Mountain View

I’m writing this from my suite at the Holiday Inn Express on El Camino in Mountain View, CA (the one at 2700, not the other one). They upgraded me to a suite, but its a smoking room. I hate smoking rooms, but its just for one night, and the windows open.

I’m visiting clients and potential clients in California, and I thought I’d see about going to Google before my meetings this afternoon. Last night I had dinner with Paul Froutan. He just took a job as the Director of Operations there, and since neither of us know the area we decided to dine at that pinnacle of haute cuisine: In and Out.

Paul used to work for Rackspace, which is one of our oldest customers. I’ve known him for 5 years now, and I, although it galls me to say this, respect his opinions on business. I’m sure he’ll do very well at his new gig.

In talking with him I got some glimpse into why Google is doing so well, and probably will continue to do so. When he showed up they asked him what kind of computer resources he needed, and from what I gather there is actually a big room with all the goodies you could want and you just pick. It reminded me of Nirvana Corp. from the Dilbert animated series.

Many years ago I wrote a document for management called “Geeks: A Guide to Care and Feeding”. Technical folks are driven by different things than “normal” people. Give them the tools to get the job done and an environment to do it in and watch great things happen. Google gets it. My old company did not.

So I’m looking forward to my trip to the Googleplex. I’ll post more about it later.

Dev-Jam 0-0-7

We just set up registration for the third annual OpenNMS Developer’s Conference, which we’re calling “Dev-Jam Double Oh Seven“.

(cue Bond music)

The idea for Dev-Jam goes back to February of 2005. Six of us met in Boston to work our booth in the LinuxWorld .org Pavilion. This was the first time many of us had met in person, and it was a lot of fun. Of course the talk turned to development issues, and we were disappointed that we really didn’t have enough time to get together and really work on the project.

The OpenNMS Group at the time was rather new, and being bootstrapped we didn’t have a ton of money in the bank, but I do have a farmhouse that can sleep about 5-6 people, so I made the following offer: get to Pittsboro, NC, and I’ll put you up at my place, feed you, and we can work on OpenNMS for the week.

We had 8 people at that conference (Craig flew in from the UK), and the only downside was that I got very ill for a couple of days and slept through a lot of it (my wife, who is a saint, put up pretty well with 5 geeks crashing at our place).

It was so much fun that we decided to do it again in 2006. Having learned from our first conference, we had a few requirements. First and foremost was solid bandwidth. Second was a set up where people could break away and sleep when they wanted, as well as work when they wanted. Finally there had to be access to food and caffeine at all hours.

Mike Huot (OGP) suggested that the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis-St. Paul had summer programs and could provide us with all three things as well as a nice place to work. Thus Dev-Jam 2006 was born.

We had over 20 people show up for this conference and it was a blast. Outside of a run-in with evil, predatory parking fines near the campus, our only complaint was that the room was a little small. We really liked the large common room in Yudof hall, with a large screen TV on one side and a kitchen on the other side, but they seemed reluctant to rent it to us.

Image yoinked from UMN.

So for 007 we pressed and pressed the college to rent us that room, and they finally caved. We plan to have space for up to 40 people this year, with the luxuries of the kitchen, TV and large deck overlooking the river that this room provides. I am so psyched. Perhaps we can even get Antonio to cook up some of his Italian specialties one night.

Being in the same building as the dorm rooms, people can nip off for a nap whenever they want without having to go far or drive, and we have a large choice of restaurants in the area. Just don’t go out drinking with Johan unless you practice (a lot) before hand. (grin)

OpenNMS Gots Class

We haven’t had an open registration training class for OpenNMS in a long time. The problem is that setting these things up is a real pain. You have to pick a date and place and hope that enough people sign up to cover costs much less enough to make a little money. The location is the main problem: hotels and training centers want you to commit to a class weeks if not months in advance with a large penalty if you have to cancel.

Thus we tend to structure our classes for businesses. Since most of our clients are larger businesses with access to training rooms, we fly in, train their people, and leave.

From left to right: Joel, Joe, Mike, Sean, Ronnie, Frank (eyes closed), Tina, Jay, Marv, Chad, Marty, Me, Bill and Shawn.

Last week we had an open class in Salt Lake City. Shawn Heisey of Mainstream Data supplied the room and bandwidth. This works out well for us since if we can’t fill the room we can easily cancel, and for supplying the room he gets to come for free. Ronnie Counts, a longtime OpenNMS user (I swear he was using it before I was) drove up from Arizona with a carload of routers, switches and servers so we’d have a lab environment to test against. In addition to the three of us we had 11 other people register, so the room was full.

It was a great class. I liked it because almost everyone had been using OpenNMS for some time, so we got to skip a lot of the “what OpenNMS can do” and focus on getting OpenNMS to do things. Unlike our business training, everyone was here because they wanted to be.

This was also the first class I did which was based on OpenNMS 1.3. Using Ronnie’s lab we even got the map working. I don’t know about everyone else, but I had a great time and hope to do it again soon.

Viva Italia

A couple of years ago we got an interesting e-mail from Italy. A team lead by Antonio Russo was working on some new features for OpenNMS, and they asked to be able to contribute them back to the project. We created a branch called “Italian Adventures” for them to play with.

On my first trip to the UK back in October of 2005, Antonio and his wife Roberta came to London to meet with me, and to paraphrase Casablanca it was the start of a beautiful friendship.

I’ve managed to visit Italy twice as Antonio’s guest, and I’ve had a great time both trips. Antonio came to Dev-Jam last year and cooked an amazing meal for us, and I’m looking forward to this year’s event.

Today I’d like to announce that we have several new resources available for working with OpenNMS in Italian.

There is a new mailing list: OpenNMS-Italia, a new wiki: and Antonio’s blog:

We are very excited that Antonio has taken his OpenNMS ambassadorship in Italy to the next level, and we look forward to working with the community he is helping to build.