Car parts vs. a Shiny Blue Car: What makes a better Fedora story?

For a very long time, when putting together release announcements, talking points, or other marketing-related materials, we’ve tended to group features (or, in the future, “changes” as approved by FESCo, + “shiny” as approved by presumably marketing or docs) into the following 3 categories: Users, Developers, and Sysadmins. (And of late, Cloud, or virt & cloud.)

Which has seemed reasonably fine, and may well still be fine, or at least, not broken. The question is: Are these groupings adequately representing the coolest things Fedora has to offer?

My line of thought, comments are welcome:

  1. The lines are increasingly blurry between these three areas. Seriously blurry. Particularly on the dev/sysadmin end of things (who is packaging more for? What about a PaaS? Is syslinux, an optional bootloader, more for a user or a sysadmin, if I’m just using it to boot my own guests and i’m not necessarily doing the role of a sysadmin?).
  2. We write a LOT of stuff that basically sounds like this (and I will use references from the current feature list to illustrate, along with language I wouldn’t actually use in a release announcement, if you are worried):
    • We have things for sysadmins. They include:
      • Checkpoint/restore: Enables checkpointing for processes
      • High availability container resources: Use the cluster stack to manage VMs and discover/use containers on those VMs
      • systemd resource control: dynamically modify c-groups based resource controls for services at runtime
      • syslinux: optional bootloader, ideal for cloudy things, virt appliances
      • Thermostat: tool for monitoring/servicing java apps as they run
      • etc.
    • Other things for users
    • Even more things for developers

…Which basically sounds, IMO, like we have a bunch of stuff, mostly with vaguely technical descriptions, and not very often a description of *what that actually means* to the potential end user / audience, nothing out there to grab the eye of someone who is wondering what is in Fedora that will solve specific problems or use cases they have.

So: As described in mail to Docs and Marketing – I’m wondering if it makes more sense to tell the *stories* or overarching themes that we seem to have in a release – which could well change from release to release – if that helps show that there are improvements in broader areas, helps to define use beyond “the how to” into the “what for” area.

As a suggestion/draft, I wrote up the following areas & short (unrefined) descriptions to the docs and marketing lists, and am adding in some possible examples of what could go into those stories HERE, on this lovely blog post. These are basically the three big areas I see of “cool stuff” going on, primarily around “things that are NEW” and not incremental improvements (but not totally detailed, just a quick draft of potential feature matchups):

What do you think? It seems like “manage” often has overlap with start and recover.  I think there would be a need to extend the bucket descriptions as to “why it’s important” – ie, “start and recover is often a focus point for those running applications in the cloud,” etc.

You’re welcome to come be part of the development for the F19 talking points (or at the bare minimum, the process in which we contemplate which features are best for highlighting).

If your feature doesn’t yet have a reason by it, don’t panic: It may be that your feature is less “totally new” and more of an incremental change, which may not land it on the Talking Points page (but may well stlil land it in others mailboxes. OR… it could be that, at first glance, it was hard to determine *what this actually means* to the audience by just looking at the feature page. Seriously: If you have a feature in F19, and you can tell some overriding story about what it means *in practice* – let me know here (on blog), or join up to the marketing list, or join us in #fedora-mktg.

FUDCon, cerveza, playa, baño!

The four words I need to know to get by in Valencia, Venezuela, for the 2012 FUDCon in LATAM while being an english speaker. (The fifth word may be “poker,” we shall see tonight.) I’ve had a lovely time here thus far, though the internets have been somewhat unkind to me :) I’d go on and on about how lovely it is here, and how good it is to see everyone, but you all know that stuff anyway (all true!) so I’ll skip right ahead to the meat of this post:

FUDCon here is distinctly different from from how it works in North America, and even EMEA to some extent; I haven’t had the pleasure of attending a FUDCon in the APAC region yet, but I suspect it is somewhat similar.  Lots of people showing up to learn about Fedora; there are maybe 30 or so people here from various parts of South America who are Fedora contributors, all of whom contribute in varying parts of the Fedora Project, in different capacities.  Lots of sharing of knowledge – from the use of different applications, robotics hacking, graphic design, becoming a contributor.

