PuppetCamp Ghent/FOSDEM 2013

PuppetCamp Ghent/FOSDEM 2013

I got the offer by my employer Mayflower to go to Puppet Camp Ghent and also FOSDEM 2013 this year and so I gladly accepted the offer. There were actually 6 more colleagues coming along, a respectable size for a travel group.

We decided to take a 7:00 plane (which is kind of a bad idea when your airport isn’t actually near the city) from Munich to Brussels on Thursday, which wasn’t a problem in itself, it just turns out that 9:09 train from Brussel Nationaal Luchthaven to Ghent takes 90min when there’s one doing the trip in 30min. Ah well, why wouldn’t anything go wrong on a trip, so it better be over soon.

Despite Google Maps giving us weird directions we managed to walk to the Venue and only miss the first two talks (which is a shame because after I talked to Eric Sorenson at the evening event I would’ve loved to see his).

So I watched 3 talks and then spent the afternoon chatting with people. That actually was so fun and interesting that I missed the talk about “exec” I wanted to attend.

After that we went to put our stuff in the hotel rooms and grab a quick dinner, then headed for the drinks event. There I had some beer, got to know even more people, talked to the folks from afternoon again, played some billiards, had some more beer and then went to sleep when the bartender poked us to go home.

This is so not true...

So unfair, there were nearly as many Belgians there at the end :P

Anyway, on Friday morning there were even more talks and the afternoon spent chatting with people, before we went to Brussels (this time taking a fast train though :P) and getting to our hotel there.

Found a nice Italian restaurant for dinner (which was fun with 2 people ordering in French, 2 people ordering in Italian and 1 in English) and then went to the Beer Event.

As this was my first FOSDEM I was a bit dismayed how crowded and airless the venue for the beer event was. No chance at all to find the one guy I had actually made plans to meet. We only had one beer then decided to go somewhere else which proved to be very good idea. I did see 2 people whose blogs I read through Planets, but that’s actually not something to strike up a conversation with (in these cases) so headcount of people met: 0.

On Saturday at FOSDEM I first went into Peter Saint-Andre’s talk “XMPP 101” on the slim chance to learn something new, but more to have seen him talk, he’s done his share to make XMPP awesome after all. I then went to “What’s wrong with php?” which wasn’t bad, but too short and a bit onesided. Met someone I knew from Hamburg’s PHP Unconference and had a little chat about PHP release policy and adoption, visited the BuddyCloud booth, asked for a Jenkins sticker, talked a little to one of the booth guys: “Thanks for doing Jenkins, we love it.” - “Hey, we got an evangelist, take another sticker.”

By pure chance I noticed there was a ZeroMQ BoF planned, so I rushed there to catch the folks just in time as they were heading for the bar, then talked for a while with Ian and Pieter and some more people whose names I didn’t manage to memorize. Sadly there was no latenight plane home, so mine was supposed to start at ~17:00 so that I left at 15:00 basically mid-conversation, which really sucked :( The plane got delayed so I might’ve taken 30 more minutes but I don’t plan to miss one anytime soon, so the timing was actually ok.

Interesting stuff I learnt about:

Summary:

  • Puppet Camp was awesome, most talks I watched were really good, some were just ok, but none was bad.
  • FOSDEM could’ve actually been even more awesome if I had time to catch up with and meet everyone I’ve corresponded with online in the past
  • Met some folks again after a few months/over a year, met some new folks
  • Don’t go to FOSDEM only on one day
  • You might be interested/involved in too many technologies if you know people by name, face or nick from Linux Kernel, Debian, Red Hat, Python, PHP, FreeBSD, XMPP, GNOME, GRML, ZeroMQ (from the top of my head)

People I wanted to say hi to but missed:

  • @mr_ud, @mikagrml and @ch2500 (GRML guys who I met in Graz)
  • @mgdm and @h (PHP)

Thanks:

  • Mayflower for travel
  • Booking.com for free drinks
  • PuppetLabs and Inuits for organizing PuppetCamp
  • FOSDEM organizers for what seemed to be the start of a great conference (when I left early)