Content here is by Michael Still mikal@stillhq.com. All opinions are my own.
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Mon, 11 Feb 2013



I give you Fidel, the slightly questionable LCA2013 organizer

posted at: 22:45 | path: /conference/lca2013/pictures/20130125 | permanent link to this entry


Thu, 24 Jan 2013



Yet more lca2013 setup

posted at: 13:29 | path: /conference/lca2013/pictures/20130124-lca2013 | permanent link to this entry


Tue, 22 Jan 2013



linux.conf.au 2013 setup

posted at: 21:01 | path: /conference/lca2013/pictures/20130123 | permanent link to this entry


Thu, 17 Jan 2013



How will I identify an organizer at lca2013?

posted at: 16:55 | path: /conference/lca2013/pictures/20130116-lca2013 | permanent link to this entry


First day of setup for lca2013

posted at: 16:28 | path: /conference/lca2013/pictures/20130117-lca2013 | permanent link to this entry


Fri, 21 Sep 2012



On conference t-shirts

    Conference t-shirts can't be that hard, right? I certainly don't remember them being difficult when Canberra last hosted linux.conf.au in 2005. I was the person who arranged all the swag for that conference, so I should remember. Yet here I am having spent hours on the phone with vendors, and surrounded with discarded sample t-shirts, size charts and colour swatches. What changed?

    The difference between now and then is that in the intervening seven years the Australian Linux community has started to make real effort to be more inclusive. We have anti-harassment policies, we encourage new speakers, and we're making real efforts to encourage more women into the community.

    linux.conf.au 2013 is making real efforts to be as inclusive as possible -- one of the first roles we allocated was a diversity officer, who is someone active in the geek feminism community. We've had serious discussions about how we can make our event as friendly to all groups as possible, and have some interesting things along those lines to announce soon. We're working hard to make the conference a safe environment for everyone, and will have independent delegate advocates available at all social events, as well as during the conference.

    What I want to specifically talk about here is the conference t-shirts though. We started out with the following criteria -- we wanted to provide a men's cut, and a separate women's cut, because we recognize that unisex t-shirts are not a good solution for most women. We also need a wider than usual size range in those shirts because we have a diverse set of delegates attending our event. We also didn't really want to do black, dark blue, or white shirts -- mostly because those colours are overdone, but also because the conference is in January when the mean temperature is around 30 degrees Celsius.

    Surprisingly, those criteria eliminate the two largest vendors of t-shirts in Australia. Neither Hanes nor Gildan make any t-shirt that has both men's and women's cuts, in interesting colours and with a large size variety. So we went on the hunt for other manufacturers. However, I'm jumping a little ahead of myself here, so bear with me.

    First off we picked a Hanes shirt because we liked the look of it. We were comfortable with that choice for quite a while before we discovered that the range of colours available in both the men's and women's cut was quite small. Sure, there are heaps of colours in each cut, but the overlapping set of colours is much smaller than it first appears. At this point we knew we needed to find a new vendor.

    The next most obvious choice is Gildan. Gildan does some really nice shirts, and I immediately fell in love with a colour called "charcoal". However, once bitten twice shy, so we ordered some sample t-shirts for my wife and I to try out. I'm glad we did this, because the women's cut was a disaster. First off it didn't fit my wife very well in the size she normally wears, which it turns out is because the lighter cotton style of t-shirt is 10 centimeters smaller horizontally than the thicker cotton version! It got even worse when we washed the shirts and tried them again -- the shirt shrunk significantly on first wash. We also noticed something else which had escaped our attention -- the absolute largest size that Gildan did in our chosen style for women was a XXL. Given the sizing ran small, that probably made the largest actual size we could provide a mere XL. That's not good enough.

    Gildan was clearly not going to work for us. I got back on the phone with the supplier who was helping us out and we spent about an hour talking over our requirements and the problems we were seeing with the samples. We even discussed getting a run of custom shirts made overseas and shipped in, but the timing wouldn't work out. They promised to go away and see what other vendors they could find in this space. Luckily for us they came back with a vendor called BizCollection, who do soft cotton shirts in the charcoal colour I like.

