Tag Archives: conference

Notes from North Bay Python

North Bay Python marqee at the Mystic Theatre in Petaluma, CA

I had the pleasure of attending the first North Bay Python conference in Petaluma, CA this past weekend. IBM was a sponsor, and I gave a few quick remarks about doing python serverless actions on OpenWhisk. My two days there were full of wonderful talks and interactions with a slice of the python community.

One of the reasons I love low cost (to attendee) regional conferences like North Bay Python is that it makes technology conferences more accessible. For 40% of the 250 attendees, this was the first technology conference they'd ever gone to. Not everyone lives in New York City or San Francisco (or wants to), and having local events is critical to expanding the range of voices in the technology community.

There were tons of great talks, you can watch them all here. But I'll highlight a few moments that I'll keep with me for a while.

Fortran on stage

For a single track Python conference, we actually got to see FORTRAN in 2 different talks. It's probably more FORTRAN than I've ever read before.

Catherine Moroney is part of the team that does analysis of satellite images from the LandSat program. They've got a lot of optimized FORTRAN and C code for processing these images. But FORTAN and C aren't great languages for writing new features to orchestrate these lower level transforms. She uses Python to do this work, and can seamlessly pass data back and forth from Python to FORTRAN for data crunching. It was great to see how and when a hybrid approach like this makes the developers much more effective.

Christopher Swenson tackled FORTRAN from the other side. He hacked together a FORTAN IV interpretter in Python, so that he could run Colossal Cave Adventure (originally written for the PDP-11) as a text message game using the Twilio API. His talk wandered through some of the interesting quirks of now extinct programming languages, and the systems they were written for. This is a world before ASCII as we know it became a standard, and the idea of 32bit integers really hadn't emerged. 36bit integers were used to store 5, 7bit characters, which were later assembled into text streams.

Through the whole thing he showed snippets of FORTRAN that he had to make guesses about what it really meant, as well as be really frank on shortcuts he made to get things to work. There is no more FORTRAN IV code in the world, this didn't have to be a perfect emulator, it just had to run this one single FORTRAN IV program well enough to connect it to the internet.

You can play this by texting to +1 (669) 238-3683 right now if you want to see it in action.

Twitter Bots

Tweet: "What is Machine Learning? Easy! Machine Learning is how you automate your biases so you can think about them even less."

My vote for most hilarious talk was Benno Rice's dive into writing twitter bots. He started with pretty easy template base bots, like one producing plausible plot lines for Mid Summer Murders. This is just a stack of well crafted arrays and a random number generator.

Things got more interesting when he started diving into Markov Chain bots. Especially where you take content from a bunch of different sources. It's really easy for that to just become word salad at worst, or just confusing and "meh". He found you had to keep playing with the content mix as well as the overlap parameters to get the bots to generate something that's amusing at least some of the time. The bots he's got he doesn't let post directly, content is generated offline, and he pushes the good ones after manual review.

Benno also took a dive down the path trying to do machine learning to make these better, but mostly got worse results in his experiments. But, the story of that not working out was funny all by itself. The real lesson here is that playfulness is useful in learning some new things, and that Twitter bots are a lot of fun to build.

Search First Documentation

My vote for most takeaways that I'll personally use goes to Heidi Waterhouse for "Search-First Writing for Developers". Recently there as a mass migration of OpenStack Documentation from a dedicated docs team to all the development teams.

The heart of her message is that to any first approximation, no one reads your documentation. Users end up at your documentation when they have a problem with your software, so they are showing up a) grumpy, and b) through whatever Google terms they could guess for their problem. They are not coming through your carefully curated table of contents, they are coming from Google, and then they are skimming to find their answer. The won't follow links to other pages, this is where they are.

What that means is you need to treat every page as the only page that the user will ever see, you need to optimize your content for skimming, and you need to answer problems people actually have, not the ones you think they might have. Getting real analytics on how folks are reading your docs, and the search terms they are coming in with, is an important part of this.

