February 3rd, 2011


fudcon tempe 2011, days -3, -2, and -1

I arrived in Phoenix on Tuesday afternoon, and picked up my blue (but not Fedora blue) minivan, which I referred to as the FUDVan but which everyone else insisted upon calling the Spevan.

It was really easy to get from the airport to downtown Tempe and to the primary FUDCon hotel. The proximity to Red Hat's Phoenix datacenter made the network connectivity over VPN faster than when I'm sitting in the Red Hat office in Raleigh, and I briefly contemplated remaining in Phoenix for the duration of my Red Hat career.

We drove over to the secondary hotel where we picked up Harish, and then a small group of us walked to a nearby restaurant for an early dinner, followed by final preparations for our two day team meetings and an early night.

It only happens about twice per year that all of the members of the Community Architecture team are able to gather face to face, and we used Wednesday and Thursday to hold our 2011 and Red Hat FY12 initial planning meetings.

External to Red Hat, our team is heavily involved with two communities of practice -- the Fedora Project and the Teaching Open Source community. I'm eager to share the details of our meetings with both of these communities, but that will have to wait until some future blog posts, because I still need to do the work of properly summarzing and recapping the two days of meetings.

Some color, though:

* We met at a collaboration space called Gangplank, which was similar to NextSpace that we met at in Santa Cruz last summer. Sadly, we missed out on the brownbag lunch debate about the GPL, which probably would have been really fun to attend and participate in.

* Our first day's team lunch was a trip to In-n-Out, which was decided in a vote by acclamation.

* Wednesday's dinner was at a Thai restauarant with several other Red Hatters and Fedora contributors. The talk at my end of the table purposefully focused around various cloud-related topics that are ongoing in Red Hat and within the Fedora Project, because it looks increasingly certain that one of Community Architecture's major goals this year will be to assist with Red Hat and Fedora's cloud activities at a greater depth.

* On Thursday evening, a number of us (Red Hatters and Fedora contributors) had dinner at a decent-enough Mexican restaurant, and then Harish, Robyn, Jeroen, and I went to a dueling piano bar. The band there consisted of 4 guys who were all excellent on piano, drums, and guitar. I know some of the other FUDConners made their way to this same bar over the course of the weekend, on our recommendation.

fudcon tempe 2011, day 0

I reported for duty on Friday morning as Robyn's last-minute-FUDCon-organization minion, and spent the day doing various things in support of the mission:

* Getting a bunch of hotel rooms at the primary and secondary venue on my credit card, in accordance with our FUDCon sponsorships.

* Scoped out the BarCamp venue, plotted how to avoid the congestion pitfalls of FUDCon Toronto's BarCamp, and made sure I knew how to get to the building where the sessions would be held.

* Went to Wal-Mart with Harish, where he and I purchased a total of 984 cans of soda and 200 bottles of water, which would be used by FUDCon attendees over the next 72 hours. The FUDVan officially became a low-rider following this purchase.

* Made my second trip to In-n-Out.

Friday night was the OpenSource.com 1-year anniversary party and FUDCon mixer/mini-game night. We had some pizza, I passed out a bunch of Fedora swag including all of my leftover CDs and DVDs dating back to Fedora Core 5, and played a very humorous game called Red Dragon Inn.

fudcon tempe 2011, day 1

It was a pleasure to start off FUDCon by having a chance to give the welcome/intro-to-BarCamp speech, and I generally helped out with logistics in the morning, and making sure we were all set for lunch and for tshirt distribution.

I met a bunch of Fedora contibutors for the first time this FUDCon, and it was great to put faces to names and shake some new hands. The person with whom I'd collaborated the most virtually without having ever previously met was Maria, and it was especially nice to finally meet her face to face. I was too shy to ask her to speak to me entirely in Spanish, though. Hopefully next time!

The FUDVan was used frequently on both Saturday and Sunday for the transport of beverages and the acquisition of tremendous amounts of ice. My expense reports will look interesting, as always.

I attended the Fedora Board's goals and strategy session -- which my talk about reducing bureaucracy in Fedora was merged with -- and while I didn't get to talk too much about specific ideas, I did throw out one idea related to the release engineering team, which could also be generalized to apply to other groups within Fedora.

Every time we do a task, each team should strive to appoint a different person as the owner of that task for the particular release or milestone, with novices shadowing before they take accountability, and experts providing both mentoring and backup as novices gain experience. My example (because it was the first to come to mind) was having a different person be the primary doer of the Alpha, Beta, and Gold releases of each version of Fedora. This sort of thing improves both collaboration and documentation, which were two of the Board's high level goals.

I helped Colby out as the "producer" for his video of Jeroen and Christoph, as they talked about the value of FUDCon, as well as how being deeply embedded in both the Fedora and RHEL ecosystems are useful to their dayjobs at Kolab Systems.

FUDPub was a great success. There's a video out there somewhere of me demonstrating some excellent bowling skills, and a second video of me demonstrating some truly abysmal Dance Dance Revolution skills.

It's impossible to give enough thanks to the FUDCon organization team, which really outdid itself. Robyn ran point on the whole operation, Paul was indispensible, Ryan helped out on the ground, Spot helped out with the money end of things by providing a second credit card, and Ian did a truly superb job with the welcome booklets.

fudcon tempe 2011, day 2

The morning started with the Ambassadors and Fedora Finance session, which was led by Joerg, but included Ambassadors from the USA, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Venezuela, Germany, and a few other countries. For me, there were several important takeaways:

* FAMSCO must continue to push accountability and decision making as far to the edges as possible. I suggested that each region pick an amount of money -- I suggested $500 USD in NA and asked people to use their judgement in other parts of the world -- for which no Fedora contributor needs to ask permission before spending that money on behalf of Fedora. The only way a global community like Fedora can continue to grow successfully is if we build a culture of trust and action, and continue to ensure we have solid processes that allow people to get reimbursed.

* I've spent a lot of time the past year worrying about the bureaucracy and bottlenecks in Fedora's finance system, and even though I feel like we have a lot of improvement, I had a few conversations this weekend that helped me to realize that we do a lot of things well, and that while we should strive to improve, the currents tate of things is by no means doom and gloom. This was a bit encouraging.

* I reaffirmed my commitment to following up on the idea of getting some regional credit cards in place, with Joerg, John, and Neville volunteering to be the first people to help bring this idea into their regions. The goal here is not for these people to become bottlenecks either, but rather for all contributors in the regions (Ambassadors working on events or anyone working on a FAD or a FUDCon) to know that they have a local contact who has the ability to help get money spent on behalf of the Fedora project. I have given myself a March 1 deadline for this.

Following this session, I did a few other things before making my way back to the airport and back to Raleigh:

* An interview with Amber from Linux New Media regarding Red Hat's Community Architecture team and our focal points of Fedora, education, and providing value to Red Hat's business beyond simply the Linux platform.

* Served once more as Colby's "producer", helping to get a video made with Mike and Jeff, as well as helping to prep David and Chris for their video.

* Made my third trip to In-n-Out en route to the airport.