Whew. That drive from Felton-to-Bellingham-and-back gets longer and longer. But it goes without saying, of course that it’s well worth it. The 14th annual Linux Fest Northwest was a success and while they take a break before getting ready for next year’s event — April 26-27, 2014, at Bellingham Technical College — I’m going to make my reservation at the Hampton Inn right now so I don’t forget.
A few parting random thoughts, cheap shots and bon mots:
Close, but no cigar: Bryan Lunduke, of “Linux Sucks/No It Doesn’t” presentation fame (along with other hats he wears in the FOSS realm), wrote an article on Network World about how you should go to Linux shows. He is right: You should go to the nearest show to you, and his article is a definite read. I’ll help Bryan out here by telling you to go to Texas Linux Fest in Austin (looks like I’ll be there) on Memorial Day weekend, Southeast Linux Fest (SELF: Linux in the GNU South) in Charlotte in June, OSCON in Portland in July, and then Ohio Linux Fest usually wrapping up the year in September.
Where Bryan missed the mark in his article was here: “SCALE, itself, is similar in size to Linux Fest NW and is a solid destination, with some great speakers every year.” Great speakers and solid destination? Check. But similar in size? Both shows have enjoyed a steady increase in attendance and participation for the last several years, which is a huge testament to the work put in by the volunteer-based organizations behind both shows. Further, the improvements made to Bellingham Technical College are nothing short of outstanding. However, Linux Fest Northwest doesn’t enjoy the same advantages that SCALE has in being in a major metropolitan area based at a hotel located within range of a Matt Kemp home run from a major international airport. That said — and this is certainly not to take anything away from Linux Fest Northwest, which is a great show — SCALE is a somewhat larger show with around 100 exhibitors and more than 90 speakers. I’m not tweaking LFNW’s nose, so to speak, I just wanted to correct this.
On the expo floor: Regardless of the show’s size, it’s always great to see new people and old friends. CrunchBang had the great luck in geography of being next to the main LFNW table, so I had a chance to catch up with Bill Wright and the other show folks at length. We also had the privilege of having the LFNW totem in the corner behind us as well. The attendance for the event was pretty high, and I would guess that it’s around 1,400 judging by the degree of folks coming to the CrunchBang booth during presentations and between them. The steady stream of folks regardless of the time of day was a promising sign and speaks to the strength of the show.
Bellingham Technical College FTW: BTC has always been a great host for Linux Fest Northwest, and the improvements in the building this year — both in the classrooms and in the auditorium which hosted the expo floor — made the show go from great to outstanding. As a speaker, it was great to use top-notch AV equipment for which I didn’t have to sacrifice a chicken to the projector gods for my presentation to work (NOTE: No chickens, or any other animals or humans, have ever been harmed in my appeals to any diety in allowing my presentations to work). The expo floor itself was spacious — at least on our side — and I didn’t hear any complaints from any of the vendors about the show.
Et cetera: As you may recall from yesterday’s blog item, I had the great misfortune to stay at the Econolodge this year. Next to the hotel is the Slo-Pitch sports bar, which has about 40 screens showing different sports (30 of them, I swear, were tuned Seattle Sounders football, er, soccer) along with food. Note to the cook: A tuna melt is given that name because it has a certain quality about it, like, what’s it called? Oh yeah, cheese . . . . Thanks, OrangeFS, for the great swag — great as in lens cleaners for those of us wearing glasses, that is . . . . Great to see the following: Deb Nicholson, as always; Scott Dowdle and Gary Bummer, both coming in from the Big Sky country’s Montana LUG; everyone at the Fedora booth (Robyn Bergeron, Ian Weller and Adam Williamson — a lot of distro/programming brain power in that group); Ross Brunson of Linux Professional Institute; Red Hat’s Thomas Cameron and his three presentations; OSU Open Source Lab’s Lance Albertson and his three presentations (OK, two-and-a-half); Bill Wright and all the other LFNW crew, who put together this great show; David Whitman of Hacker Public Radio, always keeping everyone informed; Owen DeLong, the pied piper of IPv6 who fills up rooms with those wishing to learn about the new Internet Protocol; David Nalley, albeit briefly; and probably several I’m forgetting (if I didn’t mention you, it was good to see you but my memory is not . . . what was I saying again?).
How not to do things: Completely unrelated to the greatness that was LFNW this year, I encountered a personality who visited the booth who was new to this kind of thing (or so it seemed) and who is desperately in need of some attitude adjusting. That will come in a later post.
All in all, it was a great show. Thanks to everyone involved, and I’m definitely in for 2014.
