A great oSC17

A conference with great content, and awesome people.

oSC17 is barely over, and my thoughts are already jumping around to the next one! There was some great content, and interesting workshops given. The SUSE academic program was announced, and explained, to the community, while packaging workshops were teaching us the beauty of packaging.

Hernan Schmidt gave a usability presentation which I particularly liked. It was an exemplary presentation, with the right flow, and content.

Again I had the pleasure of being able to volunteer and help out. Along with friends and great volunteers we ran the registration desk – which got insanely crowded on Friday morning; there was some delay there, sorry all, we should do something about it next year!

All this year’s GSoC OSEM Mentors were there, so we had a little meeting of our own, along with our 2 GSoC students, Nasia & Antonis, to discuss some pending items prior to GSoC coding period officially beginning. Still some more on our bucket list though – so we are looking forward for the next opportunity to meet up. Sadly the other GSoC students could not make it to the conference, which is a pity, but we are looking forward to meeting with them as soon as possible!


Another great openSUSE conference is over.

So many new things, beautiful experience, more knowledge


It has been an awesome time of 2 weeks that went by so quickly: inspiring, fullfilling, just amazing!
Thanks to all the awesome people in Nuremberg!

First #oSC16 (22-26 June) has been a source of inspiration through the talks presented as well as the people there. Amazing initiatives took place, literally shaping the future of open source through young kids’ involvement. CoderDojo sessions were just what the young generation needs to learn, get involved, and discover the beauty of creating with linux. We don’t need to reach university to start exploring possibilities!
You think 7-15 years old is too young? Think again! German high schools have initiatives about short internships (1-2 weeks) for 14-year-olds. I might have been hesitant before, but I had the pleasure of getting to know a kid that did that at SUSE and despite of the young age he has been amazing at learning what goes around, being interested, being involved in so many different aspects of linux, open source, the conference itself, coding, video recording, you name it and he did it during those 2 weeks! Such a great source of information and mostly hands-on experience.

Volunteering means I get to meet so many interesting people, and this time there were particularly helpful volunteers who went above and beyond to help out, make things happen, solve any issues that came their way, and offer the most pleasant welcoming to visitors of oSC16 as they went past the registration desk 🙂
A BIG THANK YOU goes to all of you for being there!

Coordinating volunteers at oSC16 did not exactly allow me to attend that many talks – but that’s just part of the beauty!
I did make it to some really interesting ones though.

I wish I had that kind of structured information on how to pitch open source to schools and universities a few years back! A very insightful talk by Emiel Brok on how to bring linux to schools with specific structured course of action. I hope there is gonna be more of that in the next conferences!

I always get to see old friends and meet new people at conferences, but this time I am super happy, as in addition to that we had the pleasure to meet in person with many openSUSE GSOC students who attended openSUSE Conference. It is so nice to put real faces to nicknames 🙂

And then after this awesome week of conference, came #HACKWEEK at SUSE office.

A very productive week, coding with friends. I love the kind of cooperation and communication we get for our project, OSEM, during HACKWEEKs, where we are all present. It is a unique opportunity and I am always so much looking forward to doing it again. This time I am double happy as we had even more people that joined us: new friends, new developers for OSEM!

This time the project we worked on was tricky. We are refactoring Questions in OSEM and implementing a survey with custom questions (to be added by organizers) that can be attached to visitors’ registration or after the conference is over (for feedback). We have stumbled upon some difficulties but we are (still) working on it, and we hope we will have it finalized sooner than later!

Meeting so many interesting people, having such a good time!
Happy to have joined! Sad it is over!

Aegean in-flight review


Flight A3 120 ATH->SKG, seat 4F, 1 Nov 2015 18:00

Getting a glass of water prior to take off shouldn’t be that hard. But most important flight attendants should be a bit more helpful to passengers.

