PostgreSQL Conference Fall 2007 – Where to eat lunch

Screenshot of conference mapThanks to many suggestions from PDXPUG‘s mailling list and Gabrielle Roth‘s patience with Google Maps, we have a great map of the area around the conference. She was kind enough to put the nearest parking garage ($9/day) on the map as well. If you’re looking for some parking that’s a bit more affordable but a further walk away, try Smart Park. You could also park on the East side of the river, and walk across one of our beautiful bridges or hop on a bus or the Max (you’ll need to transfer to a Bus or the Street Car from the Max to get to PSU campus). To figure out where and when to ride public transit, you can call for live help at 503-238-RIDE, or use the Trip Planner.

Portland has great food. If you’re going to be in town for a couple of days, there are great restaurants walking distance from the downtown hotels (Higgins, Typhoon!, Saucebox, many others), on the waterfront (Three Degrees, McCormick and Schmick’s), and over on NW 23rd/21st (Paley’s Place, Lucy’s Table, Serratto, Muu Muu’s). You can get directly to NW on the Streetcar, which has a stop one block from the conference. And of course there are many food carts throughout the city. If you want even more suggestions, check out the Willamette Week’s top 100 restaurants in Portland.

Those of you who have come to Portland for OSCON the last couple of years probably know about a few of the great places on the East side of the river. We’ll be on the west side, and there’s a ton of great places to explore.

open season interview with mark shuttleworth

Just listened to this interesting interview about Open Source project management, virtualization, Ubuntu. A couple quotes:

If you want your open source project to succeed…you absolutely have to have modularity.
–Matt Asay

He was talking about modularity that encourages developer participation – and they went on to talking about Open Office and the problems with their dev structure that drive developers away.

What i’m personally very interested in is how we collaborate efficiently… How do we improve the flow of collaboration? So that’s something we spend a lot of time working on within Ubuntu.
— Mark Shuttleworth

Lovin’ it.

Original Audio Source

PostgreSQL Conference Fall 2007 – talk descriptions are up!

I just finished updating the Talks page for PostgreSQL Conference Fall 2007. There are so many great folks giving talks — Neil Conway, Josh Berkus, Robert Treat, David Fetter and Robert Hodges are all flying in. It’ll be great to see Josh, Robert and David again! I’m excited to meet Neil and Robert, both of whom I’ve heard great things about.

PDXPUG will be represented by Mark Wong and David Wheeler. Mark will be talking about performance, building on a talk he gave last year to PDXPUG on performance and TPC benchmarks. This conference talk will be focused on practical tools one can use with PostgreSQL. David’s talk will be about his recent work with Ruby on Rails and PostgreSQL. David was kind enough to give PDXPUG’s very first talk, about PL/PgSQL.

We also have Webb Sprague from Eugene, OR coming out to talk about PostGIS. We’re hoping to get him out for user group meetings some time. Eugene is about two hours away from Portland, so we occasionally have visitors (hi Andrew!) to PDXPUG and PerlMongers from there. And of course Joshua Drake will be there.

Another great thing about having this conference at PSU is that members of the database reading group folks will be sure to attend. And our favorite relational algebra teachers will certainly be there.

As of today, we’ve almost filled up our event space! So if you haven’t registered yet, register now.

participation in open source, any worse than the rest of the industry?

tech gender gap

One criticism I’ve heard about my article is that I should have addressed the computing industry as a whole, rather than targeting Open Source. That the problem of women participating is much more general.

I chose to write about Open Source because that’s my community. I installed Slackware in 1995 and learned about operating systems from a Linux command prompt, years before I took a class about it. When I worked at Intel, and there were a lot more women in my systems administration group (about 20%) than I saw on the Linux Kernel mailing list, the Cricket developers list or BugTraq. That’s part of where I formed my opinion.

Here’s a little graph showing the number of bachelor’s degrees granted in computer science. We’ve had a 15% drop in degrees granted since 1985. I wonder what we were doing right in the early ’80s.

There are other resources: FLOSSPOLS, salary studies that show gender breakdowns. I’ve also read figures on conference attendance and observed the difference in open source and system administration conferences. I do admit that I have not seen studies that directly compare open source participation to closed source participation.

