linux.conf.au 2010 – Day 4: elephants & emergencies

Early this morning I went to Yoga which was great! It was my first time, and a really wonderful class. The class was pretty full and the exercises were really interesting. Thanks very much Francois for organising it and to the lovely teacher for the illuminating class.

Afterwards I was feeling a little shaky and so I watched the keynote stream from another room. I enjoyed Glyn Moody’s talk immensly and really want to try to catch up with during the few remaining days at lca.

I had one interesting discussion today with Mako where we discussed the impacts of risk management and liability policies on innovation. It’s an interesting area and I’d love people’s comments or any examples they can think of. :)

Jeremy Allison gave a talk called “The Elephant in the Room” which discussed Microsoft and it’s relationship to the Free Software community. He spoke about several strategies Microsoft have attempted over the years:

  1. De-commoditisation — their move to de-commodotise their software through proprietary standards, media formats, closed integration of their products and other behaviours that locked out other software. In the long run they were made to open up a lot of their standards (through the SAMBA team’s great work).
  2. The OOXML fiasco — which ended up with the ISO standards process being quite dramatically corrupted. One blogger commented that it was effectively one company against everyone, and they won, which is a bit worrying. Industry, governments, community and many others around the world rallied strongly against OOXML. This ended up being a loss of Microsoft because although the standard was passed, there was a lot of frustration and global awareness of the issues resulting, and now Microsoft have adopted ODF support anyway.
  3. Corruption of the Open Internet — through rather particular implementation of standards as an example. Jeremy said that Firefox has been a great boon for openness. This is an ongoing battle, however Jeremy felt they would ultimately have a loss in this strategy too.

Jeremy see patents as the biggest current issue. He posed the Tom Tom lawsuit as “the first openly aggressive use of Microsoft’s patent portfolio against Free Software”.

His core messages came down to what we can do about the elephant in the room, and it came down to:

  • Ignore it — continuing creating awesome software and demonstrating the value of openness. He saw this as the most effective long term strategy.
  • Coral it — keep up pressure on governments and organisations to adopt open, uncorrupted standards and investigate monopolies. I think there will always be a small minority of our community committed to doing this, but I think we can all within our own lives drive education in our peers, workplaces, families and other networks around the importance of openness and software freedom.

I have always been quite firmly in the camp of not attacking individual companies. I do believe people and organisations should be held to account for disruptive and destructive actions, and unfortunately for them, Microsoft often come up due to many of their behaviours. But it is a mistake for people in our community to assume companies are “evil” or “good”. They’re just companies and we need to encourage open and collaborative behaviours whilst keeping our eyes open to bad behaviour, so to speak. :)

I then had a great lunch, catching up with some friends we haven’t seen for ages. We had a great discussion about gender, sexuality & culture. We were comparing social norms, good/bad behaviour, and how to actually drive social progress without excluding or blaming any person or group. It was a really fascinating conversation, and I personally believe that treating issues of negative bias or bad behaviour as a community problem, rather than a problem just of the target group is the way to draw everyone in to creating the best community we can.

I went along to the Sahana talk, but couldn’t stay long as I was helping Rusty prepare for his talk tomorrow. I’m a big fan of Sahana, it is disaster management (in the Tsunami sense) software, so if you are interested in FOSS for saving lives, you should check it out and get involved.

My role in Rusty’s talk is top secret, so you’ll have to come along to see. :)

I caught the Q&A from Jon Oxer’s talk — “Tux on the Moon: FOSS hardware and software in space” — which I’m going to make sure I watch once the recordings are put up as it sounded very interesting.

After that I thought I’d take advantage before it rained again to go out kayaking for an hour. Kate Olliver had said she was keen to go so off we went. I was feeling dizzy as we walked over but ignored the sensation and went kayaking. The kayaking was a lot of work but a lot of fun, and we saw amongst many other cool things a baby starfish which made me wish I’d risked bringing a camera. It was very cute.

Now the story gets a little more exciting. On the way back from kayaking I felt much more dizzy and had to sit down rather suddenly about half way back. We got back and I accepted I was actually a bit sick, so I wanted to figure out whether I had the same bug Andrew and Susanne (the core organisers) had suffered. I went into the NOC to ask and their symptoms didn’t match. I felt quite dizzy and sat down, then lay down, then had some muscle and body spasms which were quite unpleasant and at times painful. Got taken to the hospital where anti-inflamatories, a drip and bed rest calmed down the symptoms, and now I’m home feeling like I’ve been hit by a truck. Turns out muscle spasms are a pretty good form of exercise.

Anyway, thank you very much to the lca2010 team, especially Steve Walsh, Susanne Ruthven and Jayne Foster for putting up with and helping me out, and I’m sorry to everyone for causing a fuss.

Other cool stuff I came across today include:

UPDATE: Friday morning I felt a lot better. Massive headache, stiff neck. sore muscles, but still fine to attend lca. Hooray for panadol and anti-inflammatories. :)

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4 Responses to linux.conf.au 2010 – Day 4: elephants & emergencies

  1. Bah, this is making me realise how much fun I’m missing out on.

    Hope you’re doing much better tomorrow. Give me a nudge when you’re back in town — should catch up. (:

  2. Elizabeth says:

    Hey Pia, bodies are our canary in a cage … don’t listen to them at your own peril! Anyway, hope you are better now.

    • greebo says:

      Thanks Elizabeth. I’m listening but just not sure what’s being said. Jeff says I’ve just overdone it this week, but I hadn’t thought so. I will take it easy and continue trying to figure it out. Thanks! I like that line and will use it :)

  3. Chris Samuel says:

    Dear oh dear, what is it with you and hospitals at LCA ? :-)

    Glad to hear you’re feeling better now, and hope this is nothing serious! Do take notice, it doesn’t sound like your normal run of the mill dizzy spell..

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