Sunday, October 9, 2011

Maintenance of blog

Hey All,

Sorry for the blog post dump. I am doing a little maintenance on my blog and did not realize it would re-post everything again :-(

My apologies!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

openSUSE Marketing Hackfest 2011

On the 15th and 16 of September 2011, following the oSC, the marketing team held a Marketing Hackfest at the SUSE headquarters in Nuremberg, Germany.

I was asked to attend this event for several reasons aside from the normal Marketing related things, two of which were the most important to me being new to this event. One, was to observe how the marketing team functions as a unit. And second, to hold meetings with different people to discuss certain issues with an outlook of solving them for the benefit of the openSUSE community. Moreover, many of us had a chance to further discuss (in person) initiatives started at the oSC, since we had a chance to digest them and come with some valuable input that was used to move things forward ;-)

The first day, was quite chaotic for one who had never attended and/or understood the process of how the team administered their hackfest. There were some communication issues, which eventually turned the event into an understanding of organized chaos on my part ;-) Things started out slow, but by the second day many people had an idea of the workload and were producing some awesome ideas and collaborating together to help each other implement those ideas. On the last day in the afternoon, Amie Johnson (SUSE's PR Manager) gave us a quick presentation on press releases: How to do them and the format that should be taken into account. Amie was nice enough to offer the community help with PR by collaborating between the community and SUSE, so we can work together on leveraging the messages we both have in common.

Given the circumstances and meeting place, we were able to have some other people from SUSE contribute, who were happy to join and help out also by demonstrating their commitment to the openSUSE community. So, Thanks to Jan Weber, Susanne Oberhauser, Michael Miller, Greg K.H, Alan Clark, Andreas Jaeger, and Amie Johnson for helping out and filling in the gaps were needed.

Also a great big thanks again for the input and work performed by the marketing team and those that attended: Bruno, Francoise, Manu, Kostas, Stella, George, Izabel, N.B. Prashanth, Bryen, Jos, Andrew, Sebastian, and JDD. You guys did a great job coming up with new ideas, as well as, building on the current ones!

Last, but not least, thanks to Jos for the Stroopwaffles (Dutch Treacle Waffles) and SUSE for the lunches, drinks and the use of there offices and infrastructure.

Thanks Geekos for once again demonstrating the openness and collaboration that is so specific to the openSUSE community culture. Looking forward to help make one of the best, even better!!!

Looking back at the openSUSE Conference 2011 (oSC)

Well, once again, I had a chance to meet a community, one of which, I have never met before ;-)

I arrived at Zentrifuge on the 10th of September for the warmup to the oSC. Immediately after arrival, I was greeted with warm smiles, open discussions, and cold beer ;-) No one knew who I was, but they all welcomed me. As the evening continued, I was witness to how the community also made sure that they welcomed everyone, once they arrived. This is pure class and I would like to say is very important to a newbie who is entering the community. This is one aspect where openSUSE makes the difference, since it is not practiced to this extent in many other communities.

The first day: After a great evening of meeting various contributors, members of openSUSE and SUSE employees, and having great technical and non-technical chats, the first day of the event was kicked off. It was hot, not only the event, but the weather. Around 35 centigrade with a lot of humidity, so the speakers, like me, were really put to the test. I had the chance to meet many people in the openSUSE community and spend some time with them one on one to discuss their experiences and how they viewed the project. Furthermore, I met a few others who were not a part of the openSUSE community, but others within our ecosystem who were there to show there dedication to collaboration. I, myself, also held a workshop entitled "Introduction to Cross-cultural Communication, Collaboration and Conflict" which attracted quite a crowd and I am very please with all that attended, showed interest and gave feedback. You guys and gals are awesome and did a remarkable job!!!

