FOSDEM 2019 was my first FOSDEM. My work reason to attend was to meet many of my new team-mates from the Red Hat OpenJDK team, as well as people from the wider OpenJDK community, and learn a bit about what people are up to. I spent most of the first day entirely in the Free Java room, which was consistently over-full. On Monday I attended an OpenJDK Committer's meeting hosted by Oracle (despite not — yet — being an OpenJDK source contributor… soon!)
A sides from work and Java, I thought this would be a great opportunity to catch up with various friends from the Debian community. I didn't do quite as well as I hoped! By coincidence, I sat on a train next to Ben Hutchings On Friday, I tried to meet up with Steve McIntyre and others (I spotted at least Neil Williams and half a dozen others) for dinner, but alas the restaurant had (literally) nothing on the menu for vegetarians, so I waved and said hello for a mere 5 minutes before moving on.
On Saturday I bumped into Thomas Goirand (who sports a fantastic Debian Swirl umbrella) with whom I was not yet acquainted. I'm fairly sure I saw Mark Brown from across a room but didn't manage to say hello. I also managed a brief hello with Nattie Hutchings who was volunteering at one of the FOSDEM booths. I missed all the talks given by Debian people, including Karen Sandler, Molly De Blanc, irl, Steinar, Samuel Thibault.
Sunday was a little more successful: I did manage to shake Enrico's hand briefly in the queue for tea, and chat with Paul Sladen for all of 5 minutes. I think I bumped into Karen after FOSDEM in the street near my hotel whilst our respective groups searched for somewhere to eat dinner, but I didn't introduce myself. Finally I met Matthias Klose on Monday.
Quite apart from Debian people, I also failed to meet some Red Hat colleagues and fellow PhD students from Newcastle University who were in attendance, as well as several people from other social networks to which I'd hoped to say hello.
FOSDEM is a gigantic, unique conference, and there are definitely some more successful strategies for getting the most out of it. If I were to go again, I'd be more relaxed about seeing the talks I wanted to in real-time (although I didn't have unrealistic expectations about that for this one); I'd collect more freebie stickers (not for me, but for my daughter!); and I'd try much harder to pre-arrange social get-togethers with friends from various F/OSS communities for the "corridor track" as well as dinners and such around the edges. Things that worked: my tea flask was very handy, and using a lightweight messenger bag instead of my normal backpack made getting in and out of places much easier; things that didn't: I expected it to be much colder than it turned out to be, and wore my warmest jumper, which meant I was hot a lot of the time and had to stuff it (+bulky winter gloves and hat) into aformentioned messenger bag; bringing my own stash of tea bags and a large chocolate tear-and-share brioche for the hotel; in general I over-packed, although that wasn't a problem for the conference itself, just travelling to/from Brussels. I did manage to use the hotel swimming pool once, but it was generally a trade-off between swim or sleep for another 30 minutes.
I've written nothing at all about the talks themselves, yet, perhaps I'll do so in another post.