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Tipping the SCALE

March 3, 2013 1 comment

I don’t want to sound like I’m complaining, and certainly I am not. Honest. But one of the problems with working on a show like Southern California Linux Expo and this year’s SCALE 11X leaves me little time to do anything but the wood-chopping and water-carrying that goes with being the publicity chair for the show. Let me be clear: This is not a complaint, but rather an explanation about why you’re not going to get a comprehensive report about the event.

Others are doing that for me, and it was as great as they say it is; possibly moreso.

scale11x-125x125aThe reason SCALE achieves an annual uptick in greatness — and SCALE 11X is no exception — lies squarely with the volunteers who make this work. I have it easy chairing publicity and I’m not referring to what I do so much as the stellar work the Publicity Team does — Hannah Anderson, Dennis Rex, Michelle Klein-Hass, Sam Lee, and Scott Ruecker (remotely — we’ll see you next year, Scott!) all put in a herculean effort to get the word, and photos, out before and during the show. Words can’t describe the effort of those who set up the rooms, those who set up and make sure the AV works, those who make sure the tsunami of humanity coming to register and attend have their badges and swag bags ready, and those who keep the digital infrastructure running to the best of its ability under trying conditions and uncooperative attendees or exhibitors — all these folks get my undying gratitude and they deserve everyone’s deepest thanks. All you guys make it work.

Also, the show doesn’t work without the speakers who provide deeply informative talks on a wide range of topics. One of the telling factors in the success of SCALE 11X is that standing room only was the course of the day for many of the presentations, including the last group of sessions at 4:30 on Sunday afternoon. It’s a testament to the quality of the speakers and their topics, and

And . . . it doesn’t work without the folks who attend — so a big thanks go out to each of the 2,304 attendees at this year’s SCALE 11X. It would have been 2,305 if the pass for Elvis Presley, who had been comped for the show (the King of Rock and Roll should go to the event that goes to 11!), had been picked up, thankyouverymuch.

But a few things bear mentioning:

Tap, tap . . . is this thing on?
I got to speak twice at SCALE, once to the Linux Beginners class at SCALE 11X, where I talked mostly about how not to be intimidated about joining a distro community (“just tell them if they’re not nice to you, I’ll come and make their lives miserable” . . . OK, just kidding). I also held a Birds of a Feather event for CrunchBang, which was attended by about 20 people and my short presentation was followed by a pretty lively discussion.

Pleased to meet you, hope you’ve guessed my name: I have carried on online conversations for years with people and have never met them in person, but occasionally shows like SCALE 11X allows us to meet face to face. I finally got to meet Patrick Stewart’s BFF and Red Hat guy Thomas Cameron, which didn’t go as smoothly as it could have. “Hi, Thomas,” I said, shaking his hand. “How’s it going?” he said. Cue awkward silence. “OK, so let me draw my beard on my face so I look like my Facebook photo . . . ” Hilarity ensued. Apparently I don’t look enough like my former Facebook photo, and thanks to Ruth Suehle for taking my photo with Raspberry Pi on my face — yes, the little motherboard — I now look more like, well, me on Facebook. Whether that’s a good thing or not . . .

Conversely . . .
: Because I have to keep the SCALE media humming, I don’t get to spend nearly enough time with the people I do see somewhat frequently at shows like SCALE. Apologies to Clint Savage, Scott Williams, Scott Dowdle, Christer Edwards, Jeremy Sands, Trevor Sharpe, Deb Nicholson and many others for just saying “hi” and “bye” in the hallways during the course of the show. Of course, a -1 to Mother Nature for keeping Rikki Endsley home in Lawrence, Kan., thanks to a heaping helping of snow.

Thank you, Fedora: For years, I’ve always wanted a Fedora cap. Let me rephrase that: I’ve always wanted a Fedora Project cap, and finally this year the Fedora Project had them in the booth. They also had the Spherical Cow, a.k.a. Fedora 18, in the booth, and one of the perks about making a quick run to the show floor was picking it up. I gave it a quick run, live DVD style, and I think it was worth the wait. I’ll install it and put it through its paces later.

In fact, maybe I’ll just sign off and do that now. See you in Bellingham, Wash., for Linux Fest Northwest at the end of April.

This blog, and all other blogs by Larry the Free Software Guy, Larry the CrunchBang Guy and Larry Cafiero, are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs CC BY-NC-ND license. In short, this license allows others to download this work and share it with others as long as they credit me as the author, but others can’t change it in any way or use it commercially.