    So next we ordered samples of this shirt. It looked good initially -- my shirt fit well, as did my wife's. However, we'd now learnt that testing the shirts through a few wash cycles was useful. So then my wife and I wore the shirts as much as we could for a week, washing them each evening and abusing them in all the ways we could think of -- using the dryer, hanging them outside in the sun, pretty much everything apart from jumping up and down on them. I have to say these shirts have held up well, and we're very happy with them.

    The next step is I'm going to go back and order a bunch more sample shirts and make my team wear them. The goal here is to try and validate the size charts that the vendor provides and make sure that we can provide as much advice about fit as possible to delegates. Also, I love a free t-shirt.

    After all this we still recognize that some people will never be happy with the conference's t-shirt. Perhaps they hate the colour or the design, or perhaps they're very tall and every t-shirt is too short for them. So the final thing we're doing is we're giving delegates a choice -- they can select between a t-shirt, a branded cap, or a reusable coffee cup. In this way we don't force delegates to receive something they don't really want and are unlikely to use.

    When you register for the conference, please try to remember that we've put a lot of effort as an organizing team into being as detail oriented as possible with all the little things we think delegates care about. I'm sure we've made some mistakes, but we are volunteers after all who are doing our best. If you do see something you think can be improved I'd ask that you come and speak to us privately first and give us a chance to make it right before you complain in public.

    Thanks for reading my rant about conference t-shirts.

    Tags for this post: conference lca2013 swag t-shirts canonical
    Related posts: Call for papers opens soon; linux.conf.au Returns to Canberra in 2013; Got Something to Say? The LCA 2013 CFP Opens Soon!; Announcement video; Are you in a LUG? Do you want some promotional materials for LCA 2013?; OpenStack at linux.conf.au 2013

posted at: 14:42 | path: /conference/lca2013 | permanent link to this entry


Sun, 20 May 2012



Got Something to Say? The LCA 2013 CFP Opens Soon!

    The call for presentations opens on 1 June, which is only 11 days away! So if you're thinking of speaking at the conference (a presentation, tutorial, or miniconference), now would be a good time to start thinking about what you're going to say. While you're thinking, please spare a thought for our web team, who are bringing up the entire zookeepr instance so that the CFP will work properly.

    We've been getting heaps of stuff done over the past few months. We've had a "ghosts" meeting (a meeting with former LCA directors), found conference and social venues, and are gearing up for the Call For Presentations.

    We've signed a contract for the keynote venue, which I think you will all really enjoy. We have also locked in our booking for the lecture theatres, which is now working its way through the ANU process. For social events, we've got a great venue for the penguin dinner, and have shortlisted venues for the speakers' dinner and the professional delegates' networking session. We're taking a bit of extra time here because we want venues that are special, and not just the ones which first came to mind.

    The ghosts meeting went really well and I think we learnt some important things. The LCA 2013 team is a bit unusual, because so many of us have been on a LCA core team before, but that gave us a chance to dig into things which deserved more attention and skip over the things which are self-evident. We want to take the opportunity in 2013 to have the most accessible, diverse and technically deep conference that we possibly can, and there was a lot of discussion around those issues. We've also had it drummed into us that communications with delegates is vitally important and you should expect our attempts to communicate to ramp up as the conference approaches.

    I'm really excited about the progress we've made so far, and I feel like we're in a really good state right now. As always, please feel free to contact the LCA2013 team at contact@lca2013.linux.org.au if you have any questions.

    Tags for this post: conference lca2013 cfp canonical
    Related posts: Call for papers opens soon; On conference t-shirts; Are you in a LUG? Do you want some promotional materials for LCA 2013?; Announcement video; linux.conf.au Returns to Canberra in 2013; The mechanics of bidding for LCA

posted at: 20:44 | path: /conference/lca2013 | permanent link to this entry


Mon, 02 Apr 2012



Call for papers opens soon

    It's time to start thinking about your talk proposals, because the call for papers is only eight weeks away!

