Tag Archives: lca

Announcing the LCA2014 Open Programming Miniconf

Very pleased to say that I’ll, once again, be running an Open Programming Miniconf at Linux.conf.au in January. This time around, the conference will be at the University of Western Australia in Perth.

I’m especially pleased, because after initially being rejected by the conference team, with limited time to assemble a line-up, I’ve put together what I think is the best Programming miniconf lineup in the five years I’ve been running it.

One of the goals of the Open Programming Miniconf is to be a forum for developers to share their craft: ideas for improving the way people code, and topics that are of benefit to people who develop using many open source programming languages. This year, for the first time, I think we’ve filled that remit.

This year’s talks cover everything from low-level mobile programming and driver development, to deployment of web applications, as well as talks about packaging, deployment, and development tools.

We also don’t have a single state-of-the-language talk. Everything’s about topics that can be transferred to any number of languages.

I’m excited! If you’re interested in the miniconf, check out our schedule and all of our abstracts at the conference wiki. See you in Perth!

Announcing the LCA2013 Open Programming Miniconf!

TL;DR — submit a proposal at http://tinyurl.com/opm2013-cfp before the first round closes on Monday 29 October 2012.

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I’m pleased to announce that The Open Programming Miniconf — a fixture for application developers attending Linux.conf.au since 2010 — is returning as part of Linux.conf.au 2013, to be held in January at the Australian National University in Canberra. The Miniconf is an opportunity for presenters of all experience levels to share their experiences in in application development using free and open source development tools.

The 2013 Open Programming Miniconf invites proposals for 25-minute presentations on topics relating to the development of excellent Free and Open Source Software applications. In particular, the Miniconf invites presentations that focus on sharing techniques, best practices and values which are applicable to developers of all Open Source programming languages.

In the past, topics have included:

  • Recent developments in Open Source programming languages (“State of the language”-type talks)
  • Tools that support application development
  • Coding applications with cool new libraries, languages, and frameworks
  • Demonstrating the use of novel programming

If you want an idea of what sort of presentations we have included in the past, take a look at our past programmes:

To submit a proposal, visit http://tinyurl.com/opm2013-cfp and fill out the form as required. The CFP will remain open indefinitely, but the first round of acceptances will not be sent until Monday 29 October 2012.

OPM2013 is part of Linux.conf.au 2013, being held at the Australian National University, Canberra in January 2013. Further enquiries can be directed to Christopher Neugebauer via e-mail ( chris@neugebauer.id.au ) or via twitter ( @chrisjrn ).

More pontification on alcohol at conferences

This post started off as a reply to a comment (by “Alan”) on my previous post on this topic, but it got a bit long-winded, and raised a few clarifications of my own viewpoints on this matter. So it’s turned into a post of its own.

So, before I start this, nothing against the organisers or team surrounding OSCON. I loved my experience speaking, and attending the main conference event, and I’m coming back to OSCON to speak again this year. The reason why I pick on it is because it’s the one large American conference that I’ve been to, and it provides a nice contrast to the grassroots-style conferences that I’ve been involved with back home. It also exhibits some very specific examples of fostering that “culture of exclusion” that could be fixed with a few minor policy changes.

So, without further ado, here’s me addressing the points in Alan’s comment.

Could it be that this and the “brogrammer” culture is a problem that is more present at JSConf and Ruby conferences than Python?

I certainly agree that this culture does peak around various types of communities — for instance, Ryan’s post on the “Culture of Exclusion” speaks very specifically of JSConf and various Ruby groups, and in my own experience this sort of culture doesn’t seem to be prevalent at PyCons. However, to say that it’s attached to a small subset of communities is probably quite unfair — OSCON is very much a multi-community conference, but there’s still quite the drinking culture attached to it. Likewise, it seems to me that the Ruby community in Australia isn’t quite as drinking-centric as the examples that Ryan put forward.

You don’t hear anything about sexist COBOL programmers or late night binging at Java conferences from what I can tell. Even PHP seems to have grown up.

I think the likelihood of these sorts of things to occur really does depend on the level of “community” that is attached to a given language or technology. As an example here, people doing Java coding are almost certainly doing so because they work for in a corporate environment. Ruby and JS people are doing so because they work in a “startup” environment, or they’re doing it for fun. The companies that form the founding groups around a conference will often bring their culture along with them. It’s interesting to consider why this doesn’t happen so much at Python conferences. I don’t have any particular answers here — indeed, it’s quite the paradox, because I’d have considered Python to be more of a “startup” type language, and one would assume that would bring the “startup” culture into it. Perhaps it speaks of the values of those who started gatherings for Python coders?

