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The very first FrOSCon

I am sitting on the train, returning from the first FrOSCon, a conference close to Cologne, organised by a bunch of volunteers, mostly `students` of Department of Computer Science of the renowned Rhein-Main-Siegen Fachhochschule (which seemed to fully support the endeavour), as well as members of the Linux / Unix User Group Sankt Augustin. I gave a presentation on my doctoral research (slides available) and otherwise spent much time talking to people about topics ranging from issues in cooperation to strategical questions on Debian, and of course my well-known involvement with the Transnational Republic. It really does seem as if my little experiment in Mexico rippled a long way and made people more conscious of the meaning of key signings.

At first, I did not want to go to the conference and had even called in a week before to cancel my slot. I had signed up as a speaker in February, just as I was starting to get on top of my incapacitated wrists (and the severe muscular problems in my shoulders, which are at the root of it all) after several months of "downtime". However, I had my hopes up too high and found myself still unable to work for reasonable lengths of time following my trip to Souteast Asia, as well as before, during, and after the Debian conference in Mexico I attended. Consequently, the "first results" I had promised in the abstract didn't exist, and my only option was to give a talk along the same lines as the one I had given at FOSDEM earlier this year --and after three years of exposure to an academic field were people seemed to do nothing else than deliver the same talks over and over again, I wasn't too keen on boring my audience.

But the organisers convinced me, so I went out to buy a train ticket, and sat my butt down to make as much as I could out of what I had. In the end, I was very satisfied with the talk (for one, I did not experience a total loss of slides 10 minutes into it), which was delivered to an audience of primarily non-Debian people, and I got some valuable feedback from some of them, especially during a longer conversation with a guy from the OpenOffice.org quality assurance team. Have a look at the slides if you're interested.

I enjoyed myself at night at the social event, where my favourite wheat beer "Unertl" was served, and once again met up to my reputation of being among the last to go to sleep ()nd among the first to be up, as you shall see shortly) and found my place to sleep sometime between 3 and 4 in the morning, following very interesting discussion on some of the fundamental questions revolving around Debian, Ubuntu, as well as several other software projects.

"My place to sleep", by the way, was on my camping mattress outside the campus on a big meadow, which I preferred over a stuffy gym hall shared with several dozens of others. I greatly enjoyed my time under the stars until 7 in the morning, when the sun was already radiating unbearable heat (I was in a black sleeping bag), some beast had stung my finger and had caused it to swell up so much that I couldn't bend it anymore, when I remembered that I am suffering from hay fever, and two stray dogs decided that they liked me.

I made my way back to the campus, got lost on the way to the shower and hence could not get one for the gym hall had been closed by the time I arrived, didn't find any wheat beer for breakfast (remember, I am from Munich), and finally could not fall back asleep in the chill-out area, which was located on the top floor with windows in the ceiling and the sun right there on the other side causing happy sparks of enthalpy and a general sense of discomfort.

Discovering "Mate Ice Tea" (which is just what it sounds like), I quickly got high on caffeine and spent the rest of the day wired, running about because I couldn't stay put. At least I got to see plenty of people that way.

This was the first FrOSCon and I must say that I am very impressed by the organisation team. It was not difficult to conclude that they had spent a lot of time thinking and planing and researching and learning from other events. As participant, I had the impression that everything was working according to plan at all times, I never saw any of the crew members stressed out, and the service and little details really made one feel good, as participant and probably even more as speaker. We (the speakers) had our own catering room, as well as a work room attached to it, so we could always hide away from the masses and treat ourselves to a good selection of foods and drinks, and the work room was actually among the cooler (as in temperature) places to hang out, so that came in as a welcoming refreshment. Network coverage and uptime was flawless, the connection conveniently fast, and the atmosphere generally very pleasing.

I definitely hope there'll be another FrOSCon next year, and that I'll be able to attend.

Thank you to everyone who helped make this conference possible.