The second day: This is where the the fun and the heat started to both take their toll ;-) I made it a point to attend most all of the community track and also Greg KH's talk on Tumbleweed. The first BoF I attended was Ambassador Program: Current status, potential changes and inprovements held by Kostas and Manu. This was an interesting discussion on the current status of the program and what needs to be done to make the program more structured and what will be expected from new ambassadors when they join. The second talk I attended was Greg KH's talk on his initiative Tumbleweed. Greg is an excellent speaker and really has a knack for communicating technical things in a way non-technical people can understand. This is a major accomplishment in itself ;-), let alone his long-time appreciated contributions to the kernel. I learned that I practiced a couple of Greg's don'ts while using Tumbleweed and have since corrected those mistakes. Furthermore, I  would like to add that I had some discussions with Greg about some certain kernel modules and he was very helpful, took the time to research them and got back to me in a very short time with the answers. Thanks again Greg!!! The next workshop I attended was Pascal's Packaging, hands on. Unfortunately, things did not go according to plan in this workshop, due to a number of issues: The network was not working correctly, the heat was almost unbearable, and there were people of various different experience levels that attended making it very hard for the host to keep a steady pace. These things happen sometimes, so let's not shoot the messenger! The next BoF, I attended was Mentoring New Contributors, held by Vincent Untz. This was quite an involved discussion about how to build a structure for a mentor-ship program for new people joining. This is quite a complex topic, still under discussion of how to mentor, who will mentor (given the limited resources and time) and how this program will be implemented. Overall, I think we came up with some good arguments to help build the program and of course we are still in the process of helping build it. In Final, this was quite an involved day, aside from all of the private discussions I had in between these workshops and BoF, which also yielded some solid initiatives for cross-community collaboration. Definitely , a very effective day that gave a great overview of the status of the project.

The third day: This day was quite ad-hoc, I hosted an open BoF to discuss issues/conflicts within the project and in our ecosystem. Thanks to all that attended and your input (for the sake of the issues themselves and trust, I will not write any details about this BoF). Furthermore, I attended BoF's regarding moderation held by Jos Poortvliet, and another held by Lydia Pintscher, which focused on how to get more women into openSUSE. The moderation discussion was interesting and always touchy subject, though we had the right people there to discuss. Thanks Henne, Pascal, Alan, Bryen, and Richard for your input and collaboration. We have come to agreement for a solid start to how we will approach this. This initiative should be implemented soon and IMHO all of the community will benefit from it. In final, last (not chronologically either) but not least was the BoF, held by Lydia Pintscher of KDE on her experiences and suggestions of how to get more women into openSUSE. This is a hot topic in all communities and IMHO, I believe it should be given more of a priority. We have come up with some things to build on and luckily have some of our own who have taken the initiative to continue the discussion and bring forth viable ideas. Thanks to Lydia, Pascal, Bruno, Stella, and Susanne for their suggestions and input. A special thanks to Susanne Oberhauser for taking the lead and initiative to build on the discussion. If any of you have any suggestions or would like to help, please contact her as we need your help to make openSUSE a more attractive project for women to become involved with.

On the final day: I attended one BoF hosted by Kostas entitled "Do we need an ambassador mentorship program? This was also a very interesting discussion, as it, in my eyes, ties into getting women into openSUSE and also to the discussion about a mentoring program in general held by Vincent Untz. Mentoring is a something all organizations and communities need. We need people who can answer questions, have patience with newbies and overall be a go-to person who can refer a new contributor to the right team/person in the project to get their initiatives started and to simply get their questions answered. Hopefully, within the next months, we will have worked out all the kinks and have a workable ambassador mentor-ship program that works together with the overall project mentor-ship program, so we have a clear line of communication that is also reflected down to the mentees.