[Warning: This will be a long post. For those of you with limited attention spans, for those of you who are too lazy to read, or for those who can’t process more than 140 characters at a time, here’s the TL:DR version of this blog item: Linux Fest Northwest was enormously outstanding and awesome (attendance is up, too), the CrunchBang booth was a huge success, the CrunchBang talk was well attended, and I stand by the statement I made to Hacker Public Radio last year: This show is so great, I’d walk to Bellingham from California to attend.]
Blame the Econolodge in Bellingham, which should be renamed “the Black Hole of the Internet,” for the complete absence of workable wireless connectability which causes me to compress two fantastic days of FOSS festivities into one blog item written after the fact from the Motel 6 in Salem, Oregon (it should be noted that, unlike the Econolodge, the wireless at both Motel 6 venues we stayed at — in Medford, Oregon, on the way up and here in Salem on the way back — has been quite good).
All of which is to say I apologize for the delay in getting this out.
In short, Linux Fest Northwest nailed it this weekend — the LFNW all-volunteer crew had everything up and running flawlessly in a revamped show area courtesy of some remodeling by Bellingham Technical College that included a auditorium that made for an oustanding expo hall and classrooms with world-class electronics (meaning, of course, my presentation worked with a limited amount of pre-talk tweaking at the outset augmented by prayers to the projector gods).
The normal tsunami of attendees came through the expo floor around 9ish on Saturday, bringing with it the usual hubbub of Linux fest questions, comments and observations. At the CrunchBang booth, media and fliers flew off the table, and folks were trying out the distro on both the old ThinkPad T30 and the newer Toshiba Satellite L455 that were featured on the CrunchBang table. The ebb and flow of humanity — I’m guessing around 1,400 attendees, though LFNW is going to release an official figure soon — rose and fell when sessions were on, but on the whole it was an ideal show for the two days. We ran out of media, fliers and everything by the end of the day on Sunday (OK, I gave the remaining five CrunchBang DVDs to the Greater Seattle LUG, but still).
Hey, I know you: I finally got to meet Benjamin Kerensa, with whom I have shared words — mostly kind but occasionally not-so-kind — in the past. Benjamin and his wife staffed the Mozilla table, and it was great to put a face to the name of a true FOSS advocate with whom I can sometimes disagree without either of us being disagreeable (as it should be). Naturally, I’m looking forward to seeing Benjamin and Mozilla at more shows.
Badges? You need steeenkin’ badges: Most folks would find this trivial, but I thought it was fairly cool. The badges for LFNW were small booklets with the speaker schedule printed inside, along with other important information (like directions to the party on Saturday eve). So at the end of your lanyard, you had the entire fest at your fingertips just by looking “inside” your badge (it should be noted, from a logistical standpoint too, that the names were printed on a sticker and put on the badge). Other shows — SCALE, white courtesy phone — need to look at this because it was very helpful.
Lights, camera, action: For some reason, there tended to be a lot of folks there to do media-type work. Hacker Public Radio was there, as usual, doing interviews (of which I was one — thanks!) and Jupiter Broadcasting had the Linux Action Show broadcasting live from their booth on Saturday — it would be interesting to see their take on the show later. Slashdot had an interviewer as well as some independents (e.g., people with video cameras posting independently to YouTube) interviewing folks, and of course I’ve never shied away from a microphone or a camera before. So there are some items of me talking about CrunchBang out there.
This is us: The CrunchBang booth was an unqualified success in large part from the help I got from xor axiom, whom many of you on the CrunchBang forums know (but whose real name is Eric Bortel). About 100 pieces of media were distributed, with the same amount of fliers accompanying them. Last year, we got a lot of “What’s CrunchBang?” This year, there was more “I’ve used CrunchBang before . . . ” so the distro is becoming more well-known. The presentation itself on Sunday morning had about 30 people in attendance and, as the aforementioned new equipment in the classroom helping out, the presentation went off without a hitch.
Sunday’s broadcast: Since Jupiter Broadcasting left the building on Sunday, I decided to crank up one of my favorite Linux podcasts — Linux Outlaws — on the Toshiba to show that, yes, CrunchBang can broadcast with the best of ’em. So on the relatively solid backbone of the Bellingham Technical College’s network, Dan Lynch and Fabian “Go Penguins!” Scherschel were in the house for Linux Fest Northwest.
Does this joke make me look stupid? OK, maybe it was the delivery or maybe it’s a generational thing. At the end of my presentation I made a point, as I usually do, to say what a great show LFNW is and to thank the volunteers when encountering them for making the show work. The LFNW volunteer staff wears red shirts (you know where I’m going with this). After I asked folks to thank the volunteers, I added ” . . . and urge them not to go down to the planet surface.” Cue crickets chirping. So maybe I won’t be here all week, but still remember to tip your waitress . . .
