Fossetcon – Part Two

And by soon I mean 10 days later.

Day [2]

The keynote on Saturday was Apretaste: The Free (As in Beer and as in Speech) Way to Connect Cuba to the Internet. Apretaste is an organization focused on bringing web content to Cuba citizens in an easy and affordable way. Currently only 3.51% of Cuba’s population has access to the internet. However, 22.81% of citizens have access to email. Apretaste give those with access to email a way to surf the web by translating web pages into emails. When a user emails Apretaste with a website in the header, their program goes to the site, reformats the webpage into an email, and sends it back to the user. The organization reminded me of Tembo, a group that originated at my school. They designed a program to send school lessons to children in less developed countries via text message. Despite there being a lack of formal internet structure phone ownership in the developing world is growing. Both organizations have found a way to bring important content to people in innovative ways.

Like before, there was a time slot for exploring the Expo Hall. While we were walking by the Fedora booth we were sucked into a group discussion about the experience of being a person of color and a woman in technology with two people we met, Dione and Tameika. There really is not an awareness of the field, especially open source, for women and POC. I recently read an article about cybersecurity stating that while 50% of male student were aware of the field only 26% of female student were. As I have gotten more involved with the technology field and spoken about it with my family, they have become more aware and have even begun to encourage kids in their neighborhoods to consider it. You can’t aim for careers you don’t even know are there.

Another issues is the types of technology jobs that do get offered to POC. Tameika was mentioning that it’s only the manufacturing jobs that every really come up. Software development, systems administration, quality assurance, etc. don’t come up often. Two hours later we realized that we had missed the talks we were planning to attend. It was great and terrible. That was a wonderful discussion but I really wanted to go Getting Started with Solr, an Open Source Search Platform and Welcoming Everyone: Five Years of Inclusion and Outreach Programmes at Pycon Australia. After realizing that we had missed both talks, we decided to keep walking through since we weren’t in a rush. I stopped by the Red Hat booth again and spoke with Marina, Deb, and Carol Smith. Carol is the community manager at Google and she oversees Summer of Code.  I spoke a bit about my intention to apply in the coming summer after my positive experience with Outreachy. She was really encouraging and I planned to attend presentation on Google Summer of Code later in the day.

Then it was on to talk two of the day, Hardware Hacking 101: There Is Plenty of Room at the Bottom. I’ve always had an interest in hardware. The act of physically taking something apart and seeing how it works is just satisfying. The presentation wasn’t hands on, but it was a step-by-step walkthrough, so it was still good. I learned that SD cards can now contain Wi-Fi. My first thought was, that seems really unsafe. I couldn’t think of a good reason for enabling Wi-Fi in one, and honestly at this point companies seem to Wi-Fi enabled the oddest things. A couple days later, I spoke with my professor about the presentational and he pointed out that is was useful for photographers. That was an unimaginative moment on my part. I need to keep a more open mind on these things. I tend to default to, that’s a security issues. Security classes will make you paranoid. This was another one of those course that I’m going to remember as I take a future classes. There’s a Physical and Operational Security course coming up that I’m interested in taking. Even if I can’t fit it in my schedule, I think the presenter’s walk through would be fun to look at for students, so I’ll pass it along.

Afterward, I found my friend and we headed to the Google Summer of Code talk. Google Summer of Code is similar to Outreachy, so a lot of the material in the talk was familiar. The main difference is that for Google Summer of Code is open to all students, the definition of “student” extends to someone taking any kind of course, and GSOC can be repeated. I’m planning to apply for Google Summer of Code in the coming summer, so the overview and tips were welcome.  I’ve also spoken with several students on campus about applying to both Outreachy and GSOC. I’m planning to give a presentation in the spring semester on both programs. Hopefully there’ll be more applicants from my college next year!

The Vagrant, Docker, Kubernetes, and Oh-My-Vagrant talk was next and it certainly woke me up. The speaker started off by making a fireball. He said everyone looked like they needed a little wake up. I can say I was certainly more awake after the fact. For the actual subject matter, I had heard of Vagrant and Docker before. I had checked out the speaker’s blog before attending the talk so I had some idea about Oh-My-Vagrant. Kubernettes was completely new to me. Oh-My-Vagrant is a project started by the speaker that allows a user to create and configure Vagrant files by modifying a standard YAML template instead of creating a new file by writing Ruby. This talk was of particular interest to me as I have had a hard time setting up development environments before. I’m always half afraid I’m going to wreck my system by screwing up an installation. Learning about virtual machines was a beautiful revelation and having an easy way to set up development environments on virtual machines sounds great. There was also an event a couple months ago where some fellow students were having an issue setting up a virtual environment to run Docker on. I wish that I could have done more to help. It’s too late now, but I hope in the future that I’ll be able to help in the event that an issue arises. Kubernetes is a platform for automating deployment and scaling of app containers across hosts. I don’t currently need to play with containers at that level, but learning about different ways to play with systems is always fun.

There was another Expo Hall break and then it was time for the closing keynote. It was Marina’s presentation Effective Outreach in Four Steps. Having just found out about Outreachy and Google Summer of Code earlier this year, I was amazed at the number of outreach programs there are. I found out about so many different resources and sites from Marina’s presentation. One of my favorite lines from the presentation was when she said that she has a fulfilling career in the open source field and she wants that for other women as well. So many of the people I met at the conference were happy about their involvement in open source. There was a passion that ran through every presentation and discussion that I heard walking through the hallways. I think everyone should have a job that makes them feel that way too. I have since followed several of the Twitter accounts she mentioned in her presentation. This conference has done more to drag me onto Twitter than anything before. I also took plenty of notes on the tips about creating inclusive communities and indicator to check when looking for an inclusive community. I am a member of several tech and fandom groups, so I’d like to see where I can apply some of Marina’s tips about encouraging inclusion.

After the Marina’s presentation, I hung around in the hall speaking with a couple of the people I had met over the course of the conference. I also managed to meet even more new people. One point of discussion was people new to the area wanting to get involved with the local community but not being sure how to do so. I have used Meetup.com to find some cool groups, so I recommended a couple of the local Meetups. I discussed holding potential future outreach events in my area. I’d specifically like to hold some on campus events and some with the youth groups at the local library.

The conference pumped me up more than ever to get the word out about the open source community. I have only just gotten involved and my experience has been overwhelmingly positive. I honestly would not have pictured myself at an open source conference a year ago. Not out of lack of interest, but because it wouldn’t have occurred to me and I wouldn’t have been comfortable or potentially able to afford it. Outreachy has changed my perspective about what I want to do with my career and where I can go. I have been able to do so much and have so many conversations that I value as a result.

Then it was on to the after party at Splitsville! There was pizza, drinks, and even more great conversation. I learned about another event I would like to attend called Drupal Camp. Unfortunately, I had to leave early to catch a bus home. I pretty much slept the rest of the weekend away. It’s been almost a month now, and I can’t wait for next year! I might even gather up the courage to give a talk. I came away from Fossetcon with pages of notes, bunches of projects to research, tons of swag, and more Linux distros than I know what to do with. 10/10 would recommend.

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