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Trip to New York for Ubuntu Release Event in Waterloo

This past weekend I drove up to Waterloo, New York with my friend Crissi to attend the New York Team‘s Ubuntu Release Event.

We left Pennsylvania around 10AM on Saturday and headed out to NY, stopped at Friendly’s in Scraton for lunch and arrived in Seneca Falls, NY around 4PM. The weather driving up was great and the drive itself was an easy one. Upon arrival at the Hotel Clarence (named after the Angel from It’s a Wonderful Life since, as wikipedia reports: “Seneca Falls, New York claims that when Frank Capra visited their town in 1945, he was inspired to model Bedford Falls after it. “) we were greeted by a friendly staff who went out of their way to make us feel welcome – and not just in the traditional way that small, local hotels do! The concierge had been following me on Twitter (taken a cue from the email address I registered with, perhaps?) and the hotel receipt said “VIP – Envoy from Alderaan” – and boy did we feel VIP! The room was on the top floor and gorgeous, and that evening when some of the New York LoCo guys came out they brought out some chairs so we could meet up together in the ballroom that they weren’t using that night.

Meeting up with some of the New York guys Saturday night was fun, first to show up was Charles Profitt, who I’ve worked with on a couple projects within Ubuntu and most recently have been working with on the Ubuntu Community Learning Project. He wrote a charming (and funny!) post about meeting here. He couldn’t make it to the event the following day, so I took the opportunity to pick his brain about the presentations he’s done to less technical crowds (mostly educational groups). He had some really great points about the costs of hardware and software through the years, and was able to point me toward slides for a couple presentations he’s done on the subject. I was also able to finally meet New York Team Leader Jeremy Austin-Bardo who was a primary organizer of the weekend’s events. Also joining us that evening was my fellow presenter for the following day, Donald (Ducky) Newel who’d be doing an introduction to FOSS, so it was great to spend the time collaborating and seeing how my FOSS Involvement talk would fit in with his.

Going back to Seneca Falls was quite an experience for me. I didn’t really manage to stay in touch with anyone from when I lived there 9 years ago, so there wasn’t any visiting, but it was interesting to walk through the old town again. I was able to show Crissi where I used to work, where I used to live, and tell a bunch of stories I now fear were dreadfully boring from when I lived there (bless her for putting up with me, and the chilly weather!). My life then was quite different than it is now, I think going back allowed me to lay some feelings I’d been harboring about my time there to rest and properly say goodbye to that little town. Add in the super comfortable bed that evening and I slept like the dead that Saturday night!

Sunday morning we partook in the complementary breakfast there at the hotel and hung out in the hotel room all morning. We checked out around noon and headed over to the Holiday Inn Waterloo. After setting up Donald did his introductory talk, where he covered what F/OSS is and reviewed a number of applications that ship with default Ubuntu.

I then did a short presentation which I called “Who Uses and Contributes to Open Source Projects (And how you can too!)” which I wrote to both address the prevalence of F/OSS in production use in many industries and to explain how development of F/OSS is accomplished and how anyone can seek to get involved, my slides are online here. After the presentations we enjoyed pizza and soda, Crissi helped with demos in the hallway and we all hung around and got to answer questions and chat about Ubuntu! Jeremy has also blogged about the event here: New York State Release Celebration.

Around 5PM Crissi and I piled into the car and drove back to Pennsylvania. We made great time not having to stop and I managed to get home around 10PM. Thanks again to the New York Team for being such wonderful hosts for our stay!