There is more to follow (including a rant that has more to do with the human condition than with LFNW), but I have to hit the road.
Toward the end of this week — well, Thursday to be exact — I’ll be loading up the car with a few laptops, about 100 pieces of CrunchBang media (DVDs, not CDs), a paper #! banner, my daughter and her equipment and we’ll head north to Linux Fest Northwest in Bellingham, Washington on April 27-28.
The question now is whether I have the time to swing by Corvallis, Oregon, and maybe stop in to visit Lance Albertson and the folks at both the Oregon State University Open Source Lab and the EECS department at Oregon State on Friday morning . . . .
As those of you who regularly read this blog already know, I say with annoying redundancy that the best Linux/FOSS show in North America is the Southern California Linux Expo. I would say that even if I was not affiliated with it, because it is — an all-volunteer staff puts together a three-day show that clearly rivals the corporate FOSS kumbaya in Portland every summer known as OSCON.
In its 14th year, LFNW is built from the same all-volunteer blueprint; in fact, the folks who put on this fest may claim credit for having a significant hand in drawing up the blueprint since it slightly predates SCALE. This blueprint also is used with other Linux/FOSS events around the country: Indiana Linux Fest, Texas Linux Fest, Ohio Linux Fest . . . the list goes on.
So LFNW is by us for us, and with the attendance growing every year — last year it was around 1,200 for the weekend event — I am always looking forward to going to it. Last year, I said I’d walk to Bellingham to make it to LFNW and I stand by that statement. In short, the show is that good.
I’ll be staffing the CrunchBang booth at LFNW. We also have a Birds of a Feather gathering scheduled for Saturday afternoon and I speak on Sunday at 11 a.m. on “Intro to CrunchBang.” Due to a scheduling conflict with CrunchBang lead developer Philip Newborough, unfortunately we won’t be having him present remotely at the BoF as we did last year.
Last year, flying the CrunchBang flag was quite successful, as I noted here. Many were surprised that we had a booth, some had never heard of CrunchBang (heresy!) and others were glad to see us there. We even got a couple of new users who tried CrunchBang and liked it. Now if I can get another interview on Hacker Public Radio, we’ll be all set.
Watch this space — updates as they develop.
I don’t know about anyone else, but I had an entertaining April Fools’ Day, especially thanks to the extent that Google went in providing us with the camouflage of yanking Google Reader by providing such diversions as Google Smell, the Google Map Treasure Edition and — my favorite — Gmail Blue (it’s so . . . blue).
In fact, I had plans of my own but never completed them — and my sincere apologies to Jef Spaleta for that. I had planned to write a campaign platform for Jef and me as a pair of candidates — Spaleta/Cafiero 2013 — for the upcoming Ubuntu Membership Board elections. This platform was going to liberally sprinkle quotes from last year’s Jono Bacon April 1 piece about Jono really being Jef Spaleta, and of course the multiplicity of reasons why you, as a faithful member of the Ubuntu Apocalypse, should vote for him, or for both of us.
But I never got around to it.
[Note to Ubunteros: You’re welcome to write-in either Jef or me on your ballot if you have qualms about the direction that Ubuntu is taking. Just a suggestion . . . ]
However, I am guilty of one prank. Blame Gareth Greenaway, a bad influence and the operations committee chair for the Southern California Linux Expo (not necessarily in that order). Toward the end of SCALE 11X this year, he had an idea for an April Fools’ goof that would involve SCALE and O’Reilly: SCALE would take over OSCON. Ideally, O’Reilly would be in on this — an opportunity on which they passed (shame on them) — and we’d both post a release on our sites saying that O’Reilly had handed OSCON over to us at SCALE (EDIT: I have taken down the release from the SCALE site, and it can be found in the comments). Alas, it was a one-sided affair, posted on our social media and on the SCALE 11X site. To my knowledge, it was received very well, in its own transparent way.
In case you didn’t get it, SCALE is not taking over OSCON. If you spell out the first letters of each paragraph, you get the message.
Some folks don’t like April 1. I’m not one of them. I like the free rein of having a day where you can exercise your wits in convincing others of something that isn’t true, and then move on. I can dish it out and I can take it — and I don’t mind so much being on the receiving end of a prank if it’s well crafted.
So tomorrow I pick up my guitar and play, just like yesterday, and I get on my knees and pray . . . .
I don’t want to take anything away from the winners of the O’Reilly Open Source Awards for 2012, given out at the big corporate FOSS Kumbaya in Portland known as OSCON this past week. All are very deserving of O’Reilly’s accolades — especially Elizabeth Krumbach, whose work I see on an almost regular basis — and I won’t go into listing the winners or their accomplishments here because O’Reilly has seen to that already.
