Posts tagged FUDCon

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…

Prepare for FUDCon!

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I have a pretty good idea what you’re thinking… you’re saying to yourself “Here goes Jared, reminding me of all the things I need to remember about FUDCon”.  Well, this is a FUDCon reminder, but I’ll leave the logistics details aside for a moment, and invite you to prepare for FUDCon in other ways.  I’m sure others will remind you of the logistical items you’ve forgotten about.  (You did remember to sign up ahead of time for the wireless internet access at Virginia Tech, right?)

Amit learning at FUDCon Pune

Prepare to Learn

One of the things I most enjoy about the Fedora Users and Developers Conference is the chance to learn in a fast-paced environment from people who do amazing things every day.  That learning doesn’t come by accident, however.  I learned at my first FUDCon that you really need to prepare ahead of time to be able to take advantage of all there is to learn at FUDCon.  So, write down a short list of topics you’d like to learn about. Write down a list of questions you’d like to ask your fellow Fedora contributors.  Look at the list of workshops, and start planning which ones you would like to attend.  And when we organize the barcamp portion of the conference on Saturday morning, pay attention to the sessions that are pitched and be prepared to vote for the sessions you are most likely to attend.

I’ve seen from sad experience that if you don’t plan ahead for learning, you’ll end up spending too much time checking your email or chatting with your friend in the hallway (more on the hallway track below!), and miss out on a great opportunity to learn and grow.

Eugene teaching at FUDCon Pune

Prepare to Share

I’ve talked briefly about learning at FUDCon, but that must mean there’s another side to the coin: If there are people to learn, then there must be people willing to teach as well.  This is one reason why the barcamp session at FUDCon is truly amazing, because anybody can stand up and propose a session.  It always helps if you have something prepared to share, or know the material well enough that you can do a presentation without any formal preparation, but that’s not an absolute requirement.  I do encourage you, however, to spend some time thinking about the things you have that you could teach to other participants, and then come prepared to share your knowledge with others.

I’d also like you to think about ways you can share the FUDCon experience with those who aren’t able to make it to the conference.  All the usual suspects (blog posts, microblogging such as identi.ca or Twitter, social networking, IRC channels) are there and available to help us share with those who are participating vicariously.

Socializing at FUDCon Tempe

Prepare to Socialize

Another important aspect of FUDCon is the chance to get to know your fellow Fedorans better.  So even though I told you earlier to plan ahead so that you don’t get stuck in the “hallway track” at FUDCon, I must confess that the hallway track is an important part of the conference.  Perhaps as important as the technical bits.  Getting to know your fellow contributors helps build trust in our community, and helps to smooth over the rough patches that we encounter from time to time.  Sometimes being able to put a face and a name with an IRC handle makes all the difference.  There are a number of activities on the schedule specifically designed to help you get to know your (virtual) neighbors a bit better, and I’m sure some people will come up with unscheduled activities as well.

So bring your HAM radio, or your DSLR, or your latest robotics kit, or your hot dog costume.  Bring your favorite keyboard or input device… and then don’t be afraid to say hello to those around you.  And if you see me, say hi!  (I’ll be the guy playing amateur photographer and generally trying to make sure things go smoothly.)

Work being done during FUDCon Tempe

Prepare to Work

Last but not least, I ask each of you to come to FUDCon prepared to work.  Yes, we have a good time at FUDCon.  Yes, we learn and share and grow.  But at the end of the day, FUDCon is about making forward progress, and moving us one step closer to our goals.  Yes, talk is important, and conversation is crucial.  It’s only if we put those ideas into action that FUDCon is truly successful.  If you’re a part of a steering committee or a special interest group in Fedora, prepare to set a plan for the upcoming year.  If you’re not yet a member of a special interest group, you might want to join one at FUDCon, and take the first step to becoming more involved.

I can’t wait to spend time with many of you at FUDCon this coming weekend, and hope to meet the rest of you someday at a future event.

(Thanks to María “tatica” Leandro and Kushal Das for sharing their FUDCon photos with me.)

A few notes on FUDCon Blacksburg

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Yes, it’s that time again.  Another Fedora Users and Developers Conference (or FUDCon, as they are affectionately known) is just around the corner.  Part of my job is to make sure everyone in Fedora knows the essential details for FUDCon Blacksburg.  I know that the middle of January sounds like a long way away, but we’re now less than a month away from FUDCon Blacksburg.   If you’re interested in attending, here’s what you need to know:

When? Where?

