling tips from Russell Harrison, getting lots of photography tips (and good stories) from Eric Christensen, having a good snowball fight with Jeroen van Meeuwen, and having a good impromptu swordfight with Mark Terranova.  All of these things helped keep me from going too crazy with all the logistics around FUDCon.

So to everyone who participated or supported those who did, let me say thank you.  Now let’s get back to work and finish up all those things we talked about doing, and keep making forward progress…

Best FUDCon Experience Ever!

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I’m hoping to find time over the next few days to do a more complete blog post relating all my recent travels, but for now I wanted to give a quick shout out to everyone who was able to attend FUDCon Tempe and make it the best North American FUDCon I’ve seen. I was impressed by so many things but here are a few that stick out in my mind today:

  • I was impressed with the number of people who were at FUDCon for the first time.  I tried to talk to as many people as I could, and everyone seemed to really enjoy themselves.  If I didn’t stop and introduce myself and say hi, I’m sorry :-(
  • I was impressed with the conference venue.  Everything was within walking distance, and the facilities at Arizona State University were top-notch.  And, believe it or not, we had no major problems with internet access!  Thanks to Robyn Bergeron and all the folks at ASU that put time and effort into the logistics behind the conference.
  • I was impressed with the number of people who pitched talks in the BarCamp session.  There is a tremendous amount of knowledge and talent in our community, and the BarCamp sessions really highlighted that.  I also felt that going to fewer tracks (only four simultaneous sessions) made the scheduling easier.
  • I continue to be impressed by how much easier it is to communicate when you’re face to face with a person, especially when the people communicating don’t speak the same native language.  Several of us had a great conversation about that over dinner last night (as we had native English, Spanish, Dutch, German, and French-Canadian speakers in the group).  Sometimes it’s even just cultural differences — one participant mentioned that in his cultural, having walking into a store and having someone ask “How are you today?” would be considered a little bit confrontational, while I wouldn’t think anything of it.  For me, that highlighted the need to get people face to face from time to time.
  • I was impressed by the number of people with nice Canon cameras.  A number of cool people let me borrow their cameras and let me go with them to the camera store, and I have to admit the budding photo geek in me was seriously craving a camera upgrade.  Hopefully we can get community members to share their photos online.

I’m exhausted beyond belief, but I’m very happy about the entire FUDCon experience, and am extremely grateful to play a part in such an awesome community.

Where is Jared headed next?

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An important (and rewarding, even if it is tiring) part of my job as the Fedora Project Leader is to help spread the word about Fedora in various parts of the world.  The most visible part of this is speaking at conferences and meeting with our ambassadors and contributors. Over the next three weeks I’ll be on a jet-lag-inducing marathon of travel, and I thought it would be helpful to let people know where I’ll be over the next few weeks.

LinuxConf Australia

On Friday, I’ll be flying to Brisbane for the LCA conference.  This is my first time to attend LCA, and I’m very much looking forward to meeting many of our contributors in the Asia-Pacific region while I’m there.  I’m also glad that the flood waters are receding in Brisbane, and that the conference attendees can do their small part to help in the recovery by showing up for the conference, eating in restaurants, staying in hotels, and otherwise helping the local economy.  I’ll be giving a presentation on Thursday the 27th explaining what Fedora is and the unique relationship between Fedora and Red Hat, and how to work effectively with upstream projects.

FUDCon Tempe

After LCA, I’ll be flying from Brisbane to Tempe, Arizona for the North American iteration of our annual Fedora Users and Developers conference, affectionately known as FUDCon.  I always look forward to the FUDCon conferences around the world, as they’re the best opportunity to meet with and work with other Fedora enthusiasts in a fun atmosphere.  I’ll be giving the traditional “State of Fedora” address on Saturday, leading the Board meeting on Monday, and generally doing my best to ensure that the conference runs smoothly.  I’ll also pitch a BarCamp session or two.  As always, FUDCon is a free event and we encourage all Linux enthusiasts to attend regardless of their experience level.

FOSDEM

After FUDCon I’ll be traveling to Belgium for FOSDEM, which is one of the premier free/open source software conferences in Europe.  In particular, I’ll be doing a couple of presentations in the Distributions room, talking about cross-distro collaboration, as well as the roles that distributions play in the free/open source ecosystem.  In addition, I will also be helping out at the Fedora booth.  I’m also hoping to pop over to the Open Telephony room to say hi to some of my telephone-loving friends there as well, if time permits.

