Sorry it’s taken so long to post about this. So last Friday I and a friend of mine, Joe, took off from North Eastern Massachusetts headed for Rochester NY for the inaugural 2010 FOSScon. Joe has just finished taking courses at Lincoln Tech and is about to take the tests for A+, Network plus and MCP certifications and is excited to get into the world of FOSS and technology. It was supposed to be a 6.5 hour drive which ended up being about 9 since I had forgot I set my GPS to avoid tolls. If we had been on time, would have just caught the tail end of a pre-event dinner meetup that was put on at the last minute. Oh well, lesson learned for next year. Non-the-less, it was a nice ride through upstate NY during the day. Couldn’t have asked for better weather.
The next day we got to the event just as the opening keynote about BaseKamp was starting. Basekamp is “a non-commercial organization of people researching and co-developing interdisciplinary, self-organized art projects and based in Philadelphia.” A very interesting and established project which does a lot of good for the community.
Next we were on to the Resume workshop by Jim Bondi from the IT Cooperative Education Program Advisors at RIT. Since Joe will be hitting the ground running to find a job after his classes and externship, this workshop was one he really wanted to hit up. Being in the field a while and being on both ends of an interview myself, I didn’t think I would get much out of this as I actually did. A lot of the information given should be common sense, but some people just don’t put it together when writing their resume. I was also able to chime in with some comments based on experience to questions from the other attendees. Joe thought the talk was very informative and prompted him to go back and update his resume based on some of the advice given.
Lunch was where I think we learned how to improve a bit for next year. It was prettymuch everyone for themselves. Not saying I was expecting a free meal, but we should have had something organized so would have spent less time figuring out what was around for food and who was going to go where with who and spend more time mingling and discussing the talks, workshops and just shoot the breeze (read: geek out). In talking with some of the people who organized the event, this was noticed and will be something to be worked on for next year. Joe and I ended up eating a local bar and grill less than a mile away. While others had to trek quiet some miles away and had to rush to get back in time.
The next workshop Joe and I decided to attend was “Life without GUI”. Again, with Joe just getting into IT and FOSS, this would have been a great thing for him to learn some neat tricks on the command line within Linux. Unfortunately, I don’t think this workshop went very well. For one, I think they started earlier than they should have. We walked in after they had already gone through some decent tips. And to be honest, I don’t think the speaker was very good at teaching basics to people who aren’t on the same level. There was some butting of heads during the talk with differences of opinion and a blatant refusal to go over any simple commands like ls, cp or pwd even though we had a few extra minutes to spare. I was pretty disappointed with this workshop which could have been very valuable for Joe and even myself but instead was just brushed away as a waste of time. Maybe we learned how not to give a workshop.
Then we were off to “Learning how to fish: A self-help guide to finding Linux help on the internet” by Jorge Castro from Canonical. This talk was a complete opposite from the previously mentioned. Jorge is insanely good at giving a presentation. He first went on about how people perceive getting help in open source projects and hit the nail on the head doing so. Then he went on to how things should be done. Everything from how to properly use google, search forums and contacting the right people to get the most bang for your buck. Add to that, Jorge was very good at keeping everyone included in the discussion by asking questions from the audience and even adding in some topics that were brought up. Very well done.
After the talk we had some time to kill before the last keynote. I got to meet up with Jorge a couple others while we checked out the vendor section where Linode and the Free Software Foundation still had tables setup. Had some discussions with the Linode vendor, got some free tshirts and talked about some FOSSy type things. Then we found out there would be lightning talks before the final keynote. People scrambled to throw together some presentations. It was pretty impressive to see ideas just come up and people putting together lightning talks so quickly. The 5 minute talks went really well. Everything from Jorges talk about Unity in future versions of Ubuntu to a wiki project dedicated to the city of Rochester, NY and the people that live there.
Finally, we had the keynote from Jonathan Simpson from Freenode. This was an overview of the whole event, it’s goals, what it took to get here and the future of FOSScon. He also talked about the Geeknic and FOSSevents projects. Both of which I am very interested in and will hopefully be taking advantage of in the near future. There were some raffles being held in which Joe won a free digital copy of any O’reilly book he wanted.
At the end of the day, it was a very successful event. We got to take part in some great discussions and meet up with a bunch of new people. Some of which I have talked with online previously, some having discussions with for the first time. I am definitely looking for next year’s which should be bigger and better.
Thanks to Andrew Keyes for the photography and allowing me to use the pictures in this post. You can find the whole set of pictures on Flickr.