My Experience At the Florida Linux Show 2009

Blog post by leavengood on Mon, 2009-10-26 19:27

On October 24, 2009 I attended and spoke at the Florida Linux Show in Orlando, FL. In this post I'll talk about my experience at the conference.

Since I live in South Florida I was able to drive to the conference, and I arrived Friday night around 7 PM. After checking in and putting my luggage in the room I decided to check out the hotel, which was more of a resort than a hotel, and not exactly the sort of place you would expect to have a technical conference. But as I later found out the organizers of the conference got a pretty good deal to have the conference at that hotel, so it made sense.

When I went to the hotel's conference center I met some of the people organizing the conference, including Don Corbet from Red Hat, who I ended up having dinner with. Since I had a car I drove us to a local steakhouse and we had a nice dinner and some enlightening conversation.

After dinner we went back to the conference center at the hotel and I brought my laptop to test it out with one of the projectors for the conference. Ironically (since this was a Linux show), my particular flavor and version of Linux (Ubuntu 8.04) does not work too well with multiple monitors, so it is very important I test it out and make it work well before my presentation time. After quite some time of messing around and tweaking my presentation (which I presented using some custom HTML and JavaScript code that I wrote) I got it working pretty well. I even managed to get my custom browser-based presentation software working with a Logitech Cordless Presenter device that the conference had provided. Since my presentation is really fast paced with a lot of simple slides this was really helpful. While I was testing my laptop and presentation I talked some with Bryan Smith, who was the main person behind getting a Haiku presence at the show. Bryan is a cool guy and I appreciate his help in getting me to the conference and on the speaker list.

When my testing was done I headed back to my hotel room, did a bit more tweaking of my presentation, and then had a late night dip in one of the hotel's spas. After that I went to bed.

In the morning I got up way too early, ironed my clothes, got ready and then headed down to the conference center for donuts and coffee. I ended up surviving the whole day on donuts and candy, since I ended up talking to various people instead of getting lunch when lunchtime came around.

There was a pretty big room dedicated to various vendor tables, and in retrospect it would have been nice to have a Haiku table, though honestly with some of the fancy swag being given away at the other tables I'm not sure if Haiku could compete (for example the OpenSolaris guys had tons of books and a huge amount of CDs, but of course I'm sure they get money from Sun.) Either way I did get some ideas for the future should I ever set up a Haiku table at a conference. The main reason we didn't have a table was that I didn't want to man one alone, plus I wanted to give a talk and couldn't be in two places at once. Of course in hindsight I probably could have left the table during my talk, but I would have missed the other talks I ended up seeing while at the conference.

My talk was at 11:20 AM and I was able to get set up pretty quickly and I started on time (or maybe a bit early since 10-15 people came in after I had started.) There were probably around 40 people in attendance. The room I was presenting in was pretty small and it was insanely cold since apparently the venting of the conference center was not designed too well for the situation when rooms were divided. Oh well, I and my audience suffered through it.

My presentation went well and was timed right since I had about 5 to 10 minutes at the end for a quick demo. Anyone who is interested can view my presentation here. Just use the arrow keys or the comma (back) and period or space bar (forward) to move through the presentation.

Unfortunately my demo of Haiku did not go so well, not because of Haiku, but because of Linux and VMware. VMware just goes insane with this strange ATI dual monitor set up on my laptop, and while Haiku booted up and displayed on the projector, I had no keyboard inside Haiku (I ended up dragging and dropping from CharacterMap), and I could not leave the VM at all. I literally had to power off the laptop by holding the power button when the demo was over. Of course this is just one more reason of many, many reasons why I work on Haiku and not Linux.

After my talk I had a conversation with Kurt von Finck, who used to work for Gobe (makers of Gobe Productive) and I got some advice regarding the future of Gobe Productive on Haiku, as well as some war stories from the good old days of BeOS. Because of the bad treatment Gobe and other third parties received when Be, Inc. had their "focus shift", Kurt has pretty much sworn off anything BeOS related, though he wished Haiku success.

During the day I also talked to some college students who were interested in Haiku, as well as a gentleman who had tried out Haiku before the conference. Unfortunately I didn't get (or don't remember) their names, but if you guys are reading this please comment!

The conference ended around 5 PM after a keynote from Kurt, and I hung around a bit, talked to Kurt and some other people and then said my goodbyes. Since as I said I had been surviving on nothing but sugar and starch all day, I left the hotel to get a sandwich at a local Subway restaurant. I then came back, ate the sub, and enjoyed some of the hotel's amenities before leaving for my three hour drive home.

Overall I think the conference went pretty well, but in hindsight I would have done things a bit differently. I would have engaged more conversations to talk about Haiku instead of waiting for people to talk to me. I also would have tried to set up some semblance of a table to make it easier for people to learn about Haiku, and to play with it on a demo system. I also should have tried to upgrade my laptop to a version of Linux that doesn't suck (if that is possible), so I could properly demo Haiku. Or for that matter I should have just used Haiku for the presentation and then demoing would be a no brainer. I also could have spent less time presenting slides and more time demoing Haiku. Finally I should have worn a Haiku T-Shirt, Polo shirt or button or something to make it easier for people to see I was from the Haiku project. All these insights will help me at future conferences.