Are these excesses a problem at conferences in general? Is this an American thing? Or even a Ruby/JS thing?

Is it a problem with conferences or communities, or is it a much more widespread cultural issue (as in e.g. American youth culture) that has just become more visible for us recently?

Excess is something that needs to be managed — it’s very easy for a conference organiser to say “yes, you can provide an open bar at this event” to a sponsor, and sponsors get quite an amount of good will from it (free alcohol doesn’t upset people, non-drinkers won’t speak up). It’s also pretty clear to me that if an open bar is offered, there’ll be a group of people who will take it up, regardless of the community that centres around the conference.

So the conferences that suffer from this sort of problem are the ones which either don’t have a policy of limitation of alcohol sponsorship, or those that actively encourage a culture of drinking (the sort of things that Ryan Funduk talks about in his article). I doubt there’d be open bars at any conference if there weren’t sponsors who were willing to fund them.

The onus is therefore on conference organisers to make sure that they don’t encourage binge drinking. In particular, this involves limiting the amount of alcohol sponsorship a conference is willing to accept — we at PyCon Australia are doing this by only providing tokens for drinks at our alcohol sponsored events (with the exception of at the dinner, where the open bar is time-limited, and comes with food and other entertainment).

What distinguishes conferences and communities that have this problem from those that do not?

Conferences can send out a message about this culture: For example, offering OSCON offers free attendance to the drinking events, but not to the main content of the conference; this can be compared with Linux.conf.au, where you have to pay extra to attend the drinking session. The contrasts between these arrangements provide quite the subtext between the values of the two conferences — intentional or not. In my view, OSCON providing such a ticket says that the “base level” experience of the conference is one where you go to all the parties, and the talks and tutorials are the “added extras”. For LCA, it’s the other way around.

So in summary, there are plenty of factors that surround the discussion of alcohol at conferences. I think it’s an important discussion to have, not least because it presents as a diversity argument in very much the same way as the gender diversity argument has presented itself over the last few years — conferences should always be looking at the messages they send out about the communities they wish to foster, and ensuring that they’re inclusive towards everyone in that culture.

Do Australian tech conferences suffer from “A Culture of Exclusion”? How do we avoid it?

I spotted this interesting article by Ryan Funduk, on the culture of exclusion generated by piss-up parties at tech conferences — primarily at conferences in America, but the issue is certainly prevalent in other places.

I attended OSCON last year, and whilst OSCON is clearly not as bad as the type of events that have been highlighted in this writeup, there were still plenty of events that were promoted by the conference and their sponsors, but clearly served only as an opportunity to booze up some delegates. In fact, there was at least one such party advertised in the conference schedule each night — peaking on the Wednesday where there were three such conference parties advertised on the conference schedule, cleverly paced for two hours so that delegates could move on to each of the parties as the previous one wound up.

I personally feel as though these sorts of events have no place being actively promoted by the conference schedule. There are several good reasons for this that are all detailed in the parent article, but they all boil down to the fact that not everyone drinks. Parties where the key attraction is drinking only attracts those who drink. By advertising such events as part of the programme, they create cliques within the conference community that aren’t defined by the community that the conference serves to support.

Worse still is when such events are not run with alternatives available, because this strongly promotes the subtext that drinking is the only way to socialise at the conference. So a delegate who doesn’t drink will not fit in to any part of the conference, because there is no well-established way for non-drinkers to find each other.

As an active participant in tech conferences in Australia, it’s important to reflect on criticisms of such conferences in other countries, as well as here, to make sure that we’re providing a culture that actively encourages any delegate who chooses to attend — regardless of age, gender or lifestyle choice.

In the case of conferences run in Australia, I don’t believe that the issues of Alcohol-driven events are near as much of a problem as they are in America.

At Linux.conf.au, since the demise of the Google Party (an event very much brought over by American employees of Google), I don’t think I’ve seen a single event associated with the conference where drinking was the sole purpose of the event. One exception of this is the Professional Delegates Networking Session, however, I have always seeked to run a non-alcohol driven alternative against it. As a non-drinker for most of the LCAs I’ve been to, I don’t think I’ve lost out by not participating in the drinking.

At PyCon Australia, we’ve been careful to not offer up any events with an open tab — companies who want to sponsor alcohol have to do so in a way that ensures that the amounts provided are limited, and any foray into dangerous territory comes at the expense of the delegates. There is no conference event planned without a defined activity, and in every case, the presence of a bar at the event is clearly a distant second in terms of priorities for the organisers.

