twittering on 2008-10-29

  • in #codensplode listening to @sarahsharp give an advanced git tutorial FTW! #
  • i <3 git rebase #
  • @akfarrell ON THE EDGE OF A CLIFF! or maybe just my seat. #codensplode #
  • @sarahsharp is an awesome presenter! #
  • OH: clone before you rebase. (ok, i said it) #
  • premonition? #
  • Open Source Bridge announcement: #
  • /me sends bacony thoughts to @kveton #
  • just ran out of coffee. #
  • @sarahsharp thanks so much!! #

Open Source Bridge

wordle rocks

There’s going to be a new conference in Portland next July.

We’re calling it Open Source Bridge.

Our goal is this:

Create a completely volunteer-run, community conference to connect developers working with open source.

Let me explain with a little background:

My first tech conference was LISA in San Diego in 1997. I ran into Linus Torvalds in the hallway with my friend Steve, and we were both star-struck. I was still a student at the time, and loved every minute I spent rubbing elbows with people that were the pop-stars of the UNIXy world.

Since then, I attended LISA a few more times, OSCON, countless user group meetings for Perl, PostgreSQL. The last two years have been filled with local unconferences (BarCampPortland and WhereCampPDX to name just two) and travel to incredible community conferences like PgCon, LUG Radio Live, SCALE, Northwest Linux Fest, the Linux Plumbers Conference and last weekend’s Mentor Summit. And while on the board of the Legion of Tech, I’ve met and connected with more people than I ever thought I could know in Portland.

I love conferences. And I love Portland. Maybe you can guess what’s coming next.

During an intense brainstorming session at Side Project To Startup, a group of concerned Portlanders drew together a plan for a new conference. We packed a tiny room, and had a heated discussion about what we wanted, what Portland needed, and how we might do it. By the end of the session, Audrey Eschright and I agreed to co-chair. And with the support of Portland’s incredible tech community, we knew we could make it happen.

We called a few people, and I invited everyone over to talk about what to do next. We were: Audrey, Reid Beels, Professor Bart Massey, Rick Turoczy, Jake Kuramoto, Dawn Foster, Kelly Guimont, Adam Duvander.

We looked at the giant pieces of paper we’d scribbled notes on a few weeks before, and ate dinner together on a warm fall evening. And we decided to have a Town Hall.

town hall meeting, Oct 30, 2008, 7.30pm, Cubespace

Since then, we’ve been joined by Ward Cunningham (AboutUs), Irene Schwarting (Companies By Design), Harvey Mathews (SAO) and Clay Neal (City of Portland).

But enough with the history lesson!

Open Source Bridge will bring together the diverse tech communities of the greater Portland area and showcase our unique and thriving open source environment.

Open Source Bridge
will have curated, discussion-focused conference sessions, mini-conferences for critical topics and will include unconference sessions.

We will show how well Portland does open source and share our best practices for development, community and connectedness with the rest of the world.

Lots of ideas are buzzing around in our heads, and we’d love to talk about them with you! If you’d like to contribute to the effort, stop by the town hall event October 30, 2008 at Cubespace. We’ll have another meeting November 6th, and it will be announced on Calagator.

At the town hall, you’ll have a chance to meet the members of the core organizing committee, and pick up a responsibility or two. We’ll be breaking off into teams for each of the major areas requiring organization, and distributing the work across many people. We will create a mailing list after this first meeting for those who just want to hear about what we’re up to, or participate in some other way.

Thanks for your interest, and we hope to see you tomorrow night!

Mentor Summit Report for PostgreSQL

mentor summit

Update: Fixed the etherboot wiki link.

I attended the Google Summer of Code Mentor Summit this past weekend on behalf of PostgreSQL. We met at the Google campus in Mountain View.

This event was an unconference and so, none of the sessions were determined in advance.

Some of the highlights were:

  • Leslie Hawthorn and Chris DiBona went into some detail with the whole group about the selection process for GSOC. This session made me feel as though PostgreSQL had relatively good chances for being accepted again next year. Google, however, does not pre-announce projects/products, so there is no sure thing about our (or any other project’s) involvement.
  • I met MusicBrainz guys and was pleased to receive many bars of chocolate they requested to be distributed to SFPUG and PDXPUG members as thanks for making an great database.
  • Attended three sessions concerning recruitment and retention of students. This is a topic that many people were interested in, but that few people feel they have a proper strategy for.

