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Fosscon 2011

Before the sun came up on Friday the 22nd MJ and I were at the San Francisco airport waiting for the 6:15AM flight that would put us on the ground in Philadelphia shortly after 2:30PM that afternoon.

Upon landing we stepped off the plane and were greeted by a wall of heat. As soon as my phone had its head together I checked the weather.

Ouch. It was even hotter once we got into downtown Philadelphia, 104 with a heat index of 120.

From Suburban station in downtown Philadelphia we dragged our bags through the heat and up to Le Meridien, located near Love Park and City Hall. Thankfully the room had the AC turned up and we spent the next 3 hours basking in the air conditioning and attempting a marginal recovery from the lack of sleep the night before. Around 7:30PM we caught the subway over to BaseKamp to meet up with Fosscon conference organizers Jon and Crissi. BaseKamp was hot. I knew the venue lacked air conditioning but that evening we really got a taste of what that would mean for the conference the next day! It’s a good thing I can tolerate heat better than I could when I was younger. We closed up the space for the night and headed out to dinner at Jones Restaurant just across the street.

Saturday morning we woke up bright and early for the conference and arrived at BaseKamp at 9AM. That gave us an hour before my keynote to grab some breakfast there at the conference (pastries and bagels graciously provided by the super bread man Jim Fisher!) and say hello to a bunch of my friends from Philly who came out to the conference. It was an awesome start to the day.

Except for the heat.

It was hot.

It was really, really, seriously, wicked hot.

But the rooms had fans and there was lots of water so we managed. The conference organizers did their best to keep things moving smoothly through the unfortunate timing of this heat wave and to make sure the attendees were doing ok, moving around fans as needed and running out for several gallons of fresh water when the supply started getting low.

My keynote, “Make a Difference for Millions: Getting Involved with FOSS” began shortly after 10AM. In spite of the heat I was able to deliver my talk and the audience laughed when they were supposed to laugh and I had a pile of really great questions to answer at the end (didn’t have time to answer all of them!).

Keynote Photo 2

Keynote Photo 3

EDIT: Slides available for download (PDF) here and on slideshare.

Huge thanks to anyone reading this who was in the audience, it was an awesome experience for me and you all were troopers in the heat! After the talk I got to meet and talk to some really interesting people including a couple of folks from Coders 4 Africa and a fellow who wanted to hear some of the benefits of releasing software as free and open source rather than as closed-source shareware.

The conference had a few local sponsors, including the company I work for, LinuxForce and my favorite VPS hosting company Linode (I finally got a t-shirt! And stickers!). Also a huge thanks to O’Reilly, Jon asked me less than 2 weeks prior to the conference whether I could think of anyone else to help sponsor the conference and Marsee Henon of the User Group program really came through on short notice with books and B1G1 ebook vouchers for attendees.

I attended Chris Nehren’s talk on Perl next, and then it was off to lunch. MJ and I ended up at Cosi with Mackenzie Morgan, Walt Mankowski, Deb Nicholson and Mo Morsi.

After lunch it was off to Mark Jason Dominus‘ “Join my army of git zombies!” talk (details and slides here). I’ve used git on a couple of projects but admittedly never bothered to look at the internals at all and understand how the IDs work so it was interesting learning about that, and as always he’s a great speaker.

From there it was upstairs to Mackenzie Morgan’s “Ubuntu Development Processes” talk. I’m pretty familiar with the process, so most interesting to me were the plans for the future, including the proposed archive reorg and attempt to push for adoption of handling the archive via bzr.

I then attended Walt Mankowski’s “Become a Perl one-liner ninja!” talk. I have actually seen this talk a couple of times over the years as he’s given it at PLUG a few times. It was a good one to see again though, gave me a nice refresher of some of the cool Perl command line flags I’d forgotten.

The final talk of the day I attended was the “Introduction to the Parrot Virtual Machine and Parrot Project” by James Keenan. I didn’t have anything but a vague idea of what parrot was when I walked in so the introduction was nice, even if I don’t have a place for it in my work.

Around 5PM the conference wrapped up with a final raffle and some closing statements by conference organizer Jonathan Simpson. It was a testament to their dedication that after all the planning and exhaustion from setup and running the conference in the extreme heat that Jon and Crissi were still joking and laughing at the closing.

For dinner several of us walked down to Olde City, passing Independence Hall and this great sign, a testament to the heat.

After a couple of false starts (one restaurant with power outage, another with insufficient air conditioning) we ended up at Revolution House at 2nd and Market and enjoyed highly effective air conditioning and a really nice meal.

Sunday we checked out of our hotel around noon and met up with our friend Nita for lunch at Devil’s Alley Bar and Grill. The three of us then spent the rest of the day at The Franklin Institute, seeing Cars 2 in the Franklin Theater and then spending an hour in their new Mummies of the World exhibit, which like past exhibits I’ve been to at TFI was really great.

Around 6PM we headed toward the airport, making a quick stop at Rita’s for some waterice goodness before our departure.

More photos from the conference and the trip are available over on Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/pleia2/sets/72157627281235442/

Short trip to Philly, but a fun one! We’re hoping to visit again in the fall, but we’ll see how our schedules work out.


  • SlowYaRoll

    I do hope you made it to Reading Terminal while you were here in Philadelphia. If not, be sure to make it there the next time you’re in town. Hell, I’ll even treat you to a bite or two.

    Should you ever been in need of meeting space in Philadelphia, you could possibly use the meeting facilities at Liberty Resources (www.libertyresources.org) — a center for Independent Living in Philadelphia. Thanks to me there are a bunch of Ubuntu servers in full swing there. :)

    • pleia2

      No Reading Terminal Market this trip, hopefully next, it is worthy of a couple of visits. But that does remind me – what did they end up replacing Independence Brew Pub with?

      Good to know about Liberty Resources meeting facilities, and awesome about the Ubuntu Servers there! :)


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