FUDCon Blacksburg will take place January 13th through 15th, 2012 in Blacksburg, Virginia, USA — a beautiful community in southwestern Virginia, nestled in the Appalachians and near the Jefferson National Forest.

How much does it cost?

Like all FUDCon events, there is no charge to attend FUDCon Blacksburg.  Simply show up and enjoy the conference!

Where do I pre-register?

Please register online by adding your name to the wiki at https://fedoraproject.org/wiki/FUDCon:Blacksburg_2012#Pre-registration so that we can plan appropriately for the number of people attending FUDCon.

What about hotel rooms?

We’ve arranged a special rate with the Inn at Virginia Tech. Click this link for reservations or call the Hotel directly at +1-540-231-8000 or toll free at +1-877-200-3360 and ask for the Fedora room block. Our block expires on December 28, 2011, so don’t delay!

I’m flying to FUDCon.  What airport do I fly into?

The closest commercial airport is Roanoke Regional Airport, approximately 40 miles from Blacksburg. A shuttle bus is available Monday through Saturday (but not on Sunday) from http://www.smartwaybus.com/schedule.htm.  Please consult that website for a detailed schedule and map.  There will be a few people with cars to help shuttle people to the airport if you happen to fly out on Sunday.

Where do I find more information?

The main website for FUDCon Blacksburg is at https://fedoraproject.org/wiki/FUDCon:Blacksburg_2012. I hope to see you at the conference.

FUDCon Milan

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I’m a little late in writing up my thoughts on FUDCon Milan, but I’ve been fighting a combination of jet lag and sinus infection since I got home late Tuesday night.

FUDCon Milan was a successful event.  We started things out with a social event on Friday night at the Yguana Cafe.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t stick around for long as I had to make a run to the airport and help people find their way to the hotel.  On Saturday morning, we all met at venue and kicked off the barcamp session of the conference.  I was pleased to see many people stand up and pitch ideas for presentations — I think we ended up with around 30 different presentations on Saturday.  I took an informal poll during the introductions, and roughly half of the people there had never been to a FUDCon event before.

I gave an informal presentation called “You Could Be The Next Fedora Project Leader”, where I talked about the importance of mentoring new community members and how changes in Fedora leadership are a healthy and vital thing.  I also talked about what I do as the Fedora Project Leader to encourage community building.  I thought my presentation was well received, despite the fact that I somehow tripped the electrical breaker for the projectors as I was starting my talk, and ended up giving most of the presentation without any slides.  (Thank goodness I was prepared!)  Before and after my presentation, I tried to bounce between the other presentations, and actively participated in the “hallway track” of discussions with new friends and old friends alike.  The provided lunch was fantastic, and we even got in a few group photos.

On Saturday evening, we had the traditional FUDPub dinner, which was all-you-can-eat pizza.  I think everyone had a great time at FUDPub, even if some of the pizza was a bit strange.  I wasn’t going to say anything, but the Italian Ambassadors kept joking that the chefs were in the kitchen yelling “We’re running out of food — what can we feed the foreigners?”.  I have to admit — I kind of enjoyed the french fry pizza, even if it wasn’t very traditional.  During the FUDPub dinner, Christoph Wickert slipped away for a few minutes and came back wearing a Beefy Miracle costume — who knew you could find such a thing on eBay.  We all got a kick out of the costume, and had fun taking pictures.  (Francesco Crippa let me borrow his fancy Nikon DSLR, and I went crazy with it — I think I ended up taking a couple of gigabytes worth of pictures. Hopefully he’ll share some of the pictures with us, if he dares wade through all the awful pictures to find a few gems.)  After FUDPub, people went in different directions — some to drink, some to sleep, and some to eat gelato.

Sunday was the hackfest portion of the conference, and again the community came through with a great set of hackfest suggestions.  I think we ended up with twelve or thirteen different hackfest sessions, and everyone I talked to was pleased with the results.

I had a wonderful time interacting with members of our Fedora community, including a lot of people who I got to meet for the first time.  My heartfelt thanks go out to Francesco Crippa and the rest of the FUDCon Milan organizing team — your hard work made for a truly spectacular event.