I asked for 1 glass of water when I entered the aircraft, there were 2 flight attendants at the entrance, one of which was the one who made all the announcements later on. (Surprisingly none of them had a name tag for the whole duration of the flight!!!)I am a gold star alliance member, so I was one of the very first passengers on board. I was told that I will get it “as soon as possible”. I was sitting in 4F, the 2 flight attendants could even see me from where they were standing (at the entrance of the aircraft, welcoming the passengers). I never got that glass of water, even though the boarding was very smooth and we had to wait for a few minutes before the aircraft could move to take off position.

I had to ask another flight attendant, the one who was offering us candies, for the water. Which, by the way, she did bring to me immediately, and then continued with the candies. That was Miss/Mrs D. and she was not only polite but elegantly fast in her service too.


Flight A3 105 SKG->ATH, seat 5F, 30 Oct 2015, 8:25

We were not offered candies, only Business Class got them! Why Aegean?!

How intention is not enough

Intention equals words. Not actions. That should pretty much sum it up!

Intention of doing something is not enough. It’s arguably important but very far from enough.

Actions, now that’s something worth considering that it may possibly potentially be a tiny bit of enough.

The intention of being there for someone on its own, does not make you be there for that person. It does not make that person benefit from your intentions in any possible way. It’s just talking words, typing sentences.

It actually makes no sense saying to someone you want to be there for him/her. If you want to be there for someone, go there and be with him or with her. Don’t just say it, as if it makes any difference at all.

Because knowing what to say and knowing what to do are 2 very very different things. And we are so scared that maybe what we know is not good enough, that we hold back from actions. We are so reserved that our actions may be rejected that we don’t even try, we don’t even put ourselves out there. And it’s true that our actions are motivated by our own experience and definitely our own feelings. But it goes without saying that not everyone feels the same way about a situation, not everyone addresses a problem the same way. Because everyone is different and unique. So every reaction of every human is different and unique.

On the other hand, you cannot reject, the thing you do not know. Had you never feel loved, you can never trully say you don’t need someone to love you, but at the same time you can never ask for it, because you simply do not know what ‘it’ stands for… You don’t know what to ask for, because you have no experience of it, you have no words to describe it, and even though you may unconsciously feel it, but you can never express yourself and ask for it.

So maybe we need to “impose” ourselves on others, until they feel what we have to give, so that they can consciously reject it (or not). No more fear. People don’t always know what they need, or want, in any particular moment.

And some others might have a lot to give, but no suitable recipient for it (or at least, some of it).

Words ain’t enough, words can be misunderstood, words can be mistranslated, words can lose their meaning if you have 1000 things in your mind which you are trying to sum up with in just a couple of words like “I’m here for you”, “What do you need?”, “What can I do for you?”. What are the chances that the person receiving those questions from you, actually realizes all the other 1000 things you have in mind and so much would like to speak out but it’s not the place or the time – and it’s probably never gonna be the time because well, rejection fear.

So, no, intention is not enough, it’s in fact very far from enough. You can act even if you didn’t intend to, and that can be half-enough. Because enough is hard to reach on its whole.

So don’t feel loved by those who know how to use nice words, words are easy, and most important words can be spoken out of a transcript. Actions can’t, not when they are truly unconditionally genuine. When you face a difficult situation, actions are bound to be unprompted.

Don’t appreciate the ones that give big promises. But perhaps you should try and take them up on their offer, regardless of the times you have been let down by people, perhaps you will find some others who are actually willing to make their promises actionable. The ones that can just be there for you. For no particular reason and surely for no particular gain. Maybe for some extra pain. But maybe they don’t mind.

Maybe someone can be there for you. Just maybe. But is that ‘maybe’ enough for you to give people a chance?

Our life after their death

Losing a close relative has been tough. Many people don’t do grief after a couple of days, certainly not after a couple of weeks – or they have simply made their peace with the death situation, so I guess the 5 steps of grief don’t apply to them. Either way, they are inclined to assume that it’s the same with others, and that’s certainly not the case.

