Tag Archives: conference

Red Hat Summit in Review

Despite my best intentions of blogging every day at Red Hat Summit, time got away from me, as it often does at these events. There’s always 3 things going on, and it’s hard to find a moment between that first cup of coffee, and stumbling into bed at the end of the night.

I spent almost the entire event working the RDO booth in the Community Central section of the expo hall. While traffic wasn’t as heavy as at OpenStack Summit, it was still pretty constant.

In the swag department, I had our “what does RDO stand for” tshirts, and TripleO QuickStart USBkeys.


Several things stood out to me from this audience.

First, I was delighted to hear story after story of companies that use RDO in the test/dev/lab environment, and use Red Hat OpenStack Platform in their public/production environments. This is what I really want to see happening, so it’s very gratifying when I get anecdotal evidence that it is happening. Now, if I can only convince those folks to follow up with case study writeups for the user stories page.

Second, from people who were not quite as familiar with either RDO or OpenStack, if there was a consistent thread in the questions, it was confusion as to the overlap between oVirt (or Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization), OpenStack, and OpenShift, and when one might use one vs. the others. This looks like a good opportunity for some blog posts around what the overlap is, what the distinctions are, and what recommendations are for using one or another.

Brian and I did an OpenStack vs oVirt comparison talk at last year’s Red Hat Summit, but I don’t believe we ever wrote it up anywhere. And OpenShift has the added confusion of having a similar name, which gets people kind of mixed up before they even consider the feature set.


And, finally, the week was yet another reminder that I work for the best company in the world, with the best coworkers. I feel sorry for the rest of you.


Happy 15th, OSCon

15 years ago, I attended the first OSCon, in Santa Clara, I think. I was there for the Perl content, and managed to pay my way by giving a full day tutorial on the Apache web server. Amazingly, they kept asking me to come back and do it again, and I gave one talk or another every OSCon until 2006, after which I skipped a few years. Last year I made it back to OSCon again, and I’ll be going this year too.

This will be my first OSCon when I have no speaking responsibilities at all, although last year I only had a BOF, not an actual session.

This year, I’ll be working the Red Hat booth, and the OpenStack pavilion, as well as, hopefully, a little bit at the Apache Software foundation booth. Between that, and various evening events, and various meetings, I expect this to be another OSCon where I don’t actually sleep. I can’t quite manage that like I used to in 1998. But I’m really looking forward to the conference this year, and seeing the folks that I only see at OSCon.

Will I see you there?

Ohio Linux Fest 2011

This weekend I’ve been attending the Ohio LinuxFest in Columbus. I haven’t been for several years, so it was nice to get up here and see some familiar faces, as well as attend a great conference.

On Friday, I spent the whole day talking – I gave a 3-hour Apache HTTP Server talk in the morning and a 3-hour mod_rewrite talk in the afternoon. Attendance wasn’t great in any of the training classes, apparently, but they were good groups and asked great questions, leading me, as always, to wonder whether they gained much from the class, as so many of them seemed to already be so knowledgeable. They said nice things afterwords, so I guess it was ok.

On Saturday, I attended 5 talks. In the morning I went to a talk by Tod Egen about the IBM Watson project – that’s the computer that played on Jeopardy a while back. It was fascinating.

Next, I gave my “Write A Better FM” talk, about customer support, technical documentation, and not being a jerk. As Skippy put it, I spent an hour saying “Don’t be a jerk.”

By the way, my presentations are all on Slideshare.

Next, I went to Scott “Skippy” Merrill’s talk about open source skills and jobs. This was a very interesting talk, in which he encouraged us to consider open source experience as a job skill that has every bit as valid a place on our resume as paid jobs. I was surprised by how few people raised their hands when asked whether they list their GitHub page on their resume – I was the only one. I also list my Ohloh page, because I figure my contributions to Open Source constitute my most valuable job experience.

Then I went to a talk about how to write a technical book. This was very interesting, in the sense that I disagreed with almost everything that was said. That is, my experience of writing technical books was obviously *completely* different from hers. For a start, she assumed that to write a book, you’d take 3 months off of life and write full time. While this is something I wish I had the luxury of doing, there’s a couple reasons why I’d never do this. One, I need to pay the bills. Two, (which is really the same reason) writing a technical book is not something you do for money unless you are Donald Knuth. (I’m not, by the way.) Having said that, she did encourage me to start writing more. Clearly, I don’t write often enough, and I’m sure my editor at NoStarch agrees wholeheartedly with that sentiment.

Finally, I went to a bit of Bradley Kuhn’s talk. I’ve always thought that the arguments of the Free Software Foundation, and like organizations, hold together remarkably well, if you accept their initial premises. I don’t, but I respect their passion and their clearly argued positions. However, sitting in Brad’s talk, I began to realize how much the last ten years with the Apache Software Foundation have caused my thinking to drift away from that of the ‘Free Software’ advocates. The presumption that it’s unethical for me not to have the source code of your software perplexes me. He stated these things as though they were self-evident, and I suppose they are to him, but I couldn’t help but wonder how we could arrive at two such disparate conclusions given the same information. I *think*, at a very simple level, that it’s a difference between focusing on the rights of the programmer vs the rights of the customer. But I’m sure there’s so much more to it than that.

