FUDCon 2011 — lightning talks

Today at the lightning talks at FUDCon 2011, the one that caught my attention was called “The Dreyfus Model: how do novices think differently from experts?” The subtitle was along the lines of “Why won’t anyone help me, I have documentation!” Here is Mel’s rough transcript of the talk.(and a pdf archive)

The gist of how Mel presented the subject was that someone is looking for a bread recipe on the internet and comes up with:

Croissants

flour
butter
other stuff
bake

She explained the various cryptic parts of this “recipe” and how obvious it may seem to an experienced baker, but to a newbie, even figuring out that Croissants is a type of bread, let alone what the “other stuff” is can be difficult to grasp, or the concepts of “oh you have to buy those ingredients first — how much? And what’s this? You need an oven? Now, when they say bake, how long? And how will I know it’s ready? Oh yeah, you need to let the bread rise first …

She went on to say how installing certain bits of software and using them may seem trivial to an experienced user, but knowing how to draw in a tarball, extract it, get all the dependencies, compile it, and all the various steps required was not easy for a newbie, especially in a culture that takes several things for granted and literally may skip steps between major milestones.

Ultimately her message lay in the importance of clear, concise, complete documentation.

When I started learning linux, I had to relearn things too, and found things challenging. I quickly learned that things were not as obvious to myself and that when someone said “oh just do this” what they were really saying was “do this 10-15 item list as root under the following circumstances using the proper switches” — not always an obvious task when you say “install package X” while omitting all the necessary parts before and after.

FUDCon Friend Finders

On the FUDCon 2011 Wiki page, suggested optional equipment is a Fedora Friend Finder (here’s my archive), which is an extension cord with multiple sockets. I brought one, which has a 30′ extension cord, and it has typically had 2 to 3 plugs, including my own. Right now, I’m in the Lightning Talks, and I’m impressed: My FFF is plugged into another full FFF, and mine is full. Further, I’ve had two plug-in requests to which I’ve had to say, “sorry, I’m filled up”.

Now, I’m just looking for my profits. 🙂

On another note, today I went to get an extra-large pizza at Slice’s Pizzeria around the corner. I made friends quick. 🙂 One person who joined us after the pizza ran out was a local community college professor who saw my security presentation yesterday, and enjoyed it. So much so that he asked if I’d grant permission for him to use it in one of his classes, which I happily granted.

FUDCon 2011 — after my presentation

So I’ve just given my presentation at FUDCon on some basic security strategies to install on your system.

People seemed receptive. A couple of the ideas that came up was the use of denyhosts before I mentioned it, and a bit of controversy over the root user. People were suggesting the use of keys instead of passwords for the root user, and using sudo instead of allowing direct access to root.

The pairing with someone else worked ok for me — I started at 14:30 and got through all my slides in 20 minutes, including a few questions and comments; I did have to go a mile a minute though. The other person, who did an exposé on the Fedora Security Labs spin, however, had to skip a few of the things he wanted to do and talk about. His presentation was nonetheless interesting.

As I said people were generally receptive and respectful, and people generally recognised that my presentation covers basic security that anyone and everyone should do, and that it’s not necessarily intended to cover all cases or massive networks.

FUDCon 2011

Here I am at FUDCon in Tempe, Arizona.

First off, on a side note, I knew that Arizona was warm. But I left late January and came to early September. I’m blown away that I don’t even need a light jacket let alone a parka. This is the kind of weather that would be nice all year long, but I hear that Phoenix is a bit too warm, certainly for me, in the summer … 🙂

Currently I’m in a Fedora Board Meeting or whatever where things along the line of discussing the future of Fedora and how people can get more involved. Jared, the current Fedora leader, has 15 “short list” goals up on the screen, basically discussing general lines of how people can contribute and how the project can get the right people to the right job, as well as “how to get there”.

This morning I attended a talk given by an anthropologist who studied the Fedora community, such as through a previous FUDCon, and discussed her findings and how people were involved, why, and all sorts of interesting stats.

During the next session I’ll be giving my presentation on Strategies to Secure a linux system, but given the number of talks, the BarCamp style voting, and the available time & rooms, I’ve been paired with another presenter who will be discussing general security practices; his presentation is supposed to be general in nature, while mine is technical and a specific list of things to do, so perhaps this will work out nicely since he’ll presumably talk about “you should allow this and disallow that” while I discuss “go here and do this, and here are the menus to click or the command line how”. The person seems quite nice and we’ve agreed to speed up our presentation speeds and divide the time more or less equally amongst ourselves.

To be followed.

FUDCon 2011: Almost here!

So I’m quite excited about my upcoming attendance at FUDCon.

