A question I’ve been asked more than once over the past few days is, “How long, exactly, were you on the train?” Taking a train from Oakland, California, to Osceola, Iowa, consists of a total travel time of 46 hours, most of it without connectivity (Note to Amtrak: More people would travel by train if they could connect. Just sayin’ . . . ).
I bring up this now-unconventional mode of travel — especially a mode of travel that flies in the face of jet-setting — because you would think that if I sat in a train for 46 hours (not as bad as it sounds, really), the event to which I was going would have to be pretty special.
The event in question — the Fedora Ambassador Day North America 2010 — was that special and more.
Those of us who work on our chosen distro sometimes get into a routine where we are content with working with people around the world through electronic means — IRC, e-mail, etc. Work gets done, things move forward despite never coming face to face with those you work with.
It isn’t until you have face to face contact with the people with names you know from channels that the process becomes more human, and more real. The difference in working alone from a remote location and working together with people you know, even though you’ve only met them for the first time a few hours ago, is literally night and day — and being in the same physical room, as opposed to the same IRC channel, makes a remarkably positive difference in the process.
For FADNA 2010, items on the agenda were discussed, debated, argued, duelled-at-ten paces — OK, I made up the last one — and while we had a good time, we also put our heads down and moved forward dealing with getting some things fixed as well as dealing with some significantly tough decisions.
There were several decisions made which will be discussed in a future blog and discussed in other blogs around this subject. More importantly, however, working sessions like FADs that Fedora holds is a trend that should be expanded, not only in Fedora, but among other distros and FOSS programs as well.
A huge “thank you” goes out to John Rose, who coordinated the event and hosted a great party on Saturday. Dennis Gilmore, barbeque chef par excellence, prepared a huge barbeque feast on Saturday eve, for which we are grateful. Thanks go to Max Spevack for his guidance and coordination with Red Hat, and for wearing a new type of “red hat” courtesy of the Iowa State’s bookstore (hopefully he will blog about it) and thanks to my highly esteemed colleagues — Clint Savage, David Nalley, Robyn Bergeron, Ivan Makfinsky, Ian Weller and Justin O’Brien — for being so willing to chop wood and carry water, in the Zen sense, in moving Fedora forward.
Whew. After jumping through a plethora of techincal hoops, the Fedora Activity Day got underway a little behind schedule, but with a group of people that far exceeded the number of folks who signed up.
Throughout the course of the day the room varied from 12-20 people, working both on documentation and on font packaging during the course of the day. The morning and early afternoon was dedicated to docs, and the mid- to late afternoon want to font packaging. Yours truly stayed on the safe side of the street, continuing the documentation while other braver souls took on the font packaging.
Mirano spent the day with the me as Malakai and Saskia went to Disneyland. Other than a quick dip in the pool and a few laps, she spent the entire time in the Fedora Activity Day working on her own version of documentation (i.e., Neopets correspondence, I think).
On the whole, despite the fact that we got a late start, the Fedora Activity Day looks like a success so far. There certainly isn’t a shortage of people, and one of the interesting aspects of the entire event is the foot traffic that wandered in, some of whom we “put to work,” in a nice way of course.
Dinner, sleep and the first day of the expo to come tomorrow.
(Fedora ambassador Larry Cafiero runs HeliOS Solutions West/Felton Linuxworks in Felton, California, and is an associate member of the Free Software Foundation.)