Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Impressions from SmartOS Talk, July 3 2012

On July 3 2012 NOSIG organized its 4th meeting. This time we had Max Bruning from Joyent joining us. Max delivered a wonderful, 2.5 hour talk on SmartOS. Venue was again the University of Amsterdam (UvA).

The whole meeting was broadcasted live on the Internet using Ustream. Go here to watch the recording. The slides are also available for download. Ate Brink has put up a nice series of photographs taken at the venue.

This was the first time we broadcasted a NOSIG get-together live to the Internet. The idea came from Deirdre Straughan from Joyent, who's the SmartOS Community Manager. Originally we planned to have Max present from Geneva (to save traveling costs), broadcasting live to the Internet and then beam his presentation on a large screen in the room in Amsterdam where we organized the meeting. But after several tests Max' conclusion was: "I'll try and find funding to come to Amsterdam". I will not go into too much detail here but imagine audio/video being out of sync, connection drops, video freezes... anything and everything you don't want when broadcasting.

Thanks to Joyent and to the Netherlands Unix Users Group (NLUUG - NOSIGs parent organization and sponsor) who both covered parts of the cost, Max was able to come to Amsterdam. We picked him up from Amsterdam airport no less than 1 hour and 15 minutes before the live broadcast would start, rushed to the venue, unpacked laptops and prepared for the presentation... and then the fun started.

Being techies (and stubborn ;-)) we still wanted to do a live broadcast though, so people could tune in from elsewhere. So Jeroen Roodhart from UvA went above and beyond and managed to get things working! In the end we used a MacBook and the Ustream Producer software. We had a camera connected to do the live video, and could do Desktop Sharing from Max' laptop to show the slides.

Jeroen and I tested this many many times and it all worked - until we wanted to start the evening. Then of course everything broke down. We still have no clue why but after 30 minutes of rebooting, resetting, reconnecting everything worked again and Max could finally kick off.

In good spirit of NOSIG we had Q&A during his talk. We organized for the possibility to do Q&A for remote people by using Twitter - people could send a Tweet @nosigorg that then showed up as a "mention" in the nosigorg Twitter account that I monitored during the presentation. Worked like a charm!

What more can I say? From this point on everything went on smoothly. We did the traditional "break - with extensive socializing and networking" but shortened that to 10 minutes and left everyting running including the recording to be sure things wouldn't collapse again. At 22:00pm CET Max finished his talk and 30 seconds later a guard showed up reminding us that the building closes at 10. Great planning eh? :-)

Some aftermath:
  • 15 people in the room
  • 269 views of the live Ustream (during the event)
  • Peak of 44 people watching the stream at the same time
  • About 10 questions came in through Twitter
 I really cannot thank the following people and companies enough:
  • Max Bruning - for his great presentation and all the time he spent preparing and traveling
  • Deirdre Straughan - for her never ending support, great ideas, and live Twittering the event
  • Jeroen Roodhart from UvA - for spending half a day making things work (and for the sandwiches we had for dinner)
  • Joyent - for allowing and funding Max to travel
  • University of Amsterdam - for their hospitality and for letting us use their A/V equipment
  • NLUUG - for supporting NOSIG and for the sponsoring

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