SCaLE 13x – Days Two and Three

[Note: Today marks the start of my thirteenth year of blogging about open source. Wow]

Sorry for the delay in getting this post written. We’ve had a couple of bouts of winter weather in North Carolina this week and it has really messed up the schedule. This was quite unlike the beautiful weather we experienced in Los Angeles for SCaLE 13x.

Saturday, Day Two for me, was a long one. The expo floor was open for eight hours so outside of giving my talk and lunch I was pretty much in the booth. I think my talk was well received, but Jeff’s talk later in the day was standing room only. I was told that the talks were being streamed live so I hope to see archived recordings soon.

I missed Jeff’s talk because I was in the booth giving away another set of MC Frontalot CDs. The winner did not want to be identified, so I don’t have a picture.

I didn’t take many pictures that day (we were too busy) but I did get a lot that evening. There was a game night with food and a bar, and that’s where the OpenNMS-sponsored Frontalot show was held.

Before the main festivities, they opened up the room for kids. They had a bunch of games set up. Jess told me that this was “Super Smash Brothers” (I think) at the Mario Kart stage.

About 9:30pm Damian started his set.

I think it was well received – I at least had fun. He hit all of my favorites with the exception of “Critical Hit” and this was the first show I’ve been to that he also had video. For those songs with official videos, those were played, but he’d also arranged some graphics for the others. I thought “Victorian Space Prostitute” worked particularly well, although Jess was the only one I think who recognized all the cosplay.

After the show there was a raffle. Colleen did a lot of the giveaways but since I had to spend the entire weekend in the booth I didn’t get to play (sniff).

I did get a nice picture of another SCaLE organizer, Ilan with his lovely bride:

After the show I ran into Jono Bacon and most of the Bad Voltage crew.

Jono seemed convinced that I looked like George Jetson:

but I think I much more rock the Fred Flintstone:

Comments? I doubt it is as divisive as the color of that dress.

[Note: Does any else remember that short lived show Wait Till Your Father Gets Home? Hanna-Barbera’s The Flinstones was set in the past, and The Jetsons was set in the future, and this was the show for the present. Yes, I’m old]

As the evening wound down I helped Damian get his gear back to the hotel and then we hit the bar in the Hilton. I had met the wonderful Stuart Langridge earlier, so I offered to buy him a drink (and learned that there should be no fruit in beer) and before you knew it we had a nice little crowd in our little corner of the bar. While I love going to conferences for the things I learn, sometimes it is the moments around the conference that create the most memories.

On Sunday I managed to hit the booth right on time (at the ungodly hour of 10am) and then, before you knew it, it was over. The wonderful Cynthia Aguilera was the winner of our third and last set of Frontalot CDs.

After we got everything packed up for the trip home, I just kind of crashed. We ended up watching the Oscars and then going to bed.

Thanks to everyone who made this year’s SCaLE conference awesome, and you can next catch us as April’s POSSCON.

SCaLE 13x – Day One

Well, technically it was Day Two, but with the launch of the new OpenNMS Group website, our Meridian product, and actually trying to finish up my slides for my SCaLE presentation, it was the first day I actually made it to the show.

I love this show. It was the first real grassroots open source conference I ever attended (at Scale 5x back in 2007) and it was amazing. I haven’t been able to make as many of them as I would have liked (they scheduled one on Valentine’s Day once) but I always welcome the opportunity. This year they can accommodate 3000 attendees and while they haven’t released actual numbers, that is a lot of geeks.

I spent almost all of the day in the expo hall. We introduced the new Horizon/Meridian booth:

which I think turned out well. I also got to wander around and talk with a few of the other projects that are here. One was the Kodi team:

and having used it for several weeks now I think it is an amazing piece of software. I also got to talk briefly with Jeremy Sands, one of the organizers of the SouthEast LinuxFest:

and I should point out that the dates have been set for the conference this year (12-14 June) and the RFP is now open.

My talk at SCaLE is about the changing nature of open source, and it has never been a better time to be involved if you want a job. At most shows I see signs like this:

and there is even a career booth hosted by Disney, of all companies:

We had a nice amount of booth traffic. The OpenNMS shirts went in the first hour (should have brought more) and in honor of MC Frontalot performing on Saturday night, we are giving away signed sets of all six of his CDs.

