J On The Beach: a great event

I have been at many software events and have helped or have been part of the organization in a few of them. Based on that experience and the fact that I have participated in the last two editions, let me tell you that J On The Beach is a great event.

The main factors that leads me to such a conclusion are:

  • It is all about contents. I have seen many events that, over time, loose the focus on the quality of the contents. It is a hard focus to keep, specially as you grow. @JOTB19 had great content: well delivered talks and workshops, performed by bright people with something to say which was relevant to the audience.
    • I think the event has not reached its limit yet, specially when it comes to workshops.img5
    • Designing the content structure to target the right audience is as important as bringing speakers with great things to say. As any event matures, tough decisions will need to be taken in order to find its own space and identity among outstanding competitors.
      • When it comes to themes, will J On The Beach keep targeting several topics, or will it narrow them to one or two? Will they always be the same or will they rotate?
      • When it comes to size, will it grow or will it remain in the current numbers? Will the price increase or will be kept in the current range?
      • When it comes to contents, will the event focus more energy and time allocation on the “hands on” learning sessions or will workshops be kept as relevant compared to the talks, as they are today?  Will the talks length be reduced? Will we see lightning talks?
  • J On The Beach was well organised. A good organization is not the one that does not run into any trouble but the one that handles them smoothly so there is little or no perceived impact. This event has a diligent team behind it, based on the little/no impact I perceived.
  • Support from local companies. As Málaga matures as software hub, more and more companies arrive to this area expecting to grow in size, so the need to attract local talent grows in parallel.
    • Some of these foreign companies understand how important it is to show up in local events to be known by as many local developers as possible. J On The Beach has captured the attention of several of these companies.
    • The organizers have understood this reality and support them to use the event to openly  recruit people. This symbiotic relation is a very productive one from what I have witnessed.
    • It is a hard relation to sustain though, specially if the event does not grow is size, so probably in the future the current relation will need to add additional common interests to remain productive for both sides.
  • Global by default. Most events in Spain have traditionally been designed for Spaniards first, turning into more global events as they grow. J On The Beach is global by default, by design, since day 1. It is harder to succeed that way, but beyond the activation point it turns out to be easier to become sustainable. The organizers took the risk and have reached that point already, which provides the event a bright future in my opinion.
    • The fact that the event is able to attract developers from many countries, specially from eastern European ones, makes J On The Beach very attractive to foreign companies already located in Málaga, from the recruitment perspective. Málaga is a great place not just to work in English but also to live in English. There are well established communities from many different countries in the metropolitan area, due to how strong the touristic industry is here. These factors, together with others like logistics, affordable living costs, good public health care system, sunny weather, availability of international and multilingual schools, etc., reduce the adaptation effort when relocating,  specially for developer’s families. J On The Beach brings tasty fishes to the pond.

Let me name a couple of points that can make the event even better:

  • img10It is very hard to find a venue that fits any event during its consolidation phase and evolves with it. This edition’s venue represents a significant improvement compared to last year edition. There is room for improvement though.
    • It would be ideal to find a place in Málaga itself, closer to where the companies are located and places to hang out after the event, which at the same time, keep the good things the current venue/location provides, which are plenty.
    • Finding the right venue is tough. There are decision-making factors that participants do not usually see but are essential like costs, how supportive the venue staff and owners are, accommodation availability in the surrounding area, availability on the selected dates, etc. It is one of the most difficult points to get right, in my experience.                       img1
  • Great events deserve great keynote speakers. They are hard to get but often reflects the difference between great and must-attend events.
    • Great keynote speakers does not necessarily mean popular ones. I see already celebrities in bigger and more expensive events. I would love to see in Málaga old time computer science cowboys.  I mean those first class engineers who did something relevant some time ago and have witnessed the evolution of our industry and their own inventions. They are able to bring a perspective that very few can provide, extremely valuable in these fast pace changing times. Those gems are harder to see at big/popular events and might be a good target for a smaller, high quality event. I think that it would be a great sign of success if such a kind of professionals come to talk at J On The Beach.