    For the 2013 conference, the papers committee are going to be focusing on deep technical content, and things we think are going to really matter in the future -- that might range from freedom and privacy, to open source cloud systems, or energy efficient server farms of the future. However, the conference is to a large extent what the speakers make it -- if we receive many excellent submissions on a topic, then its sure to be represented at the conference.

    The papers committee will be headed by the able combination of Michael Davies and Mary Gardiner, who have done an excellent job in previous years. They're currently working through the details of the call for papers announcement. I am telling you this now because I want speakers to have plenty of time to prepare for the submissions process, as I think that will produce the highest quality of submissions.

    I also wanted to let you know the organising for linux.conf.au 2013 is progressing well. We're currently in the process of locking in all of our venue arrangements, so we will have some announcements about that soon. We've received our first venue contract to sign, which is for the keynote venue. It's exciting, but at the same time a good reminder that the conference is a big responsibility.

    What would you like to see at the conference? I am sure there are things which are topical which I haven't thought of. Blog or tweet your thoughts (include the hashtag #lca2013 please), or email us at contact@lca2013.linux.org.au.

    Tags for this post: conference lca2013 cfp canonical
    Related posts: Got Something to Say? The LCA 2013 CFP Opens Soon!; Are you in a LUG? Do you want some promotional materials for LCA 2013?; Announcement video; linux.conf.au Returns to Canberra in 2013; On conference t-shirts; LCA 2013 bid process opens - Canberra at the ready!

posted at: 20:45 | path: /conference/lca2013 | permanent link to this entry


Thu, 15 Mar 2012



It seems stickers are a gas

posted at: 16:42 | path: /conference/lca2013 | permanent link to this entry


Tue, 31 Jan 2012



Announcement video

posted at: 15:04 | path: /conference/lca2013 | permanent link to this entry


Tue, 24 Jan 2012



Are you in a LUG? Do you want some promotional materials for LCA 2013?

posted at: 22:24 | path: /conference/lca2013 | permanent link to this entry


Sat, 21 Jan 2012



linux.conf.au Returns to Canberra in 2013

posted at: 03:10 | path: /conference/lca2013 | permanent link to this entry


Sat, 14 May 2011



Canberra's LCA2013 bid

posted at: 02:01 | path: /conference/lca2013/bid | permanent link to this entry


Mon, 07 Feb 2011



Canberra officially expresses interest in hosting LCA in 2013

posted at: 19:45 | path: /conference/lca2013/bid | permanent link to this entry


Sun, 30 Jan 2011



The mechanics of bidding for LCA

    As I sit here reading the notes from the Future LCAs birds of a feather at LCA2011, I've come to the realization that most of the conversation was about the mechanics of what is required for an LCA bid. It can be daunting to know what needs to be done in order to have a successful bid for an event as complicated as LCA, especially if you've never been an organizer before. Its not clear that Canberra will have a successful bid for 2013 yet, but I think its a good idea to share what we've done so far if it helps others develop high quality bids.

    The first thing to think about is your team. At the BoF, it was strongly suggested that you need around five to six people for a good bid. I've seen conferences run with fewer people than that, but it is risky. LCA is a large and complicated event these days, and with a planning horizon of around two years, you need to be prepared for there to be a fair bit of churn in your core organizing team. Some people will move away, or change jobs. Others might have a new child and discover they're much too busy for a conference as well. So, remember when you're putting that initial team together to pack in some extra folks in order to handle the churn. Most Australian capital cities have former LCA organizers in them these days as well (we call them ghosts in the Linux Australia community). You should try to find one or two of these people to be involved as well. For example, the Canberra bid committee currently stands at 14 people, seven or whom have been on a LCA core team before, 3 of whom have served on Linux Australia's national committee, and at least two of whom have run their local Linux User's Group at some point in the past.

    Let Linux Australia know that you're interested in submitting a bid (council@linux.org.au seems like the right place to send this). They can provide you with sample bids and budgets from previous conferences when the bid process starts. They can help you plan your bid, and assist with modelling the cost of the conference. Linux Australia also has a few online references you should read early and often, including public bid guidelines and a how-to for running the conference (although the latter is a little dated now).