Finally, I must admit, it was quite a wild ride for me ;-) I met and made some very good friends, got some great business contacts, had a chance to speak to many people individually to get a feeling of the overall health of the community, and also had time in the evenings to plan some social events. Thanks especially to Stephan whom was willing to take a small group of us on a tour of the Altstadt, be our guide, take us to dinner and drinks at a local brewery and not give up on us because we were late. Sorry for that Stephan, I know we broke the cardinal rule in German culture, we were late. It will not happen again. Thanks also to all those who attended. Thanks to those involved for the lunches, dinners and the fun we had after hours ;-) Oh, and who could forget, thanks to the Greek crew for providing their touch, getting people involved and most of all that Greek charm;-)

In Conclusion, I would like to extend my assistance to the openSUSE project with helping with community development, leadership, communication and conflict. I have already initiated some cases on pending issues brought to my attention by several contributors and will be working together with those contributors to help find a solution that best fits their needs and the needs of the openSUSE project. Moreover, I would like to extend a hand out to the openSUSE board and SUSE, so that we together can build a better capacity for clearer communication, a clear process for handling conflict, a more diverse and international community and a more effective and healthy  community for all.

Overall, you Geekos should give each other a big hug and a pat on the back!!! You are a very unique, open, and welcoming community, one of which on this level is quite rare in our ecosystem. I look forward to working together with all of you to make openSUSE even better!!!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

openSUSE conference 2011

As promised a little look into the future: I will be attending the openSUSE conference in N├╝rnberg, Germany in 10 days. This years conference topic/focus is RWX3, which places a heavy emphasis on hands-on workshops and BoF's.  It should be a great conference with many side activities and a Wild West themed social event. I also hear that there will be some cooking workshops which I definitely want to be a part of, since I have a great interest in cooking and have cooked professionally for several years, as well as, with and for many hackers and community members over the years and they love it :-) Now,  this is the type of diversity and creativity all communities need to embrace!

In addition to my attendance, I  will also be presenting a workshop entitled 'Introduction to Cross-cultural Communication, Conflict and Collaboration' on Sunday the 9th of September from 14:30 to 15:50 in Salon Brendl. This workshop will definitely be hands-on and will include a conflict simulation which all attendees will take part in to help better understand their fellow contributors, as well as, themselves. I also look forward to learning more about Greg KH's initiative and future plans with Tumbleweed at his talk on Monday. More information on my presentation and all others including the full timetable can be found here.  It looks to be a pretty full timetable filled with hands-on sessions, so this event is sure to yield significant outcomes.

I look forward to meeting with those colleagues and contributors with whom I have met before, as well as, those new faces I have never met before, to have discussions and launch initiatives that support collaboration, organization and healthy community development. Most of all, I just look forward to (GTD) Getting Things Done!

See you there!

HCC Linux Day Bunnik NL: Looking back

I attended  HCC linux day on Saturday the 21st of May in Bunnick, The Netherlands. I have always wanted to see how the local communities present themselves at events in the NL, since I mainly attend the international events. HCC is one of the largest, if not the largest, communities in the NL comprised of members that use a variety of different distros and projects that support development within the FOSS ecosystem. This event's focus was on Security and was hosted at the Postillion Hotel.

I first arrived at the event at 10:00 and was quite impressed with the venue for such a small event. It was easy to get to (by car at least) and the hotel was quite new, which provided a quaint, by specialized feel. The presentation rooms were new and fitted with new equipment which gave the event an added feeling of style and prestige. I decided to attend some presentations held by Jos Poortvliet, the community manager for openSUSE whom introduced the new initiatives (OBS, SUSEStudio, Tumbleweed, Evergreen) and the different desktops that are supported in openSUSE latest release 11.4 within the course of two separate presentations. I also got a chance to visit the openSUSE booth, which seemed to have quite a buzz going around it and Jos was nice enough to introduce me to his local team which consisted of some new members who looked very enthusiastic about the event and being involved in the openSUSE community. I also had a chance to speak to some of the local contributors, some from Ubuntu and others who were developers, gamers and just interested users. Many of the people attending this event had been users of FOSS for quite a while, either as a hobby or in their work. I had a feeling that actually most could be classified as users and not your hardcore developer types. I see absolutely no problem with this as these users help spread the message and play a part in keeping the ecosystem alive.

