Robert (gurdonark) wrote,

linux and irvine

Saturday morning I drove ten minutes into downtown Austin. I arrived early for the Texas Linux Fest, so I went for a walk at Lady Bird Lake. I saw huge scull boats
going into the water. I saw lots of walkers and runners. I saw Ann Richards bridge over the lake.


Then I went to the Texas Linux Fest in the Austin Convention Center. Karen Sandler, the keynote speaker (and former head of the Gnome desktop environment project) spoke on how different constituencies have different interests within the open source movement. Like any good lawyer, she focused on spotting the issues rather than pat answers. I liked her talk.

I chose to go to talks that all dealt with aspects of encouraging community, with one exception. The first talk I attended dealt with SEO and virtual marketing for open source projects. The common-sense, white hat marketing information provided felt very useful. The next talk used Buffy the Vampire Slayer metaphors to express different community members in an open source project. This and a similar science fiction and
community talk used the same basic hook to talk about community. Not surprisingly, the talks were at their best when each of the community-oriented speakers left behind the "hook" metaphors and talked frankly about the challenges of dealing with sexism,about encouraging diversity and about growing a community.

One of my favorite talks dealt with a fellow who installed linux on the computers at his small south Texas school district. His district's motivation sprang from a lack of budget to pay all the Windows license fees. His approach struck me as pragmatic--keep windows when "necessary", as with inflexible administrators. Install linux otherwise, with hyper-flexible kids and teachers. He spoke in a plain-talk,
real-world approach I found entertaining.

My least favorite talk dealt with copyleft. Rather than being a discussion of copyleft licensing precisely rendered, the non-attorney speaker mixed really interesting personal anecdotes about the GPL licenses and cases he had brought to defend open sources. His analysis of licenses and licensing history contained some mixing of concepts and imprecise analysis. By chance, Karen Sandler, who is also a lawyer, sat next to me. She expressed her perception of some inaccuracies, as did I. With hindsight, I should have gone to the Geek Empowerment talk instead. I would probably do another thing differently Though I liked the Buffy the Vampire Slayer community talk, I might have, with hindsight, gone to the Intro to PC-BSD talk instead.

The brief Libre Office presentation confirmed my belief that this software is making leaps and bounds improvements with new features. But my favorite presentation was that by 12-year-old Angeleno Coco Kaleel, who explained how learning to solder had led her to become a maker,build a robot and make tons of friends. I loved her exuberance and her message about teaching kids to do.

I met some nice people during the Linux Fest. The Fedora table was manned by a fellow named John. He recognized me, and I recall having met him, but we neither of us were sure where we had met before. I suspect, on reflection, he is a chess player, but I did not ask him. I met the fellow who runs Reglue, a great Austin charity which recycles computers for donations to computer-less families to help bridge the digital divide. The fellow who runs that was talking to the guy who runs the Mintcast, a good podcast to which I sometimes listen. I gave Reglue a little cash. I bought a t-shirt from the Open Shot Video folks, as they are my bird-video-processing software of choice. The LibreOffice guy Robin was a great guy and a great source of information, and a super-helpful guy at the CentOS desk

I hit the road at 7 p.m. or so. I stopped at Berry Springs Nature Preserve in Georgetown. It was a lovely place with lots of flowers and northern cardinals.





I drove to Waco, where my original plan was to stop for the night. Then I was going to bird Cameron Park the next morning. But I stopped at IHOP, ate eggs and pancakes in their low-fat Weight Watchers-friendly fit menu configurations, and drove on home to Allen.

I slept in a bit Sunday, missing church. I picked up Beatrice from Pappy's Pet Lodge at 10 a.m. She was delighted to be sprung from the congenial prison. Then I
drove to my office to pick up my laptop. I had not missed it at all during my trip,
except perhaps to post the yellow-crowned night heron.


I went to Weight Watchers, where I was down 2 pounds. I am now 8 pounds from goal. It is fun to lose, but if I just stay where I am now I will be okay. I went home and folded some laundry. Then I drove to DFW Airport to catch a plane to Orange County.
I stayed at a Holiday Inn by the airport that was nice indeed. Today I woke up early so that I could go with my local counsel to a business matter. It ended at the end of the morning. I moved my flight home up to 2:30 p.m. I stopped at Lillie King Park in Irvine,a small community park. I saw lots of house finches there.


I flew home, and landed at 8:00 p.m. It was good to be home with my wife (who went to Arkansas to visit my father's wife and her daughter last weekend) and the grizzled veteran dog Beatrice.

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