Fossetcon was amazing!

Following the LibreOffice Annual Conference in Bern, Switzerland, I headed to Olando, Florida for Fossetcon. This was my first trip to the Sunshine State, and I got a very warm welcome from all of the Fossetcon team.

When I arrived at the airport, Vernon Singleton was kind enough to pick me up and give me a ride over to the Rosen Plaza Hotel. Situated along a strip of various hotels and eateries, the Rosen Plaza was an all-in-one venue, providing lodging, conference space, and a few different dining options. In addition to my regular QA Engineer work, I was spending the week learning how to be the Release Engineer for LibreOffice, so I spent a fair amount of time glued to my computer, but did find time to run out to eat and use the pool.

WARNING: Floridians don’t know what crosswalks are. They will run you over. The same thing will happen in Dallas, TX, and perhaps in any other city in the South. Just wait until there aren’t any cars within a hundred feet or more, and then cross.

Unlike the small, rectangular indoor pools we have up in New England, the Rosen had a large, bean-shaped pool, complete with a palm tree growing on a finger of land extending out into the pool. I originally thought that the tree was on an island in the middle of the pool, but was rather miffed to find out the truth. Probably safety or insurance reasons prohibited them from having a palm island. Either way, the pool was very relaxing after a long day of staring at the screen.

The whirlpool spa was equally nifty, with a big cascading waterfall continuously pouring into the center. Standing directly under the stream provided a nice back massage, just the perfect thing after flying overnight and sleeping in a plane.

On Wednesday, our first booth volunteer arrived. Aaron Honeycutt is a volunteer in the Kubuntu community, and he traveled several hours to come to Fossetcon and help out at the LibreOffice booth. Even though he arrived late at night, he jumped right in and helped Garret Honeycutt (no relation), Bryan Smith, and me stuff swag bags for the conference. He also helped to finish the design for the Fossetcon namebadges — what a guy! After a full day of work and an evening of conference setup (including gaffing down the cabling for the presentation rooms), we slept like logs.

On Thursday, I pitched-in to help with conference registration. Vernon’s daughters had joined him at the event, and were eager to help out with registration, freeing me up to go deal with a handful of other tasks, including locating the breakfast and directing conference-goers towards it. There was a pleasant spread of food for breakfast, which (unfortunately) got served upstairs and not downstairs next to the registration tables, and a multi-course meal for lunch (served tableside, no less). I’m often skeptical about the food that hotels and banquet halls produce and serve internally, but I was nicely surprised by the quality of food and service.

At the end of the day, we headed over to Maggiano’s for the speakers’ dinner. Food was served family-style, and was rather quite delicious. I’m sure that some of the entrees were of a high caloric content, but I’m sure that all my hard work running around during the day offset the intake. Or something like that. I know that my table had some great and hilarious conversations, and although I didn’t get a chance to follow the conversations of the other tables, I’m pretty sure that we left the restaurant as full and happy as anyone else in the place .

Friday was the first full day of the conference. The booth went together quickly in the morning, and I gave my LibreOffice Tips and Tricks talk in the afternoon. The FSF hosted a meetup/party at The Pub Orlando in the evening, and Libby Reinish and I had a great extended conversation about what’s going on with Free Software, especially in the US, and what The Document Foundation and the FSF can do together to get even more people aware of and using Free/Open file formats and Free Software, such as LibreOffice and ODF. We brainstormed a lot of great ideas, and I mentioned some of the work I’ve done and am hoping to do with the FSFE and Document Freedom Day in the Spring.

We had a 2nd booth volunteer arrive on Saturday: Ryan Ruddy. Ryan works with non-profits, and was a welcome presence at the booth. He had some good ideas about getting LibreOffice into the hands of other non-profits and some notes on other conferences we might be interested in attending. I’m definitely looking forward to working with Ryan on future LibreOffice outreach in the region.

Saturday was a long day, mostly because I never went to sleep. For reasons unknown, I decided to book a flight leaving from MCO on Sunday at about 06:30, which meant that I needed to leave the hotel around 4-something. Factoring-in the time needed to pack up the booth, help strike the infrastructure from the conference, grab one last swim, and attend the after-party, I knew that there wouldn’t be much time left for a snooze. Add in a shower and time to pack up my hotel room, and I might be able to close my eyes for 30 minutes, assuming I would wake up after so short a slumber. Thankfully, I didn’t try to sleep.

At 04:00, José Antonio Rey of the Ubuntu Peru community and I piled into a van and headed to the airport. Due to some kind of hotel mixup, he’d gotten an upgrade from a regular room to a suite. I like having more space when I stay somewhere, but flip side is that it’s much easier to misplace items in a large room. As it was, I think I left a couple of toiletries in my room, perhaps hiding under one of the plethora of towels they left next to the sink. Just before José and I parted ways in a giant atrium lined with hotel rooms, he bought me a coffee at Starbucks to help me wake up and get on the plane to Dallas. What a nice guy!

See you next year, Fossetcon!

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