Hearing all these harsh and practical words from someone that spent 15 years as a technical content author was really enlightening. I'll definitely have to watch this talk again and digest more of Heidi's lessons.

Safe Spaces

Reporting guidelines for Safety Incidents

One of the welcome trends that I've seen at tech conferences over the last 5 years is a real focus on a strict Code of Conduct, clear reporting guidelines, and making sure that folks feel safe at these events. North Bay Python did a great job on that front, and that commitment definitely was reflected in a pretty diverse speaker lineup and attendee base.

The effort they went to was highlighted further by Seán Hanson's talk on Quiet Developers. We've long known that while diversity in Tech is much lower than national averages, it's ever worse in Open Source Software. A big reason for this is members of traditionally marginalized communities really don't feel safe in these environments, or may not have the spare time to devote outside of their normal day jobs. It doesn't mean they aren't great developers, it's just that current systems are optimized for loudness as much as talent. Seán's whole talk was ways to engage and get the most out of your quiet developers, and give them what they need to really succeed. While I did need to leave about the time this talk started, I stuck around and watched from the balcony. His message was really powerful and really important to how we all evolve the tech community going forward.

Double A Plus, Would Come Again

North Bay Python was definitely worth the trip. It had a few normal quirks of a first time conference on scheduling. Being Petaluma, the Theatre didn't actually have heat, so the first few hours the first day were a bit cold in there. But it warmed up pretty quickly with 250 bodies. The biggest issue in my mind was there wasn't much common space outside of the theatre, so a hallway track wasn't really a thing. It would have been nice to have a bit more milling about time to get to know folks there, and ask follow up questions of speakers.

But all in all a great time. Looking forward to seeing how they do next year.

 

Notes from API Strat

Back in November I had the pleasure to attend API Strat for the first time. It was 2 days of short (20 minute) sessions running in 3 tracks with people discussing web service API design, practice, and related topics. My interest was to get wider exposure to the API Microversions work that we did in OpenStack, and get out of that bubble to see what else was going on in the space.

Events on the Web

Event technologies being used by different web services
Event technologies being used by different web services

There were lots of talks that brought up the problem of getting real time events back to clients. Clients talking to servers is a pretty solved problem with RESTful interfaces. But the other way is far from a solved item. The 5 leading contenders are Webhooks (over http), HTTP long polling, Web Sockets, AMQP, and MQTT. Each has their boosters, and their place, but this is going to be a messy space for the next few years.

OpenAPI's version 3 specification includes webhooks, though with version 3 there is no simultaneously launched tooling. It will take some time before people build implementations around that. That's a boost in that direction. Nginx is adding MQTT proxy support. That's a boost in that direction.

Webhooks vs. Serverless

Speaking of webhooks, the keynote from Glenn Block of Auth0 brought up an interesting point: serverless effectively lives in the eventing space as well.

Webhooks are all fine and good to make your platform efficient and scalable. If clients now have to run their own redundant highly available services to catch events, that's a lot of work, and many will just skip it. The found that once they build out a serverless platform where they could host their clients code, they got much more uptake on their event API. And, more importantly, they found that their power user customers were actually building out important features of their platform. He made a good case that every online service should really be considering an embedded serverless environment.

API Microversions

I was ostensibly there to talk about API Microversions, an approach we did in OpenStack to handle the fact that deployments of OpenStack upgrade at very different cadences. The talk went pretty well.

20 minutes was a challenge to explain something that took us all 6 months to get our heads around. I do think I managed to communicate the key challenge: when you build an open source system with a user facing API, how do users control what they get?  A lot of previous "good enough" rules fall down.

Darrel Miller had given a talk "How to never make another breaking API change". His first 5 minutes were really similar to mine, and then, because this was about Azure, with a single controlled API instance, the solution veered in a different direction. It was solid reinforcement for that fact that we were on the right path here, and that the open source solution has a different additional constraint.

