Free Geek

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On the last day of OSCON, I took a trip with Phil and others down to Free Geek, a non-profit organization providing free computers and education to those in need through the reuse and recycling of old computers. And seriously, what a warehouse of old computers it was. It was a fascinating tour, where they basically either reuse or recycle almost everything out of your typical desktop computer – then sell any extra bits and bobs in thrift store. There was crap everywhere, just amazing what useful and profitable crap it can be with a bit of work!


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We had a small turnout of core GNOME folks at OSCON – Jeff, Jono’s boss, and myself, though there may have been others that I didn’t know about. There was a good collection of folks running GNOME in the few short glances of peoples screens I was able to make, but OSX and Windows still dominated which wasn’t overly surprising for a conference like OSCON.

At the last minute, I was asked to give a lightning 5 minute project update. Of course I couldn’t really think of anything to say, so instead showed a few holiday snaps – though most of them weren’t even mine. I’ve added some commentary to the slides which originally only had a picture and small caption.

A Non-Geek Conversation

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On the back of Joel’s think like a geek blog post, I’m dating a new breed of something. Kind of alarming…

(18:00:14) glynn: sweet, you're a geek
(18:00:15) wallisjayne: speak for yourself
(18:00:20) wallisjayne: i am not
(18:00:40) wallisjayne: first, i don't understand half of what you write on your blog
(18:00:59) wallisjayne: second, i don't wear glasses or have funny teeth
(18:01:26) wallisjayne: third, i love you and you're not a core geek
(18:01:32) wallisjayne: so i can't be a geek
(18:01:53) wallisjayne: i'm a new breed of something

A Week of OSCON

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My first OSCON is nearly over. It’s been a fun week, full of many interesting discussions, and some good sessions and keynotes. The schedule is absolute clusterfuck in terms of being able to see and experience everything that is going on – most of the time you don’t bother, and the important stuff happens outside the sessions. It’s a polished conference, and it’s very clear that there’s years of experience tied up in the conference organizers, yet still keen to try new bits and pieces out with things each year.

It’s been really sweet to catch up with a whole bunch of Sun guys for the first time, drink beer and talk shit. It makes *such* a huge difference being able to get to know a face behind a name on a mailing list. Was good to see Simon’s new Open Source team all out in force, and looking forward to them rocking over the next couple of months.

A couple of random observations and takeaways from the conference, from a Sun point of view –

  • Exhibit Booth: I’m in mixed opinions of whether having a booth is a good use of time and effort. When the hall opened on Wednesday, there was such an incredible rush of people coming in grabbing tshirts and whatever else they could get their greedy hands on trying to avoid any interaction with the people on the booth. Once the free stuff was gone, there was nothing there to entice them in. Despite the best efforts of Brian, Channing, Alan and co, we definitely didn’t have enough OpenSolaris DVDs – we should have sacrificed the widescreen for burning a couple of hundred DVDs. It also would have been good to set up a few racks of our various new machines and advertising our ‘Try and Buy’ scheme. I definitely think it’s good to be part of the sponsorship list for OSCON – it’s still a high quality conference with a lot of pretty influential people involved from right across the free and open source stack.
  • OpenSolaris: It’s pretty clear that isn’t a popular distribution right now [most people seem to be running Linux, OSX or Windows]. We have a lot of work to do. I think there’s definitely interest in it, but the BOF’s were pretty underattended. Seeing Eric demo Google Earth under BrandZ was pretty rad. What we do know is that people are still amazingly confused over where to get OpenSolaris or Solaris, and how to maintain that distribution – hopefully the OpenSolaris Starter Kit that Steve, Teresa and others are working on will help this. Jeff did a good talk about community building within the Ubuntu project, and there’s some no-brainer lessons to be learned from those guys. I’d go further and suggest that Ubuntu’s success is primarily due to the fact that it’s a 6 monthly time based release giving developers the easy opportunity to easily keep in touch with the latest things that are happening in the free software world.
  • Sun and Open Source: Last night we had a pretty excellent BOF on Sun’s Open Source strategy. I hijacked the start of it when the discussion opened asking if the non-Sun people could tell us what we’re doing wrong, and that theme carried on right through the hour we had with some really good feedback. Everyone agreed that Sun is doing heaps better than it was 2 or 3 years ago, but we’re still lacking a coherant message of how Sun’s software stack fits together. Was nice to hear [and drink with, thanks Stephen] some of the analysts be supportive of what Sun was doing.
  • Java: Had some great discussions with Rich, Laura, Gary and Tom about the state of Java and things like All very encouraging and definitely curious to be a fly on the wall right now at some of the discussions that are taking place in Sun.

Definitely keen to get to next years OSCON – next stop, Menlo Park. I’ll have a short couple of days hanging out in top floor of MPK17, so if you’re around drop by and say ‘hi’.

OSCON 2006

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Arrived in Portland after a mostly uneventful flight. Become a black belt at Suduko, or at least learned a few tricks for solving the damn things. Getting excited by the conference, although I haven’t quite figured out where I get my pass from.

I have a feeling that OSCON won’t quite be like anything I’ve ever attended before. First task, to figure out which of the 10+ parallel talks I’ll attend. Eeek.

Mono on Solaris

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While you can get Mono from many different sources, Jedy Wang’s been looking at building it on Solaris, along with Beagle and F-Spot. He’s put up some instructions here.

That’s a Wrap

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After the end of each GUADEC, there’s always a bit of a joke around with everyone saying ‘BEST GUADEC EVER’. GUADEC always manages to do better and better, year after year. New friendships are forged, new partnerships of strategic importance are created, and the project goes from strength to strength. This year was no different, and it was wonderful to see such a diverse thriving community of people attend the 7 day conference, and such spectacular corporate sponsorship of the event.

Quim has his team of amazing volunteers did an absolutely wonderful job. His organization and lead was seamless, and with the introduction of the GNOMEFIFA football match, and GNOME band, we crossed new barriers of activity and team building to make me really proud to be a part of such a project. I’ve always said that GNOME was about the people, and Luis proved this with a wonderful closing speech

I was especially excited to see the interaction from the Sun guys. In previous conferences many people out of the team have kept to themselves, and it’s been personally disappointing that they haven’t reached out and got to know people in the community. This year they all did, and I know that many of them were buzzing from the experience and I think this will make a significant difference in the future. I met a whole heap of people for the first time, yet missed out on so many more people that I didn’t get to talk to. Next year Sun needs to hand out some t-shirts.

To everyone involved, thank you for making it such a memorable event. To Nokia and Fluendo, thank you for having such wonderful parties. To Luis, keep in touch dude! To Robert, do you really have a wife to beat? To the GNOME band, [insert Bill & Ted’s Wild Stallions guitar riff]. To Quim, you are my hero and if I can ever possibly return the favour of hosting you in NZ let me know.

Rock on GNOME, rock on!. What an amazing community we have become.