What I hate most is the, supposedly relevant, wishes for a long life to the ones still alive and being well to remember the person that died. They are silly and even irritating wishes. Obviously we would like the person that died to be here with us and live with us and we don’t want to just remember them, we want to share our moments with them and create common memories. These wishes simply remind us that we cannot do any of these things.

People tend to forget that there is always the option of shutting up and saying nothing. What happened to just being there? You don’t have to do or say anything, just be present, available, willing to help – acknowledging there is probably nothing you can actually do about the situation. But still, being there could matter.

Because you really don’t have to say anything… Nothing you say or do can change the fact that a beloved person died. A hug could help, though.

Well not actually help, in the essence of changing the facts, but possibly have a positive impact from a psychological aspect.

And on a side note, if you really want to be there for someone who is grieving, go get them their groceries, and do their dishes. Seriously.

openSUSE Conference 2014

oSC14, which took place in Dubrovnik, Croatia at the end of April, was a more family-like gathering and I had the opportunity to see friends I missed since last year, but also meet some new people, which was great 🙂

Moreover oSC14 was a nice opportunity to talk with people about OSEM (Open Source Event Manager), which is the tool we use for the 2nd year for the openSUSE Conference.

It was really nice seeing new people interested in using or contributing to OSEM 🙂

Lot’s of nice photos of the conference and its people can be found here (a lot of thanks to the photographers!).

I received sponsorship from openSUSE TSP (Travel Support Program) to attend oSC14.

Thanks TSP for sponsoring me!


openSUSE Summit 2013, TSP sponsored me!


Orlando, Florida USA was the location of openSUSE Summit 2013 during 15-17 November.

Travel Support Program of openSUSE community made it possible for me to attend the event, even though it was so far away from home.

A travel of approximately 23 hours is what it took to take me there, but admittedly the trip went more smoothly than expected!

I really enjoyed attending openSUSE Summit 13 – it’s always great to see people you haven’t seen for some time and of course meet new people.

I particularly liked the fact that it was a more family-like event, since we weren’t too many people (compared to oSC13 for example) and each one of us had the chance to actually talk to everybody else and spend time with all participants.

More about where we were and what we did can be found in openSUSE news.


Stay tuned for more openSUSE events to come! 🙂 

Thank you for oSC13

As one of main organizers, I feel the need to personally thank all the people that made it possible to have oSC13 in Thessaloniki, Greece during 18-22 July.

This article is mostly about me thanking the people with whom I personally worked with closely before and during oSC13.
Mainly people that were part of the group of volunteers that I coordinated.
There were obviously many more people working for oSC13, than the ones mentioned in this article.
Me being a demanding person and a perfectionist, who also happened to be very stressed during the time of the conference, did not make things any easier for noone. My goal is always the best possible result and I rarely have to resort to damage control.
I want to thank all those people that were around me those days.
You kind of deserve it guys 🙂

And I am gonna start at the very beginning, even though I will mingle things up as I go.

First up is Kostas, because it was his idea to organize this conference in the first place.
There was this greek opensuse community meeting in IRC, when the issue came up and Kostas asked who is interested in helping, and at that point I was already more than willing to help (besides, I love event planning, everybody knows that) – as a volunteer, though. Not an organizer.
Well, things have evolved a lot since then and you probably all know that Kostas and I ended up being the main organizers of oSC13.
What Kostas did is rather obvious, that’s why I don’t feel the need to go into details (besides I would need hundreds of pages just to make a quick reference!)

So, THANK YOU Kostas for inializing all of this, and thank you for putting up with me all those months (I know I can be a handful sometimes, or even more often than sometimes :), but hey it was for a good cause!)