One of the key questions I got in Q&A is one I'd been thinking about. Does GraphQL make this all obsolete? GraphQL was invented by Facebook to get away from the HTTP GET/POST model of passing data around, and let you specify a pretty structured query about the data you need from the server. On paper, it solves a similar problem as microversions, because it if you are really careful with your GraphQL you can ask for the minimum data you need, and are unlikely to get caught by things coming and going in the API. However, in practice, I'm not convinced it would work. In OpenStack we saw that most API usage was not raw API calls, it was through an SDK provided by someone in the community. If you are an SDK writer, it's a lot harder to make assumptions about what parts of objects people want, so you'd tend to return everything. And that puts you right back with the same problem we have in REST in OpenStack.

API Documentation

There were many talks on better approaches for documentation, which resonated with my after the great OpenStack docs migration.

Taylor Barnett's talk "Things I Wish People Told Me About Writing Docs" was one of my favorites. It included real user studies on what people actually read in documentation. It turns out that people don't read your API documentation, they skim hard. They will read your code snippets as long as they aren't too long. But they won't read the paragraph before it, so if there is something really critical about the code, make it a comment in the code snippet itself. There was also a great cautionary tale to stop using phases like "can be easily done". People furiously hunting around your site trying to get code working are ramping up quick. Words like "easy" make them feel dumb and frustrated when they don't get it working on the first try. Having a little more empathy for the state of mind of the user when they show up goes a long way towards building a relationship with them, and making them more bought into your platform.

Making New Friends

I also managed to have an incredible dinner the first night I was in town setup by my friend Chris Aedo. Both the food and conversation were amazing, in which I learned about Wordnic, distributed data systems, and that you can loose a year of research because ferrits bread for specific traits might be too dumb to be trained.

Definitely a lovely conference, and one I hope to make it back to next year.

Catskills Conf 2017

Sunrise club at Ashokan courtesy of Ruthie Nachmany - https://twitter.com/ruthienachmany

Yawp! YAWP!
Yawp! YAWP!
Don't fall in the creek.
Hudson Valley Tech Ashokan Community.
Yawp! YAWP!
Yawp! YAWP!
Don't fall in the creek.
Be as open and present as you can be.

That was the chorus of the theme song for Castkills Conf this weekend. Yes there was a theme song. Every day started with a musical riff on the talks of the day before by Jonathan Mann, who has been posting a song-a-day, every day, to youtube for a decade. You can go watch them for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday (soon). This is one of the many wonderful ways that this event was unlike any tech event I've been to, and why it just became one of my favorite tech events I've ever been to.

At a typical tech event the focus is on getting a bunch of speakers, so much content, splitting folks into tracks on the topics they would be interested in, then packing that in from 9 - 5 (or later). People are exhausted by the end of the day. They also largely attended different conferences. At a 10 track conference, the only shared experience, if it exists, is keynotes. Which for larger conferences are purchased slots.

Catskills Conf was a single speaking track. There were only 10 speakers, plus a lightning talk session with 7 lightning talks. The talks were a shared experience for everyone. They were all about technology, the tech industry, and/or the intersection of tech with other aspects of our lives. And they were all incredible. I considered it quite an honor to be a part of the speaking lineup.

And when it came to speakers, the Catskills Conf team was extremely serious about having a diverse speaker list. Of the 10 speakers, the gender split was 3 men, 6 women, and 1 non-binary. 4 of 10 speakers were people of color. The lightning talks were equally diverse. It was such a stark contrast to what you typically see at a Tech event that it was in your face refreshing.

10 talks doesn't seem like a lot for a 3 day conference, but in between them there were structured Activity times. Saturday afternoon there was a 2 hour activity block after lunch with options including black smithing, letter press, self defense, foraging, hiking (with historic interpretation of the Ashokan site), and bread making. Being a 75 degree sunny fall afternoon, I opted for the 2 hour hike, wandering through woods and along streams. I came straight back from that into my talk more energized than I've ever been for one.