(Larry Cafiero is one of the founders of the Lindependence Project and develops business software at Redwood Digital Research, a consultancy that provides FOSS solutions in the small business and home office environment.)

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Eliminate DRM!

Herding cats

February 17, 2013 Leave a comment

It’s February and I’m swamped. It can only mean one thing — this year’s version of the Southern California Linux Expo, more commonly known to the rest of the world this year as SCALE 11X, is finally in the starting blocks and ready to run.

scale11x-125x125aIt’s cat herding time: Yes, getting all the tech and non-tech media to pay attention and come to the event is best described as herding cats, but it’s something I love doing. As the publicity chair for SCALE, I never have a dull moment from, say, Boxing Day in the previous December until the end of the show. With the help of Scott Ruecker, Hannah Anderson, Dennis Rex and the rest of the SCALE Publicity Team, we also get the word out to the wider Linux/FOSS audience to come to the show, or else miss the best Linux/FOSS show in North America.

I mention the glorius burden of my own personal SCALE workload because I’m always there but I can never see any of the presenations I’d like to see. Given the opportunity to see a presentation or several, I’d pick . . . all of them. But most immediately, there are several part of SCALE 11X that are not to be missed:

The Keynotes: Both Matthew Garrett and Kyle Rankin bring excellent topics — UEFI and 3-D printing, respectively — to the keynote talks on Saturday and Sunday mornings. This is the first time in awhile that I’ve thought, “Dang, I have to make both of these.” There’s a good chance I can make one, or maybe (knock on wood) both of them this year, and you should, too.

Most of Friday’s sessions: OK, so cloning technology isn’t up to splitting me into several people and all of them going to different sessions on Friday. But between the Chef Training, the Cloud sessions, the PostgreSQL track, the Mentoring track and the Puppet track, I’d be bouncing like a pinball between them for a better part of the day. To say nothing of the Linux Essentials Prep, which I have to take someday. After all this on Friday, there’s . . .

UpSCALE: I did this once, and I’d do it again if my most excellent partner in digital crime (also known as my daughter Mimi) would join me in taking the stage again. The Friday night to-do is in the form of the Ignite Talks, where a speaker is at the mercy of a timer which is advancing his/her slides at a 20-second-per clip and they’re always fun, mostly interesting and continually a topic of discussion throughout the course of the show.

And then
there’s a line up of speakers throughout the rest of the weekend for whom I’d walk a mile on my knees through broken glass to attend their presentations: Joe Brockmeier, Ruth Suehle, Deb Nicholson, Owen DeLong, Dru Lavigne, Christer Edwards, Jason Brooks, and Thomas Cameron top this list that goes on for quite some time. In addition, we have some first-timers to SCALE who deserve special mention, like retro gamer Guillermo Antonio Amaral Bastidas and Oregon State University Open Source Lab manager Lance Albertson. Heck, even a few current and former SCALE folks come out from behind the curtain and are giving presentations: Stuart Sheldon, Tom King and Jenn Greenaway take the stage as well.

You’ll have to check the schedule here to find out when these folks are speaking. Meanwhile, when I’m able, I’ll be at sessions I can make, but for the most part you can find me in the press room.

I’ll be the one with the string and the catnip.

One more time: We turn it up to 11 this year — a reference many of the folks my age laugh uproariously to, but one which some of the younger speakers may not know. Watch this.

More to follow. Watch this space.

This blog, and all other blogs by Larry the Free Software Guy, Larry the CrunchBang Guy and Larry Cafiero, are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs CC BY-NC-ND license. In short, this license allows others to download this work and share it with others as long as they credit me as the author, but others can’t change it in any way or use it commercially.

(Larry Cafiero is one of the founders of the Lindependence Project and develops business software at Redwood Digital Research, a consultancy that provides FOSS solutions in the small business and home office environment.)

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Eliminate DRM!

Going to 11

February 10, 2013 1 comment

The beginning of the year is always a time when I am absolutely swamped. I kiss my loved ones goodbye and then I immerse myself in the tsunami known as preparation for the Southern California Linux Expo.

scale11x-125x125aThis year, SCALE is turning it up to 11 with SCALE 11X. In its 11th year, SCALE is the first-of-the-year Linux/FOSS expo in North America that usually (except for last year) is held in February during President’s Day weekend. This year, it’s Feb. 22-24 at the Hilton Los Angeles Airport hotel.