SELF, Day 1

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The first day of SELF was busy and productive.  I started the day by attending David Nalley’s presentation as part of “Build your own Open Source cloud day” here at SELF.  I had to leave after the first hour, however, as we had a FAD (FADs are Fedora Activity Days — small group meetings where we try to focus on one or two particular problems and come up with better solutions) focused on improving FUDCons.  In particular, we wanted to focus on:

  • Clarifying the process for FUDCon finances and the purchase of tickets for travel subsidies
  • Clarifying the bid selection process, and brainstorming ideas to make it better
  • Improve the FUDCon planning process, and ensure that there is an overabundance of transparency and detail-oriented organization

We had some fairly good discussions on each of the three topics, and I’ll be writing follow-up blog posts to address these items over the next couple of weeks.  It is imperative that we make the FUDCon process as transparent and smooth as possible, as we’ll essentially have three FUDCons in four months (FUDCon EMEA in September/October, FUDCon APAC in November/December, and FUDCon North America in January).

As the Fedora crew was winding down the discussion in the FAD, I had to run give my presentation (the first stand-alone presentation of the day) entitled “Swimming Against the Current”, which was a fairly high-level overview of the software development model, the river of functionality that starts with upstream software developers and flows downstream to end users, the unique role that software distributions such as Fedora play, and why it’s vital both to build strong relationships of trust with upstream software communities, as well as improve the communications within the distribution itself.  The talk seemed to be very well received, and we had a great Q and A session afterword where we discussed strategies for improving the mentoring process within communities.

After wolfing down a sandwich for lunch, I spent some time talking with former Docs Project lead Eric Christensen (Sparks on IRC) discussing some of the ins and outs of the documentation team in Fedora.  We worked on fleshing out a quick outline for new guide that Eric is writing, and then dove into brainstorming ideas for improving the docs process workflow.  In the middle of that discussion, Eric and I went to Paul Frields’ talk, which was an introduction to PyGObject programming (Python + GUI + the new GObject hotness). After wrapping up the Docs discussion, it was time to head to the speaker’s dinner, and then retire to my room, make a few phone calls, and crash.

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!

Where is Jared this week?

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I’ve had a bit more travel than is usual this month, which means I’m writing this blog post from a hotel room outside of Boston.  Boston, you ask?  What am I doing in Boston?  I’m here for the rest of the week having some meetings at the Red Hat offices here in Westford, MA this week.  I came up here in June when I was interviewing for the FPL job, but hadn’t been back since, and I thought it was about time to hop back up and spend some time in some meetings with some of my friends and co-workers here.

Today, I caught up with Paul Frields and Kara (from Red Hat’s press team) to talk about press blog entries and video highlights for the Fedora 14 release. I also talked with John Poelstra and Paul and Spot (via phone — poor guy is recovering from a nasty case of the flu) about the hiring process for the Fedora Program Manager job. (If you’re interested in the job, send either John or me your résumé now, before it’s too late!)  I also had the chance to have some very informal meetings in the hallway with folks like Dan Walsh, Luke Macken, and Dave Malcolm.  Since I’m a remote employee, I don’t get the chance to rub shoulders with these folks often enough, so I enjoyed chatting with them.

Tomorrow, I’ve got a higher-level meeting with several Red Hat managers to get some feedback from them on how they think Fedora is working as an upstream for Red Hat Enterprise Linux, as well as how I’m doing as the new FPL.  My primary role in the meetings is to listen, and to gather feedback as we near the release of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6, while the experience is fresh in everyone’s minds.

This meeting is a mechanism to gather ideas and comments from folks in Red Hat who aren’t necessarily engaged in Fedora on a day-to-day basis. In a way, Red Hat is not just an active participant and heavy contributor in Fedora, but is also somewhat of a customer, in that Fedora is an upstream from which Red Hat Enterprise Linux draws. It’s a helpful learning experience to hear firsthand accounts from a customer, and I hope this meeting will be no exception.

That feedback becomes part of the larger fabric of possibilities that can inform our future strategies. If there are opportunities for improvement that might interest the community, the entire Fedora team will collaborate to address those items, just as we would on any feedback. For example, FUDCon Tempe in January will be a great opportunity to discuss ideas for improvement in Fedora in a high-bandwidth fashion, and I’m looking forward to the ideas that come out of the time there.  Another key goal for my meeting tomorrow is to give some of my thoughts and ideas back to Red Hat about the things I’ve seen during my first few months on the job.  I’m a big fan of continual improvement, and I think these feedback sessions are one healthy and important way to make sure we’re making progress.