Next I want to thank the TSP team, which includes Kostas and Izabel. They are the ones doing the heavy lifting to keep the Travel Support Program running (because getting the funds is not enough) and for that they deserve a big THANK YOU. They are asked to do a lot of work which is not necessarily specifically defined, since they have to interact with people. I think they are awesome and they are doing a great work, and that’s regardless of the fact that they are my friends!
Moreover I would like to thank Izabel for being the one handling the sponsors for oSC. It’s a very important and demanding job to do, you have to be on alert 24/7, because an early reply to a sponsor can determine if the conference will have extra funds to do all the cool things the organizers want to arrange.
On top of all that, this kind of task doesn’t have specific deadlines. You start long before the actual event, you work hard during the event itself and you probably end up with one or two pending responsibilities after the event is over. Been there, done that and I respect the work put in doing such thing.

Along with Izabel, I want to also thank the openSUSE Board and Agustin, because they are people that also contribute to all of that, one way or the other. Agustin coordinates financial procedures of sponsors with Izabel and he is our link to SUSE for handling all financial/legal issues of the conference, and the Board, well it’s the board. Board members keep tabs about everything going on in the community and they are there to be the community’s voice. I plan on helping with the next conferences to come and I hope to have the chance to cooperate more with the Board in order to make our next events a success.

THANK YOU Izabel, Agustin, all Board members!

Following that, I want to jump to our sponsors and thank them. Because having sponsors and knowing your budget is critical when organizing an event. Specially when it comes to organized-by-volunteers conferences, sponsors are very important to us. And I am saying this in general, not just for oSC, since it is not the first time that I face the funds issue as an organizer.
And it’s not necessarily about having money to spend, but it is definitely about knowing exactly how much money you can actually spend. Depending on the budget you “build” everything surrounding your event. You make decisions about funds allocation and if you have a bit less than you needed, you find a way to compromise between the stuff you want to do. In no way do we, organizers, want to leave funds without utilizing them to their fullest or going over budget (which is one of the worst nightmares of organizers). Both cases are equally problematic.
I am quite satisfied of the amount of stuff we did for oSC13. Theoretically, there is always a better scenario of course. But regardless of some financial bumps we had to endure, we generally did not deviate from the original plan created.
oSC13 sponsors, THANK YOU for your support!

And then, after all the above was settled, the surprise came…
Yes, I am 100% surprised by the turn of events as far as volunteers are concerned (in so many ways in fact, but I am only going to focus on the positive ones). Order of appearance is completely random, as all of the below mentioned people deserve a huuuuge THANKS. (As I said before, I am mentioning people I personally worked closely with and that’s obviously not eeeeeeverybody that helped with oSC).

Alex is one of the people that admittedly I did not really count on helping during the organizing period, but I knew that he would be present to help during the conference. What I did not know was that he would become such a valuable volunteer. I hadn’t really worked with him to organize another event, so I had my expectations low (at least, as low as my expectaions can be). Alex is one of the people that have definitely exceeded by far my expectations (and people that know me, know that my expectations are higher than high – Kostas can vouch for that, he had to go through it for several months!). Alex has been pictured, so far, as the photographer of the conference. Yes we have some awesome photos because of him and with a combined effort we have had these photos up online almost immediately (as humanly possible ofc). What most people might not have realized is that he is so much more than that. He is the one that provided us with the music equipment we had at the bar outside (mixing console and speakers – and possibly I am forgetting sth here). Stuff that due to their size, in order to arrive to Thessaloniki for the conference in a cost-efficient way, Alex had to carry by car (which for him translates into driving around 500km, and another as much to go back ofc). In addition to that, he is one of the people that arrived since Monday (15th July) and became available to actively help with the set up of the venue (and trust me that involves some stress and carrying around). Furthermore, Alex became oSC13’s driver for several things that required a car.
(Moreover, and that’s not oSC direcly related but I have to mention it, after the conference was over, he ended up being the one driving us for a swim in Chalkidiki, which felt like paradise to me, since I didn’t have to drive myself.) – Oh, and one more thing: He is the one to thank for the cakes we had for dessert on Saturday’s party, which was also the perfect opportunity I was looking for to wish Happy Birthday and Happy Name Day to the friends that were celebrating those days.
And as if all of that were not enough, Alex brought a friend along, Iliana.