The Friday winner was Ganeshbaba who registered at the very last minute, but we still have two more sets to give away.

Anyway, if you are at the show be sure to stop by and if you aren’t, well, why the heck aren’t you here?

SCaLE 13x – February 2015

We are three weeks away from the Southern California Linux Expo and I am getting really excited about it.

For those of you who are in to OpenNMS then tune in that day because we are making a pretty significant announcement at the show. Be sure to come buy the booth on the expo floor and say “hi” to the team, and both Jeff and I will be speaking (although at least during my talk you probably have better things to go see. For example, have you met our Lord and Savior, Docker?)

We are also incredibly excited that MC Frontalot will be performing. I’m not sure of the exact details but I believe it will be Saturday night.

(Note: I stole that picture from here since I like the fact that he has hair in it, well for certain values of “hair”, and note that link may not be safe for work [nudity])

If you are unfamiliar with his work, be sure to check out his YooToob Channel, and if you are so inclined I strongly recommend reading this well written bit (on Jezebel no less) concerning an issue surrounding a Penny Arcade comic a few years ago that really showcases the type of guy he is. Again, might not be safe for work (language). Be sure to click on the link to the original post for more detail.

If you are still on the fence about SCaLE, perhaps this little nugget will sway you: use Promo Code “ONMS” and get 40% off show registration. It’s cheap at twice the price and one of my favorite events of any year, but we want it to be extra special for 2015.

OUCE 2014 Videos Now Available

The dates are now set for the 2015 OpenNMS Users Conference, but if you can’t wait until September you can now relive the 2014 conference through the magic of YouTube.

You can visit the 2014 conference events calendar and if a video is available it will show up under the “Links” section.

Markus Neumann has been working through the videos and doing his best to improve them, but apologies in advance for the quality of some of them. We’ll attempt to record things better in Fulda.

OUCE 2015 – 28 September to 1 October

Just a quick post to remind folks to reserve the dates for the next OpenNMS Users Conference Europe to be held in Fulda, Germany, the last week in September. It is usually held earlier in the year, but construction on the University of Applied Science campus pushed it out. I am really looking forward to the nicer weather (it snowed the last time we met in Fulda).

Organized and run by the independent OpenNMS Foundation, this is a yearly gathering of OpenNMS users and developers from around the world for several days of training, presentations and camaraderie. It’s a great time and I look forward to it every year.

And yes, there is beer, some of it free.

The Call for Papers is open.

Hope to see you there.

2014 Open Source Monitoring Conference

This year I got to return to the Open Source Monitoring Conference hosted by Netways in Nürnberg, Germany.

Netways is one of the sponsors of the Icinga project, and for many years this conference was dedicated to Nagios. It is still pretty Nagios-centric, but now it is focused more on the forks of that project than the project itself. There were presentations on Naemon and Sensu as well as Icinga, and then there are the weirdos (non-check script oriented applications) such as Zabbix and OpenNMS.

I like this conference for a number of reasons. Mainly there really isn’t any other conference dedicated to monitoring, much less one focused on open source. This one brings together pretty much the whole gang. Plus, Netways has a lot of experience in hosting conferences, so it is a nice time: well organized, good food and lots of discussion.

My trip started off with an ominous text from American Airlines telling me that my flight from RDU to DFW was delayed. While flying through DFW is out of the way, it enables me to avoid Heathrow, which is worth the extra time and effort. On the way to the airport I was told my outbound flight was delayed to the point that I wouldn’t be able to make my connection, so I called the airline to ask about options.

With the acquisition by US Airways, I had the option to fly through CLT. That would cut off several hours of the trip and let me ride on an Airbus 330. American flies mainly Boeing equipment, so I was curious to see if the Airbus was any better.

As usual with flights to Europe, you leave late in the evening and arrive early in the morning. Ulf and I settled in for the flight and I was looking forward to meeting up with Ronny when we landed.