On Thursday, I’m doing a quick (15 minutes or less, I promise!) presentation to the Desktop team inside Red Hat, to let them ask some questions and get to know me a bit better.  Should be pretty informal, but it’s a chance for me to get to know them better and vice versa.  I’m also hoping to track down a few minutes to chat w/ Mo Duffy to tell her what an awesome job the design and website teams are doing on the new design of the Fedora website.  (If you haven’t checked it out yet, you really should.  I can’t tell you how pleased I am with the way it’s shaping up.)

On Friday, I’m doing a podcast with Paul Frields for “This Week in Fedora” from Frostbite Media.  I did an interview with them a few weeks ago, but they invited me back, and I’m sure Paul and I will have an enjoyable time talking about our favorite subject.  I’m also hoping to squeeze in time to shoot a bit of video for one of the Fedora 14 release videos.  (Not that I really want to appear on video, but I do enjoy talking about the upcoming Fedora 14 release…)

Between all the meetings, I’ll be catching up on email, participating in IRC meetings, and helping coordinate all the moving parts of the release so that we can hopefully ship Fedora 14 according to our schedule.  All in all, it’s shaping up to be a busy week here, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

FUDCon Zurich, Day 0

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This morning I arrived in Zurich for the FUDCon conference here, which starts bright and early tomorrow morning.  Getting here was a bit on the interesting side… On my flight from Richmond to Atlanta yesterday, one of the plane’s engines started overheating, so we cut the flight short and landed in Greensboro, NC instead. (Rumor on the plane was that Air Force One was also landing there about the same time, and they had to wait for us — I’m not really sure I believe any of that story.)  After a couple of hours of waiting, they put us on another plane and got us to Atlanta.  Luckily, I had time to catch my connection in Atlanta for Zurich.  The flight was uneventful, and I spent the time typing on my laptop and sleeping for a few hours.

I arrived here in Zurich about 8:00am this morning, and quickly caught the hotel shuttle to the hotel.  The hotel didn’t have my room ready yet, so I hung out in the lobby for a few hours and worked on some presentation slides I’ve been meaning to touch up.  By noon Jesse Keating had arrived, and Tom and Mo showed up soon after that as well.  After a shower, I felt human again.

A bit later this afternoon, the four of us met up with Adam Williamson (who was already here) and went out for lunch.  Sandro had recommended we try a traditional Swiss restaurant called “Swiss Chuchi” which is right outside the Hotel Adler fairly close to the central train station.  We took the S7 train from right next to the hotel (in the direction of Rapperswil) to the main train station (Zurich HB or “Central”), then caught a tram from there to area of the restaurant.  It took us a few minutes to find the right street from there, but soon we were eating.  Several of us tried different flavors of fondue.  It was delicious.  While there, we ran into Bert from Belgium.

After finishing lunch, we caught a tram towards the ETH Zurich campus to check in with Sandro and Marcus and see if we could help get things setup.  I read the map wrong and took us several blocks out of the way, and then we had a hard time finding the right building.  In the end, we found where we were supposed to be, and helped setup power and network for the conference.  (For the record, we’re in the CHB building, on floor D.) From there, we took the #10 tram back to the central station and the S7 train (in the direction of Winterthur) back to the hotel.

I’ve now caught up on a few more emails, made a quick call home to my wife, typed this blog post. Now I’m ready to call it a night.  The conference begins at 9:00 in the morning, so I’d better get some sleep.

Upcoming FUDCons

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One of the most enjoyable parts of my job as Fedora Project Leader is to get out and interact with the people that make Fedora great.  I’m very much looking forward to rubbing shoulders with Fedora users and developers at one of the upcoming FUDCon events.  The first is FUDCon Zurich which is scheduled for September 17th, 18th, and 19th at the campus of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich. (If you’re short on funds, you can even get free sleeping accommodations in a fallout shelter underneath the campus.)

The next FUDCon event in North America is scheduled for January 29-31 in Tempe, Arizona.

As always, both events are free of charge and open to all interested parties.  Please pre-register now if you plan to attend, so that we can accurately plan for the number of participants at each event.  Also keep in mind that all of our FUDCon locations are being chosen based on a bidding process.  If you’d like a FUDCon event in your area, please check out the Fedora wiki page on the FUDCon bidding process, and submit a proposal.  We’ve already received one proposal for FUDCon LATAM 2011, and hope to get more over the new few weeks.

If you’re coming to either FUDCon Zurich or FUDCon Tempe, I hope to have the chance to meet you and listen to your ideas.

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