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FLOSS UK Spring 2015: 2

The Second Day of FLOSS UK Spring

Thu Mar 26 15:12:00 2015

“Those who know, do. Those that understand, teach.”

Unlike a workshop session where there is a little time to stretch while teaching a presentation has to do a little more, and in a different way. In a presentation we have to sow the seeds of our passion, show a little of something new to the audience and also teach them without them having the luxury of time to learn. This takes understanding, so it is always best to have a thorough grounding and a lot of understanding. A little passion for the theatre and performance doesn't hurt either.

The Wearing of the Hats

For day two of the conference I was trying to wear a few hats, most of my day was aimed at making sure we (which is the we of FLOSSUK) increase our social-digital footprint while also promoting and enhancing the footprint of the attendees and presenters. Another part of the roles I had chosen was to try and grab as many photos of the event as possible.

The FLOSSUK Spring Conference is a very friendly event helped by a number of the attendees having a longer term relationship. However, it is also very welcoming to those who are new. On several occasions throughout the day I witnessed long term community members helping those that were new to the event and making sure that they got the best experience possible.


I sat in on several talks, I don't feel qualified to make a strong judgement on the quality of material as it was sometimes of a higher technical level than my current understanding. I would though like to make some notes on the talks that I did attend.

Keynote - Docker: Please contain your excitement (John Leach)

John is a great presenter and seemed really relaxed and happy to be taking the keynote position. The original keynote presenter was Wim Godden who was unable to make the event at the last minute (hope to see you next time Wim), John stepped in at the last minute to present to us.

John Leach in the middle of his talk

John Leach in the middle of his talk

Docker is an interesting tool and John has both an encyclopaedic knowledge of both its history and its usage and he was able to convey a story to us while teaching a few tricks to use the software.

OpenNMS: A Platform for managing next generation services (Craig Gallen)

Craig came to FLOSS to talk about the current version of OpenNMS and to reveal the roadmap for future development. He gave a quick insight into the history and revealed some of the people using the software before launching into an explanation of the community and development process.

Craig Gallen pointing out the improvements

Craig Gallen pointing out the improvements

We were taught the issues that OpenNMS has faced and how it has overcome them and how it will evolve to become a stronger product in the future. Craig was kind enough to mention that Shadowcat are involved with the OpenNMS community and to speak about our own ShadowNMS product.

Job Interview Techniques (Rick Deller)

Rick Deller from Eligo, one of the conference sponsors, gave a talk on the best techniques for conducting yourself for an interview. Rick covered the whole gamut of the experience, from your CV, internet presence, pre-interview preparation, phone interviews, the interview itself, following up, second interviews and acceptance.

Rick giving his talk

Rick giving his talk

I have known Rick for a number of years but this was the first time that I have had the chance to hear him talk live, he gave a presentation at the London Perl Workshop and at Yet Another Perl Conference, Europe, in 2014, but never at a FLOSS event.

Rick is well-known in the London Perl Community and it was nice to get him to come to a different community as both a sponsor and a speaker. This is a real value add for the conference as it is an area that every delegate has to do but very few of them are experts in. Rick has a number of years of experience, works closely with HR departments and technical managers and so can speak with real knowledge and experience.

Build management with a dash of prolog (Matt S. Trout)

This talk by Shadowcat's own beloved most is a sequel to last year's DevOps Logique. Matt has spent a whole year working on an implementation of his build management system, along the way he has had to throw out and completely rebuild some parts of the system and read a great deal of research material.

mst in full swing

mst in full swing

This talk was entertaining but as always I was thoroughly, and wonderfully, lost in the morass of complex systems operations, mathematical/physical theorem and deep understanding. This is certainly worth a re-watch on the internet once the videos are available.

Lightning Talks and Close of Day One

Day one at the conference event was rounded off nicely by the customary Lightning Talks. I had originally wanted to present a new lightning talk at this event but as previously mentioned I pulled both my talks for this conference due to a deal of other pressing issues.

The Lightning talks were chaired by Shadowcat's Ian Norton who was keen to inject a sense of fun and energy into the room. So I decided at the last minute to help him and pulled out Part One of my Lightning Talk Sequence 'The Horrible Things Psychologists do to Animals'. It was fun to re-present this talk on the fly, so to speak, without my usual practice and prep. I don't think I did as well as I would have done with a practice beforehand, but I certainly enjoyed doing it.

The rest of the lightning talks were a mix of informative fun things and strange tales of the life of system architects, of particular note was the fact that Ian gave a quick and rough talk on ShadowNMS and Matt gave us some anecdotes of the horrors he has done to get a result in the worst situations, a tale from the trenches.

The mst quote monster was in fine form with the line 'sufficiently advanced insanity is indistinguishable from technology' - a nice play on the SC tag line.

“Rabbit's clever," said Pooh thoughtfully.
"Yes," said Piglet, "Rabbit's clever."
"And he has Brain."
"Yes," said Piglet, "Rabbit has Brain."
There was a long silence.
"I suppose," said Pooh, "that that's why he never understands anything.”
A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh