There’s good news and bad news on the Linux and open source conference scene in the deep south.
First the bad news. For the first time since it started six years ago, there’ll be no POSSCON in Columbia, South Carolina this year. For six years, POSSCON has been an annual open source conference hosted by IT-oLogy, the folks behind All Things Open, the Raleigh, North Carolina based conference which made its debut in October. Not to worry, however, as I’ve been assured by Todd Lewis, Executive Director of IT-oLogy in Columbia, that POSSCON will return in 2015.
The good news is that in lieu of POSSCON, IT-oLogy is throwing what promises to be a big shindig of an enterprise level open source conference in Atlanta. Called Great Wide Open, the conference is less than a month away, scheduled to get cranked-up on April 2nd and 3rd at the 200 Peachtree Special Events & Conference Center in downtown Atlanta.
Like All Things Open, which is now an annual event, Great Wide Open is aimed at those who earn their living by plying their trades in the tech sector. In other words, don’t expect any workshops or presentations on “How to Setup Ubuntu for Grandma” here. However, this doesn’t mean there’ll be nothing for people who mainly use Linux and open source at home. Indeed, all FOSS supporters should look into enterprise events like this because what happens in the enterprise often eventually ends up on the desktop, either as improvements/additions to Linux or as new open source applications.
Unfortunately, I won’t be able to attend Great Wide Open. However, I’ve put together a list of the workshops and presentations that would be on my list if I could go just to give those of you who don’t collect a paycheck from working in tech an idea of what’s there for you, the everyday Linux user.
An Enterprise Open Source Strategy
“You’re using open source, whether you realize it or not…you better have a strategy”
Wednesday 10:15 AM
Why I would attend: Although I don’t earn my living making zeros and ones or pushing open source projects, I do use open source extensively in my small business. From the title of this presentation, I’m sure I would pick up a tip or two I could use to help with our open source “strategy,” if we actually have such a thing.
Also recommended: At the same time that Briscoe will be giving her presentation, Jason Hibbets, director of OpenSource.com for Red Hat, will be giving a workshop titled “Open Source All the Cities.” The only reason this presentation doesn’t top my list for this hour is because I’ve already seen Hibbets give this presentation, last year at All Things Open. I would especially recommend this for anyone who believes that the philosophy behind open source can encompass much more than software and computer tech. Hibbets is a visionary in geek’s clothing.
Open Source: From Community to Company
“Lessons learned from the incredibly popular open source Snort project”
Wednesday 11:15 AM
Why I would attend: Again, I run a small business. Each day we conduct credit card transactions, both online and for orders placed with us via telephone. In addition, we operate a web server for several of our sites as well as a few third party sites we host. In this age or Target breaches and NSA shenanagans, I figure we can’t know too much about security. Because this presentation is being offered on GWO’s “business track,” I figure it won’t necessarily be over my head.
Also recommended: Chris Clark with SparkFun Electronics will be giving his presentation on open source hardware at the same time. This was another presentation I caught in October at All Things Open. In fact, this was a presentation I wasn’t expecting to like but which ended-up being one of my favorites. For more, read the article I wrote on Clark in January.
The Open Source Survival Guide for Women
Wednesday 2:30 PM
Why I would attend: As anyone who keeps abreast of tech news knows, women in tech don’t have it any easier than women in any other business or industry. In fact, women and minorities might even face more obsticles in computer tech than in many other fields–which I find mind boggling. Presentations such as this should be a part of every single Linux and open source conference.
My second choice: Andrew Hall, an attorney at Fenwick & West’s Silicon Valley offices specializes in free and open-source software counseling as well as IP, licensing and technical transactions. His workshop, “Profiting with Open Source,” should appeal to anyone attempting to make a living from open source.
Open vs Closed Source Mobile Development Options
“A look at cross-platform solutions”
Wednesday 3:30 PM
Why I would attend: Mobile is, as Briscoe County would say, “the next new thing,” and all of us techies are going to have to learn it if we don’t want to get left behind. But don’t take my word for it, ask Microsoft if you don’t believe me.
Also recommended: Yet another workshop I’ve already attended and highly recommend is Leigh Heyman’s “We the People.” In case you don’t know, Heyman is Director of New Media Technologies at the White House. Sometimes called Obama’s open source guru, he’s the person behind WhiteHouse.gov, We the People and other Drupal based White House websites and applications.
Patents, Copyrights & Trademarks
Wednesday 4:30 PM
Why I would attend: There are myriad reasons why anyone interested in FOSS should learn as much as possible, both about patents and copyrights. Although the two are very different animals, they are both central to free software. Copyright protection is key, as all open source licenses depend on copyrights for enforcement. Patents, on the other hand, are at best roadblocks and at worst, weapons used against open source projects. Understanding both is essential to keeping FOSS healthy and alive.
“The cyber security of the United States depends on it”
Thursday 10:30 AM
Dr. Doug Maughan
Before Homeland Security, he worked for DARPA and the NSA. Oh yes, he’s also holds positions with the Python & Django Foundation and Spotify, which makes me glad I’m not hooked on online streaming music services.
Why I would attend: This would be a presentation I absolutely wouldn’t miss as I’m the type of person who likes to know what the other side is thinking and might be planning. Besides, Todd Lewis assures me he’s pretty entertaining. “He’s been a speaker before at POSSCON and did a really good job,” he wrote in an email. “Very eye opening for a number of reasons, but primarily because of the open source aspect of it.”
Also recommended: If the thought of being in the same room with an ex-NSA and current Homeland Security guy makes you feel a bit uneasy, I’d suggest Mark Hinkle’s talk, “Crash Course in Open Source Cloud Computing.” Like mobile, cloud computing will be an increasingly important part of our world for the foreseeable future. Hinkle is the Senior Director, Open Source Solutions, at Citrix, which he joined as a result of their acquisition of Cloud.com where he was serving as a VP.
I’d spend the rest of Thursday attending the many security workshops being offered that day. Again, in the age of gigantic security breaches, both by crooks and by the government, security is something we all should learn more about.
Alas, neither Atlanta or the Great Wide Open conference is on my agenda for this year. However, if I lived within commuting distance of the city, you’d better believe I’d be at this conference.
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