FUDCon: days 1.5 to 3, and the aftermath

Finishing off my FUDCon Tempe write-up. So the second half of day 2, and all of day 3, were hackfests. I was a bit disappointed that we weren’t given an opportunity to pitch the hackfests; I remember this being the setup for Toronto and Zurich, and it worked well. You could put a face to anyone proposing a hackfest you were interested in, and there was at least a vague plan of what hackfest would take place where. For Tempe, there was no organization of hackfests – people were just expected to magically find the other people who might want to work on the same things, and find a space to get together. It was about the only sub-optimal aspect of organization of the whole event, so that’s not much to complain about! I’d just like to go back to the pitching/scheduling method in future.

Things worked out, though. In the afternoon of day 2 I tried to help Susmit and Christoph with Fedora Medical packaging. It involved some icky source trees with licensing issues and bizarre build systems and copies of system libraries so we didn’t get much finished, but we did sort out a few things and develop a plan. I think I still owe Christoph an email with my unfinished .src.rpm though – sorry!

On day 3 I worked on a few different things; I spent a lot of time trying out the Fedora packager plugin for Eclipse which I was so impressed with at Andrew Overholt’s lightning talk. It’s definitely a great system but I hit a few issues trying it out, which Andrew and the rest of the team have been awesomely responsive to, and which should be sorted soon. It was great having Andrew right down the hall to wave issues at; ‘I have feedback!’ became my catchphrase for the afternoon (Andrew having bemoaned the lack of feedback in his lightning talk).

What I was trying the plugin out on was some trivial rebuilds of Sugar packages for Peter Robinson, which of course wound up taking far longer than they would have done the old way, but such is the price of progress!

I also continued my cunning plan of taking my hackfest to the masses. I had planned a hackfest to create package-specific test cases where I would get some developers to come along and create test cases for their packages, but as we didn’t get to pitch hackfests, I never got to explain the idea. So instead I spent late night #2 and some of day #3 hackfest session wandering around and buttonholing people, starting in with ‘so, what packages do YOU maintain?’ and refusing to leave until I’d gotten a test case out of them. Mucho thanks to all those who contributed, we got test cases for Firefox, gammu, and smolt. Each one took less than five minutes to create. If you maintain a package and/or know how to use one, you can do it too! Just follow the SOP, and I’m here to help if you get stuck.

I can’t mention that, of course, without mentioning the incredibly awesome Luke Macken, who implemented Bodhi support for package-specific test cases during the day #3 hackfest session; the staging Bodhi now displays all test cases associated with a package update right on the package update page, which is huge. Seeing this kind of thing come together is one of the main awesome things about FUDCon, for me.

The biggest concrete achievement of the day was a meeting with John ‘J5′ Palmieri and Christopher Aillon to discuss the GNOME 3 Test Day (which is happening RIGHT NOW in #fedora-test-day!) I was worried we wouldn’t be able to do any significant co-ordination with the desktop team, as many of them were not able to make it to FUDCon, but J5 and Chris took the trouble to sit with James Laska and me and spend an hour or so providing very useful ideas for test cases, without which I would really have struggled to provide enough test case meat to make the event worthwhile. David Malcolm was also kind enough to sit in with us and provide a ton of useful suggestions, so thanks to him too! Later in the day I took some time to find a quiet room and get announcements of the test day out to several news outlets and mailing lists, and Larry Cafiero was good enough to mention it in his blog (and on microblogs too!).

The other highlight of the day #3 hackfest for me was Clint Savage being kind enough to give me the absolute idiot’s guide to git, a tool which I’ve so far not so much used as bludgeoned into submission! He gave me some really useful basic advice in very easy-to-understand fashion and also did a great impromptu talk on git flow, a common and awesome git workflow, which I recorded with someone’s Flip camera and need to upload soon.

As usual, though, the official sessions were only half – or even less – of the FUDCon story. Discussions and work go on well into the night back at the hotel, and I had some of the most interesting conversations of FUDCon there, particularly with Jeroen, who had some really interesting ideas for QA which I’m hoping to do something with soon. There’s all the little corner conversations you don’t necessarily remember; the one that sticks out in my mind was letting Harish know about Andre Robatino’s delta ISOs of Fedora releases and pre-releases – a simple five minute conversation that (I hope!) will provide a significant benefit.

Of course, there’s also the social side. Some F/OSS conferences can be a little awkward for me, as I wouldn’t always necessarily choose everyone at the conference as drinking buddies, but this turned out to be a great event from that perspective. FUDPub on Saturday was at the student union rec hall, with free bowling and pool, which was awesome; I’m both insanely competitive and utterly convinced I’m awesome at everything, so if you get me in a big group with free bar games I’m there till someone drags me away. I used to bowl a lot (Jeroen, I’ll put that scan up tomorrow, I promise you on ONE AMERICAN DOLLAR!) but hadn’t for a couple of years, but I still managed a 115, a 118 and a 106, which I was pretty happy with. It was good to meet a couple of the guys from Rackspace, who sponsored FUDPub and were presenting at the conference – we bowled and shot pool all night, and took probably far less advantage of the free bar than we ought to have done (and others clearly seem to have). After FUDPub ended (criminally early, thanks to odd Arizona laws or something) I wound up at Gordon Biersch with Peter until 1:30am, which was good times as always, and managed to get to bed around 2am – not too bad for a FUDCon.

Sunday was games night, though, and someone had brought a poker set…so that was it. I’ve never played live before, but it was a lot of fun…even though Sandro did clean up, and talked more shit than Phil Hellmuth doing it. After a hard night’s gambling (for chips) and valiantly battling the FUDCon beer mountain, I finally made it to bed around 4am (with a couple of large glasses of water and some strategic Tylenol) and got up at 8 for the next day’s sessions.

Monday night was impromptu hotel lobby games night, and by far the most fun of the entire event – we ran another poker game and played till 4:30, finishing off the beer mountain, buying Robyn appletinis, and calling each other jackwagons. Much fun was had by all, it was somehow the perfect group of people to sit around a table and talk complete nonsense with. Also, we replaced the kernel with hurd and switched to a rolling release cycle – just so you know.

After waking up at 8:30 again to catch my flight out, and making it home just barely conscious, I’ve spent the subsequent two days working on the GNOME Test Day. It’s now 6:46am on Thursday and I’ve been working on this thing for 22 hours straight, I’m quite unreasonably tired. After the Test Day’s done, I think I’m taking Friday off. :) My internet connection’s currently saturated with live image upload for the Test Day, so still no photos; I’ve been working on them on and off (damn Mo and Tatica for teaching me GIMP stuff so I don’t just upload untouched JPEGs any more!) and I’ll aim to get most of the good ones up tomorrow while the Test Day’s going on.

And that was FUDCon! See you at the next one…

One Response

  1. FUDCon Tempe trip report | jlaska
    FUDCon Tempe trip report | jlaska February 23, 2011 at 7:25 am |

    [...] how much you can cover in person, as opposed to IRC or email.  For more details, read Adam’s blog post on the [...]

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