FUDCon: Fedora and Brownian motion

A really cool benefit of being at FUDCon is that, with many people representing various interests being physically present in the same room, there is a lot of ad hoc productivity. Perhaps a Brownian motion model of development-at-conference, in addition to the cathedral and bazaar models?

Kushal Das recounted yesterday on the per-chance work on updating the packaging for lekhonee-gnome (which I’m using at the moment to write this post). Christoph Wickert‘s barcamp session yesterday (on collaboration with other projects) ended up spilling over and merging into the next session on live media, with some interesting ideas emerging about improving the installation experience.
Today I approached Joshua Wulf to troubleshoot a problem updating the crowd-sourced Fedora book, and ended up looking into fixing the Avant Window Manager (decided in the end that it’s probably not worth putting too much effort since upstream development has stalled, but discovered a cool alternative in Cairo Dock).
In a distributed project, there is often a communication lag — things happen quickly if you catch the relevant people on IRC, but communication on mailing lists and bug trackers is by nature slower. And there is that je ne sais quoi that is physical presence that is missing in the ethereal world of the Internet — you look at someone’s computer, see they’re running an older version of Fedora because a crucial piece of their desktop is no longer supported, and start looking into solution.
Things do flourish in a community — as Hillary Clinton said, it does indeed take a village.

FUDCon: travel notes

Typing this on the train coming back from FUDCon. Amazon’s Kindle has free unrestrained 3G access in Switzerland (though Google curiously geo-located me as being in Ireland), as I discovered on the first day of FUDCon, while killing away time waiting for the bunker to open (I’m glad to discover, later, that the consensus is that the Wired Dreams party indeed was a disappointment).

The train just left Switzerland, so I’m back on my netbook, but data coverage is still a bit spotty. For a while the phone actually picked up Austrian cellular networks!

It’s the first time I’ve been to FUDCon, and I’ll definitely be coming back. Though alas, the next one in Tempe, Arizona would be rather hard to squeeze in, so it might be a full year wait. It’s a wonderful energizing experience. The north American folks are great presenters (unfortunately I missed out on Jesse’s dist-git talk), and luckily one of my preferred Barcamp topics (Peter Robinson’s Fedora Mini Mobility) ended up on the morning slot, since I regrettably had to board the train right after lunch, missing all the afternoon sessions. Some ideas came up that I’ll try and follow-up on fedora-de{sktop,vel} as soon as I get back.

Oh, and for anyone thinking of visiting Red Hat’s Czech office — or Novell’s Czech office, for that matter, beware: they’re all party animals! The bunker was well stocked with beer and stronger stuff (including Swiss absinthe, which I was informed has the highest thujone content in the world, Switzerland happily not being part of the EU). ’80s Czech music is awesome, and MIsha regaled me with a Russian narcissus/Father Christmas tale, that surprisingly had a happy ending. Not many photos, unfortunately, but between Maírín and Nicu I think the event was well-covered.

Attending FUDCon Zurich for the weekend

Got in here late last night by train — amusingly, of the three legs of the journey (Erlangen-Nürnberg-Buchloe-Zürich), the only late train was the Swiss train from Buchloe. Uncharacteristic, but hey. Took a detour of 15 minutes walking to the hotel due to mistaking a canal for the river that was shown on the map, which afforded some amusing sights: from someone climbing out of the Botanical Gardens, after hours, over the fence, to someone skateboarding backwards… to a Valley-esque girl outside a bar whose vocabulary appeared to be limited to “OMG” which she repeated ad nauseam.

No Internet on the train (I could have used my phone as a modem until the Swiss border, but between a paper, an eBook — Peter Hamilton’s Pandora Star), no Internet in the hotel, so I had to wait until I arrive at the conference venue for my Internet diet. Finally got the liboauth/bti EL-5 updates finished.

Adam’s just starting his talk so it’s time to sign off now.