pyconau 2018 call for proposals now open

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The pyconau call for proposals is now open, and runs until 28 May. I took my teenagers to pyconau last year and they greatly enjoyed it. I hadn’t been to a pyconau in ages, and ended up really enjoying thinking about things from topic areas I don’t normally need to think about. I think expanding one’s horizons is generally a good idea.

Should I propose something for this year? I am unsure. Some random ideas that immediately spring to mind:

  • something about privsep: I think a generalised way to make privileged calls in unprivileged code is quite interesting, especially in a language which is often used for systems management and integration tasks. That said, perhaps its too OpenStacky given how disinterested in OpenStack talks most python people seem to be.
  • nova-warts: for a long time my hobby has been cleaning up historical mistakes made in OpenStack Nova that wont ever rate as a major feature change. What lessons can other projects learn from a well funded and heavily staffed project that still thought that exec() was a great way to do important work? There’s definitely an overlap with the privsep talk above, but this would be more general.
  • a talk about how I had to manage some code which only worked in python2, and some other code that only worked in python3 and in the end gave up on venvs and decided that Docker containers are like the ultimate venvs. That said, I suspect this is old hat and was obvious to everyone except me.
  • something else I haven’t though of.

Anyways, I’m undecided. Comments welcome.

Also, here’s an image for this post. Its the stone henge we found at Guerilla Bay last weekend. I assume its in frequent use for tiny tiny druids.

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LCA2015 opens its Call for Proposals

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LCA2015 will be in Auckland, New Zealand next year, and the Call for Proposals has just opened! The conference is one of the best venues in Australia and New Zealand to get word out about your Open Source project, as well as learning about the cool things that other people are doing. This is the third time the conference has been in New Zealand, and its looking to be an excellent event.

This one call for proposals covers papers, tutorials, and mini conferences.

For more information about the CFP, checkout http://lca2015.linux.org.au/cfp. Mini conference proposals should go to http://lca2015.linux.org.au/miniconf-cfp.

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Call for presentations for the linux.conf.au 2014 OpenStack mini-conference

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I’ve just emailed this out to the relevant lists, but I figured it can’t hurt to post it here as well…

linux.conf.au will be hosting the second OpenStack mini-conference to
run in Australia. The first one was well attended, and this
mini-conference will be the first OpenStack conference to be held on
Australia’s west coast. The mini-conference is a day long event
focusing on OpenStack development and operations, and is available to
attendees of linux.conf.au.

The mini-conference is therefore calling for proposals for content.
Speakers at the mini-conference must be registered for linux.conf.au
2014 as delegates, or discuss their needs with the mini-conference
organizers if that isn’t possible.

Some examples of talks we’re interested in are: talks from OpenStack
developers about what features they are working on for IceHouse; talks
from deployers of OpenStack about their experiences and how others can
learn from them; talks covering the functionality of OpenStack and how
it can be used in new and interesting ways.

Some important details:

  • linux.conf.au runs from 6 to 10 January 2014 in Perth, Australia at
    the University of Western Australia

  • the mini-conference will be on Tuesday the 7th of January
  • proposals are due to the mini-conference organizer no later than 1 November
  • there are two types of talks — full length (45 minutes) and half
    length (20 minutes)

CFP submissions are made by completing this online form:
CFP submission form

If you have questions about this call for presentations, please
contact Michael Still at openstack-lca2014@lists.stillhq.com for more
details.

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We all know that the LCA2014 CFP is open, right?

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I just want to make sure that everyone knows that the LCA2014 call for proposals is open. There are two calls this time around — a call for proposals and a call for miniconfs. The call for proposals closes on 6 July, so you don’t have heaps of time left to submit something.

So, if you’re interested in speaking at linux.conf.au 2014, in Perth between 6 and 10 January 2014 you should hit up those CFPs now!

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On conference t-shirts

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Conference t-shirts can’t be that hard, right? I certainly don’t remember them being difficult when Canberra last hosted linux.conf.au in 2005. I was the person who arranged all the swag for that conference, so I should remember. Yet here I am having spent hours on the phone with vendors, and surrounded with discarded sample t-shirts, size charts and colour swatches. What changed?

