OSCON 2007 – the details, the people

I was at OSCON 2007 this week. I was there to present my Nobody Ever Regretted Making a Backup talk:

In the past few years, Bacula has been gaining ground on more established solutions, both open source and proprietary. This talk will introduce you to Bacula, show you the main components, give you an outline of how it works, and illustrate why Bacula is becoming so widespread.

My talk was scheduled for the last session of the last day. By then, many people have departed. Not to worry. I had about 30-40 people there. Next year, I hope to give my three-hour Bacula tutorial. I’ll submit my proposal. The rest is up to OSCON.

I arrived in Portland on Sunday about noon, and headed straight to the OSCON07PGDay event, already in progress. I enjoyed that. Afterwards, I attended the PostgreSQL party put on by Command Prompt, Inc.. By the time I got into my bed, I’d been up for 20 hours.

The next day was the first of two for tutorials. I attended the Code Like a Pythonista: Idiomatic Python tutorial presented by David Goodger, Director & Secretary, Python Software Foundation. Being a Python newbie and having written only one Python program (fp-listen for FreshPorts), I found myself learning a great deal.

During lunch, I ran into Cat Allman, who I’ve known for years through USENIX. She’s recently joined Google and is working with Leslie Hawthorn. I call them the Open Source Angels.

My next scheduled item was Scalable Internet Architectures presented by Theo Schlossnagle. Coincidentally, I’d met Theo the previous day through Robert Treat, whom I’ve known for a few years mostly through IRC and various conferences we’ve attended. Unfortunately, a phone interview prevented my attending this talk, but that didn’t stop a standing-room-only crowed from crushing into the room.

That night, a group of 7 headed off to dinner at Higgins. The place was recommended to me by Bill Pollock of No Starch Press. Amongst the people I convinced to head to this place were Josh Berkus (Sun), David Fetter (PostgreSQL), Jim Nasby (EnterpriseDB), Deepak Giridharagopal (MessageOne), Masood Mortizavi (Sun), and David Maxwell (Coverity). We had a wonderful meal. The staff, atmosphere, and food are amazing. David was our server, but all the staff contributed. Great food. We all enjoyed our meals.

The next day, second of the tutorials, found me in the Technical Management of Software Development tutorial, presented by Alex Martelli and Anna Ravenscroft.

That afternoon, I went to Michael G. Schwern‘s talk: Simple Ways To Be a Better Programmer.

That evening, Sun put on drinks at the Red Robin. That bar was packed solid. I sat and chatted with Robert Treat.

The next day was the first day of the conference sessions. I went to all of the keynotes. The sessions I attended were:

  1. Managing Technical DebtAndy Lester
  2. How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love My Database: MySQL to PostgreSQLKevin Falcone

That evening was the invitation-only Google dinner. I went over to the tram stop to catch a light rail train over to the venue. I saw some people who I was pretty sure were going where I was headed. We introduced ourselves. It turned out they were:

I, ummm, was slightly overwhelmed at this. Here I was travelling to an invitation-only dinner with people who were vastly better known than myself. People I recognized, included Brian W. Fitzpatrick and Ben Collins-Sussman.

When I got to the dinner, the feeling continued. Near the end of the dinner, I mentioned this to Cat and wondered aloud what got me invited to this dinner. She smiled and said that I greatly underestimate myself. :)

Here’s the list of people at that dinner:

Anna Ravenscroft
Atanu Ghosh
Ben Fry
Brenda Wallace
Brian Aker
Dan Langille
Dave Jones
David Boswell
David Recordon
David Smith
Denise Kalos
Dirk Hondel
Eben Moglen
Jacob Kaplan-Moss
Jay Pipes
Jeff Bailey
Jeremy Dunck
Jon Philips
Jono Bacon
Larry Augustin
Larry Wall and Family
Matthew Garrett
Penny Leach
Rick Falkvinge
Scott Kveton
Siggy Magnusson
Simon Wardley
Simon Willison
Ted Leung
Val Henson

And the Google folks:

Aaron Boodman
Alex Martelli
Ben Collins-Sussman
Brian ‘Fitz’ Fitzpatrick
Cat Allman
Chris DiBona
Daniel Berlin
Greg Stein
Guido van Rossum
Jason Robbins
Leslie Hawthorn
Robert Spier

On the tram ride back to the hotel, three people got into the same car as me. One was wearing an Instructables t-shirt. I asked her about the site. That was Christy Canida (Community and Marketing Manager, Instructables). With her were Limor Fried (Adafruit Industries) and Phillip Torrone (Senior Editor, MAKE Magazine). The next day, Christy and I were in the same talk and she gave me an Instructables robot sticker. That sticker quickly became the first sticker on my laptop. :)

On Thursday morning, I spied Cat and Leslie in the Starbucks queue. This is when I coined the term Open Source Angels and greeted them as such.

The sessions I did on Thursday included:

  1. Iptables Attack VisualizationMichael Rash
  2. PostgreSQL Gems: Running Perl and Ruby Inside the DatabaseDavid Fetter
  3. PDO: PHP Data ObjectsWez Furlong
  4. Dispelling Legal Myths: Things OSS Developers Get Wrong About LawDaniel Berlin
  5. The Absolute Minimum an Open Source Developer Needs to Know About Intellectual PropertyVan Lindberg
  6. Introduction to PL/PHPRobert Treat

That evening was the SourceForge.net Community Choice Awards. Bacula was nominated for an award, but lost to PHPAdmin… go figure. It was at this event that I learned about the flammable nature of orange peel. Very amusing!

On the last day, Friday, I popped into the presentation room to test my laptop. All was well. The speaker presenting before me was already there. We chatted briefly. It wasn’t until after her talk that I realised it was Stormy Peters. She and I have exchanged emails before. What a shame we didn’t introduce ourselves! Stormy: if you read this, that was me…

My talk went well. I was happy to spread the word about the best backup solution, Bacula. The audience was well informed and asked very pertinent questions. I regret not having a demo system available for display. Next time…

Late Friday afternoon, I headed to the airport via the train. Portland has a great train system for getting to and from the Conference center. It is VERY convenient and fast. I love it.

I’m back home now, sleep deprived, and Starbucks supported, but I’m typing away, hoping to retain most of the information I gained from the conference. I’ll be back next year.

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4 thoughts on “OSCON 2007 – the details, the people”

  1. Brenda: I lived in Wellington from 1986 until 2001… FYI

    I was up against the windows with the street to my back. I was with Alex and Anna, the smallest table. I think you were in the “other” part of the room… directly in front of me.

    If I’d know there were Wellingtonions in the house, I’d have made an effort….

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