Anyways, all told, it was a very enjoyable conference. As always, the time spent outside the talks was at least as valuable as that spent in the talks, and the talks were more valuable than those at many conferences I attend. I particularly enjoyed talking with Skippy, Elizabeth, Chris, Mike, and Warner. I love hanging out with people who are passionate about what they do, and there were several times when one person or another would suddenly get sheepish because of the passion and fervor with which they had been talking about something. Delightful.


Over the last 15 years or so, I’ve seen an evolution of conferences into various spaces, from beginners introductions to in-depth training on various technologies. What’s often missing is the view from the trenches – the insider tips on what works and what doesn’t, and what to do with the inevitable failures happen.

The big value of Surge was these tips and techniques – not “tricks” by a long shot – backed by unabashed stories of failures and how they were recovered from, as well as stories of building big infrastructures based on those lessons, and how they endure real-world situations.

From the multi-million-user websites, to much smaller installations, the issues of scalability were discussed and practical recommendations made, but no silver bullets offered, as the consistent message was that you must have a deep understanding of your installation, complete with many metrics over time, and a grasp of how those metrics interrelate.

The high point for me was John Allspaw’s discussion of Etsy’s procedure for rolling out new features safely, planning for failure, and measuring success.


I attended TekX in Chicago last week.

I’ve been attending tek for (I think) four years now, and it’s consistently the best conference I do all year. It’s pretty much the only conference where I attend talks and feel like I’ve gotten something out of them more than merely academic interest. And this year, the Wednesday keynote (Josh Holmes) was the best keynote talk I’ve attended in years. He spoke about the value of simplicity. Specifically, the value of understanding what the customer needs (possibly as distinct from what they ask for?) and giving them that thing they’ve asked for, rather than a framework for generating frameworks for solving a larger class of problems that might some day solve the one they have.

I attended Derick’s talk about the DateTime stuff that he’s been working on. Although I was aware of some of this stuff from his talk two years ago, it was unfinished at that point, and so I haven’t actually played with any of it. I expect to have uses for it, starting today.

Having worked for a while on the DateTime stuff for Perl, I know how hard timezones are, how hard recurring events are, and various other things associated with calendars. Derick has done amazing work.

I attended a talk by @lornajane about Subversion and Git. This was the first non-religious comparison that I’ve seen. I’m so very turned off by the religious fervor that seems to always go along with discussion of revision control. Lorna’s discussion of comparative features, benefits, and so on, was very refreshing, and I finally feel that I have some idea what the real differences and similarities are. This talk was followed by a talk about Git which was more religion and less information, but still gave me some good solid information. I’ve been using Git now for 2 or 3 weeks, and so far I hate it. It appears to solve problems that I don’t have, and make simple things into 3 or 4 steps rather than 1. Offline commits are clearly a really cool thing. Nothing else that Git offers seems to be terribly useful. The rhetoric around Subversion being old and crufty, while Git is new and shiny, just doesn’t seem to match the reality.

I really should write a separate post about Git. I’m getting sidetracked.

Anyways, TekX was brilliant, and I highly recommend that you put it on your schedule for next year if you do anything in the PHP world.

TekX 2010

So, I really should say a little more about PHPTek (aka TekX) that will be held in Chicago next month (May 18-21).

I’ve been doing PHPTek for, I think, three years now, and it’s quite growing on me. It has the energy that tech conferences used to have back in the 1990s, without the absurd over-hyping of everything. The talks are always high-quality, and relevant, on actual useful technical subjects, containing practical advice that you can go straight back to work and implement.

Over the last few years I have switched back and forth between Perl and PHP in my work place, but PHPTek has continued to be relevant, due to the quality of the talks, and the huge knowledge of the speakers which lets them generalize their subject sufficiently to be applicable.

Oh, yeah, and a lot of my friends go there, so I get to hang out with them.

This year I’ll be giving a brand new talk (so new, in fact, that I haven’t even finished writing it yet) with an old name (Apache Cookbook) in which I’ll be talking about a dozen or so things that you can immediately apply in your Apache HTTP Server to make your job easier, more efficient, and quite possibly more fun.

So, come and hear my talk, and the other awesome talks at the conference, and hang out with some very cool people. If you’re planning to come, you should sign up for the TekX Attendees Google Group so that you have a head start by the time you get there.


Tomorrow I will be leaving for PHP|Tek, which will be the first PHP conference I’ve ever attended.

Over the last 3 years I have gone from being a Perl programmer, and maintaining multiple packages on CPAN, to being a PHP programmer in my day job, and involved in a PHP Open Source project in my spare time, and now I’m speaking at a PHP conference. This is quite a shift, although the biggest thing that I’ve found during that shift is that the two languages have a lot more in common than they have different – an observation which is received with cries of HERESY from both camps.

If you’re going to be in Chicago this week, give me a call.