Me Tube

Soon after the posting of #95 back in March that was followed by the modicum of attention reported in #96, I had another brief brush with non-obscurity.

I attended LinuxWorld Boston in early April of this year. LinuxWorld (LW) is one of the major Linux / Open Source trade shows. I was at the first one back in March 1999. This was the most memorable in that I was there as part of the IBM booth to talk about the Jikes Project. It was challenging in that I manned my part of the booth with no backup and so spent 22 hours on the floor over the course of three days. The most rewarding part was the occasional chance to chat with someone who was actually using Jikes.

Another memorable LW was in New York in February 2003. This was just as I was about to begin my current job at IBM helping to manage various open source activities, and by chance it happened that I met several other members of the team who all happened to be at LW. Indeed, some of them had never met each other personally before.

LW is a mix of keynote speeches by well-known speakers from industry and the open source community and an “exposition” consisting mainly of booths from companies such as Red Hat, Novell, IBM, Oracle, and so forth.

My favorite part of the exposition is something known as the “dot org” section. This is where you find the folks from the open source community, groups such as the Free Software Foundation, Gentoo, NetBSD (and other BSD’s), Slashdot, and so forth. This section can usually be found in the back of the hall, the part much less spiffy than the entry part with the major vendor presentations.

But the amateurish atmosphere is more than balanced by the folks you meet there. For example, while visiting the booth of one of the New York user groups a couple of years back, I got to talking with another visitor, only to learn he was Klaus Knopper, the creator of Knoppix, the prototype Linux LiveCD effort. At another LW I met Daniel Robbins, creator of Gentoo; this was personally interesting in that at the time he was living in Albuquerque, New Mexico, which happens to be my home town. (He later left for a brief sojurn at Microsoft and has since returned to live and work in ABQ.)

(One can trace the history of Linux and Open Source in part by the size of the “dot org” crowd. In the early days it was a substantial presence. As Linux has gained widespread use and corporate use you will find more “suits”, and less “dot org” folks. Though the “dot org” presence is shrinking it’s still the place to have the most fun and meet the most interesting people.)

If you dig back into my prior posts you will see I have a special fondness for Slashdot, so while in Boston I was pleased to see Slashdot had its own booth in the backwaters of the hall. I introduced myself to some of the folks there and soon found my self talking to Robin “Roblimo” Miller himself.
Roblimo has been writing about Linux and Open Source for a long time. He’s one of my favorite writers in that I’ve always enjoyed his articles. They are very pragmatic and down to earth. Also, as I explained to him, I was aware his nickname “roblimo” is based on his background running a limousine service, and I have had a similar experience in my dual role of “hacker Dave.” I have spent most of my career as a programmer, along the way acquiring the Ph.D. that was the key credential that helped me secure a job at IBM Research as a research programmer. That is “hacker dave” the programmer. But I was once “hacker Dave” the New York taxi driver. I drove a taxi part time in the months before my PhD orals since I realized I could not learn the necessary amount of mathematics and computer science needed to pass that exam while also continuing to program; programing would be too convenient an excuse not to study.

Soon after I started chatting with Rob, in part about my experiences with Slashdot back in 1998, he picked up a video camera, pointed it at me, and asked if I would please describe some of those experiences.

The result can be found at Glimpses of LinuxWorld . (There is also a brief cameo appearance by Bruce Perens, my “license consultant” from the Jikes days.)

The article also contains the video he shot. If you bother to view it you will find me staring off into space from time to time. This was because I knew both that I was describing events involving IBM and that IBM has strict rules about talking to the press, and here I was not not only being interviewed but was being recorded so there could be no question about just what I had said. In any event I threw caution into the winds and went ahead.

After the article was posted I decided to run a simple experiment. While I told a few family members about it so they could take a look I consciously decided not to mention it to anyone else, as I was curious to see if anyone would notice it, perhaps even send me a note about it.

Those who have read the prior post can guess the result: nothing, not a mention, not a whiff of notice.

2 Trackbacks

  1. […] 4. LinuxWorld (LW)was for many years the main Linux-related conference, the nicest part being the “open-source pavilion” where all the techies would hang around. For example, I first met Daniel Robbins, creator of the Gentoo Linux distribution, and Klaus Knopper, creator of Knoppix, at LW’s in New York. LW is now mainly for the folks in suits and you see fewer open-source folks, though you can a video interview of me and some of them taped in the open-source pavilion at the LW in Boston in April, 2006; see Me Tube. […]

  2. […] Hi Rob! In case you’ve forgotten those long ago days, take a look at Happy Birthday Slashdot!, and especially Me Tube. […]

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