If you had told me the biggest community Linux event in the United States took place in Columbus Ohio, I don't think I would have believed you before this last weekend. But Ohio Linux Fest blew away all my expectations, with 1100 in attendance, it was a truly phenomenal event. There were many great stories from the event, but I'll just drop in a few highlights.
My main reason for being out there was giving a technical presentation on OpenSim. I've done this presentation in a few other places, so this information I was quite comfortable with, and even had a bit of live demo. Because I had a last minute tech issue with my laser pointer I wasn't really paying attention with how full the room had become once I got started. I must have had at least 200 people in that room, and 250 is probably not an unreasonable guess. Compare that with the 15 I had a Linux World last year, and you get a sense of how much more committed people are here to the tech agenda.
I had intentionally kept the content light and short, as I'd always run over in the past, and the OLF folks are very strict on time keeping (which I highly appreciate as both an attendee and speaker). With my talk going from 4:00 - 4:55, I had slides, then a live demo, then figured I'd open up with questions. The slide portion went over ok, but it was hard to guage where the audience was at, when I got to the live demo at 4:25, things seem to perk up, and as I'd already gotten a quick audience question when starting up OpenSim I decided to go for broke, and just end the demo after 10 minutes and open up the floor for questions. Leaving a 20 minute question gap was a gamble, because I'd been in a few other presentations that only got 1 or 2 questions at the end, but I figured I could always go back to playing with things if it got really quiet in the room.
It didn't. I had questions from all over the floor, must have answered at least 10 of them in that 20 minutes. That even included a question from Doug McIlroy, the evening's keynote speaker. After the talk I had another half dozen folks follow me out and ask more questions out in the hallway, always a great sign. I couldn't have asked for a better audience, and really appreciate what the organizers of Ohio Linux Fest are able to pull off year after year.
The Guys from NOOSS
Before I left for the event I was found internally at IBM by on of the guys from the Northern Ohio Open Source Society to do an interview with them on OpenSim for their live all day podcast. That was a great time. Even though I'm becoming less active in the OpenSim project now, I'm hoping this push to get the word out on the project helps further grow the community.
As we wandered out from the after party the NOOSS guys had moved their recording setup to the lobby, and enticed us with some Great Lakes Brewery beer and Scotch to hang out on the NSFW portion of the podcast. Don't go and listen to that unless you are a brave soul. It did however let me put in a plug for my Brother In-Law, Andy Tveekrem, who has recently left as brew master of Dog Fish Head, once was the brewmaster of Great Lakes Brewery, and is planning on setting up a Brew Pub in Cleveland next year. I'll have to get word out to the NOOSS guys once they open, because their impecable taste in beer means I'm sure they'll find a home there. 🙂
It's worth the 11 hours in the Car
There were so many other good times, too many to retell here. Joe, my driving companion, took some video on the trip, which we may manage to cut down to something reasonable for posting online. It took us 11 hours each way to get there and back. Before the trip I was really concerned that it was going to be a lot of driving for not much. But this event was definitely worth the drive, and I'm already planning on going back next year, speaker or not. It was a really great event.