An aside: Every year I say that the San Francisco Giants are going to win the World Series. They’ve made me correct two of the last three years, and no one is more surprised about that than I am. Conversely, I also say every year that the upcoming SCALE event will be the best ever, and my record here is always better than two out of three.

The difference here, though, is that I’m never surprised when it comes to SCALE that each year beats the previous one.

This year, we have good reason to expect great things at SCALE 11X. If nothing else that makes the show great, Matthew Garrett will be giving us his insights on breaking free of the UEFI chains in the Saturday keynote.

But we’re getting ahead of the story. There are events, talks, sessions and activities for everyone at every level of experience. And then some. You’ll just have to visit the schedule board here to take a look.

As the chair of the Publicity Team — that’s chief cat-herder for the tech and mainstream press, to most of you — I get to write the publicity blurbs and announcements that go out on a regular basis; even more regular now that we’re on the proverbial doorstep of SCALE 11X. In counting up the number of speakers — not including those all-day sessions which may have more than one — we have 91 speakers over the three-day weekend.

So we have nearly as many speakers as we have exhibitors. Permit me to pause to reflect on that for a moment.

Done.

Also since my duties at the expo tend to keep me in the press room for 95 percent of the show, you can be sure that I won’t miss the Saturday keynote. The topic of Secure Boot and how to get around it is of vital importance and Matthew Garrett’s keynote is one that is not to be missed. But other than that, and a lap or two around the floor to see if the exhibitor’s publicity needs are taken care of, I’ll be sequestered in the press room for a better part of the show.

We turn it up to 11 this year — a reference many of the folks my age laugh uproariously to, but one which some of the younger speakers may not know. Watch this.

More on SCALE 11X to come in the next several days.

This blog, and all other blogs by Larry the Free Software Guy, Larry the CrunchBang Guy and Larry Cafiero, are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs CC BY-NC-ND license. In short, this license allows others to download this work and share it with others as long as they credit me as the author, but others can’t change it in any way or use it commercially.

(Larry Cafiero is one of the founders of the Lindependence Project and develops business software at Redwood Digital Research, a consultancy that provides FOSS solutions in the small business and home office environment.)

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Eliminate DRM!

Getting out the vote

August 30, 2011 Leave a comment

Yes, I know LinuxCon has come and gone, and I think they’ve got the publicity thing covered, especially with the 20-year thing, the gala party, and with Linus being there and all. The buzz is still going, and that’s good. But if you’re going to a Linux show, make it the Ohio LinuxFest in September. Bradley Kuhn and Cathy Malmrose are keynoting — along with Jon “maddog” Hall — so you’ll not want to miss that (especially Cathy — Go ZaReason!).

With the upcoming deadline for the Linux Journal Readers’ Choice 2011 Awards upon us — it closes this Saturday — other bloggers have been been taking to beating the drum and holding the phone for their favorites.

Not to be outdone, of course, there are a few candidates on the LJ ballot that deserve special mention. If I were campaigning for them, I’d definitely cast votes for items in the following categories (note, however, the list of categories and software on the ballot is long, and they’re not all here):

Best Linux Distribution: No question, hands down. Fedora. Judging which is the best distro is akin to picking the best ice cream flavor — each of us has our own favorites, and hopefully you’ll vote for yours. Mine comes in blue, is based on Red Hat, has the best desktop background release after release (the Design Team at Fedora is the best in the FOSS realm, period), it’s always rock solid, and even if I can’t use the default GNOME 3 desktop, Fedora runs great under KDE or Xfce. Fedora is reaching a point now where the myth that it’s “only for experience users” is falling by the wayside, and if a lack of confidence in your skills has kept you from using Fedora, you should give it a try.

Best Desktop Environment: Oh, look! A minefield! Let’s skip through it! You all know how I feel about GNOME 3; the aspect that I can’t use it due to older equipment moreso than anything else (if I could vote for GNOME 2.32, that would be great). KDE? I like KDE though — truth in advertising — I’m a post-KDE 4.x user and not familiar with the way things used to be (and not familiar with why there’s such a hubbub about it). I don’t know why Openbox and Fluxbox, both windows managers, are in this category, and why isn’t there a separate WM category? How did I vote? I’m cast a vote this year for Xfce, because I’m using it on Fedora 15 and will be using it again on Fedora 16, and while it’s reputation is a lightweight environment, I’m finding there’s a significant degree of tweakability to it. Also, if you really like WMs, I’d vote for OpenBox.