Iliana is not an IT person. She hadn’t attended such a conference ever before, she didn’t even quite know what we were doing there (at first, at least. Afterwards she became kind of a reg-desk guru!).

What both Alex and Iliana share in common is their activeness and initiative. She has also by far exceeded any of my expectations.
OK, from Alex I could expect stuff like him knowing what to do and kind of how to do it. He might not live in Thessaloniki, but he is part of the greek openSUSE community and he was following the mailing list and trello tasks.
But Iliana… I thought I would have to talk with her for 2 hours min. until she understood how to check if ppl are registered and give them their stuff (badge, backpack, t-shirt…), let alone show her how to create a new registration. Well I thought wrong, and I am so happy about it!
I talked with her for maybe half an hour, getting interrupted by people with questions. She pretty much was the face of the registration desk, as she was there since the beginning (and till the very end). She proved to be a trustworthy person (which made her end up with donations duty), with excellent english skills, able to work under pressure (my pressure to be exact) and able to improvise and take small decisions without having to ask for instructions. She got the work done. And that is not something you see everyday.
So THANK YOU Alex & Iliana, you both did great!

Of course the registration desk couldn’t possibly work with just one or two people. Everybody knows that…
A huge THANK YOU goes to all the staff of the registration desk.

One of which is George (or bratsaki), whose most help is not for the registation desk itself, but for all the article writing he managed to do while attending oSC13 and volunteering at the registration desk or doing sth else, in a noisy and fun venue. Well I know could never write 2 lines under these circumstances.

I am impressed by those skills I have to admit, so THANK YOU, George!
(His article is also available at the News Daily that Carlos coordinated during oSC13 – there is one for everyday 🙂 )

And since we talk about article writing… Jos is the one next. And it’s not just about the article writing that I thank him for. It’s a couple of things here and there that he did, help he offered, tips and ideas he suggested. Always available for a nice chat. He is one of those people that it’s very difficult for me to express one or two separate things that he did. He is also the one arranging all about our keynote speakers, which is great!
He is definitely one beloved member of openSUSE community and I want to thank him for all his support for oSC13!


Stathis Agrapidis is one of the people I so much have wished would help more before the conference. He is in Thessaloniki, so I happen to know him in person, and it is easier working with people whom you know (in terms of knowing what they can and cannot do, how efficient or good at meeting deadlines are).
Anyways, my thanks goes to what he did during the conference. Around one week before the conference was the time that we started gathering in order to get started with the set up and last minute tasks. Stathis showed up ready to work, and so he did. Him being a member of the greek openSUSE community for quite some time now, he knew his way around stuff. He volunteered in several positions all over the venue. What I want to thank him for is taking care of printing badges for the unregistered attendees (and trust me that’s so much more difficult than it sounds) and for running urgent errands outside, which involved buying stuff, ordering stuff… And all that he did without me having to be present or say much, which is awesome because I had to be at the venue during all those times 🙂
What most people might not know is that there was a bit of a printing problem with the badges and we had them re-printed. Stathis is the one that made that happen (and in a civilized way I might add).

THANK YOU, Stathi for all your efficient work!

And it’s Carlos’ turn. He overwhelmed me with information and drafts for the past couple of months. I got notifications from every account I had (trello, email, IRC, gtalk), all at the same time! But that’s how we ended up with our nice artwork. Needless to say that there were other people contributing to artwork! But Carlos had the courage to work closely with me, even though our timezones were a challenge. I am not an artwork person, so Carlos had to do the little bit extra for me, such as show the tshirt designs on people, so that we could decide which one we like best. And then he would create new drafts for every single difference I wanted to see (because my skills begin and end in resizing an image using gimp and my imagination is walking on a similar path). I know some people currently hate me for that, because our git has soooooo many files and needs organizing. Still all the late hours talking with Carlos, staying awake to fix the last detail in the designs that had to be sent for printing in 5 hours, overcoming timezones and language barriers, they were all worth it. Because they resulted in nice banners and fancy posters, cool stuff like geeko money and soaps and nice reminders for our attendees such as t-shirts, backpacks etc..!
On top of that he worked some artwork magic during the conference for last minute things that came up.
Don’t forget to check news daily, that was his daily task for every single day of the conference – it’s not the easiest thing to do.