We did get the opportunity today to have two solid chunks of time to gather the regional ambassadors and spend some time making plans around a few things, though we did see a few folks shuffle in and out to give presentations.  It comes down to a few things, and they’re things that I’d like to be seeing ambassadors in all regions think more about.

One of the items is planning for the next year to 1.5 years. First off: the budget for each fiscal year (our money year runs from March 1 – February 28) gets set around the December/January time-frame, maybe into February a bit.  So knowing what the needs are when that time comes helps us to get the money we need to continue to do outreach, FUDCons, etc.   The things I’m talking about planning, at least in this particular situation, are specific events where we’d like a Fedora presence.  There are a few things we need to know:

  • Event name/type of conference
  • When, where, how many attendees, does it have a booth fee
  • How many people needed to staff at a minimum; how much it will cost to get people there if they need sponsorship

The “we” here is the Ambassadors from the LATAM region – finding this out for each country, making sure that there is coverage, and then prioritizing what to go to. If there are events where we want to have a bigger presence, figure out what the plan is around that.  Figuring out what the needs will be for swag at the event.

The second major issue for ambassadors here is really logistics of shipping; some countries can’t ship to others, customs is a nightmare, and items need to be printed in various languages.  We talked today about the possibilities of just possibly having a hired person specializing in shipping, or outsourcing to a logistics company who can package and drop ship things as needed, having FADs where we can put together packages and bring them home, as well as simply coordinating what countries are best for production and shipping, finding out who their friendly neighbors are, and making sure there are volunteers to wrangle ordering, payment, shipping, etc.

LATAM has spent very small amounts of money in the past; part of this is cultural tendency, part of it is simply difficulty of payment (some places don’t have paypal, we can’t directly pay in some places, etc), some of it is simply lack of coordination, or someone saying, by God, GO FORTH AND DO THINGS, the money is there. So to those of you in LATAM, please: Make plans. Think big. Let’s think about where we can go, where we can reach the most people, in this region of the world where people are incredibly interested in open source and the opportunities it can provide them.

The logistics piece is going to take a number of people to investigate; planning out the event “wish list” for the next year or so should take less time, and I suggested that September 28 (about a month from now) be the goal date for having a complete list of events that could possibly be attended over the next year to year-and-a-half.  Alejandro Perez has a wiki page already for coordinating this, and a number of people volunteered to help push in weekly meetings and to work with other ambassadors in their more immediate regions to try and coordinate this list.  Remember: it’s a “wish list” – once the LATAM ambassadors have that as a starting point, it’s easier to narrow down the priorities, so don’t be afraid to throw your favorite event on the list.  From there, it’s easier to start thinking about swag needs, and when and where things are needed, which helps from the view of ordering things like media, shirts, stickers, and the like.  Which will put us at a good point come December, right as the budget planning for next year starts.  This is also when the planned EMEA FAD in Rheinfelden will be – a fair amount of that FAD is centered around planning the next year+ of events, swag, etc. I’m hoping that we’ll be in way better shape as far as planning and knowing our target budget for next year than we ever have been by this point.

Ambassadors worldwide have always done an excellent job of being responsible with the budget, carefully weighing the value of what we spend against the return on that money, ensuring that those attending events are contributing event reports and blog posts. But I have noticed that towards the end of the year – when we are getting lower on the amount in the bucket, we tend to slow down spending – mostly because of concern about “I don’t know what other people are planning” – and I know that in EMEA and NA, I have seen people say things like, “We’ve already spent plenty, and LATAM and APAC have hardly spent, but we don’t know what they have coming, either.”  So planning – not just in LATAM, but really, in all the regions – is one thing that can absolutely help each of these groups to know what is expected in terms of spending, and helps us to be more confident about decisions towards the end of the year; ideally, spending all the money is where we want to be at, so that we don’t wind up with a lower budget in the next year.