These kind of breaks from sitting and listening to talks and doing something with your hands or feet gave was wonderful for processing what you were hearing. It also meant that by the end of the day instead of feeling like your brain was jelly, you had enough processing time that you were excited to talk about what you heard, or get to know the person sitting next to you at dinner and find out the fascinating things they were doing. Every night ended with a campfire and beer under the stars. Which was another place to talk and get to know more folks. You weren't so overloaded during the day that you wanted to go off and hide and decompress afterwards, even those of us that are more on the introvert side.

A couple of folks even collected for a 6am sunrise hike on Sunday morning. I joined 3 others as we hiked under flashlights, losing the trail a couple of times, to a sugar orchard and sugar shack, while discussing the work one of the hikers was doing around infectious disease modeling and experiments with mosquitos, the bio mimicry work that another was doing trying to take queues from nature and work them into built materials, discussing bird migrations, tech meetups, and just generally exploring a beautiful area.

This was the 3rd year of Catskills Conf, but the first time I could make it. I'm going to be processing the event for weeks to come. There were so many moments that I really loved that aren't here, it just doesn't all fit. But one thing is for sure. I'm extremely excited about attending and participating in the years to come.

I'll leave you with this really cool Catskills Conf 2017 wrap up video. It's not like being there, but it gives you a flavor.

OpenWest 2017 Roundup

When I first discovered the Open West conference, I was told it was the biggest US open source event that I'd never heard of, which is a pretty apt description. Open West brings together technologists interested in Open Technology in Sandy Utah, just south of Salt Lake City. This is a community regional Open Source event, run by volunteers, which means the program is much more varied than what you'd see at an event focused on a particular open source technology stack.

With up to 13 tracks happening simultaneously, there were lots of great moments for me over the course of the week. I'm just going to capture a few of them.

OpenCV Trials and Tribulations

There was a great talk by John Harrison at Lucid Charts about trying to do something interesting with OpenCV, and failing. He was giving the talk in the spirit of the Journal of Negative Results: reporting a hard problem they tried and failed at, and the dead ends they ran into.

It started as a hackfest project, could they take a screen shot with a camera of a flow chart, and use OpenCV to turn that into a symbolic flow chart in their tool. Turns out if you write all connecting lines in red, and all shapes in black, it's not a very hard problem. Also turns out, even in controlled user experiments, you can't get anyone to do that. It fails UX. And while they did build a system that worked with black lines everywhere in controlled lab environments, it worked with 0% of customer taken images, and the path to improvement wasn't clear, so after a 2 month experiment they stopped.

While they are primarily a Java shop, they did this entire project in python, because while "there are OpenCV bindings for every language you can imagine, all the interesting examples are only in python." Which goes to show how import an open and vibrant ecosystem of consuming tools is to the success of a project.

Writing Ethical Software

This was an interesting talk by James Prestwich on writing ethical software, that started with a brief history of schools of thought on ethics over the last 3000 years. The primer was just straight up informative, and the presenter actually did a quite good job being neutral through all of that.

Then we were posed with an interesting question. Software is now mostly about mediating complex interactions between people. If you look at other fields like Medicine and Law there are oaths and codes of conduct that their practitioners take because of how much their work affects people's lives.

We have collectively decided that certain things, like land mines, should not exist in the world. We have treaties on that. But as software eats the world, we're not having the conversation about what software should not exist, for any reason.

There weren't answers during this talk, it was mostly questions and attempting to start a conversation. But for anyone who works in software it's a good thought exercise to have. What are your personal ethical boundaries about software you would create or contribute to? It's also a much better conversation to have well in advance of any actual ethical conflict, because things are rarely bright lines, but long slippery slopes.

