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Talks in Towers

This year I did nearly thirty public talks and panels. This is an all-time high for me, but also reflects a change in my role this year. I’m no longer spending most of my time on systems administrator work, speaking has taken a more prominent space in my work now that I’m a developer advocate. Fortunately, I still have time to geek out over systems tooling as I interact with the DC/OS and related communities, I’m rounding out my year by hacking on some CI/CD pipelines to demonstrate how some of the latest open source tooling benefits from an Apache Mesos-driven infrastructure.

My last public talk was in November, and I skipped KubeCon + CloudNativeCon in Austin to spend some time at home after an incredibly busy month on the road. Instead, I spent the early part of this month visiting a couple companies to give talks to their internal events. This isn’t a regular thing for me since my role is designed to be very public, but it does give me the opportunity to connect with users and community members who are less likely to be attending the bigger conferences. The insight gleaned from these internal conversations can help my team build up engagement goals and strategies for the upcoming year. In both these cases, I was invited by professional-colleagues-turned-friends who I met through OpenStack. It’s always a pleasure to spend time in proximity to these women and their extraordinary work.

These talks also unexpectedly brought me to beautiful offices with breathtaking views. The first was in San Francisco in an office at One California Street.

It’s not the tallest skyscraper in the city, but when a building is near the bay it doesn’t take much to claim some some nice views of downtown and glimpses of the bay.

The talk itself was focused on maintenance of containerized environments (logging, metrics, upgrades) but the most valuable part of my visit was actually the Q&A when this group of experienced Mesos administrators grilled me on features and upcoming plans. The company works in the space of artificial intelligence, so the support for GPUs that came out last year of particular interest.

The next skyscraper talk was a week later in Philadelphia. Comcast invited me to speak at their internal open source event, which lined up very closely with my existing plans to spend the end of the year back east, I just had to fly in a couple days earlier than planned. Weather on the east coast in December is much different than San Francisco. Grey skies replaced blue, and a winter coat and mittens became required as I made my way downtown via regional rail on Friday morning.

Comcast Center is the biggest building in Philadelphia, and I’d been in it once before when attending an after-party for a conference with MJ a few years ago. This was the first time I got to see out the 45th story windows during the day.

And then it snowed all afternoon!

Warm inside, it was actually quite a pleasure to see the snow come down and watch city almost disappear below us.

The talk itself was a variation on my open sourcing of infrastructure deck. The open source infrastructure message of this talk is a solid one, but perhaps my favorite part about giving this talk is that afterwards it helps me discover all the geeks of my generation who recognize the infrastructure path of proprietary to open source to cloud that I describe and reflect upon. Even better, giving this talk in Philadelphia again means that all my own Philadelphia connections early in my career mean that much more to an audience that has a lot of locals in it.

Thanks to Shilla Saebiā€ for taking a picture during my talk! (source)

It was a pleasure coming out to the event and spending time with my fellow speakers and Comcast employees throughout. And this was my last talk of any type this year!


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