So THANK YOU, Carlos for all that hard work the months before the conference and for surviving me! Truth be told, you are one of the people I didn’t get to spend as much time as I wanted, specially under a non-stressful situation, but I hope to see you again soon 🙂

Anastasia: Another non IT person that showed up for the very first time. I still cannot understand if Kostas dragged her there or not, but what I do know is that she was more than willing to help in any way possible and even do the little bit extra. Anastasia you would see next to Iliana at the registration desk, our 2 radiant and smilling girls! Anastasia was the guardiant of our geekomoney but you know she did the printing of badges of unregistered people when Stathis Agrapidis was not there, and she is the one that brought you the little bit extra stuff for the Saturday party. And she as well would just go get stuff done. And I have no idea how much more she might have done in the weeks before the conference!

Anastasia, THANK YOU so much for being there!

Tolis is another impressing example. Didn’t even know he was coming until the moment he actually showed up! Our Gentoo friends keep surprising me 🙂 Tolis was the guy that made sure there is enough cold beer at the bar, that you are listening to music while relaxing outside by the small pools, and of course he is the one that arranged for your food during the conference! Apart from that he also did some heavy lifting, setting up the venue but also getting stuff out when we were done. Alex and Tolis are the 2 people that helped me quite a bit on Monday afternoon to collect our stuff, put it in the right boxes and put the boxes in the right car.

THANK YOU, Toli for being there out of the blue and taking initiative to do all that stuff!

My next Gentoo friend, Pavlos. You should all know him by now, because the is the one that made our promo videos. What you might not know is that he is also the one that made one of our our conference roll up banners (the one we had onsite during oSC13) along with same design flyers, which we used to promote our event in other events and communities. Pavlos also undertook the great responsibility of working with me for artwork stuff, when it came to the flyers and the banner. Getting the flyer done was fairly easy (I mean he did all of the work!), but the resizing for the roll up ended up being a challenge. And we had very tight deadlines, too little time to do everything because we wanted the banner ready before we would leave for our national greek FOSS conference. As expected, trouble was found during printing and again Pavlos had to run and finish everything in time! I mostly thank him for that, because pre-conf promo is important and even though Henne worked on promo material a lot too, at that point people were still working for oSC13 in a more relaxed way.
Pavlos learned his lesson, so during oSC13 he was part of the video team and stayed away from me.

THANK YOU, Pavlo for working with us since the very beginning and maintaining tight deadlines 🙂

Another Gentoo friend, Dimitris (aka Skiarxon) is one of the people I want to extend my thanks to. The months leading up to the conference you wouldn’t have seen him active, but I would always bother him on IRC in private and have him help me with some important stuff we had to write down (such as official emails to get our awesome internet connection at the venue, and that’s only one single example). I believe this work is very important (just as important it is to do it fast, really fast). Dimitris was part of the video team too, well we were preparing him for that since oSC12 as he was there too and literally did not leave his video post for a min. I am pretty sure he did some extra work with Tolis outside at the bar. And he is one of they ones staying for cleaning up on Monday.

So big THANK YOU to you too Dimitri!

Henne, wrote a thank you article to our volunteers in news, but he obviously did not thank himself.
Well… Henne quitely worked on several stuff all that time before oSC13. He didn’t make much noise about it, he just got things done! Our lovely website was a creation he started (even though it was not his task to do so, but he still stepped up and did it when time came). And what you might not know is that, Henne did all the scheduling of the talks and workshops you attended. And that includes some severe last-minute changes that were a true nightmare.
And I am so thankful Henne was there to take care of it, because even though Program Committee started as a really strong team with Robert leading the action, in the end it was practically me and Henne left with the chaos of finalizing accepted proposals and putting them in a schedule for our attendees – and at the same time me, along with Kostas, as local organizers, we had to talk to a hundred people and arrange for local stuff.
In addition to all that, Henne prepared our posters for the boards we had at the venue. I liked them very much! I hope that Henne, you equally liked them printed in one piece, instead of putting the A4’s together 🙂

So, Henne, THANK YOU for being there and getting stuff done!

