FUDCon Toronto – Barcamp Overview

Fudcon Tornoto was a blast – seriously, it reminded me why I miss lan parties (hey, I’m a gamer!). A bunch of hackers getting together and hacking for the LOVE of it was just awesome to witness and be a part of.

The festivities took place at York University @ Seneca in Toronto, Ontario Canada.

Day one was done barcamp style. There were about 150 people or so in attendance. Everyone who wanted to lead a panel suggested their panel and had 30 seconds to pitch it. They then took their panel pitch page outside to hang on the wall. After the pitching was done, everyone had the option to go out and vote for the panels they wanted to go to. The panels with the most votes were then put into a grid schedule on the wall as well as translated to a Wiki page (that was announced on the Fudcon IRC channel), so people could schedule the panels they wanted to go to and stay up to date with changes on the Wiki as they occurred.

There was apparently a record number of panels proposed at this Fudcon. Even so, it flowed VERY well and came together in about an hour.

All panel rooms had their own IRC channel (much like is done at SXSW – just a meebo chat instead of IRC there), and each panel had a transcriber in addition to the speakers that would transcribe the entire panel (as best they could) to the channel so that people who were there could talk in a backchannel and others could remote in from places all over the world to participate. Additionally, one to two panels an hour were audio streamed as well as audio recorded so that they could be posted online later.

There were 40 panels in all on Saturday, spread across 8 rooms and 5 hours.

The panels were a bit segregated in that there was a developer tract and a user tract. Though the design panels spread across the both of them, I felt they probably could have had their own tract, and thus made sure to attend at least one of those. In the end went to at least one panel of each of these three tracts to get a sense of who was there and what they were talking about.

My Panel
My panel was one of the last of the day in a room with about 20 to 25 people or so. At first I didn’t think I’d be able to talk an entire 45 minutes – but that really wasn’t an issue in the end. You can read the backchannel that was going on while I talked here, to get a sense of what it was like and the type of conversation that was going on. It was also audio streamed and video recorded. As soon as I get copies of those I’ll post them for you. I will also post about just my panel after I finish the overviews of each day!

Dave & Busters – FUDCon style:
That night we all went out to D&B, paid for my Fedora. We got to enjoy little burgers, chicken strips, snack trays, as well as tea, coke, water and a bit of pool on their dime. At one point I was pulled over into a conversation between to developers on the best way to package software that took into account not only streamlining processes, and procedures, but also ease of use for the user. Then I played pool a bit (and sucked horribly). I was never lacking conversation as many times people would come up to me and strike one before I even had a chance to strike one up myself. It was fun, I enjoyed the crowd. People came from all over the world including places like Germany, Belgium, Italy, and the Netherlands.

After D&B I was invited to participate in hackroom activities. In fact, they wanted me to participate in a specific project, that being creating a Design Spin of Fedora.
What is a Spin?
From their site: Fedora spins are alternate version of Fedora, tailored for various types of users via hand-picked application set or customizations.

This Design spin we created includes many tools required for designers and artists of all kinds to do their job using nothing but free/open source software. We came up with all the things in it by comparing what Mairin Duffy used in her Fedora environment versus what I use in my Macintosh (more traditional design based) environment. We found FLOSS equivalents for everything then had Sebastian Dziallas perform the technical part of creating the spin, while Mel Chua documented the entire process we went through in order to share it with others who are interested in doing the same thing.

As soon as this spin is made available I will be downloading it and trying it myself. It was rather interesting to see Mairin’s panel on Inkscape and realize she does exactly what I do in an open source program, where I use proprietary programs such as Omni Graffle or Visio to get the job done.

It was very nice that not only did they invite me to hangout in the Hackroom, but they also found something they wanted me to participate in.

I think we ended up getting to bed around 3am only to start it all over again at about 8am the next day!