I am very glad there is such a great event close to where I live. J On The Beach is not just worth for local developers but also for those abroad. I attend to several events in other countries every year with more name but less value than J On The Beach. It will definitely be on my 2020 agenda. Thanks to every person involved in making it possible.

Pictures taken from the J On The Beach website.

Closing doors: Codethink.

April 26th was my last day at Codethink Ltd. It has been over three years and a half working for this Manchester based company as consultant. I have got the opportunity to learn a lot working for a variety of customers and Open Source organizations together with bright professionals.

Codethink is an organization that cares about people: customers and employees. That is not as common as it might seem in software engineering service companies. Codethink does good software engineering too; sometimes under tough conditions. It is not always easy to work for customers with tight deadlines, solving complex problems with high impact in their businesses. I am proud of having worked for such organization.

Thanks Paul Sherwood and the rest of Codethings for the given opportunity and your respect during this time.

Since the day I decided to turn my little IT training company into an Open Source Software one, back in 2003, I have worked in/for organizations that understood and supported Open Source. I could even work full time in the open in several occasions, either contributing to or being upstream. Codethink was no exception in this regard.

After +15 years working in Open Source organizations, it has come the time for me to move away from the comfort zone and try something different for some time. But that will be a matter of the coming post, in a few weeks.

Scale Summit, FOSS North and some routine changes.

Changing routines to stay productive

As a remote worker, you need to find ways to keep productivity levels high. No matter how exciting your work is, there are times in which you struggle with keeping up the pace. Looking back at my performance during the last couple of weeks of January and first few days of February, I discovered that I was getting into a productivity valley, which never happened to me after coming back from a couple of weeks vacation. I decided to do something about it before the issue had any impact in my overall performance.

  • I have a little place back in my home island, La Palma, Canary Islands, Spain, where I can work comfortably. So when I feel I am not being very productive at home, I move there for a couple of weeks. It does work well for me. I decided though to try something different this time.
  • I go to the office in Manchester, UK several times a year. Those weeks there are intense and change whatever dynamic I am in. I spent there a few days early in February already but I decided to go back again the last week of March.
  • Once in a while, specially on Fridays, I go to coworking spaces in Málaga, specially when I am at home over three weeks in a row. This past month of March I decided to join The Living Room coworking space, in Málaga. My idea is to work there once or twice a week the coming three months. So far the experience is positive.
  • The first week of March, after the Embedded World 2019 and the CIP Technical Steering Committee face to face meeting in Nürnberg, I went to Prague for a week. I rented an apartment there and a hot desk at Impact Hub coworking space. The trip gave me the opportunity to break the routine while enjoying some of the many activities that the city offers. The classical music, opera, jazz and blues scene in Prague is rich. There are plenty of theaters and clubs to go to every night. Live music is one of my passions and Prague is perfect for it.

Impact Hub Prague is a big and busy coworking space with great facilities. It is maybe too crowded for people that have concentration difficulties or many video chats, but very good for entrepreneurs and freelancers. Those who have a fixed desk there work in more quiet areas. People were very friendly and I could have a productive week.

I am in the process of slightly changing some well established routines like starting a little earlier, reducing the lunch time and trying to finish a little earlier when working from home. I might also increase the amount of time I am working standing up.

It seems that all these measures are working so far although I will need a few more weeks to confirm this impression.

Scale Summit 2019

On Friday 29th March I attended to Scale Summit 2019 in London, UK, an unconference that works under Chatham House rules bringing together “professionals from the operations and software development communities who have a particular interest in scalable, high performance systems “.

It is a fantastic event. One of the best ones I’ve been to. This is the second time I have attended and will not be the last one. The quality of the discussions is very high and people go there to learn instead of to shine, sharing experiences and asking questions.

FOSS North 2019

I was invited by the FOSS North organizers to give a talk on Tuesday 9th April. This is a 2 days, 260 participants and two tracks event, that takes place in Gothenburg, Sweden. This was the fourth edition and the next one, at the same venue, will take place on March 30th and 31st 2020.