I do want folks in all the regions to start thinking bigger – and thinking outside their normal event types.  We’ve predominantly been attending traditional linux conferences, either of the community/homegrown type, or bigger-budget events.  But I think there is definitely value in getting Ambassadors – and even non-Ambassadors who are contributing in other areas of the project who want to share their domain knowledge (and honestly, I really do consider contributors, in any area of the project, who share with others to be Ambassadors, regardless of the formalities) – to events that are more specific to interests, roles, etc.  There are Ruby conferences, Python conferences, cloud conferences, etc. – and I’d like to see us think about how we can get some of our Ambassadors and/or people who specialize in an area where there is a conference (ie: get a python person to PyCon), to that conference.  Get them in a Fedora shirt. Encourage them to submit a proposal to present. If they want to be learning at the conference, and not necessarily sitting at a booth, make sure they can get at least a small package of media and stickers to be a walking booth, to some extent – so they can spread the brand and media and knowledge at least in presentations they attend, when they meet others.  Hopefully as we start seeing people do more planning for events in the future – we’ll see some diversity in these new areas, and maybe we’ll find that those places are just as good of locations to find new users or contributors, and possibly even better.

It seems to me – with my former program manager on – that thinking about the budget, and event and swag planning, is something that we could definitely be doing on a yearly (every other release) basis, to be coordinated with the time period when the budget gets set.  (That’s not a hint, Jaroslav, it’s just me thinking out loud and wondering if that would help Ambassadors. I promise.)

I look forward to seeing what the folks in LATAM come up with over the next month, and am hopeful that these kinds of efforts will enable them to do a wider variety of events in the future – and I definitely hope that other regions (I’m looking at you, APAC Ambassadors!) start thinking about doing similar planning; I encourage everyone to take a look at Alejandro’s wiki page as he shares that information, and see if something similar will work for you.

From the wayback machine: Tales from LinuxFest Northwest

(Note: things have been a bit hectic since attending this a while back. Teehee.)

I had the pleasure of attending LinuxFest Northwest, in Bellingham, Washington, April 28th and 29th.  This was my second year at the event, and the folks who put on this event continue to impress me with a great show.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m of the opinion that most of the regional, community-grown, Linux fests/cons/expos are just fantastic,  but all in their own individual ways. So here’s a quick wrap-up of what I find awesome about LFNW:

  • Location, location, location.  It’s beautiful up in Bellingham – and the event is held at Bellingham Technical College, which has plenty of rooms, a decently-sized (though increasingly packed with more people) area for booths, and a great outdoor area where they have grilled lunch each day. Despite being 2 hours north of Seattle, they still manage to draw a good-sized crowd, and it’s close enough to Portland and Vancouver (the Canada one, as well as the Washington one) to have people driving or taking the train from out of town. This year’s party was at the SPARK Museum of Electrical Invention, which in itself is worth checking out – absolutely fascinating exhibits there.
  • No keynotes.  Yes, I know some people like keynotes, and I do too, but at a two-day event it feels sometimes like… well, like you’re missing out on the chance to choose from 6 more sessions, more if they do morning and evening keynotes. People get to dig in to what they’re really interested in, which is cool.
  • Awesome booth attendance. Seriously, lots of great questions here – not a lot of drive-bys for free swag, but plenty of good, engaged conversation.  Which made the moment when someone came to the booth and I asked if they had a question, and they looked at me and said, “Oh, it’s a *technical* question,” as they nodded towards Jeff in the other half of the booth, as though I was, you know, somehow incapable of answering those Hard Questions…. well, forgiveable. :)
  • I never feel like it’s a giant sales pitch here – sure, there are vendors with booths, and lots of donations to the raffle, but you never feel like you’re bombarded with overwhelming advertisements for sponsors.

I gave a presentation on Fedora – a general “Who we are, what we do, what’s coming in F17″ presentation – which was well-received, albeit by a slightly small crowd.  Which tends to be the case when you present in one of the last slots on the second day, which is much more lightly attended.  The first day’s sessions were absolutely overflowing; several sessions I tried to attend were literally completely packed, to the point that they were not letting additional folks in due to fire code regulations.  LFNW, at least from my perspective, seems to have a more hands-on, and perhaps slightly more technical, audience, and the session lineup – voted on by the community – reflects that audience.

