LCA Miniconfs (Shallow Thoughts)

Akkana's Musings on Open Source, Science, and Nature.

Wed, 30 Jan 2008

LCA Miniconfs

Monday I wandered among several different miniconfs. In the morning I checked in at the Debian and Wireless miniconfs, but found nothing inspiring there (unfortunately I missed the wireless mapping talk, which sounded like it might have been interesting). But I ended up spending the afternoon in the security miniconf, ending with a massive keysigning. Unfortunately, the room had no document projector, and the attempts at using a mac with a camera to project people's IDs made several people uncomfortable since the mac offered no way to project an image without also saving it. So we ended up with two long lines out in the hallway, checking IDs one-on-one.

I spent Tuesday morning in the LinuxChix miniconf.

Pia Waugh got us off to a rousing start with an energetic and cogent discussion of women in open source. There are more of us than most people realize I was glad to hear that I'm not the only one who questions the numbers in the oft-quoted FLOSSPOLS study -- the one that claimed that the percentage of women in open source was vastly less than in proprietary software. (My own problem with the study is that they compared numbers from two completely different surveys.) Pia began by challenging everyone in the audience to write a list of ten women we know who inspire or impress us. By the end of the talk, I hope even the people who couldn't think of ten have a better idea of who we are and what we do.

Then Joh Clarke kept the audience laughing with true stories of sysadmin mishaps and words of wisdom to avoid making the same mistakes.

Jacinta Richardson spoke next -- she raced through an informative and entertaining discussion of code optimization and algorithm complexity. From watching her I learned as much about how to put together a good presentation on code as I did about code optimization -- she kept a potentially dry subject lively by alternating between funny pictures and source code listings. It inspired me to go find some images to spice up my tutorial, scheduled for the following day.

Brenda Wallace finished up the morning session with a talk about memcache, a useful daemon which can speed access to commonly used database queries, generated web pages or other CPU-intensive functions.

One thing that struck me about the chix miniconf was how well I understood everyone's speech. I'd noticed in several of Monday's presentations that I was having some trouble understanding several of the speakers, particularly one in the wireless miniconf who mumbled. I thought the aussie accent was giving me trouble. But Pia's and Jacinta's talks dispelled any such notion. Pia talks about twice as fast as any other speaker I've heard, and Jacinta had a lot of information to get across in a short time, yet I had no problem understanding anything they said. It's not the accent ... just inexperienced speakers who weren't enunciating clearly. (In the main conference, where all the speakers are quite experienced, I found I didn't have trouble understanding anyone.)

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[ 20:50 Jan 30, 2008    More conferences/lca2008 | permalink to this entry ]