    Next you need to starting filling in some of the details for your conference. Where are you going to host the main conference? In Canberra's experience it is getting quite hard to find venues which can host a conference for 700 people, especially when you take into account that people really like to be all in the same room for keynotes and closing sessions. Canberra is lucky in this regard because we have at least three venues which can scale to this size event, but that might not be true of all cities. So, find a conference venue as a first step with your new team. Don't forget when talking to venues to ask how much the venue will cost -- a significant part of the conference budget can get spent on the main venue. Note also that many venues require that you use their catering and audio visual companies if you're using their rooms. This can be a hidden expense that's painful to discover later.

    Your local city probably has a Convention Bureau that can start to be helpful now. The Canberra Convention Bureau has been very supportive for our bid, starting out with a meeting to get a feel for the event, running a familiarization tour of possible venues for various components of the conference, and helping us with the actual content of our bid. The venue tour was a particularly interesting exercise -- it was a three day non-stop tour of possible venues and while quite tiring I learnt heaps. These tours are generally run with other potential conference organizers from around the country, so you also get to learn from seeing what questions other organizations ask. The Canberra Convention Bureau don't just do this because they're lovely people (they are). The Bureau is funded by the various tourist attractions in the city, who obviously have a vested interest in bringing events to Canberra. The Bureau is also staffed with people who have worked in the hotel, hospitality and conference industry for many years, which means they have plenty of experience to share when you need advice.

    You'll also need to start working out what venues you want to use for the various other events. There is an open day, as well as a variety of social events to organize. At this point you don't need to pay deposits for these facilities, but you do need a reasonable idea of what they cost and whether they're available. Again, most venues have signed exclusive catering deals, so you need to make sure that you understand who is providing those services, how much they cost, and if that is already included in the venue cost.

    Accommodation can be hard to work out as well. It is now traditional to offer a student style accommodation option for the budget conscious, and this can take some negotiation with nearby student residences. For example with LCA 2005 we moved the conference to April, and then discovered later that our preferred student residences weren't available at this time of year because despite being during a university break, students often stay around. For our 2013 bid we've been talking to the owners of some very fancy student residences that are brand new. It took a little bit of talking before that residence became available because our intended week for the conference is the week before the normal student move in time. We worked it out in the end, but you can't just assume that student residences are available for your conference.

    During all these conversations you should be "penciling in" your bookings to ensure your chosen venues are available if you do win the bidding process. Remember not to make a firm commitment though, because you don't want to pay a deposit for a conference that might not end up happening! Additionally, collect some form of confirmation from venues that they are available. In some cases our documentation is as informal as email chains. In other cases we already have formal written quotations. What you're trying to do here is reinforce to the Linux Australia national committee that you're well organized, and serious about hosting an excellent conference. There is a lot of money involved with hosting LCA, so you really need to reassure Linux Australia that you can be trusted with the financial obligations.

    One final point -- one of the best ways to develop experience at bidding for LCA is to actually bid. Even if your bid is rejected you'll end up with a bunch of useful feedback about how to improve it in the future. You'll also get to see how the winning bid compared with yours, which gives you an important data point.

    Tags for this post: conference lca2013 bid
    Related posts: LCA 2013 bid process opens - Canberra at the ready!; Canberra officially expresses interest in hosting LCA in 2013; Canberra's LCA2013 bid; Contact details for the Canberra LCA 2013 bid; Are you in a LUG? Do you want some promotional materials for LCA 2013?; Announcement video [btags: canberra] [btags: canonical canberra]

posted at: 23:03 | path: /conference/lca2013/bid | permanent link to this entry


Tue, 25 Jan 2011



Contact details for the Canberra LCA 2013 bid

posted at: 13:15 | path: /conference/lca2013/bid | permanent link to this entry


Sun, 23 Jan 2011



LCA 2013 bid process opens - Canberra at the ready!

posted at: 15:24 | path: /conference/lca2013/bid | permanent link to this entry