Hardware Track

There was a dedicated hardware track on the main stage for the whole conference, at least a third of the talks were related to home automation in some way, and 80% of them centered around a project that used a Raspberry Pi.

Raspberry Pi has managed to go across the entire hype curve and is now climbing away on the plateau of productivity. We went from neat idea, to unobtainium, to toy projects, to boxes full of pis in basements, to real productivity over the last 5 years. Yes, there are lots of other cheaper, neater, more powerful platforms, but the ecosystem around the pi just makes it the no brainer work horse.

I was actually a little surprised how many home grown Home Automation systems people talked about there. I did have pieces of something like that before discovering Home Assistant, but now it's hard to imagine doing all the work that the community is doing for me.

One of the projects I thought was most interesting was air quality monitoring with the esp8662. For about $30 they can build each monitoring unit, then find places throughout the community they can plug them in (need power and wifi). They are collecting it all in a
central MQTT broker and doing reports on it to try to get a better baseline on the air quality in the Salt Lake City area.

Patching People

The stand out keynote of the event was Deb Nicholson on patching people.

Any group of humans, and they ways they interact, have bugs, just like software has bugs. A people bug is like a software bug, it's unintended negative side effects of things that are happening. The point is, patching people is actually not all that different than patching software.

Filing "bugs" against people is a little harder than software, because no one likes to accept criticism. So as such, she put forward the idea of "calling in" vs. "calling out". Take the person aside, privately, and say "I think you were trying to do X, but the way it was said excluded a bunch of these people. Maybe saying it this other way would be more effective?".

The other thing to realize is none of us is above this. We all make mistakes, and need some patching from time to time.

After this talk I'm going to try to be better about calling in when I think it will help. In open source projects, they live or die by the longevity of the community, so patching the community to be more inclusive and welcoming is key.

So many more good moments...

Honestly, there were so many other good moments as well: chatting with folks about Home Assistant after my talk; seeing the state of the world on different AI cloud platforms; thinking about localization and culture in software; getting my head around the oauth model; json web tokens.

This is definitely a conference I'd love to get to again, and a great community event they've built there. Thanks to the OpenWest organizing team for such a great show.

My thoughts from TEDx Longdock

The moment I found out that someone was running a TEDx in our area, I was intrigued. The moment I realized John Rooney was one of the organizers, I signed up, as I knew this would be good. I was not disappointed.

The TEDx Long Dock event had a nebulous theme going into it. If I had to extract the theme afterwards it was about connections and community. Some remarkable people were there. Incredible stories of creation that were inspiring. I walked out of something from almost every talk, however after a couple of days of reflection I think there are a couple that will stick with me the most.

Will Etundi gave a talk near the end of the day on the importance of celebration, just how much turning anything into celebration changes the conversation, tone, and productivity of everyone involved. He gave a challenge to deliberately celebrate something every week, be  it big or small. I'm all in on that.

Sarah Jacob gave possibly the tightest and most TED light talk of the event, on how Tango changed her life, got her connected, and the importance of connection in everything we do. It was even followed up with a dance on stage, which was truly amazing. This is one of the talks that I want to see again, and can't wait until the video is posted.

The funniest talk of the day goes to John Cappello, a lawyer, who gave an overview of the planning process in NY, and what his ideal town would be and how they'd use it. People think of the comprehensive plans as a way to stop things you don't like, but forget that the comprehensive plans are just as much a tool to create the kind of community you want. I also am with him that every town needs a brewery.

More bits of inspiration from this day keep tricking into my head. I woke up from a nap this afternoon with the song we ended the day on looping in my brain, which means I'm probably about half way through my sub conscience digesting it all.

I'm hopeful this is the start of an annual event. Even if it wasn't under the TEDx brand, I'd be back. The organizers all did an incredible job, and a very amazing day came out of the whole thing.

