The 4th day of OSCON was the last one for me this year, with a redeye flight on my horizon so I could be in Boston for a friend’s pre-wedding festivities on Friday night.
The day began with a series of keynotes. The first that really stood out for me was one about CODE2040 by Laura Weidman Powers. She boldly spoke about race in the technology sector head on as she gave a series of interesting statistics about race in the industry and the growth of technology jobs and how quickly it has outpaced the supply of qualified workers. As such, they (and I) believe that broadening the pool of people in technology by reaching out to underrepresented racial minorities is the way forward. They do summer fellowship programs for blacks and latino/as and more to support these communities.
There were also a couple of keynotes about government, Code for America spoke about some of their work with the city of Oakland to help improve engagement between government and citizens with an open source question-style web portal. And Leigh Heyman from the Executive Office of the President came on to talk about the open source offerings for developers that have come from the White House, including sites at whitehouse.gov/developers, petitions.whitehouse.gov/developers and their github repo. The morning also had a couple of talks about licensing, discussing the importance of having one and stressing that not bothering to have one actually makes it less free, and the rise of permissive licensing in open source, as opposed to strongly copyleft licenses.
The first session I attended of the day was “Good enough” is good enough! by Alex Martelli of Google. The audience was pretty much in agreement about the “release early, release often” mantra so he had an easy crowd as he explored the history of debate behind the argument over how “perfect” software should be before release and several examples of where “less perfect” technologies have found success because they were available while better solutions were locked up in being perfected by their creators. But I think the most valuable portion of this talk for me was his overview of what not to skimp on when you’re developing software but not seeking perfection, his list included: revision control, documentation, security and proper coding and release practices. Slides here.
Next up was my talk!
In Code Review for Systems Administrators I began by giving an overview of the fully open source code review and continuous integration (CI) system that our Infrastructure team manages for the OpenStack project. The point of my talk was that we not only manage this system, but put our own changes (in puppet, system scripts, other config files) through automated testing and peer review as well, making it a really great infrastructure for collaborative systems administration. It was great to field questions about this process and have colleagues in the room who were able to speak to some of the history behind this (“Was it planned to do the administration this way?” “No, it happened organically when random people wanted to help us fix things!”). At the end of the session I was really happy to get to talk to some other folks who were interested in implementing similar code review and CI systems for their projects. Slides from my talk are online here: Code Review for Systems Administrators slides
After lunch I went to Reducing Identity Pain by Tim Bray of Google who began by impressing upon the audience that when a user has dozens of password to keep track of, rules like this are “mean”:
And then went on to talk about the job of securing these passwords, which major organizations fail to accomplish on a daily basis, leading to weekly headlines about major breaches. His plea was for use of federated identity systems so that users can simply use an identity provider they want without having to have separate logins for each site. His talk discussed OAuth2 and OpenID technology and reviewed Google’s identity toolsets for developers to make implementing it easier. He also gave examples of some clever ways that sites have allowed users to use identity providers of their choice without having dozens of icons cluttering up the login page.
Next up on my schedule was Creating a User Journey for Your Open Source Community by Francesca Krihely. She gave examples of types of users that needed attention in communities: n00bs, sophomores and experts. From these examples she gave ideas for how to best each of these groups through clear, targeted documentation on the website that was specifically designed for each level. Beyond just software, she also suggested getting users in touch with each other (user and study groups locally) and perhaps having expert programs that more experienced users can qualify for once they reach a certain level, where they have an elevated path to report and discuss feature concerns. I’ve certainly seen a need for easier on-boarding in some of my communities, so it was an interesting talk to attend.
I then met up with colleagues to attend Monty Taylor’s talk on TripleO: OpenStack on OpenStack. Since I’m intimately familiar with the project through testing I’m working on putting together, I didn’t gain a whole lot from it technically, but hearing further project rationale and future plans is always super helpful. It was also interesting how meta this discussion gets when you’re talking about bootstrapping and launching things from each other, cool concepts but it sure takes some explaining!
Last talk of the day (and the conference!) for me was PiDoorbell: Home Automation with Arduino/RaspberryPi by Rupa Dachere. The room was packed and it took several minutes to get the live demo set up, but the wait was worth it. Her talk centered around the use of a motion sensor, Arduino, Raspberry Pi and webcam to detect when someone is at her door and take a 10 second video of them, which is then uploaded and she is sent a text message to be notified of the event. Her live demo worked (hooray!) and was quite fun to watch. Over the weekend MJ ended up making a comment about how we should put a camera on Simcoe’s bowl to see if Caligula eats from it when we’re not around and I immediately thought of Rupa’s talk. Perhaps with an infrared camera…
I didn’t mention the expo hall at all, but it was a good one. The Ubuntu booth was pretty busy the whole time as far as I could tell, every time I tried to drop by to say hello they were crowded.
In all, great OSCON, I hope to go back next year!