The trip was uneventful and we met up with Ronny and took the ICE train from the airport to Nürnberg. The conference is at the Holiday Inn hotel, and with nearly 300 of us there we kind of take over the place. I did think it was funny that on my first trip there the instructions on how to get to the hotel from the train station were not very direct. I found out the reason was that the most direct route takes you by the red light district and I guess they wanted us to avoid that, although I never felt unsafe wandering around the city.

We arrived mid-afternoon and checked in with Daniela to get our badges and other information. She is one of the people who work hard to make sure all attendees have a great time.

I managed to take a short nap and get settled in, and then we met up for dinner. The food at these events is really nice, and I’m always a fan of German beer.

I excused myself after the meal due in part to jet lag and in part due to the fact that I needed to finish my presentation, and I wanted to be ready for the first real day of the conference.

The conference was started by Bernd Erk, who is sort of the master of ceremonies.

He welcomed us and covered some housekeeping issues. The party that night was to be held at a place called Terminal 90, which is actually at the airport. Last time they tried to use buses, but it became pretty hard to organize, so this time they arranged for us to take public transportation via the U-Bahn. After the introduction we then broke into two tracks and I decided to stay to hear Kris Buytaert.

I’ve known Kris through his blog for years now, but this was the first time I got to see him in person. He is probably most famous in my circles for introducing the hashtag #monitoringsucks. Since I use OpenNMS I don’t really agree, but he does raise a number of issues that make monitoring difficult and some of the methods he uses to address them.

The rest of the day saw a number of good presentations. As this conference has a large number of Germans in attendance, a little less than half of the tracks are given in German, but there was also always an English language track at the same time.

One of my favorite talks from the first day was on MQTT, a protocol for monitoring the Internet of Things. It addresses how to deal with devices that might not always be on-line, and was demonstrated via software running on a Raspberry Pi. I especially liked the idea of a “last will and testament” which describes how the device should be treated if it goes offline. I’m certain we’ll be incorporating MQTT into OpenNMS in the future.

Ronny and I missed the subway trip to the restaurant because I discovered a bug in my presentation configuration and it took me a little while to correct it, but I managed to get it done and we just grabbed a taxi. Even though it was in the airport, it was a nice venue and we caught up with Kris and my friend Rihards Olups from Zabbix. I first met Rihards at this conference several years ago and he brought me a couple of presents from Lativa (he lives near Riga). I still have the magnet on my office door.

Ulf, however, wasn’t as pleased to meet them.

We had a lot of fun eating, drinking and talking. The food was good and the staff was attentive. Ulf was much happier with our waitress (so was Ronny):

Since I had to call it an early night because my presentation was the first one on Thursday, a lot of people didn’t. After the restaurant closed they moved to “Checkpoint Jenny” which was right across the street (and under my window) from the hotel. Some were up until 6am.

Needless to say, the crowds were a little lighter for my talk. I think it went well, but next year I might focus more on why you might want to move away from check scripts to something a little more scalable. I did a really cool demo (well, in my mind) about sending events into OpenNMS to monitor the status of scripts running on remote servers, but it probably was hard to understand from a Nagios point of view.

Both Rihards and Kris made it to my talk, and Rihards once again brought gifts. I got a lot of tasty Latvian candy (which is now in the office, my wife ordering me to get it out of the house so it won’t get eaten) as well as a bottle of Black Balsam, a liqueur local to the region.

Rihards spoke after lunch, and most people were mobile by then. I enjoyed his talk and was very impressed to learn that every version of the remote proxy ever written for Zabbix is still supported.

I had to head back to Frankfurt that evening so I could fly home on Friday (my father celebrated his 75th birthday and I didn’t want to miss it) but we did find time to get together for a beer before I left. It was cool to have people from so many different monitoring projects brought together through a love of open source.

Next year the conference is from 16-18 November. I plan to attend and I hope to spend more time in Germany that trip than I had available to me this one.

Can a Service Outage be Fraud?

I’m in Germany for the always excellent Open Source Monitoring Conference (review coming) and I wanted to have data for my mobile phone. At the airport we stopped at a Relay store and bought an Ortel SIM card for 20 euros (well, €19.90). Since Ronny was with me I just let him activate the card (the process was mainly in German) and we got on the train to Nürnberg.