It was my first participation at this event and my first time in Gothenburg. FOSS North is well organized, vibrant, it takes place in good facilities, there were great speakers (Adrian DeGroot, Chris Simmonds, Mirko Boehm, Molly de Blanc, Michael Kerrisk, Chris Lamb, etc), some interesting talks, the food was great… and I liked Gothenburg. There will be videos available from every session. The speakers dinner was fun and interesting, which is not always the case.

Thanks Johan for the invitation and thanks Codethink Ltd for sponsoring my trip there.

I would recommend you to watch Mirko Boehm’s keynote “Open Source, Standards Development and Patents in Europe“. I found specially interesting the view of Open Source projects from the standardization bodies point of view he provided. It is always good to receive criticism with somebody else’s eyes. Specially controversial was the point referred to meritocracy.

I heard for the very first time about Property-based testing, which is an alternative approach to Example Based Testing (like Unit Testing). I believe it is kind of a structured way of doing Fuzz Testing. I will read more about this topic because I liked it. I initially find it specially useful for regulated environments (Contract Driven Development).

I got a good amount of feedback about my talk, which had a couple of controversial slides for some. I will deliver this talk again (in Spanish), this coming month of May at OpenSouthCode. Some of the comments will help me to improve the talk, which is always a good thing. I will link the video to the Conference section of this site as soon as it is available. Meanwhile I have published the slides already.

As part of the Community Day, on Sunday 7th, I attended to the KDE workshop driven by Adrian DeGroot. I took with me my RPi3 and RPi screen with Plasma Mobile and my 10″ Lenovo tablet with openSUSE Tumbleweed and Plasma. Adrian took his 7″ device, also with Plasma so the room looked like an embedded oriented workshop.

There were several other activities from different communities in different locations across Gothenburg that same Sunday. Several companies and non-profit organizations hosted these workshops. This warming up activity was considered a success so it will take place again in the 2020 edition. There were a few booths from sponsors at the event. Most of the companies present were recruiting.

If you are in Scandinavia, think about attending to this event next year. It is a good one.

In May I will attend to OpenSouthCode and J On The Beach, both in Málaga area. See you there!

FOSDEM 2019 and CHAOSS EU 2019 report

FOSDEM is over and it is time to recap.

Last year I decided to take a break and did not attend to the event. This year I was really looking forward to attend.

I will start by thanking Codethink Ltd for sponsoring my trip. It is always a pleasure to work in a company that supports their employees in attending to Open Source community events. Codethink sponsored FOSDEM once again by the way.

It has not been the easiest edition for me because I have been sick the past days and was not fully recovered. The cold weather didn’t help so I decided to stay away from late nights and Trappist beers. It was hard to go to bed at a decent time every night and miss some night gatherings like the KDE and GNOME ones or the FOSDEM party on Friday at Delirium Cafe.

On February 1st I attended to the CHAOSScon EU conference. I liked it. It was well organised and I could have several interesting conversations about what to measure and why when it comes to Open Source communities. I attended to most of the talks and I participated in one of the workshops. I think I can add some value in the GMD working group. Let’s see if I have the time to contribute. It would be fun.

I would like to highlight the prominent role that Bitergia, a Spanish company, plays in the CHAOSS project, a Linux Foundation Initiative. Despite being a small organization, they are in the front line when it comes to software analytics, specially in the Open Source space. Well done Bitergians!

As you probably know, I am putting some effort, together with some KDE developers, in calling the attention within the KDE community about the immense opportunity this project has in embedded, now that Plasma Mobile and Kirigami are a reality. KDE project is making an efforts also to show devices with this new shell at events, so professionals and corporations can identify the value that the KDE as community can add in ecosystems like the (open) automotive ones.

ELCE 2018 was the first event were we showed the outcome of our efforts in embedded ()in mobile we have for some time now). FOSDEM has been the second one. There will be more during this 2019.