Overall, I really liked the event since I was able to speak to people who are not quite your "normal" FOSSies and saw aspects of our communities from a different point of view, which is always refreshing. In addition, this was quite a low key event, so it also carried a very relaxed feeling to it :-) There is still a need for these types of events, as there are for the events on other levels, since these events provide access points for people of all types to get involved in FOSS. Especially the locals, whom cannot or do not want to travel far to get their questions answered and to hang out with those that share the same interest ;-)

Thanks again HCC, I enjoyed the event and look forward to attending another event of yours. Also a great thanks to Jos and the local Lizards for the constructive discussions, openness, and engagement demonstrated by the openSUSE team. 

LinuxTage 2011: looking back

Sorry about this post being quite belated, but I have been wanting to make this post for quite a while. This last May (11-14th) I attended LinuxTage in Berlin where it is hosted every year. It was my first time at the event and many of my hacker colleagues gave me mixes feelings about the event before I attended. There complaints with the event were that over the years that it has become more corporate oriented and that community presence has been less regarded over corporate interest when arranging and planning for community presence (booths, etc.).

I always try to keep and open mind when attending an event i which I have never been to before, so I arrived at the event on the 11th with a business colleague of mine to introduce him to the world of FOSS to see his thoughts on it, but more to try and give him a picture of what I have been investing a lot of my time into over the past 3 years. He, like many others, rarely see the point of FOSS and the meaning behind just having another operating system on your computer. As many others I have spoken to over the years, he had a hard time understanding why he should give FOSS a try when he had no problems with using Windows. My strategy was to just introduce him to the ecosystem and let him make his own assumptions on what he saw and then provide answers and support to the questions he had.

As we entered the exhibition hall, the first time, he was reluctant from the beginning and THEN he saw names of projects he was familiar with which he did not know stemmed from our ecosystem. Projects he used on windows, such as VLC, XMBC, to name a few. He then shifted his opinion to being a little less reluctant and began to open his mind a little more to this FOSS thing. We split up for a while, as I told him to get involved, ask questions, and just look around! In the meantime, I visited my old colleagues at the Fedora Project and CentOS to see how they are doing. Furthermore, I had a good talk with the Debian project about their plans, future development, and got all of of my questions answered in a nice informed way about the CUT/Rolling release initiative. In final, as always, I also had a chance to chat with some community managers and discuss some issues facing our communities and ecosystem and how we can improve cross-community collaboration.

Overall it was quite a decent event, I met some new people, got up to speed with the old and planted a seed in someones mind of what opportunities and tools FOSS can give the average individual and business person, but I will have to agree with my hacker colleagues, it was a little to corporate and presented itself as more of a hybrid event rather than a community one. Berlin, in itself is awesome, one of my favorite cities in the world, since there are just not too many places like it ;-) C-Base is also one of a kind hacker meeting place/lab which definitely demonstrates the unique qualities of this city and the local FOSS community in Berlin. Oh, and not to forget, my business colleague left with a greater understanding of our ecosystem and a smile on his face, so I think that speaks for itself ;-) Will be seeing you again shortly, Berlin, that I can guarantee!!

Catching up

I do not write blog posts very often, as you can see from my last post was over a year ago. That does not mean I have not been highly active within the FOSS ecosystem, but more so that the function I have and the topics I deal with (conflict management and community development) are not per say things I can freely speak about to those which are not directly involved. You might think, well, you are holding something back or being non-transparent, but that is not the case, it is more about trust. In open source, we all have our circles of trust. Those circles defined by who and what we trust and furthermore the level of trust that we have in these people or institutions. In my function, trust is at the highest level. I coordinate with many within our ecosystem to help resolve issues, some of these issue being highly sensitive for the parties involved. If I were to post these issues, I could foresee two things happening: a loss of trust from one or both parties, and furthermore, an escalation of the issue. Please remember that my function is compared to that of a doctor, just not a medical doctor, but an organizational doctor. Therefore, just as your doctor has ethical commitments to not share his/her patients information, the same goes for my function. 

That said, I can post about other things, that is true. I will post a couple more posts about the events that I have been to this year (something that has been on my list for a while) and some that I will attend in the near future.