I also have some (sort of, depending on your perspective) answers to my questions, gleaned from a couple of discussions on IRC:

– People are available on IRC — Freenode at #fedora-fudcon. However, over the past week it has seemed quiet, but people are there and do answer questions and will chat.
– A list of the available restaurants was provided to me. It includes restaurants, take out (I’ve heard of Five Guys, Burgers and Fries, I’ll have to try them out), delivery places (heavy on pizza — let’s hope they can make it right, pizza outside of Quebec is a strange beast, even the good stuff), and at least one brewpub, which is in walking distance of the conference. The list will be provided in the information package given out to everyone upon registration/check in. Which means that, as I pretty much expected, people are on their own for food the whole time, just as I will be during the rest of my vacation in the area. Nice to know, though. Hopefully any further information different from that will be communicated, as I’m sure it will be.
– Yes, a projector will be available.
– And for the fun part, the presentations will be judged/refereed along the lines of “On Saturday morning, there will be sign up sheets for the various presentations. Those with the fewest sign-ups will be dropped or combined with other similar presentations according to the number of presentations and the available space.”

Also, I still have to figure out how to either not freeze on the way to the airport in Montreal, and then back home, or not boil to death with my parka when I arrive in Phoenix. Around here in Montreal this time of the year, “warm” is about -10C to -25C, without the wind chill. Phoenix area, “cool” is around +4C; “warm” is about +17C. Sheesh, to me that sounds like mid to late September, not late January. 🙂

FUDCon, Tempe, Phoenix, and the Grand Canyon, watch out, here I come. I’m a LUzer bay-bai, so why don’t you flame me? 🙂

FUDCon 2011 — Tempe, Arizona

Well, here I am, I finally did it. I’m going to FUDCon 2011 in Tempe, Arizona.

After months of saying to myself and friends “Oh I think I’d like to go do this” and asking my brother if he’s interested, and telling all sorts of people “Yep I’m doing it, I’m thinking about doing it, I’m still in the talking about it stage; I just haven’t committed to it yet”, I bought my airline tickets a couple of weeks ago to go to Phoenix, Arizona, and made reservations at the hotel. (Yes, the nice people at the hotel, months after the block was “closed”, graciously gave me the Red Hat Group rate for 6 out of 7 nights — quite the savings!)

So I’ve been working for the past few weeks at translating, updating, revising, rationalizing, etc. a presentation on System Security I presented at my local LUG a couple of years ago. (Of course it’s not in English, silly, why do you think I’ve had to work on translating it?) I’ve also been following the wiki page for the event. I even have my Fedora Friend Finder ready to bring with me.

But … apart from a few blog posts here and there, and of course the availability of the administrative notices / minutes from the planning meetings, I haven’t found what appears to be, let’s say, an online forum where FUDCon is being discussed. (Yes, I know, there’s Planet Fedora — however, it seems to discuss pretty much everything under the Red Hat sun.) The kind of place where people discuss what they’re doing outside of the formal event structure, when they’re arriving, asking questions of participants of previous such events, and so on. Basically, chatter.

I’m wondering a few things, and hope that perhaps this post will help me out in at least finding a nudge in the right direction:

– Is there a forum where people are virtually gathering and discussing the plans and attendance and logistics and so on surrounding going to FUDCon? You know, chatter?
– Assuming that my presentation isn’t tossed for being too long, too technical, too boring, out in left field, or targeted to the wrong audience (it’s sysadmin stuff, not development), will there be a projector available? Will I need my laptop — which I’ll of course have anyway — or just a USB memory stick with the presentation on it? (OO.o format, or PDF? Of course I’ll be ready for all of these circumstances.)
– Regarding my presentation, will someone be wanting it to be submitted in advance for the part about “Refereeing for technical sessions”? Or will “in advance”, in keeping with the “so do not worry about competition” part, mean half an hour before the “Orientation, BarCamp pitches and scheduling” at 9:00am Saturday?
– I signed up after the 140 cut-off mark for food and swag. I don’t have a problem with the basic concept per se: you snooze, you lose, you should have signed up earlier. However, I’m just wondering what the real implications to this are — to what food is being referred? Breakfast, lunch, and supper throughout all the event? Snacks in the hospitality suite — no green stamp on your name tag, no food? A few chits for free meals, given to the first 140 people, at the Student Union cafeteria where a lot of people presumably will eat during the breaks? Food during the FUDPub, at which Red Hat “will be treating everyone to food”? (Or just the first 140 — everyone else with a differently-marked name tag will have to pull out their wallets?) I’m just trying to figure out logistics, that’s all; I’m trying to find the ad for the advertised food, so that I know what’s being discussed. Money isn’t the issue; I’m just looking for some kind of indication, that’s all.

Well, that’s off my chest.

In other directions, I guess I now have to prepare my laptop for going through customs:
– set up an automatic login (a warning against which is in my presentation);
– do a bit of a system cleanup (a suggestion about which is in my presentation);
– remove some privileged information and make sure that it’s really wiped;
– realize that US Customs probably won’t care about my computer, and that the only people who might will be the airline — and hopefully only be amused at the XRay area when they see the square, plastic bucket I carry it in (but hopefully not say that’s it’s oversized, which it shouldn’t be. The primary airline’s limits are 23 cm x 40 cm x 55 cm; the secondary airline’s limits are 23cm x 35cm x 56 cm. I’ve just checked, and it fits.)