SELF 2011

It was sometime Saturday night, after my third, or fifth, or seventh top-shelf margarita (thanks Rackspace), sometime after David’s Dual Core set, that I turned to Jeff and said “I love my job. I’m at work now.”

Once again the SouthEast LinuxFest was a success. Now in its third year, this is a well organized FOSS conference held in Spartanburg, South Carolina. I went for the first time last year when we were a sponsor and had a blast. It was just as good this year.

While spread out over three days, the conference peaks on Saturday with a day chock full of presentations bookended by two keynotes.

The opening keynote was given by Jon “Maddog” Hall. A Maddog talk is like pizza: When it’s good, it is really good, and when it’s bad, it’s still pretty good.

This keynote was really good.

Maddog presented how free and open source software can both create jobs and provide better solutions. It was peppered with his usual stories and concrete examples that really drove the point home. I’m going to have to steal much of it.

The opening keynote was followed by a number of talks. This year they decreased the number of tracks down to five, which I think was a great idea, but it made it hard to choose at times. While I was in Klaatu’s Kdenlive talk, we could hear massive laughter coming from the next room, where Alan Hicks was giving his presentation (apparently, whenever he found an error on one of his slides he’d remark “Well, I was drunk when I wrote that”).

My talk went okay. It had a rather humorous setup that was lost due to the quality of the video projectors, but the rest of the talk went well. The session laptops, provided by HP, screamed, however.

The closing keynote was given by Tom “Spot” Callaway on how to tell if a project is doomed to fail. He went over a number aspects of open source projects and assigns “points of FAIL” for various things the project does or doesn’t do. The talk originated as a blog post that became a chapter in the Open Source Way book, and Spot did a good job presenting it (although I disagreed with him, to a point, on copyright assignment).

He did get one of the biggest laughs of the conference when his first few slides consisted of the word “cloud” repeated over and over again. As someone who said a long time ago that if I heard the word “cloud” one more time I was going to vomit, I agreed wholeheartedly with the sentiment.

As usual with such conferences, no matter how good the talks are, the conversations held in the hallway can be even better. I saw a lot of old friends and made some new ones. I know how much work goes into these things, so hats off to the whole SELF team for another amazing year.