But there are two — at least two — that were nominated and that O’Reilly missed. The misfortune that these two have been omitted arguably borders on tragic, too, because each of the following folks mentioned below have made significant contributions to FOSS in ways that equal, if not eclipse, those made by some of the this year’s recipients.
Here are two you missed, O’Reilly. Maybe next year you can rectify this.
The first O’Reilly oversight is Bill Kendrick. If you have children, you have probably happened upon Bill’s software opus Tux Paint somewhere along the line. If you don’t, then you may have seen it anyway. In its 10th year, Tux Paint is an award-winning art program for K-6 kids that not only teaches art, but also computer literacy. A long list of schools use it. It’s been open source ever since its inception, and is made for a variety of platforms — the usual suspects of Linux, Mac and Windows. Tux Paint alone should garner Bill the award, with an oak-leaf cluster, but he is even more deserving of the award for developing other educational software like TuxTyping — helping kids learn to type — not to mention Tux, of Math Command — which “lets kids hone their arithmetic skills while they defend penguins from incoming comets,” according to the website. Or, in other words, think of the ’80s arcade game Missile Command, only with math problems instead of incoming nuclear missiles.
The second oversight is Ken Starks. As those of you who regularly read this blog know, Ken and I go back a ways, back to the days when Ken successfully — miraculously — raised enough money to get Tux on the nose of an Indy car at the Indianapolis 500 back in 2007. The car crashed early in the race — irony of ironies for Linux — and finished last. As long as I’ve known him, Ken has been the most tireless advocate for Linux and FOSS for years. With the HeliOS Project — now REGLUE, an acronym for Recycled Electronics and Gnu/Linux Used for Education — Ken and his merry band of fossketeers get refurbished Linux-based computers into the hands of underprivileged kids in the Austin, Texas, area. Ken was also one of the co-founders of the Lindependence Project, which brought Linux to a small town back in 2008. Currently, Ken’s battle with larynx cancer is limiting his activity, but he is still doing what he can with the hand he’s dealt.
So, how about it, Tim?
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.
Larry the Free Software Guy, cashing in another grammatical chip in order to refer to himself in the third person, has a choice: He can wallow in self-pity for not being at OSCON this week (it’s not the same without May Munji there at the helm, anyway) or he can talk about one of the best contests of the year, assuming you’re a kid (or you have one) and you want to win an OLPC or other cool prizes.
We’ll definitely go with the latter today.
Wordlabel.com is sponsoring the Tux Paint Kids Summer Drawing Contest, which is open to all children from ages 3 to 12 who live anywhere on the planet Earth.
The contest allows kids a chance to show off their talent “using a great drawing program made especially for kids,” according to the Wordlabel.com site — an understatement if there was one. Over the years, I’ve raved about what a great program Tux Paint is, and my daughter Mimi was essentially raised on it; arguably the artistic talent she now possesses as a teenager was honed using Tux Paint in her younger years.
But officially and for promotional purposes, Tux Paint is an award-winning drawing program that was recently awarded SourceForge.net Project of the Month. It runs on all versions of Linux, Windows (including Tablet PC), Mac OS X 10.4 and up, FreeBSD and NetBSD.
And, of course, it’s free.
Here’s what you get, kids: Prizes will be given to 10 winners, with first prize being an OLPC notepad computer, Sugar-on-a-stick loaded with Tux Paint, a Tux Paint T-shirt and button. Second and third prize winners get an OLPC computer, Sugar-on-a-stick and a T-shirt. The remaining seven that round out the top 10 will receive a Sugar-on-a-stick and a Tux Paint t-shirt.
So how do you, as a 3- to 12-year-old, enter?
Here’s how you do it, kids:
All artwork must be the contestant’s original work created on Tux Paint, and only one entry per child. Entries must be received by midnight USA Eastern time on 12 September 2011 to be eligible (that’s 0500 GMT 13 September 2011, for those of you keeping score at home).
As I’ve said ad nauseum over the years, Tux Paint has been one of my all-time favorite programs. I’ve used it at home, and Mimi and I have had years of fun with it while she was growing up. I’ve used it in a classroom environment as well. Bill Kendrick and the team that produced this program are nothing short of wizards, and my hat has always been off to them. It’s good to see they’re getting some wider recognition through this contest.
And, of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t end this blog about Tux Paint without saying, “Nah-nuh-NAAAAA!”
Ah, love! The Cure’s song that carries today’s blog title bounces gently off the walls of the office while I think about the things I love about GNU/Linux (or Linux, if you’re so inclined).
Like . . .