Last but definitely not least, I want to thank Juergen and Lars. They arrived on Monday in Thessaloniki with the sole goal to take care everything related to network and video. Well it sounds easy and simple but it’s a chaos only they could attend to. They are 2 people that had really a looot of work to do during the conference. I am not sure how much you manage to enjoy from the conference, but I am sure your work has made it possible for all of us to enjoy it a bit more. Thank you both for your patience and dedication, it has been really important to us that organized oSC as volunteers for the very first time. Specially thank you to you, Juergen, for answering all of my, often silly, questions and explaining to me all that stuff about video in advance so that we could be prepared. And of course thanks for taking the time to train our volunteers in the video team that do such a hard and good work.
Keep up the good work guys!
THANK YOU so much Juergen & Lars!

Last but definitely not least, Theo, who in fact goes a long way back. Theo is one of the organizers of oSC12 and organizer of Gentoo Miniconf that was cohosted with oSC12. Last year, he made sure that I knew what was coming to me this year that I was an organizer myself! He has been my sounding board for quite some months now (you know, that person to whom you go in order to whine about stuff and express your anger for that supplier that is delaying so much). He also was the perfect combo: past oSC organizer, with knowledge of event planning from previous experience plus knowledge of osc-specific procedures, plus he is greek and on top of that he knows Thessaloniki just as well as I do. And for those that haven’t met him, he is one of those people that can get the job done right. So by definition he kinda became the go-to person whenever I wanted something more “fancy” done. He did not specifically occupy himself with one thing. He was my backup on everything, when I wanted something done but I had to do something else, he knew what to do, how to do it and do it right and tell other people what to do too. He was also useful for stuff outside of the venue that required someone knowing a little bit of Thessaloniki and the streets. Needless to say he did a lot of heavy lifting himself during setting up and tear down (ok, it doesn’t show when you look at him, but trust me he wasn’t off the hook!). When I didn’t make him run around the venue with tasks, he was at the video team. But the real important work he did, as far as I am concerned was being there for the pre-registration party. I haven’t even kept track of the things I had him do that Thursday. And I think he is one of the least visible people that helped with this conference.

And for all that, I THANK YOU so much, Theo!

As far as I am concerned, having capable and efficient people that you can trust is very important. For me is like the magic combo for organizing a successful conference!

And to complete this post, I would like to say a heartfelt THANK YOU to all the people that have worked so hard to make oSC13 possible, there are many more than the ones mentioned in this article and many of them I didn’t have the chance to personally work with, but still a well deserved thank you to all 🙂
And I would also like to thank all those girlfriends that had to endure these last months while their boyfriends were working for the conference. You are our volunteers too! And we thank you ALL!

All about oSC13

These are some personal thoughts that have crossed my mind while organizing several events in the past years.
oSC13, being the latest one is the motive for me to collect my thoughts and write them down.

oSC13 – or “A compass without a map” as Kostas named our presentation regarding organizing oSC13.

Well, can’t blame him for that, he ain’t that wrong, but I am not gonna go into the reasoning for this title – you can find it all in the video of our presentation during oSC13

There are more than several things that we have learned while organizing oSC13.
But there is one single thing that stroke me since the beginning and it kinda expands to the whole volunteering idea, not just oSC13 – or any event organizing.

It’s amazingly weird how people (as in volunteers) act as if volunteering is optional.