During the two hour trip I must have exhausted the small amount of default data that came with it, and thus began an odyssey that took over 24 hours to get resolved.

First we tried to go to the “Mein Ortel” site, but it was down.

Then, we downloaded the “Mein Ortel” app from Google Play. It loaded but we could never authenticate.

This lasted for hours.

After we had arrived at the hotel, we noticed that the website, at least, had become available. But at any point when we tried to purchase more time we’d get still another error.

They do have a customer service number, but they charge €0.49 per minute to use it. In desperation we called it but they had closed for the day, so there was no resolution to be had on the first night.

The next day we tried, unsuccessfully, to get the web site and the app to work. Finally Ronny called, was put on hold (!) and then told that they were having issues with their payment system. Why a total lack in the ability to accept payments would require so much time to determine that you would have to be put on hold is beyond me, but my guess is that Ortel just wanted to ratchet up a few more euros from me.

At lunch we went in search of another provider. We found a Base store that sold Ortel and Blau SIMs, but we were told that Blau may take up to 24 hours to activate. We then found a Vodafone store but they wanted €45 for a SIM. In the end, we decided to buy an Ortel voucher (the SIM was activated at least) for €15 and with the help of the lady at the Base store managed to get the credit applied, and I should have service for the reminder of my stay.

My question is: isn’t is fraud to take money for a service and then fail to deliver that service? I’m only here for three days and I was without data on my phone for more than a third of the trip, all due to the fact that Ortel can’t be bothered to implement network management.

I’m doubly surprised that this happened in Germany, since they tend to be more strict on these things than most countries.

Yeah, I know “first world problems”, but as someone who is in this country with nearly 300 other professionals to discuss monitoring it seems like Ortel could benefit from sending some people to this conference. As commercial network-services become even more prevalent and important, I do expect to see the implementation of fines for outages.

Anyway, if you are ever offered the option to get mobile service from Ortel, run the other way.

OpenNMS Newts at ApacheCon Europe

Being Hungarian, I am very jealous and yet still proud that our very own Eric Evans will be presenting at ApacheCon Europe in Budapest, Hungary.

He will be talking about Newts which is a new time series data store built on top of Apache Cassandra. It will be a key part of positioning OpenNMS for the Internet of Things as well as being very useful on its own.

Eric is a dynamic and interesting speaker, so if you are attending the conference be sure to check out his talk.

And while you are there, eat a Túró Rudi or three for me.

Conferences? We Got Yer Conferences

This is my “oh” face

as in “Oh how awesome is All Things Open”.

Last year was the first edition of the All Things Open conference in Raleigh, NC. I was very happy that we could be a sponsor, and the above picture was taken during my talk.

We ended up with about 50% more people than were expected, and the keynotes were standing room only. It was really cool to see such a turnout, especially since it sort of validates the Raleigh area as a center for open source excellence.

This year we will have a booth where you can come by, get some OpenNMS swag, and hear about the pending release of OpenNMS 14 (yes, fourteen) which is only a few days away.

Now, “oh” could also mean “oh-hi-oh” as in the Ohio LinuxFest. Directly after All Things Open, the Ohio LinuxFest will be held in downtown Columbus this weekend. This has been one of my favorite open source conferences, and it looks like this year is going to be no exception.

Unfortunately, I will not be able to make either of those shows due to another commitment. But if you want to see my “oh” face in person, come to the “Oh Ess Em Cee” conference in November.

Last year all three conferences were held the same week, which was very disappointing for me as it was hard to choose which to attend. This year the Open Source Monitoring Conference was pushed out a month and will be held in Nürnberg, Germany, 18-20 November. While mainly thought of as an Icinga and Nagios conference, the organizers have been very inviting of other projects. We have had a presence there for the last couple of years, but I have only personally been once and it was amazing. So many people sign up that they are able to pretty much rent out an entire hotel, so while the conference is always good it is the conversations outside of the presentations that are the most enjoyable.

I’ll be giving a talk on OpenNMS (‘natch) as well as getting up to speed on what else is going on in the monitoring world.

I hope you can make at least one of these shows. You won’t regret it.