 

My Thoughts on the Central PA Open Source Conference

I love this new movement of small regional open source conferences that seem to be springing up everywhere. Democratizing the conference space by making it local and affordable is a wonderful thing. When I was at Ohio Linux Fest last year, I got told I should really check out what the folks in Harrisburg were doing with the Central PA Open Source Conference. Given that a trip to Harrisburg would also mean a good chance to visit friends in York as well, I submitted once their call for papers opened up. Having just gotten back from CPOSC, I can tell you they are doing some really great awesomeness there.

First off, the quality of the people at CPOSC is just really amazing. Every random conversation I ended up in was really compelling, and made me wish there was more time between sessions to have even more of those. I learned some very interesting things about mobile web development when I didn't know, I learned quite a few interesting Drupal tricks that are invaluable, and I found a really vibrant and welcoming open source community in Central PA.

The facilities were brilliant. We were in the Technology Building for Harrisburg University, on the 12, 13, 14th floors, which were truly state of the art. Touch screen controls for all the rooms, power wired to all the desks, really good chairs... just all around brilliant. The flat screen displays in the hallway we even flipping through Linus quotes all day, which while a little detail, really helped set the atmosphere.

The organization was really tight, which I always appreciate as a speaker. The speaking blocks were 50 minutes, with 10 minutes in between. The organizers ensured every session started on time, and ended on time, giving 10, 5, and 1 minute warning cards. The graphics on these included Veloceraptors and Wolves, which I didn't even realize until after my talk. A well run event is one that seems like no one is running it but, mysteriously, everything is just where it needs to be when it needs to be there. That's was CPOSC to a T. To everyone that made CPOSC happen behind the scenes, I applaud you greatly.

The schedule at CPOSC was great. The speakers and content were top notch. I've now learned that on the presentation win scale there is something even better than a perfectly in context xkcd comic to make your point: using video from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom to explain software architecture. My only regret on the speaker front is that by consuming one of the slots with my own talk, I inevitably collided with a talk I actually really wanted to see.  Oh well, thems the breaks.

Finally, my audience was great. I had somewhere between 50 - 60 people in my talk, all were very engaged, and really focused on what I was saying. I felt really good about how the presentation went (though I've of course got my mental list of things I'd change afterwards, it's never a good talk without that), but I did feel that I was on my game. I got a number of great questions at the end of the talk, and people coming up to me later in the day asking more questions and just striking up conversations that followed from there (see point 1 about the quality of the people being excellent).

I can't wait until CPOSC 2011, and will definitely do my darnedest to get down to it. Knowing how good the speaker pool is now, I'm going to have to make sure I keep my game up to play there.

Central PA Open Source Conference open for registration

CPOSC is now open for registration.  It's in Harrisburg PA on October 16th (a Saturday), which makes it about a 4 hour drive from here in Poughkeepsie, NY.  This will be my first year there, but based on the list of talks they've got posted I'm sure it's going to be great, and not just because I'll be talking ;).

If you are in the mid Atlantic area, and are interested in Linux and Open Source, you should check it out.

Midhudson IEEE Cloud Computing Workshop - Friday November 6th

Our local IEEE chapter does an annual fall workshop each year.  Last year was robots (which I apparently forgot to blog about...).  It was quite good, and showed off robots for largely military and educational purposes.  Some live demos (not for the military types) and videos were shown over the course of the day.  Good times.

This year the IEEE is doing their workshop on Cloud Computing.  While the website and pdf still say Nov 3rd... it's not, it's Friday the 6th (this event is always on a Friday).  I'm going to repost the details embedded in the PDF here, because while google deals with PDFs, it's a lot easier to refer people to a website.

Sponsored by: The Mid-Hudson Section of the IEEE and The School of Science and Engineering, State University of New York, New Paltz Co-sponsored by the Mid-Hudson IEEE Computer Society

When:  Friday, November 6, 2009

Where:  The Terrace Restaurant, SUNY New Paltz campus (all campus facilities are fully accessible and comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act).