The booth turned out well this year, despite some last-minute wrangling; a huge thanks to Leslie Hawthorn for driving to someone’s house in Portland and grabbing the reportedly very stained Fedora tablecloth, which was temporarily separated from its event box, washing it, and overnighting it directly to Jeff’s hotel at LFNW (it was beautiful and pristinely clean!).  The famna folks also cobbled together some of the last bits of north american swag, including F16 media, stickers, balloons, pens, and a few XXXL shirts, and got it to the event.

Aside from that – in addition to meeting new people and talking to them about Fedora, it’s always good to get some facetime with other Fedora folks, and I again enjoyed meeting up with Jeff Sandys this year, who organized our booth presence.  Jesse Keating and Greg DeKoenigsberg were also in attendance, and I spent a lovely meal with them catching up on life/work/things, and lots of other good folks were around as well.


Feeling awesome because of addition!

This post, dear friends, is about one thing:

ROBYN FEELING PRETTY AWESOME, because I actually figured out how to do something.

Behold!!! Can you spot the awesome?

Yup. That’s right: The newly added, handy-sandy Trac SumFieldsPlugin has been converted into actual usage within a trac instance, and actually configured and made into queries by MOI!

Now, I know some of you are sitting there still wondering why on earth this is actually useful to anyone (while others of you are probably making grand fistpump movements and thinking of all the awesomeness this could bring).  So I’ll give you the nutshell version:

Right now, the way budget tracking works for things like Regional Support (money Ambassadors spend for events, swag, media, etc.) and for Premier Fedora Events (FUDCons and FADs) is this: People decide to spend money, we (someone with a Red Hat credit card) pay up front, or we reimburse people, sometimes before an event, sometimes after an event (or purchase, etc.)  The money spent (and thus, money leftover for the quarter or year) are tracked manually in a wiki page by the budget owner.

Unfortunately, we haven’t come up with better ways to plan out expected spending for a whole year, or to track actual expenses (for, say, an event where hotel or other expenses are incurred) directly in Trac; the receipts wind up going to the budget owner, and then they have to figure out how to aggregate everything.  It’s not efficient, and I think that with the proper mechanisms in place, that the Ambassadors and FUDCon owners and payment-makers could be more self-sufficient in terms of the tracking.

This is why the above picture is so cool: The SumFieldsPlugin allows you to do queries, and specific a field (and then column) to do Sums on.  For the above example, it is summing up spending for Q1 and Q2 of FY13, in North America (component), and only for regional spending (not fudcons). For the below example, it is showing all spending, by quarter, by region, for both Regional Support AND FUDCons.

To summarize: I am pretty jazzed about working this into an improved workflow, which a number of ambassadors are already talking about doing, which can help all of us to be less dependent on a wiki page, and even be more proactive when thinking about where spending is going for the year (for example, we could have estimated costs vs. actual costs).

Also: Thanks to a few people, of course – Spot and Nirik for doing some packaging work on a few plugins, cwickert for reviewing, to all for helping out with getting it pulled into our trac instance and for not thinking I’m c-c-c-crazzzy (outside of, you know, normal circumstances).  And to Max for grinning wildly as he reads this, right before he sends me a note telling me how totally awesome this is, I’ll just thank you ahead of time. :D

Finally: I know it’s disappointing, but BigGiantConference is not an actual Real Event :)

Attention, North American Ambassadors who have any substantial quantities of swag or media

If you are an Ambassador in North America, and you have any substantial quantity of swag or media, PLEASE, for the love of pi day, put your information in these tickets:

Media ticket:

Swag ticket:

Seriously: We have a ton of events coming up before F17 is out, and what seems to be a serious lack of media, and an unknown quantity of swag, aside from stickers.  This is making planning difficult. You don’t have to count one by one, but if you can make a rough guess and put it in the ticket VERY SOON, that would be super awesome, so that we can figure out how to plan accordingly for these various events.

Incidentally: FAMNA meetings are back to a weekly thing, if you haven’t been paying attention, and we have a handful of awesome new folks stepping up to wrangle events, and meetings seem to have a pulse again, which is awesome! We’re practically on the edge of the summer conference season already, so if you have an interest in owning an event as an Ambassador, please attend a meeting and speak up.