How about you? Anyone out there have a study they can refer me to?

relational algebra talk last night was awesome

Quickly: James Terwilliger and Rafael J. Fernández-Moctezuma gave a fantastic talk about relational algebra operators (there are 9, arguably 8). They started with the set theory origins, dropped Codd’s name a few times and captivated the room. There was also mention of proof by intimidation, brandishing of duct tape, fabulous drinks mixed by Gabrielle Roth, and twenty-one people in attendance.

Before the talk, we had an impromptu “What is HOT?” (HOT stands for Heap-ONLY Tuple) from Jeff Davis. More details on that later. I think we need more 15-minute, what-is-this-new-feature-and-why-is-it-awesome talks.

PostgreSQL conference in Portland on October 20th

Joshua Drake, Josh Berkus and I are organizing PostgreSQL Conference Fall 2007 here in Portland, OR on October 20, 2007. We’ve got an incredible group of speakers lined up, and a great group of sponsors.

The conference is free to students, $60 for everyone else. We have a separate dinner everyone is welcome to for $10.

The whole thing is a bargain for a full day of highly-technical talks and the opportunity to meet contributors to the core of PostgreSQL, local Portland experts and a cadre of smarty pants database-lovers.

Plus, we’re raising money for PostgreSQL advocacy efforts with all money going to the non-profit organization Software in the Public Interest.

Today, we were working out the details for the schedule to add a talk from Neil Conway titled “Understanding Query Execution in PostgreSQL”, which will discuss the query planner and EXPLAIN. This will be great information for those of us who want to understand a bit more about query execution.

Speaker bios and talk abstracts should be up soon. This week, I’ll be working on getting some women-sized tshirts (woo!), A/V recording equipment and working on getting the word out at PSU that the event will be held there. I’d also like to drop some fliers off at Powells Technical, and maybe a few other user group events coming up. Let me know if you think I’ve missed a user group, or know of some other place I should drop fliers.

Plus, we’ve got our next PDXPUG meeting on Thursday, September 20th – Relational Algebra with a couple PSU PhD candidates. Rumor is that there will be mixed drinks.

non-profits and systems administration

Wouldn’t it be great if the non-profit world could embrace free software? In my head, I’ve seen a giant Venn diagram labeled “VALUES” with Open Source/Free Software overlapping significantly with the of non-profits. Here’s a small one:

nonprofit open source venn diagram
I think that non-profits are certainly not ignorant of open source. In Oregon, our legislators tried to pass a bill that required F/OSS alternatives to commercial software to be considered for every software purchase. Then, the story goes, the guys from Redmond came down and talked them out of it. NOSI has been around for a few years, and I come across forums or blogs like techsoup daily.

The problem is implementation and systems support. Administration is where the car goes off the rails for non-profits. Qualified open source admins are not necessarily available to non-profits – I’m not sure exactly why, but I’d bet cost is a big reason.

Non-profits often receive equipment and software donations from the community, with little technical experience to maintain them. Most of the donations are commercial software with expensive licenses. There are a few tech support groups popping up that cater to non-profits (lower prices, focus on maintaining – not upgrading).

We have FreeGeek here in Portland. But there are still many non-profits who don’t or can’t use their services. I wish that there was a “server-in-a-box” setup that office managers would feel comfortable maintaining. Filesharing is so ubiquitous and necessary, it is unreasonable to expect that every office that needs filesharing will have a “qualified” systems administrator to maintain the server.

I guess my question is – is there a set of software apps that could be given to small- to mid- size non-profits as a replacement for commercial/non-free software?

Off the top of my head, I would want:

* Ubuntu Linux for client/server
* Firefox for a web browser
* Zimbra or Chandler/Cosmo for email and calendaring
* WebDav and SMB filesharing
* Subversion auto-versioning support on sharepoints
* Something like once:radix for a Filemaker-like database interface
* Accounting software?
That would all be pretty tough for a non-profit to maintain. I wonder about packaging those things together. Would it be worth it?

And then, once it was put together, how do we create a system where non-profits either have access to qualified sysadmins or can administrate everything themselves?

I’ve done a little research into non-profit/tech forums and organizations, but not nearly enough to know everything about what’s already out there. I’m very interested in pursuing this idea, maybe just for the sake of the few non-profits I work with.