OK, so I lied. I had planned to write this yesterday, but after an all night drive which consisted of drinking about two gallons of coffee, sleeping that off (ironically) on Saturday morning and then going to work, time became unavailable until now.
At first glance, OSCON was a huge success on several levels. First, it appears that as much as I’d prefer to have the event in San Jose for my own personal and selfish reasons, OSCON is at home in Portland. It’s a tough concession for me to make, but it’s true. Also, I don’t have the numbers in front of me, but I’d be willing to bet that attendance is up — from the traffic on the floor and the amount of swag that flew out of the Fedora booth, I’d say it is way up.
People I forgot to mention: The first familiar friendly face I saw once the doors opened on Wednesday was that of Akkana Peck, GIMP guru without peer and my “neighbor” from over the hill in the Silicon Valley. Amber Graner, with whom a Linux expo would not be a Linux expo, was also on hand, with cameraman in tow for podcasts. My good friend and Gidget Kitchen chef Mark Terranova was also splitting time at OSCON between the Ubuntu booth and taking pictures on the expo hall floor, among other events at OSCON. There are more people I know I’m forgetting, but I promise to come back to you.
The city that really knows how: The motto “the city that knows how” is normally attributed to San Francisco — and it’s a very accurate one — but the City by the Bay could learn a thing or two from Portland. A free downtown train for starters would be nice in San Francisco. Plus, people are generally very easygoing and polite in Portland, making it a great place to visit. Coupling my affinity for Corvallis with a growing affinity for Portland, the state of Oregon is rising on the charts as one of my favorite places.
Honorable mention in the swag department: While giving out the best in swag awards, I failed to mention that Code for America handed out what I think are the greatest posters that have happened along in quite some time. These posters are historic American quotes from U.S. government “system architect” James Madison and “accessibility expert” Susan B. Anthony written in binary. Go take a look here — I’ll wait. I have the Madison and Anthony posters on the wall at the office in Felton. For printed matter, it definintely edges out the excellent Linux Journal calendar.
Thanks again, O’Reilly, for hosting such a great show year after year, and we’ll see you again in 2011.
First things first: There is a Wizard of OSCON. I’ll reveal that person’s identity — without having to go behind the curtain — at the end of the blog (and no fair going straight to the bottom).
The second day followed the same playbook from most large shows. Following a tsunami of people on day one of the exhibition, the second day of the exhibition is more tempered and there are less people. But there’s an up side to the latter, specifically that we’re able to talk at length about matters Fedora.
Being chained to the booth — and I say that as if it’s a bad thing, but it’s not — I was unable to go to any of the sessions. Not a problem there, since talking to people in the booth is a lot more enjoyable. So dealing with questions about Fedora, introducing the distro and talking to people about FOSS suits me better.
The people come in waves, thanks to the sessions, no doubt. The folks who visited the booth for the past two days, as they do at all large shows, come in a wide range of experience levels. Fielding questions from “What is Fedora?” to the most detailed questions about the kernel — passed off to someone more experienced, of course — the range of questions and the ever-increasing number of people reflect that FOSS is gaining a healthy glow in the grand scheme of things.
Best SWAG: Overall, the SWAG at the event has been good. Three items stand out and I’ll rank them from third to first. Finishing third would be the Firehost playing cards, and you might ask why the Firehost toilet paper wouldn’t rank until you actually used it (nice idea, bad execution, Firehost).
Finishing second, and most would consider this the winner, would be the tattoo sleeves from Rackspace. You put this sleeve on your arm and, assuming you’re skin tone is a range of pink to white, you have an arm covered with Rackspace tattoos.
The best swag of the event goes to Chisimba, a South African outlet at the show. Since South Africa just hosted the World Cup, they brought Chisimba.com vuvuzelas. Orange vuvuzelas.
And now we’re off to meet the wizard: The one person who always makes OSCON work for us — the one who pulls administrative rabbits out of hats and who is a textbook go-to person — would be O’Reilly’s May Munji. Thanks, May, for making the shows a great experience for those of us toiling in the booth trenches.
Tomorrow: The OSCON epilogues.
OSCON had been going on since Monday, however the exhibition hall opens for just two days — Wednesday and Thursday — of this week.
So when the doors opened at 10 a.m., a significant number of people filed into the hall — which could stand to be a tad cooler (as I hope it will be tomorrow) — and it was showtime.
The Fedora booth was adequately staffed — Karsten Wade, Robyn Bergeron and Kevin Higgins set up the booth the day before, and were in attendance Wednesday — as well as Tom “Spot” Calloway and John Poelstra. Mirano Cafiero, Malakai Wade and Saskia Wade filled out the staff for the day.
Last year, OSCON was held in San Jose, however Portland is a great city and it’s fine that the moved it back up here despite the fact that it would have been a lot more convenient for me if it were just “over the hill,” as we say in Santa Cruz County. The weather is great here, and being downtown has the advantage of the free train service between the Courtyard Marriott and the venue at the Portland Convention Center, which all cities should have.
It was great to see old friends and meet those I’ve spoken to over time but never met. Joe “Zonker” Brockmeier and I are now even: At SCALE 7X, I accidentally — I swear — made a mess at the OpenSUSE booth on his watch. Today, Zonker knocked over our tripod — an accident, I’m sure — settled the score. It was great to see Ilan Rabinovitch, my SCALE colleague; birthday girl and Linux Magazine associate publisher Rikki Kite; the Oregon State University gang — Jeff Sheltren of the OSU Open Source Lab, computer science professor Carlos Jensen and the OSU OSL’s Lance Albertson (Go Beavers!); David Kaplan, a mainstay in the Portland Linux scene (who lent his Linux expertise to a visitor at the booth — Thanks, Dave); and finally to meet Linux columnist par excellence Steven Vaughan-Nichols in person after corresponding with him for years.
Traffic for a better part of the day was heavy — always a good sign regarding the health of FOSS in general. SWAG — Stuff We All Get, for those keeping acronym score at home — was flying out of the booth. We’ll have to see if we can get through tomorrow with what we have left.
One thing about standing in the booth all day: While I live for working the booth and events like OSCON, more times than not, I end up walking like Fred Sanford at the end of the day. Call it a sign of age.