Win a FABULOUS shirt in the Fedora Contributors’ T-Shirt Raffle!

Normally I blog about “something you need to do by $date,” and this is no exception — the difference being that this time, I want you to hurry up so that you can WIN SOMETHING!

In case you didn’t hear, entries for the Fedora Contributors’ tee-shirt raffle are being accepted right now through the 30th of November.  We, and by “we,” I mean, the Fedora Raffle software, will be picking 30 lucky winners on the last day of November to receive a FABULOUS, Fedora Blue “I F freedom” shirt.

If you already have one of these awesome shirts, please, TRY TO RESTRAIN yourself from entering — give your fellow contributors a chance to also be able to wear one of these swanky shirts with PRIDE. (Or Mustard. You know.  :D)

So by now you’re wondering, where do I go to register, and how do I know if I qualify? And the answer to both is here:

Fedora Contributors’ T-Shirt Raffle

Some quick highlights and details culled from the aforementioned link, and I’m sure I’ll miss the most important or critical detail, but HEY, it’s the thought that counts, right?… anyway:

  • Shirts are unisex, S-XXL. We’ll do our best to match sizes subject to availability.
  • Winners will be contacted via the email address on their FAS account.
  • You need to have signed the contributor agreement and be in at least one other group.
  • You need to be able to accept shipments from FedEx or UPS.
  • You have to be older than 13, and shirts will not be sent to Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, or Syria.

You can enter into the raffle ONE TIME, so if you haven’t entered the raffle yet, do so TODAY!

Marketing slides on the fly.

A quick update:

I’m hanging out with several of the fine Fedora folks, as well as many other awesome people, at the Southeast Linuxfest in fabulous Spartanburg, South Carolina.  Managed to catch the wiki czar Ian Weller‘s very interesting presentation this afternoon, discussing some of the lifting he’s doing to gather more statistics about the Fedora project – from distro downloads and connections, to wiki activity, all the way to future goals of understanding commits, bugzillas, and mailing list activity – all soon to be captured in one location.  The best part about his summer project, aside from the truly awesome name (Datanommer. Om nom nom. I eat data!) is that this is not just an enhancement to Fedora infrastructure and a way for our community to know more about our own activity – but he’s going to turn this into an open source project, so that other communities can take what he’s doing and start using the tools to assess the contributions of their own community members.  Also caught Jono Bacon’s morning keynote, although it was at 8am, which is really 5am in the time zone where I normally reside… combined with the fact that I went to bed at 3am local time….. well, you get the picture. 8am keynotes should be outlawed. Seriously.

So – what did I do between 9am and 1pm, you might ask? Well – I received a task request to put together a brief slide deck to talk about Fedora which would feed in a loop in session rooms, during transitions between speakers. So I, miraculously, somehow, threw something together.  But: bonus!  Max sat down and talked to me and said, “Wow! Now we have that presentation set that Ambassadors can use on laptops as booths all done!”  Ohh….. yessss… of course.  I definitely had that in mind….. no, no, I didn’t, so I have to thank Max for actually reminding me of that other thing I wanted to do at some point.

Oh, yes. You wanted to check out the slide deck? Voilà! Check it out.  I haven’t actually had a chance to post this on the marketing or ambassadors mailing lists – or post them to the Fedora Marketing wiki page – but that will be coming soon. (If I don’t do it, please kick me and remind me.  Gently, though. Gently.)  And keep in mind these were done in a short time – by all means, please provide feedback.  If it’s ugly, if it could be more informative – whatever. I’m all ears. Really.

(Please note: If you’re looking at these slides and you’re thinking they’re not as beautiful as they could possible be – you should probably check to see if you have the mgopen-modata-fonts package installed.  Using these fonts gives it the nice, clean Fedora look and feel.)

All in all – having a lovely time.  More updates as the weekend goes on!