I also led a session on recruitment and retention of students to open source projects. Some of the ideas that came out of that and the related sessions were:

  • Determine what makes you personally need to be part of Postgres (joy of learning, scratching a technical itch, making a tool for your job, fame). Find out which of those things your student also needs or wants and try to give that or help your student achieve that thing.
  • Have a clearly defined method for students to keep journals. Several projects simply used MediaWiki and templates.
  • Use git (or other distributed revision control), and have students commit early and often to a branch that mentors have access to.
  • The Etherboot project has a great system:
  • Hold weekly meetings over IRC. These can be brief, but help get students accustomed to your project’s culture and way of doing things.
  • Ask the student: “are you on track?”, ask the mentor: “do you think the student is on track?” on a weekly basis
  • If you want students to stick around, find incremental responsibilities to assign that are driven by their enthusiasm.
  • Interview on the phone all your students ahead of time, not just the ones you think might be a problem.
  • Require a phone number on the application for the student.
  • Require a secondary contact so that if the student “disappears” there’s a backup person to contact. (and contact that person BEFORE SoC starts)

I made good connections with members of Git, Parrot, WorldForge, Ruby and many other community leaders. I was particularly impressed by the ideas and stories from the current Debian project leader, Steve McIntyre and Gentoo council member Donnie Berkholz. Donnie recommended some books about recruitment that I plan to read and review in the next few weeks.

The issue of mailing list moderation and the number of people required to keep mailing lists functioning properly came up frequently. If you know a moderator for a Postgres mailing list, please consider thanking them for doing a very tedious, extremely important and often thankless job.

I also spent some time discussing with Leslie Hawthorn and Cat Allman how to increase the total number of women mentors and students next year. Leslie and I shared some ideas and I offered to help implement them next year. One thing the crowd asked for was explicit training on how to recruit and manage female students. Realistically, this information will apply to all students, and I hope this training helps us recruit more students overall.

I thought the conference went quite well. I hope PostgreSQL is accepted next year, and that one of our mentors is able to attend this conference. And, if you go, be sure to register for the hotel early, and stay at the Wild Palms.

twittering on 2008-10-26

  • Inflatable shark fluffer? Session at gsoc mentor summit #
  • ugh. really? a run this morning? #
  • @magnushagander yay! nice work. #
  • @petdance I’m in! #
  • @jzb oh, you know i’m bringin’ the caturday today! #
  • @spinnerin congrats on the article! you are amazing. can’t wait to see it. #
  • @mjollnir yes vilain! He was wondering if you’d like some tshirts from gsoc 🙂 #

twittering on 2008-10-25

  • Ran into cedric and m on the plane. What a silly coincidence! I’m sure they’ll have a great time in SF. Almost to hotel… #
  • headed to wild palms. But on public transit 😀 #
  • eta 15min? Dm if u wanna cabpool #
  • oops +15min just missed bus #
  • here! #
  • The hotel #
  • headed out for a jog. #
  • @ian_b also check out postbooks! i wish they would open all of their code, but what’s there now is pretty cool #
  • headed out! incredibly hungry. #
  • was asked at breakfast “just how nerdy are you?” #
  • opening talk at GSOC Mentor’s summit #
  • 200 people here #gsocmentorsummit #
  • #gsoc 1) if you are neither contributing or learning, move on! 2) everyone that’s supposed to be here is here #
  • OH: happy to work for a company that pays me to help you all save the world (leslie hawthorn) #
  • @mjollnir what’s he look like? i was hanging out with sam last night 🙂 #
  • @mjollnir do you want a small 2005 google summer of code tshirt? sam is asking 😀 #
  • In awesome session led by @dberkholz on dealing with assholes #

twittering on 2008-10-24

  • getting ready for google summer of code mentor’s summit! #
  • hacking on to add avatars. hoping this patch meets @magnushagander’s high standards. #
  • Made it! Headed to OAK #
  • Landed! #