One of the great successes over the past few years in Australia has been ensuring that toxic cultures within the tech community aren’t tolerated. I think it’s imporant that we look at everything we do with a critical eye. I’m sure that our record on avoiding the fostering of an alcohol culture at our events isn’t spotless, and it’s one that we should look over with as critical an eye as we use to look over issues of gender or sexuality.

It’s definitely my intention to do this as I continue to put together PyCon — constantly looking at what we can do as Australian-based conference organisers do to ensure that the culture of alcohol doesn’t take over from the culture of the technology that we’re gathering for?

Update: I’ve written a further post on this topic. Do try it.

LCA2012: “Android is Not vi – User Experience for Geeks”

Paris Buttfield-Addison and I co-presented a talk at Linux.conf.au in Ballarat recently. The topic was on designing mobile apps that don’t suck on Android. The talk was pretty well received, the audience attentive and engaged (as evidenced by the fact that they heckled), and it was probably one of the better talks that Paris and I have co-presented.

The video of the talk is available as an ogv movie file, alternatively, the YouTube version is embedded below.

Linux.conf.au 2012 Open Programming Miniconf — Call for proposals now open

TL;DR — submit a proposal at http://tinyurl.com/opm2012-proposal
before the first round closes on Friday 7 October.

I’m pleased to announce that The Open Programming Miniconf, a fixture for application developers attending Linux.conf.au since 2010 is returning as part of Linux.conf.au 2012, to be held in January at the University of Ballarat. The miniconf has been an opportunity for presenters of all experience levels to share their experiences in in application development using free and open source development tools.

The Open Programming Miniconf for 2012 invites 25-minute presentations on topics relating to the development of excellent Free and Open Source Software applications. In particular, the Miniconf invites presentations that focus on sharing techniques, best practices and values which are applicable to developers of all Open Source programming languages.

In the past, topics have included:

  • Recent developments in Open Source programming languages (“State of the language”-type talks)
  • Tools which support application development
  • Coding applications with cool new libraries, languages and frameworks
  • Demonstrating the use of novel programming techniques

Past programmes can be found at http://lca2011.linux.org.au/programme/schedule/monday and http://www.lca2010.org.nz/wiki/Miniconfs/Open_Programming_Languages

To submit a proposal, visit http://tinyurl.com/opm2012-proposal and fill out the form as required. The CFP will remain open indefinitely, but the first round of acceptances will not be sent until Friday 7 October 2011.

OPM2012 is part of Linux.conf.au 2012, being held at the University of Ballarat on Monday, 16 January 2012. Further enquiries can be directed to Christopher Neugebauer via e-mail ( chris+opm2012@neugebauer.id.au ) or via twitter (@chrisjrn).

LCA2011 Starts Here!

Oh hey, I appear to be in Brisbane!

Linux.conf.au 2011 starts tomorrow, which means that today is the fun day of hanging around at the conference accommodation and watching the comings and goings of LCA people, and registering for the conference. Registration opens from 16:00 at the QUT Kelvin Grove Campus*, I personally intend to get to the venue sometime around 17:00.

As I understand, Rusty Russell’s usual newbies’ session is being held today, and that’s on at 18:30, also at QUT Kelvin Grove. If you’ve not been to LCA, this session comes highly recommended — I should know, I’ve been to all of them! (wait, what?) The session helps explain what LCA is all about to people who haven’t been, contains important advice about what sessions to show up to, and how to read the schedule.

Well, that’s it for me. Maybe another update later today?

–Chris

*Kelvin Grove being the QUT campus where the conference was originally scheduled NOT to be at. The conference organisers have done an awesome job at making sure that the event is going ahead at a new venue, especially given the conditions in Brisbane of late. Kudos etc!

Linux.conf.au 2011 Miniconf Timetables etc.

I’m pleased to announce that the two miniconfs that I am involved with at Linux.conf.au 2011, the Open Programming Miniconf and the FOSS in Research & Student Innovation Miniconf have published their draft schedules:

Unfortunately, you’ll also notice that both Miniconfs lack a complete schedule at this point in time. If you have a talk that would be of interest to either miniconf, we’d love it if you could submit a proposal as soon as possible so that we can publish our completed schedules! The CFPs for each miniconf are available from:

I look forward to seeing you at either of these miniconfs, presenting or otherwise!