Registration Fee: $20 per person - free to Mid-Hudson IEEE members or students with valid ID (includes coffee breaks and buffet lunch, plus CD ROM with presentation materials and invited papers). Please contact the organizers for information on registration fee waivers due to economic hardship. Advance registration payments (checks drawn on a U.S. bank only) may be made out to the CAS 8600. Send check to: School of Science and Engineering, 1 Hawk Drive, State University of New York, New Paltz, NY 12561. Attendees may also register at the door on the day of the workshop.

Scope and Purpose: There has been a great deal of recent interest in new ways to deliver information technology (IT) resources to large organizations. This has been driven by significant reductions in the cost of computing cycles, mass storage, and network bandwidth, as well as a desire to pursue more federated data center designs, reduce operating expenses, and conserve energy. One significant emerging trend involves outsourcing selected business to IT service providers; the enabling technology and business model are both referred to as Cloud Computing. There has been a great deal of discussion around what cloud computing actually means to the IT industry, maturity of the enabling technologies, and training a new generation of IT staff. In this workshop, we’ve invited a number of distinguished speakers with first-hand experience in cloud computing to describe their work and share their vision for the future. The emphasis will be on development of cloud computing architectures, software, and networking for a range of practical applications, and on the viability of this approach for emerging data center designs. A panel discussion on current trends and directions in this field will also be included.

Attendees will have the opportunity to interact with the guest speakers through informal discussion breaks throughout the day, and a question/answer session will be held at the end of the panel discussion to assess those attendees wishing to apply for continuing education units under the New York State Professional Engineers program (there are no prerequisites for this workshop). Attendees will also have the opportunity to provide written feedback on the various sessions during the day. Invited papers and other presentation materials will be made available on CD as part of the registration package.

Agenda (as of Oct 23):

8:00 – 9:00 On-site registration and coffee
9:00 - 9:30 Welcome (Dr. Daniel Jelski, Dean, School of Science and Engineering, SUNY New Paltz; Dr. Baback Izadi, (2009 Chair, Mid-Hudson Section of the IEEE) Prior and future SUNY workshop topics (Dr. Casimer DeCusatis, IBM)
9:30 – 10:00 Dr. Casimer DeCusatis, IBM, and Todd Bundy, Adva Optical Networking, “Cloud Computing Fundamentals & Applications”
10:00 – 10:30 Michael Haley, IBM, “Emerging Cloud Data Centers”
10:30 – 11:30 Brian Goodman, IBM, “Building the compute cloud: firsthand experience”
11:30 – 12:30 Buffet Lunch, The Terrace Restaurant
12:30 – 1:00 Carolyn DeCusatis, Pace University, “Converged Networking for Cloud Data Centers”
1:00 – 1:30 Dr. Robert Cannistra, Marist College, “A new curriculum for cloud data centers”
1:30 – 2:00 Dr. Aparicio Carranza, City College of New York, and Jorge Martinez, EMC, “Migration of legacy storage area networks”
2:00 – 2:30 coffee break
2:30 – 3:00 Aneel Lakhani, IBM Global Services, “Cloud Computing showcase data center”
3:00 – 4:00 Panel Discussion, “The future of enterprise data centers: what will be the role of cloud computing ?” (all invited speakers)
4:00 – 4:15 Concluding Remarks (Dean, SUNY New Paltz)

Ohio Linux Fest 2009

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.

OpenSim Presentation

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.

O'Reilly Open Source Conference

For the third time I attempted to get a paper in for OSCON, however, unlike the last 2 attempts, this one was accepted. 🙂

The paper is entitled "Easy as Pie: Making Graphical Desktop Applications with Perl and Glade", based on my personal experience learning enough Glade to do the ExifTagger project, though the reality is that the way Gtk2 maps up to other high level languages, such as Python and Ruby, the talk should be pretty broadly applicable to any high level language developers.