Meaning that ppl volunteer to do sth and what they really have in mind is “If I can and if I have time and if I got nothing better to do, then yes, I will complete this task! Sure I will!”, when what we, organizers, have in mind is “Great this person is gonna take care of this task from start to end. We don’t have to worry about this anymore, yay, one less task on our list. Let’s move on to something that specifically requires our attention”.

HUGE gap! And that’s a problem for every event planning.

PLEASE, all of you that sign up to volunteer for sth, don’t forget the meaning of volunteering and don’t equal volunteering with having less responsibility towards what you take up on. Volunteering is not about an optional task, volunteering is about helping your team accomplish something, it’s a team work that is essential to the end result.

And don’t forget that whenever you volunteer for a task, there is someone else that crosses it off their list and arranges their time accordingly WITHOUT this task that you said you will handle. If you show up 1 day before the deadline saying that you couldn’t do it for whatever reason, no matter how important the reason is, you are forcing another person that is slightly more responsible towards what needs to be done, to lose sleep or a much needed break during the weekend in order to finish YOUR task. Ain’t that kinda unfair?!
Sorry guys but here’s the deal: YOUR task, YOUR work, YOUR problem to properly divide your time. This isn’t the kindergarden anymore! And if life comes along (or better, when life comes along), well guess what, that’s what happens to all of us! The difference is that we don’t all start whining about it and stop doing what we are supposed to be doing! We suck it up, solve the problem, get going with our responsibilities, not leaving other people hanging because of our inability to adapt to simple life events.
(And I am obviously referring to kind of predictable stuff and not to serious heath or life-threatening situations, because unfortunately this is what I have seen happening. People simply not estimating their time correctly based on their pre-existing responsibilities or taking up too much tasks for totally different things or preferring to go out and have fun and simply not being consistent with their obligations, without anything tragic really happening to them.
For me that’s unacceptable. Whatever one doesn’t do, someone else has to take up. And sorry but people have their own stuff to deal with and their own responsibilities and their own timeline for doing stuff – their stuff, the things they chose to do. No one has the right to create problems out of nowhere by unloading their tasks to someone else.)

Which brings me to deadlines!
Another hot topic. The deal with deadlines is that it does not always depend on the level of responsibility. Sometimes people just have a totally different point of view regarding the time at which a task needs to be finished. That can be due to lack of information regarding other tasks depending on this one to be completed, or merely due to a different approach to the issue in hand. Thus, 2 people, both very focused and dedicated to what they are doing, aiming to deliver the best possible result can have 2 totally different timelines in their minds.
And, yes, this is something that came up during organizing oSC13 and for the first time I realized how much of a problem this is. This being not just setting a specific timeline but communicating it to ALL the people invovled in what you are doing (not just the people that are immediately affected by it, but everybody, so that we are all on the same page).
I have always made a timeline for whatever task I had to do, let alone organize a conference. Somehow for oSC13 we managed not to create a public timeline – even though our tasks-tool, trello, did provide for setting deadlines.

Sure, anyone really interested in the bigger task (such as organizing a conference) and invested in helping will have a pretty accurate timeline in their mind. But the problem starts when people cannot really help throughout the organizing period, but can dedicate part of their time at a specific period. The problem is that you end up having really capable people ready to help you at a time that you have finished most of the work with the (limited?) resources you had or you simply are so swamped with work that you have no time to explain and give instructions. Either way, it sucks. And it can be avoided by a communicated a clear and specific timeline, so that people can arrange for their own personal timeline accruately. And everybody can be happy!

Hands on deck are very important.
Everyone is suitable for at least one of the tasks a conference has. Even the person that you can put in any post at first glance, will prove useful. Every big event has examples of that. oSC13 had striking examples of that that have left me literally speechless.
But more about that in my thank you post to all our valuable helpers of oSC13 (well at least the ones that I worked with, there were so many more).

FOSDEM 1-2 February 2014

Be there 😉

Well this year I think I will do (again) my little extra trip to another city of Belgium and Antwerpen is the one on my list. Hope our work for FOSDEM preparations the previous couple of days will allow for that!