If you’re at any of these three conferences, I encourage you to stop by and introduce yourself.  I look forward to meeting with you!

UTOSC 2010, Day 1

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This morning came too early today, as my body clock hadn’t adjusted to Mountain time yet.  I was wide awake at 4:30, and couldn’t convince my brain to shut down for an extra hour of needed sleep.  (I really shouldn’t complain… Several of the other Fedora folks at the conference arrived at about the same time this morning.)  I checked email, caught up on a few RSS feeds, then got ready and headed to the hotel breakfast with Ryan Rix, Karsten Wade, Larry Cafiero.  We had a very enjoyable discussion over breakfast.

After breakfast, Ryan Rix and I drove over to the conference.  I promptly got pulled into a number of great hallway conversations with both old friends and new Linux users.  At 8:30, I snuck over to the Utah CTO Breakfast.  It’s a monthly gathering of tech-minded folks (you don’t have to be a CTO to show up!) that get together and chat about current tech topics over bagels and juice.  Todays topics included long-term longevity of command-line interfaces, muscle memory, cost of context switching, and various strategies for improving signal to noise ratio in email and social networks.  The question that stood out to me was “What if social networks gave people an way to respond anonymously to status updates and form a feedback loop, so that people would (hopefully) learn that they were wasting your time with their status updates?”

After the CTO breakfast, I spent a few minutes talking to some of the SuSE developers from Novell.  I also spent some time catching up with a few of the organizers of the conference, and helping out with a few logistics.  I also visited the various booths in the exhibit hall and had some great discussions about some of the new features coming in Fedora 14.

After lunch, I went to the presentation by Jake Edge (of LWN.net fame) on Free Software Project Promotion.  He did a great job of enumerating the types of things that open source projects often forget to do when trying to promote themselves.  I spent the rest of the afternoon popping in and out of several of the other presentations, and going over the slides for my keynote address.

At 4:30pm, I gave the keynote address entitled “Swimming Upstream: How Distributions Help Open Source Communities”.  I felt at ease giving the presentation, and I think it was very well received.  We had some really good questions during the Q&A sessions — I just wish I could remember them all now.

After my keynote, the conference had a presentation from LaunchUp.org, which is a way for entrepreneurs to get feedback on their ideas and find others interested in helping them move forward.  It’s very much modeled after the open source way, and it was fun to watch the companies reach out and get some great feedback.

Now it’s time to grab some nachos and settle in for Ignite Salt Lake.

UTOSC 2010, Day 0

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On Wednesday I woke up entirely too early and headed to the airport for a nice five-hour flight from Dulles airport to Salt Lake City.  (I use the word nice, as it was a direct flight and I didn’t run into any major annoyances.)  It was good to see the Wasatch mountains again — I keep forgetting how much I miss mountains.  It was raining when I landed, but traffic was very light and it didn’t take long to get to the hotel. After checking into the hotel, I headed over to the Larry H. Miller campus of Salt Lake Community College campus to meet up with Clint Savage and help haul some equipment and survey the meeting rooms.  The location is great.  (If would have been nice to have all the rooms in the same building, but it’s not that big of a deal.)

Things are really looking good for the Utah Open Source Conference!  Clint, Jason, and the rest of the crew have really done a good job of getting things set up.

Utah Open Source Conference

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The next event on my busy schedule for October is the Utah Open Source Conference, just south of Salt Lake City at the Larry H. Miller Campus of Salt Lake Community College. I’ve been involved with the UTOSC conference since my good friend (and fellow board game enthusiast) Clint Savage first started the conference. Since then I’ve watched it grow and mature into one of the best regional Linux conferences in the world.

I’ll be doing quite a bit at the conference — I’ll be giving a keynote address on Thursday afternoon called “Swimming Upstream: How Distributions Help Open Source Communities”.  I’ll also be giving a presentation on Friday regarding easy system deployments using tools such as PXE booting, kickstart scripts, cobbler, puppet, and func.  I’ll also be helping out in the Fedora booth and spending some time with the rest of our fabulous Fedora crew at the conference.  I also told the organizers that I’d be happy to help out in any other ways, just like the good ol’ days when I was the person in charge of handing out name badges. (Last but not least, I’ll be thrashing all my friends in the “Board Game Bash” on Saturday night — this is my chance to show them who’s boss.)

I hope to see you at the Utah Open Source conference this week!  If you’re at the show, please stop by and say hi. I’d love to talk with you!

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