As I promised at Last afternoon’s post from the FOSSCOMM presentation room, here’s a short write up of the , relatively short, but good times we had in NTUA this weekend.
After a bit of a late session at work on Friday, I managed to get about 3-4 hours of sleep at about 02:00am. At about 06:30 I left Patras, and after an uneventful trip I arrived at the FOSSCOMM room at about 13:30 (travelling by bus is, apparently, not very time-efficient).
Photis Georgatos’ help was insturmental in getting both Leonidas and me to the correct building in NTUA, but once I was in I noticed there were dozens of people outside of the FOSSCOMM room, merrily typing away on their laptops. Some of them were even live-upgrading remote HELLUG servers (hey manji! :P).
We had our PGP key signing party shortly after my arrival. Now my GNUPG key is signed by or has been also used to sign the keys of about a dozen new people. That’s pretty cool, and it was one of the best reasons to attend FOSSCOMM. We’ve been chatting through IM, IRC, email and other online forums with many FOSSCOMM attendees, but seeing someone face to face, even if there is just barely enough time to say `hi’, is always neat.
The talks were interesting, but I noticed that it was a bit difficult hearing everything. My own talking style is not very, uhm, `loud’ — to put it a bit mildly — so I was afraid people wouldn’t be able to hear me very well. They couldn’t. I tried to talk a bit louder than usual, but I was told by friends who also attended the event that they had trouble hearing me from the final rows. Oh well, I’l have to try a bit louder the next time :(
Other than this minor glitch, it was fun talking about FreeBSD. The slides of my FreeBSD presentation were written in a new, a bit experimental but pretty “minimal” style, using XeLaTeX (for TTF font support) and the memoir package for page layout. That worked out surprisingly well.
The usual problem of having too many things to say about FreeBSD creeped up once more, and I overshot my time window for several minutes. Despite my efforts to keep the slides quite short and few in number, and deliberately making an effort not to read from the slide text as I was making the presentation, there’s always so much to say about how the FreeBSD works and what we do that I find it hard to talk for less than an hour or so. Giving short `intro’ talks about FreeBSD is something I must practice a bit more :)
The upside is that even though I was afraid about spending too much time talking, there was a lot of interest about BSD licensing and how FreeBSD works. A few high quality questions about how one becomes a FreeBSD contributor, how to join the community, and how mentorship works were the main theme of the Q&A session after the talk. That’s excellent news, because the main reason these talks are given is to attract more people to FreeBSD and get them to know it better.
After the final wrap up sessions of the FOSSCOMM talks and discussions, there was more… The old saying about conferences and events being 20% talks and 80% socializing before, between and after the talks is so very true. When we left NTUA, a large-ish company of friends, people who work together, or have contributed to common free software or open source teams, gathered for a `relax’ session at the `Ostria’ cafe. Surprisingly enough, we managed to avoid flaming each other to bits for a few hours! The whole cafe post-event relax session idea was brilliant. I don’t know who was the first to propose it, but there were so many things to talk about that it would be a shame to wrap up FOSSCOMM, leave NTUA and head directly home. We would miss all the fun about the usual MySQL vs. PostgreSQL, Sendmail vs. the world, Mercurial vs. Git fun. We would also miss the chance to informally chat about how we would like the next FOSSCOMM to be, and that sort of after-the-fact discussion is, I guess, where experience from the whole thing starts sinking in.
Many thanks to the FOSSCOMM organizers, and to the National Technical University of Athens, for hosting this event!
Finally, to everyone who attended FOSSCOMM:
I don’t remember all the names of everyone who was in NTUA, or even all the names of the people in Ostria, but it was a great pleasure seeing all of you. I’m looking forward to our next `Free and Open Source Software Communities’ event :-)