GUADEC 08 in Istanbul is the fourth GUADEC I have attended. My first GUADEC was in Dublin back in 2003. Second one is in Kristiansand, Norway in 2004. Third GAUDEC in Vilanova, Spain in 2006. I totally enjoyed this GUADEC for a number of reasons.
Meeting up interesting people over the years and now we now seemed well acquainted, Luis, Jonathan Blandford, David Neary, J5, Micheal Meeks, Vincent Vuntz, Davyd Madeley, new acquaintance like Lucas, Reinout van Schouwen, Don Scroige, Peter Sikking and many other I have not be able to remember their names. Such as the conversation about only paying 1MB price for 12MB internet service in Spain at 2 a.m. (Identify yourself if you know that it is you). Though this year, we missed the presence of Jeff Waugh, Glynn Foster, Havoc.
Of course celebrity-like figure, Mark Shutterworth was even briefly queried about the printing BOF, and remarked that it has to work for CUPS, . Mark made my celeb list not so muh of Ubuntu, but his venture into space with the Russian.
What Really went well
Apart from meeting all the interesting people, I think the following things that
made GUADEC 2008 such an enjoyable one:
o Turkish Cushion/Raki/Water Pipes
These are unique to Istanbul and also such a powerful community building and
binding 'weapons', it is almost magical. Let me explains, around the corner
of the recommended hotels, there are these brightly coloured cushions laying
along the streets provided by the hotels, restaurants and bars that serve foods,
beers, Raki and Water pipes. Everyone can sit or lay down on these extremely
comfortable cushions/bead bags bare footed. Drinking beers or Raki which is a
local 40% alcoholic drink. Water pipes essentially is smoking fruit favoured
tobaco but filtered through water before it reaches the smoker's lungs (okay,
to keep the record straight for my children, I didn't smoke any ). You can
imagine the coziness, everyone is relax sitting shoulder to shoulder, taking
about GNOME, hacking ideas, FOSS, nice places in Istanbul, everything and
anything that comes into mind. I saw people who was passionate argued about
software development, etc. All is FUN!
o Boat cruise
The best social event is the boat cruise. It is perfect in a community
building/binding event again with the 2 similar key important elements:
o it started on time at 9.00 p.m. as that the time the boat left. Effective use
o Once you are on the boat, you can't go anywhere for 3 hours. You just got to
socialize while many cans of beers are served.
Of course the Ice Scream Death Match and SMASH added significant participation to the occasion. I joined in the Ice Cream DeathMatch in promptu. Shamefully to say, I managed only to eat one third of the 2 Litter box of ice cream, but that is a personal best . Other enjoyed SMASHED mini-conference. SMASHED stands for the Single Malt Appreciation Society for Hackers, Engineers and Developers. I can see this mini-conference will be an integrated part of future GUADEC.
The beautiful night scheme of Istanbul subtle encouraged people to immersed into social participation.
o Helpful volunteers
I could not say more highly of the friendliness of the conference helpers
over the 5/6 days. They tried everything the could to help, at one point
when I was trying to set up access to the wifi, there were 3 or 4 volunteers
come to help.
Such a beautiful city, the straits, the bay, all the history, beautiful
building, friendly people, nice restaurants convenience public transports,
infinite number of taxis.
What didn't go well
o Some of the BOF sessions were not run as well as it could be. It is a
combination of poor preparation of the speakers, or the lack of attendant from
the right group of people. I think we all owned to the community to play our
parts to the best we could. This is not meant to be a criticism, but seriously
for us to bring GNOME community to the next level, we need to do our parts
seriously and at the same times have FUN , work hard, play hard! (My apology
to all who attended the printing BOF, the demo didn't go as well as it should.
I am too part of the problem).
o The University has blocked some ports which meant I can't read my company's
e-mail and which meant I have to spend more times at the hotel to reply
some of the more urgent mails.
o Lighning talks are excellent, in fact it is some well done that the other two
parallel sessions fell victim of it. So to the future organsing committee,
please do not have other parallel sessions when lightning talks is on.
On the whole, I consider the conference a BIG SUCCESS! Lots of interesting
works going on, GTK+ 3.0 and GNOME 3.0 are exciting news. GDM development shown the solid engineering works happening in the community. PackageKit are all encompassing and shown the important of user's experience.
The venue of GUADEC 09 will be in the Grand Canary. I really amused at the way the decision was made, it was voted in by a show of hands and a shout of hurray during the foundation member meeting. (Update: I read from the mailing list that it was actually decided by the Foundation directors before hand, hmm I am confused here).