Monday Jun 02, 2008

Funny moments at Rome University presentation

There were some funny moments during the conference at Rome University.
Before Marten's arrival, we built an impressive heap of fluff dolphins on the desk.

For convenience, Marten used my laptop (an Apple MacBook) for his presentation, and he remarked about "open source enthusiasts who use closed source software". Mac OSX is, indeed, not open source, but it is the friendlier closed source operating system around. And since I am not a zealot, but I use what is best for me, I can cope withApple. My Mac has all the applications I am used to in Linux, with more pleasant graphics, media, and networking features. This is my personal opinion, and YMMV. Back to the topic.

After the presentation, there was a Q&A session. When Marten said he was ready to take questions, I addressed the audience in Italian, saying that we could take questions in Italian and translate them. Marten added immediately "and we can take questions in Swedish and Finnish at no extra charge".
We gave one fluff dolphin to everyone who asked a question. The audience appreciated it. The questions were frequent and spontaneous, and the extra dolphins were a welcome bonus.
When it was my turn to speak, on the subject of "MySQL Community How To", I started with this remark: "we have shown you the commercial dolphins. One for each question. Now brace yourselves for the open source strategy!" I grabbed two handfuls of dolphins, and threw them at the audience. I had their full attention, and they asked many questions, without further promise of dolphins.
One of the questions was "what is the reason for participating to a open source project? Why should I contribute?" And my provocative answer, which would perhaps deserve a full article to expand, was "mainly, participation in OS projects is for selfish reasons. I have an itch to scratch, and I want to ease it. If your application does 99% of what I need and I know how to do the missing 1%, by writing a patch I am solving my problem, and by submitting my patch for future releases I am making sure that I don't have to recompile the application in future releases. Thus, by looking after my interests, I am doing good to the community."
The reality is much more complex than that, but my answer pleased the audience, and I feel that it is not far from the truth.
Summing up, in addition to having a fruitful day with customers, press, and academic institutions, we had some fun as well.

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Giuseppe Maxia

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