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Re: DebConf 2 post-mortem

On Tue, Jul 09, 2002 at 08:32:02PM -0500, Chris Lawrence wrote:
> - We needed official, sanctioned Internet access in the conference
> facilities.  Patching together a WLAN with PCMCIA cards in ad-hoc mode
> and hoping it works is not an acceptable procedure, particularly since
> apparently the WLAN couldn't even cover the entire auditorium (by
> contrast, a $120 WAP should have covered the building).
> - Corrollary: we needed official, sanctioned Internet access in the
> housing area.  Less that the organizers could do about this, but still...

While I'm sure Joe heard a lot of complaints about this early on in the
conference (some probably weren't entirely serious), and it would have
been nice to know what was going on in advance, I think it actually
worked out pretty well. I checked my mail once or twice a day, which was
really all I needed to keep things from piling up too much, and if I'd
been desperate there was always the cybercafé in York Lanes which cost a
trivial sum of money to use. I got much more enjoyment out of wandering
around chatting to people, going with groups to the pub, and so on than
I would have done had I been glued to a screen.

> - Housing in general was less than satisfactory.  I realize this is a
> dorm, and the price was right (particularly after multiplying by 2/3),
> but I found the conditions to be bordering on squalid.

Hmm. You must have been in significantly different accommodation to me;
I found the dorm I was in quite pleasant.

> - Some sort of organized lunch would have been nice on Sat and Sun,
> even if it was only "ordering 20-25 pizzas from Domino's,"
> particularly since the only feasible alternatives were on-campus
> ripoff dining facilities.

They were pretty cheap compared to where I live, although that may not
be saying much!

> - Would it be more practical to hitch DebConf to other developer
> events?  For example, should we organize a "Debian track" at OLS
> (since the "main conference" seems to be moving to a "kernel track"
> type of situation)?
> OTOH, having a separate conference seems like a nice thing,
> particularly if we can continue to have university and corporate
> sponsors who keep the participant cost low.  Also, hitching to one or
> two conferences may leave out people in other parts of the world, or
> leave us in a bind if a conference folds (for example, suppose we had
> decided to attach to Atlanta Linux Showcase, which now seems to be
> permanently dead after becoming Just A Trade Show and getting caught
> in the dot-bomb).

I went to DebConf 1 last year, which was hitched to the Libre Software
Meeting. I actually think this year's felt better off in terms of
atmosphere for being a standalone event. Of course, I don't usually have
time to go to the accompanying conference as well as the Debian one.

> - Should we establish a DebConf committee/mailing list that is
> responsible for figuring this stuff out?  At the moment, DebConf seems
> to be organized in a rather ad-hoc manner.  debian-events-* doesn't
> seem like the right forum (particularly since DebConf isn't the same
> as "let's set up a booth at Bob's Linux Fair").

It also means that the experience has to switch between
debian-events-eu, debian-events-na, and what have you. I agree that a
debian-conference list might well be a good idea.

I thoroughly enjoyed this year's event. The talks were all
well-delivered and spanned a wide range of topics, and although time
management certainly wasn't strictly to the clock I think the relaxed
and somewhat freewheeling discussion on several occasions was quite
productive. The commercial use / installers discussion on the opening
day and the debconf talk were particularly good examples of this.

Colin Watson                                  [cjwatson@flatline.org.uk]

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