The difference between now and then is that in the intervening seven years the Australian Linux community has started to make real effort to be more inclusive. We have anti-harassment policies, we encourage new speakers, and we’re making real efforts to encourage more women into the community.

linux.conf.au 2013 is making real efforts to be as inclusive as possible — one of the first roles we allocated was a diversity officer, who is someone active in the geek feminism community. We’ve had serious discussions about how we can make our event as friendly to all groups as possible, and have some interesting things along those lines to announce soon. We’re working hard to make the conference a safe environment for everyone, and will have independent delegate advocates available at all social events, as well as during the conference.

What I want to specifically talk about here is the conference t-shirts though. We started out with the following criteria — we wanted to provide a men’s cut, and a separate women’s cut, because we recognize that unisex t-shirts are not a good solution for most women. We also need a wider than usual size range in those shirts because we have a diverse set of delegates attending our event. We also didn’t really want to do black, dark blue, or white shirts — mostly because those colours are overdone, but also because the conference is in January when the mean temperature is around 30 degrees Celsius.

Surprisingly, those criteria eliminate the two largest vendors of t-shirts in Australia. Neither Hanes nor Gildan make any t-shirt that has both men’s and women’s cuts, in interesting colours and with a large size variety. So we went on the hunt for other manufacturers. However, I’m jumping a little ahead of myself here, so bear with me.

First off we picked a Hanes shirt because we liked the look of it. We were comfortable with that choice for quite a while before we discovered that the range of colours available in both the men’s and women’s cut was quite small. Sure, there are heaps of colours in each cut, but the overlapping set of colours is much smaller than it first appears. At this point we knew we needed to find a new vendor.

The next most obvious choice is Gildan. Gildan does some really nice shirts, and I immediately fell in love with a colour called “charcoal”. However, once bitten twice shy, so we ordered some sample t-shirts for my wife and I to try out. I’m glad we did this, because the women’s cut was a disaster. First off it didn’t fit my wife very well in the size she normally wears, which it turns out is because the lighter cotton style of t-shirt is 10 centimeters smaller horizontally than the thicker cotton version! It got even worse when we washed the shirts and tried them again — the shirt shrunk significantly on first wash. We also noticed something else which had escaped our attention — the absolute largest size that Gildan did in our chosen style for women was a XXL. Given the sizing ran small, that probably made the largest actual size we could provide a mere XL. That’s not good enough.

Gildan was clearly not going to work for us. I got back on the phone with the supplier who was helping us out and we spent about an hour talking over our requirements and the problems we were seeing with the samples. We even discussed getting a run of custom shirts made overseas and shipped in, but the timing wouldn’t work out. They promised to go away and see what other vendors they could find in this space. Luckily for us they came back with a vendor called BizCollection, who do soft cotton shirts in the charcoal colour I like.

So next we ordered samples of this shirt. It looked good initially — my shirt fit well, as did my wife’s. However, we’d now learnt that testing the shirts through a few wash cycles was useful. So then my wife and I wore the shirts as much as we could for a week, washing them each evening and abusing them in all the ways we could think of — using the dryer, hanging them outside in the sun, pretty much everything apart from jumping up and down on them. I have to say these shirts have held up well, and we’re very happy with them.

The next step is I’m going to go back and order a bunch more sample shirts and make my team wear them. The goal here is to try and validate the size charts that the vendor provides and make sure that we can provide as much advice about fit as possible to delegates. Also, I love a free t-shirt.

After all this we still recognize that some people will never be happy with the conference’s t-shirt. Perhaps they hate the colour or the design, or perhaps they’re very tall and every t-shirt is too short for them. So the final thing we’re doing is we’re giving delegates a choice — they can select between a t-shirt, a branded cap, or a reusable coffee cup. In this way we don’t force delegates to receive something they don’t really want and are unlikely to use.

When you register for the conference, please try to remember that we’ve put a lot of effort as an organizing team into being as detail oriented as possible with all the little things we think delegates care about. I’m sure we’ve made some mistakes, but we are volunteers after all who are doing our best. If you do see something you think can be improved I’d ask that you come and speak to us privately first and give us a chance to make it right before you complain in public.

Thanks for reading my rant about conference t-shirts.

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