Thursday, August 15, 2013

Flock the First in Charleston, SC

I last posted here in December.  I said at some point I would stop posting here, which seems to be the case, but I guess every now and then I have something I want to talk about.

Flock!

After eight years of the Fedora User and Developer Conference, or FUDCon, the Fedora Project decided it was time for a change.  The conference was not working very well any more.  The project has replaced it with Flock.  I think the first Flock went very well.

Pros:
  • Schedule determined before Flock.  We submitted talk proposals and voted on them and a schedule was determined before the conference.  This worked much better than the old barcamp format.
  • Presenters came prepared.  With barcamp, there is no incentive to prepare any material for a talk because you might not be chosen to present.
  • Reasonable rooms, wireless networking, and power availability.
  • Projectors available in all rooms.
  • The off-campus prepaid dining card for lunch.  No more box lunches from dining services!  This was brilliant and it allowed everyone to handle their own special dietary needs.
  • Entirely walkable for the event, hotel, and after hours socializing.  Similar to Tempe, AZ, but better.  Way way better than Lawrence, KS.
  • New shirt design!
  • More conferencey looking badges.
  • Overall the content focused on new ideas rather than defense of what we did in a previous release.  I noticed this had a positive effect on the hackfest day at the end.
  • Plenty of restaurants and bars to allow people to socialize after hours and choose a place away from other people if need be.  It is nice to have a selection of places to spread out rather than the entire group going from the conference to the bar.
  • Good social events, though I only went to the one at Mynt.
Cons:
  • Charleston, SC in August is not a place with ideal weather.  Charleston in the fall or winter would be better.
  • The Francis Marion hotel was a bit run down.  I never had hot water in my shower (the hotel knew about the problem and just said, "sorry").  The elevators were in the process of being upgraded and were really slow.
  • The venue is still a university.  I think it's time for our conference to move in to a conference facility at a large hotel or something similar.  University classrooms do not really help set the tone.
  • All rooms used for the conference should be in the same building.
  • Hackfest rooms should be ready to go from day 1.  There are people that want to start hacking immediately and we should have that set up and ready to go.
  • Two half hour breaks each day would be nice, that are outside lunch.
  • Professional video recording of every talk would be great.
  • Volunteers to coordinate the in and out of each room, starting and stopping sessions, introducing the speaker, and other such stuff would be good.
I liked Flock and am interested in going to the next one.  It has been a long time since a Fedora conference has left me excited about things going on in Fedora.  I think Flock accomplished that.