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Philly and FOSSCON 2018

I spent this past week in Philadelphia, arriving on Saturday evening. The goal of the trip was to attend FOSSCON the following Saturday, but I’d never pass up an opportunity to come back early and spend a bit of time at the townhouse. It gives me an opportunity to visit with my east coast friends while I’m there, so I had plans for a few days early in the week.

Unfortunately most of my plans didn’t pan out, but I was at least able to turn Sunday around! I swapped some evening plans with them for daytime hangout plans with a couple of my friends in New Jersey and their little ones. A daytime visit meant I could more easily visit with the newest additions to their family (a child and a kitty). They have really been there for me since early in the pregnancy, I didn’t reach out often, but it was a relief to know I had someone to talk/rant/ask advice from as I stumble through all of this. It was great to finally catch up in person, and as I’ve casually been browsing telescopes lately, get shown their Celestron telescope (the brand I’m looking at) and get some ideas about how I may set up my own when I finally make the leap.

Being in town did mean I could get some tasks done at the townhouse. I was available Monday morning as a bed was delivered for the guest room. Until now we ha just gotten by with an old metal bed frame for that room, but we recently decided we wanted a more finished room. A platform bed was delivered and assembled, and I’m happy with how it turned out. Tuesday morning I took the MDX to the shop to get an annual check-up. Since we only use it when we’re in Philadelphia, it doesn’t have enough miles on it to warrant mileage-based check-ups, but we do like having an oil change and a look over it at least once a year. Wednesday morning I met with a handyman who sorted out the ventilation problem in our attic. If you recall, ventilation issues caused frost in the attic over the winter and extended my holiday visit to work with the remediation company that came in with heaters and dehumidifiers. The saga of the attic is not over, but the exhaust fans in the master bathroom are safe to use again, and he was able to look at a couple other things while he was over.

New guest bed!

My social plans not working out made for a bit of a lonely week. I wish I could say that I got a lot of project work done each evening instead, but it wasn’t really the case. I felt pretty down and watched a bit more TV than I would have liked. Thankfully MJ joined me on Thursday and I perked up as we met up with friends that evening to see Krull get the RiffTrax treatment at the nearby theater at Neshaminy. Krull is a ridiculous fantasy movie from the 80s that my family owned when I was a kid. It was the early 80s, so you may be asking how we had it, VHS? Betamax? Laserdisc? None of these! We had one of the rare CED players, which played videodiscs. I think one of the most amusing things to come out of the RiffTrax treatment of Krull was my tweeting this particular fact, being retweeted by RiffTrax, and then having fellow internet nerds start geeking out about CEDs. One of my friends even chimed in with a whole 30 minute video made a couple years ago that covered some of the history and technology of CEDs. For a few hours that day, I remembered that there can sometimes be a considerable amount of joy from connecting with random people on social media.

And RiffTrax: Krull itself? I’m very glad I didn’t remember the movie, it was terrible, and likely pretty unwatchable today without the delightful commentary of Bill, Kevin, and Mike. Afterwards we headed over to Unos for a late dinner.

Saturday was FOSSCON! I come into town for this conference every year, and it’s often the one time each year I can connect with the open source tech crowd in Philadelphia, many of the members of which I’ve known for well over a decade. I always meet new people as well, and this year was no exception.

The conference kicked off with a round table on effectively promoting FOSS to businesses, which focused on “selling” organizations solutions rather than banging the drum about freedom and other things that get us excited about open source. From there I attended a talk by Angel Rivera of CircleCI on “Build for Production using CI/CD Pipelines & Docker.” It’s a small conference, but I was glad that he gave a talk that was so complementary to mine. He covered the CI/CD fundamentals in depth before launching into his demo that used CircleCI to build and execute an entire pipeline.

After lunch (cheesesteaks!) I settled in to prepare a cluster for my own upcoming CI/CD talk, and have some lovely “hallway track” time catching up with folks. When I was ready, I got set up in the auditorium to prepare for my talk. The talk focused on the benefits of using containers (with a focus on Apache Mesos and DC/OS) for your CI/CD pipeline. I used the demo I’d completed successfully dozens of times, including on stage twice. Unfortunately I finally had to pay my dues to the “demo gods,” my live demo failed! I didn’t have a backup strategy for running the demo because I was so confident in the success. Instead I talked through the steps and was able to show off what the results should have looked like. In retrospect I suspect there was just too much latency on the cloud platform I was using, since the demo had problems from the start. If I had the time, I would have re-launched the cluster in a region that was geographically closer, and I may see about using a local deployment on my laptop as a total network failure backup. Regardless of the demo, I think I got my points across and the audience seemed generally sympathetic when I was later answering questions at the end of the presentation. Slides from the talk are available as pdf here.

Thanks to Angel Rivera for this photo during my talk! (source)

The conference continued with a talk about running Apache Ignite on Kubernetes, and then a series of lightning talks. As things wrapped up, I found the annual Oreo cake (my favorite!) that Jim Fisher brought along and shared with anyone who was walking by as the event concluded. We then collected a few people for an unofficial after event dinner at the nearby City Tap Room.

Being familiar with the organizers, staff and many of the attendees means this conference is probably the one where I feel most comfortable. It’s still a long, exhausting day, especially as I’m recovering from a cold that made a minor comeback in the form of a sore throat and continued cough, but I had a great time. Huge thanks to Jonathan Simpson and the rest of the FOSSCON crew who spend so much time and effort into putting it together each year.

A few more photos from FOSSCON here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pleia2/albums/72157699031220361

Sunday we flew back to California! We used miles to upgrade to some international-style first class seats on a 767 that was doing an unusual trip direct from Philadelphia to San Francisco. I usually struggle to be productive on flights, but I’ve been more focused lately on flights, and the five hour flight gave me time to catch up on some reading for work that I’d been meaning to do for weeks, along with drafting up most of this blog post.

I’m now back in California for less than 48 hours before I leave for the Open Source Summit in Vancouver tomorrow evening. It’s enough time for me to get some work squared away (including adding some finishing touches to my talk!), do a bit of laundry, and make sure Caligula hasn’t forgotten who I am. After that, I’m in town for a few weeks, which will give me time to finish some big projects at work before I start traveling again in October and November for the five conferences I have lined up.