Makin’ whuffie from discussion – AKA FAD NA, Day 1

Here are some of the highlights of FAD NA, Day 1:

  • Took in a fabulous presentation and ad hoc tour of the VRAC at Iowa State University.
  • Had some productive discussions around a number of ambassador topics, including the delegation of some of the Fedora / comm arch budget to $otherentitylargerthanMax.
  • Discussion around how to better track, and thus, get in the cycle of regularly estimating the purchasing of, swag in the NA, or possibly even other geos.
  • Discussion of the possibilities of a karma-type (or whuffie-type) system for encouraging / rewarding a plethora of contribution types.
  • Discussion about how to find events with alternate (but likely) types of contributors – and how to go about (1) encouraging and/or just getting the word out that “we has money, if you can show $otherentitylargerthanMax the benefit we get from the cost, you could go!” and (2) figuring out the logistics of sending non-Ambassador-members to those events with the “event gear” they need – be it swag, booth setup, etc. – when those folks aren’t on the ambassador emailing list.   How can we help them estimate what they need, what type of presence to have given their audience, etc? How can we essentially cultivate Ambassadors for – not just Fedora – but for individual subprojects and/or SIGs, where the person attending has a vested interest in a subtopic and maybe how it relates to Fedora. In other words – can we send Fedora Marketeers, or Fedora Design folks, to events where they are more likely to find people who could potentially contribute to the Fedora Project in ways that are conducive to that attendee’s particular project within Fedora?

So – you’ll note that I use the word “discussion” a lot, because it seems like – despite having a lot of concrete discussion, we aren’t doing the hottest job of either: (a) coming out with a documented resolution, or even undocumented consensus, or (b) coming out with a document / wiki page / template / whatever that is a concrete thing we can point to and say, “HAI, we did this. Therefore, FAD NA money was a worthwhile investment of  Fedora’s pool of available dollars.”

And so, please bear with me as I type up some of the goals we should aim for tomorrow .

  • Do a better job of articulating before the start of each session (1) what we’re discussing and (b) what is the “thing” we want to finish by the end of the hour.
  • Do a better job of timekeeping – have someone isla

(This is where I actually passed out in bed writing this. Yes. isla? I have no idea what I was typing. La Isla Bonita? Who knows. Now you’ll have Madonna in your head all day, though, which could be awesome.)

  • I’ll try that again.  Do a better job of timekeeping – make sure we know that we’re discussing for one hour, or whatever the designated scheduled period of time is, and have someone be responsible for saying, we’re coming up on 15 minutes left, we need to make decisions.
  • Do a better job of just saying No! to ratholes.  We need to not be afraid to say we’re getting off topic, or that, yes, all discussions are important, but we don’t have time – or even, we do have time, once we have completed the agenda item we are currently working on.  “This dovetails nicely with…” is usually an indicator that we’re going to be getting off-track.
  • Make sure we’re identifying actual tasks along the way, ensuring they have owners.  And a way to come back in a week or two and see if all of those items that people volunteered to were completed or at least – on track, or at the bare minimum, started – not just a list of even more things we’ve identified that we could do given copious amounts of spare time, but in actuality will never get to.
  • Or better yet – that we’re actually DOING those tasks along the way.  We can be working in the wiki, or gobby, typing up what we’re actually discussing.  We can take those 10 minutes at the end of an hour to actually throw at least a basic framework of what we’re looking at together – there are people playing along at home (i hope) who might be willing to help finish / clean up some of the items we’ve started on as well.
  • Keep a lid on Robyn’s endless blog rambling.  Jeez! You should get a big blue ribbon for actually being able to pay attention for this long.  I should get an “F” in coherency.  :D

I would like to hand it to all the awesome folks who are here:  It’s always fabulous (FABULOUS!) to work with a group of people who are SO passionate and dedicated and, well, just freakin smart.  So even though I guess most of my post is sort of Negative Nancy sounding, it’s really not a terrible situation where we’ve been talking about lumber mills and squirrels all day; it’s just that I think we’re saying and talking about awesome and interesting things – and not actually taking those things and being diligent about putting them into a format that is not something simply encapsulated for our brains. Braaaaaaains.

In short, I have no solutions to anything, but I will do better to try and keep us all on track today, and help out more in IRC transcribing.