Best Web Browser: Konqueror. Just kidding. While there are some advantages to Konqueror that do not involve Web browsing, for getting on the information superhighway I usually go with Firefox, though on the Windows box at the newspaper I use Chrome. It’s a toss up between those two.

Best E-mail Client: Another minefield and another tough call. What I use most is Thunderbird, because everybody knows the ‘Bird is the word, and it’s always worked well for me. What has always worked well for me in the past, too, and something I’ve always thought was one of KDE’s stars is Kmail, which deserves a vote if you’re so inclined. Claws is something I’m looking to try and haven’t yet, so maybe if it wows me, it can be a leading candidate for 2012.

Best IRC client: Simple — it’s irssi. It’s what the cool kids use, once they graduate past Xchat. Konversation gets high marks, too, and readily available on KDE. But I voted for irssi.

Best Office Suite: OK, here’s where we get to make history. Vote for LibreOffice — it’s OpenOffice as it should be. It would be outrageously cool if LibreOffice took home the prize in this category, for starters because it deserves it, and it would be a good nose-thumbing to Oracle as well.

Best Graphic Design Tool: All of them. I’m serious. If there’s ever been a category where each of the candidates deserves to win, it’s this one. GIMP finally gets a single window, I’m told, thank $DIETY, but I ended up voting for . . . Inkscape. I’m not the artist in the family; that title goes to my daughter Mimi, but having drawn a little, I do like Inkscape a lot.

Best Audio Tool: Audacity. If Carla Schroder uses it and writes a book about it, then I’m there.

Best Kid Friendly Application: Another easy one — Tux Paint. I should be ashamed to admit this, but I’m not: Ever since Mimi was younger and we used Tux Paint together when she was learning her way around a computer, I have always loved this program and I still fiddle with it from time to time when I’m not doing anything else. Also, I count Tux Paint as one of the main influences in cultivating the artistic talent Mimi has shown.

Best Game: As bad as I am at it, I still think Super Tux gets the nod here, as it’s a very creative game. Truth be told, I’ve never played any of the games on the list, except for Tux Racer, and I know my good friend Ken Starks over at the HeliOS Project is a fan of World of Goo.

Best Database: Our first heart-versus-head conundrum. If MySQL were the best, I may not vote for it on principle, but fortunately other databases have knocked MySQL from its perch at the top. I’ve only used two other databases and have liked them both: PostgreSQL and MariaDB. I really want to see MariaDB do well, but PostgreSQL is clearly the best of the bunch.

Best Programming Language: Again, the ice cream comparison comes into play and in my limited programming experience, I vote for what I know best. That would be Python.

Best scripting language: bash — accept no substitutes (OK, ksh if you need to).

Best IDE: Emacs in the hands of someone who really knows what they’re doing (and sadly, that’s not me) is simply an amazing tool. But I’m voting for vim. I can get more done using it, and I’m never backed into a corner, as I am sometimes with Emacs. Sorry, RMS.

Best Package Management Application: If it sounds like it tastes good, you have to go with it: yum. Honorable mention goes to Synaptic.

Best Content Management System: I’ve used Mambo and Joomla! in the past, and those happen to be my CMS roots. However, having used Drupal over the last few months, I have to say that I’ve made the switch. Drupal gets my vote this year.

Best Linux Laptop Vendor/Best Linux Desktop Workstation Vendor/Best Linux Server Vendor: I’m lumping these three categories together because the vote is the same in each category — ZaReason. The Berkeley, Calif., outfit makes outstanding, dependable hardware that’s Linux based (or if you’d prefer, no operating system) and the service is top notch. You’ll have to write in ZaReason in the Best Linux Desktop Workstation Vendor category, but you can mark the ballot in the other two.

Best Linux Book: A real page-turner, especially if you’re into audio — “The Book of Audacity,” by Carla Schroder. Buy it now.

Again, there’s a plethora of other categories that I haven’t touched on. Polls are open until Saturday. Vote early.

This blog, and all other blogs by Larry the Free Software Guy and Larry Cafiero, are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs CC BY-NC-ND license. In short, this license allows others to download this work and share it with others as long as they credit me as the author, but others can’t change it in any way or use it commercially.

[FSF Associate Member] (Larry Cafiero is one of the founders of the Lindependence Project and has just started developing software in his new home office. Watch this space.)
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