Case Western Reserve University

April 9, 2008

Out of all the places I’ve spoken at so far, this by far had to be the best.  I got a chance to visit with Case students and faculty on Monday.  There are so many people at Case who just “get it.”  From faculty to students and the IT, they truly understand the value of Open Source and are active contributors to many Open Source projects.  My talk went very well, the room was packed to walls, with a very good mix of people, and I got asked some of the best and most inquisitive questions yet.

A few of the guys in the crowd were already heavy contributors to Open Source.  One of the kids was a Pidgin contributor, another was a maintainer on SunWah Linux and heavy in the Slackware community and when I asked how many people contributed to some Open Source project, almost everyone in the room raised their hand.  I was very impressed.

The questions from the audience ran the gamut from simply “how do I get involved in Fedora” to “how do I get maintainers to not ignore my patches” and someone even asked about getting something on Fedora hosted!!  I was asked about Creative Commons, Patent Reform and what Red Hat perceived its role was in all that fray.  I was also asked about Microsoft Patent Pledge and whether we thought it was real or not, that made for a very funny discussion.

Eventually, I did find my way out but was followed by about 10 students to the car where they got their Fedora Shirts and Hats and we all put them on and took a picture together which I need to get and post up here.  We spent another few minutes together chatting and then they bid me farewell.  Off to my next destination.  Purdue University…


Saying Goodbye to Boston

April 9, 2008

Last week was incredible. Like I mentioned in the previous post, I spent most of the week in Boston, meeting various people and groups at some of the finest universities in the country. Boston is such a great place because it is a hotbed of technology and especially, Open Source, activity.

First up was BU last Tuesday. I got to meet members of the Computer Science faculty including Dr. Sclaroff, the chair of BU CS and a bunch of the other faculty. Really great folks! I got alot of feedback from them about how we can further students’ awareness of Open Source and relevant issues, and how we can further enhance our relationship with BU. Everyone was already well aware of our closeness with them and they really want us grow our relationship with the CS department.

The session at BU was pretty small, but very very sweet. Due to Bose holding an info session and giving away free speaker systems, many people decide to head there. One of the faculty members even came up to me and apologized before my talk, and we both got a good laugh out of it. If I would have known about this I probably would have ditched myself! Regardless, the students at BU were well aware of FUDcon and we had some FUDcon attendees in the crowd. I got some really good questions about Creative Commons and the whole concept of Intellectual Property reform and also about the Microsoft patent news from a few weeks ago. Very interesting conversation all around. I walked out of that place saying to myself, “wow, these kids are informed!!”

The rest of the week I spent meeting different faculty, students and various groups from MIT, Northeastern and the biggest surprise–Hardvard.

On Thursday, I got to meet up with some guys from MIT’s linguistics lab and the IEEE chapter there.  All I can say is they are doing some amazing research, especially in the field of Natural Language Processing.  They obviously are heavy users of Open Source.  They don’t run much Red Hat or Fedora, almost everything they have is Debian, but I guess that was to be expected.  Really alot of what they are looking for is organizations to fund their research.

Along with those guys came on of Hardvard University’s IT staff.  He helps run Harvard’s massive IT center which is located on Soldier Field Road on the other side of the river.  He gave me a brief tour on Friday morning and I got to see alot of cool stuff.  They are heavy users of RHEL and they appreciated the T-Shirts I gave them and told me I was welcome back any time and we could try and set something up with CS folks at Harvard, which I am very open to doing.

The rest of Friday was spent trying to track down various faculty at Northeastern and talk to them.  The lady who was my main point of contact wasn’t in on Friday and that made it a logistical nightmare.  At the end, I ended up meeting with some of the Associate faculty members and talking to them about the importance of teaching Open Source methodology to incoming students.  They agreed for the most part and were willing to help put something in place at Northeastern.

In summary, Boston is a hot bed of Open Source activity with alot of action going on that needs to be cultivated for proper direction.  Everyone is already using Open Source in some capacity and there are many contributors left and right.  I guess the question that needs to be asked of Boston is how do we kick it up another notch?  I have my ideas… 😉

Moving and Shaking

April 1, 2008

It’s been pretty hard to get steady internet access to write and post this entry but I’ve finally landed in Boston, on Week 2 of the tour and I have working wi-fi, so here goes.

Everything has been going phenomenally!!  Everything kicked off last week at Carnegie-Mellon.  CMU was a very gracious host and I got to meet many of the faculty and staff and we spoke about various topics, of course including Open Source and Linux.  The students at CMU were very eager for the talk and packed the room and it went off very well.  Not bad for the first time.  Yankee, who is at PITT also stopped by and helped me throughout the day as well with answering some of the questions.

