Updated: October 7, 2016
Hello everyone. The reason why you see me report so early on my participation at LinuxCon Europe this year is because I have not been able to attend the full three days of conference. Alas, unfavorable circumstances forced me to fly in just for my session, deliver a quick if neat little presentation, and then fly back. The shortest country visit ever.
But let us not lament! Let us enjoy ourselves. To wit, please take a moment or three to read and reflect on my experience at the European version of the arguably most important open-source event of the year, which took place in Berlin, Germany. Alles klar after me, kommissar.
Take my breath away
You can't not love Germany. The moment you put your feet down on the proverbial tarmac, you start having fun. The driving is just otherworldly, sharp, efficient and intuitive. Just as we likes them. Hint: A supercar review on autobahns coming soon!
As I only had about four hours at my disposal in between arrival and departure, the only picture I have of the cityscape scenery is this forlorn little snapshot with a phone camera from inside an old Mercedes taxi smelling too much of fake wood and cigarettes, driven by a prototype fella that put a few creases of nostalgia on my face. Chiseled in 1975 and kept the same ever since.
The venue for LinuxCon was Hotel InterContinental Berlin, a smart-looking piece of architecture. I even recreated the same photo they have on their own brochure, because I am a fashionable git. The organization is good, the food is solid, but not quite as artsy and precise as LinuxCon 2014, which took place in Dusseldorf. It also felt somewhat less busy, also compared to my last-year Linux trip to Dublin. But there was still that vibrant, good, familiar atmosphere, and of course free souvenirs from two dozen sponsors booths.
My session was the last of the day, and it was most aptly titled: Application Profiling and Tuning, or How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the Tweak. Dr. Strangelove reference, boom. Winning.
Winning indeed. The sexy title and my charm (arguable) had me standing in front of about 150 people, slightly over the booked capacity, pleading for help to find IT guys so I could actually hook my HDMI-only laptop and deliver. Or rather, stand and deliver. Get the joke. It's subtle and good. Funny though, the venue asked for 16:9 slides, which is sort of modern, but then finding non-VGA connectors was more of a problem.
We had that sorted, and then I talked about the scientific method and industrial methodologies, the likes of statistical engineering, design of experiment, pairwise comparison, component search, and others, followed by some complex, layered examples on slow and gimping applications. We topped it all off with Perf, and the audience were actually able to solve a tricky kernel-related issue after following the advice and tips we learned in the session. I was quite pleased with the outcome. In essence, I did a blitz course on some of the parts of my Problem Solving book, as well as half a dozen tutorials on system troubleshooting that I presented on Dedoimedo in the last few years.
Of course, I made my fair share of jokes - and tossed candy at willing participants. There was much rejoicing. I met a lot of familiar faces, friendly faces, and some people even approached me to tell me how they remembered me from years past and loved my earlier work. It's always nice to bump into fans, and they tend to be much nicer in real life than on the Internet.
As soon as I had the presentation wrapped and my new T-shirts packed, it was time to head back to the airport. A few quick thanks and jokes in a bunch of languages, and I was watching twilight Berlin fade away behind me. Coffee, sandwich. And then, the plane took off. Curtain.
There we are. It feels like a dream. It happened too fast, and I did not get to absorb the full aroma of the conference. But never mind. There will always be another opportunity, and LinuxCon will be there next year, waiting, beckoning. Despite a somewhat less than perfect circumstances, I am quite happy. I enjoyed my session, if I'm allowed to say that, and I think I served my audience well, and their feedback was good and open. There is nothing that would have made it better except a little more time to network, talk to people, pilfer some more free shirts and electronics, and actually see the city.
Anyhow, I hope you find these little field reports entertaining. And maybe we will meet somewhere next year, and you will come over and say, oh so you are that crazy guy, why are you not wearing a fedora huh? Indeed. 2017, so let the countdown begin. The Final Countdown. By a band called Europe. What can be more appropriate? OMG. See you next autumn.