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Plasma Mobile + Yocto in a RPi3 and Risc-V boards at the KDE booth. FOSDEM 2019

It was a pleasant surprise to see several boards and devices at the KDE booth, my RPi3 and a Risc-V board among them, both with Yocto and Plasma Mobile. I think attendees were both, surprised and happy to see KDE showing new and attractive stuff.

krita demo
Wolthera sketching live. Krita demo. FOSDEM 2019

Krita had a strong presence at the booth and the last day there was a KDEnlive demo, among other activities. A Pinebook, a Slimbook and an ARM based

Rockchip board completed the show. I think the booth worked extremely well. Some of the messages published in social media reflected it.

Special thanks to every KDE contributors that made the booth possible. I was really proud to be part of such an amazing group of people.

I attended to the automotive/embedded dinner on Saturday night. There is a group of people interested in reviving the Embedded devroom at FOSDEM 2020. The dinner’s main goal was to find out how many people wanted to help and coordinate them. Mission accomplished! Thanks Jan-Simon and Leon Avani for organising it.

On Sunday night I attended to the OpenChain informal dinner. Thanks Shane for organising it. I had a really good time. Lawyers are very cool people. There were several interesting conversations there about the FLA, which is not well known yet among the legal and developer communities despite being around for several years.

I tried to attend to three talks during FOSDEM. I couldn´t even get close to the door in any of them because, not just were the rooms packed, but there was a long queue of people waiting to get in. I got a little frustrated and decided to stop trying. Videos will come to the rescue.

On the bright side, the organisers opened an additional cafeteria this year. I usually take some sandwiches and water with me to the the venue so I can skip the long lines to get something to eat. On Sunday I didn’t and it worked out well. I guess that the days when it was impossible to get a sandwich are over. Yay!

As usual I could talk with lots of people which is the part I like the most about this event. I could also chat with some of the many Codethings (colleagues from Codethink) that attended to the event. I also take with me new contacts and plenty of new technologies and project to evaluate.

In general it has been a very good event. I will spend a week in Manchester after FOSDEM and then go back home. My next stop will be Embedded World, in Nuremberg, GE at the end of the month.

Thanks to the FOSDEM organisers and volunteers for your effort and dedication.

FOSDEM rocks!

New meetup group in La Palma, Canary Islands, Spain

One of the reasons I joined Codethink was that I could work from my home island, La Palma, Canary Islands, Spain. Sadly, a few month after joining, I came to the conclusion that me travel agenda was not compatible with living in one of the smallest islands. There were no good enough internet either back then. I had to choose between moving to one of the most populated islands (Tenerife or Gran Canaria) or move to another place. I ended up choosing Málaga, in the mainland of Spain, where I lived some years back already.

I still visit the island in summer and Christmas though, when my job activity is lower and work remotely from there. Last year the optic fiber finally arrived to my place since coversage is slowly increasing. There is no coworking spaces yet but the digital nomad movement is so hot in other islands that it is just a matter of time that it develops here too. This island has so much to offer…

But there is some homework to be done. The first one to create a community of people pasionate about technology, formed by those who lives here and those who visit the island regularly or ocassionally. From there, it might be possible to attract new visitors.

So after some thoughts and conversations with friends, I decided to try out a Mettup group in La Palma. There are no active ones. This new group is called:

San Miguel de La Palma tech lovers

La Palma is a popular name and many mistake it with Las Palmas, the biggest city and capital of Gran Canaria, so I used the full official name of my home islnad island, San Miguel de La Palma, to (hopefully) avoid misunderstandings.

I do not have previous experience organising Meetup groups but I am not new to organising tech events so I hope I can do well enough to kick-off a group, where others can feel welcome and take the lead in organising activities and even managing the group.

This island have a numerous German and nothern europpean community that live here during part of the year so it is my intention to organise the group as a multilanguage one, which makes things harder at the beginning. When it comes to topics, the scope of the group needs to be wide at the beginning since the potential target is small in number and disperse in interests. Time will tell if we can focus on two or three topics like remote work, Open Source, programming, etc.

I would like to complement talks and workshops with other activities like hiking or mountain biking which are extremely popular in the island.

So this is just the initial step in a journey I will enjoy. Feel free to join the meetup group. Hopefully we will announce the first activity in the coming weeks.