Next stop was U of Penn.  I spent much of the day talking to some faculty members and people from the career services office.  Career services found Linux and Open Source to be very intriguing.  The university uses mostly SuSe, I guess because it is a hold over from their Novell NetWare days.  The IT staff really do love Red Hat and Fedora though, a number of the guys were running Fedora on their laptops.  The actual talk was moved from Engineering to Wharton (business school) because of some trouble scheduling and the turnout was rather low early on due to many people being confused.  More people trickled in during the talk and we had a great Q&A session for about an hour and a half afterwards.

Last Thursday I was at Cornell and that was very interesting.  Cornell is already working on several large scale Open Source projects, a number of which they hope to get into the kernel.  I spent the morning with Dr. Tardos, Dean of Computer Science, along with some other faculty talking about how we could possibly further help them with their research and getting integrated into the kernel community.  The afternoon was spent with the research faculty talking about all sorts of interesting projects.  There is alot of research going on at Cornell that will greatly benefit the Open Source community.  My presentation was a little later in the evening, but it went well to a very packed house and I stuck around for about 2 hours afterwards talking to many of the students and faculty about the talk itself and a few other geeky topics.

Friday was a sort of homecoming for me.  I was back in Syracuse at Syracuse University and spent a large portion of the day talking to faculty about how we can go about building Open Source methodology and concepts into a modern CS/CE curriculum and many ideas came out of that meeting.  I hope to put some notes up, once we solidify something with them.  The talk at SU was actually in the middle of both sets of meetings and it was absolutely an extremely packed house.  Many members of the faculty attended, as well as James Howison, who is doing alot of research about the Open Source community.  I was told that many of the student groups canceled their meetings, which are on friday, in order to be able to attend.  It was a great turnout and I pumped up the talk a bit and it was amazing!!  The presentation was taped and someone at SU is currently digitizing it, I hope to be able to post it up here once its done.

Yesterday, I got to visit the Computer Science House at Rochester Institute of Technology, Luke’s Alma Mater.  The talk started at 9pm due to a delay in pizza delivery, but in the meanwhile I got to take a tour of CSH and see all the cool stuff they have there and a sneek peak at all the projects they are working on.  All I can say is, WOW, that was amazing.  I won’t get into too much detail, but all you need to know is everything on the floor there is in the process of being hacked.  It was like walking into an issue of Make Magazine.  Once the food arrived and everyone was fed, I gave the talk in the CSH meeting room, packed to the brim!!! It was really cool, in a really informal setting and as a result everyone was very very relaxed.  I finally got back from CSH at like 1am because of the ongoing conversations afterwards and so many kids who were so interested in Fedora and Linux in general.

As for today, well I’m sitting in the conference room at Boston University’s schoo of engineering.  Show time is in 15 minutes.  I should have steady internet this whole week, so I’ll post up some more thoughts about my conversation with the students later tonight or tomorrow.  Really fascinating stuff.  Need to run and set up the projector now though!  I’m cutting it close!

There He Goes

March 24, 2008

Just arrived in Pittsburgh after a 5 hour travel ordeal which should have normally taken no more than 3 hours. Didn’t faze me one bit though, because I’m running on pure adrenaline, PSYCHED for Carnegie-Mellon in a few hours. CMU faculty, students and staff and local geeks alike who are interested in being inspired and captivated please join me as I present “Crash: How a Billion Little Collisions Define Everything” at 5pm later today in Newell-Simon Hall.

A true treatise on the meaning of technology, life, the universe and everything. I am very proud of how the presentation has shaped up. Still need to put some polish on the presentation, but its solid! Also, it will be recorded so hope to post a video sometime tomorrow evening on the day after.

America, here we come…

Like a Rolling Stone

March 17, 2008

Hey! It’s Jack here, just wanted to let everyone know that we are in the final stages of preparation for the Fedora University Tour 2008 and I can’t wait to hit the road next Monday.  First stop is Carnegie-Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA!!   The travel plans are (mostly) taken care of, arrangements with the schools are finalized and my “lecture” is about 90% complete, just a little tweaking here and there to make some final changes.  I’ll make the next blog post about the presentation actually, its pretty fascinating!

How can you get involved?  Well first, if you’re a student, faculty or staff member at any of the schools on the Schedule, SHOW UP!!  Also, tell everyone at your school.  The talk isn’t just for students, its for everyone interested in technology, geekery and especially software.  Second, feel free to add comments here, suggest people to speak to and things to see at the various schools.  There are lots of CS/CE professors who might be interested in talking to us, but don’t know that we are coming.  Let them know.  Lastly, bring cameras, photo and video to the talk and make sure to post up what you captured on here.

Fedora takes over your school in T-Minus 1 week!!!

First post!

March 11, 2008

Welcome to the official blog of the Fedora Project‘s 2008 University Tour.

We’ll be on the road from March 24th – April 17th, visiting schools in the Northeast, Midwest, and West Coast.

More information on the Fedora Project and the goals of the University Tour.