My SCaLE20x adventure

I know I’ve mentioned it before, but SCaLE conference is getting better each year. SCaLE is probably the best conference in North America that has a strong focus on the community and it is always a cause of joy to see such a diverse audience and attendees under the same roof and under the same sentiment of belonging. The success of the conference -the one that has made possible twenty editions of it-  doesn’t come free, there’s an enthusiastic group of incredible people behind it. Kudos and lot of recognition to each of them.

If I was asked to describe this year’s experience in SCaLE with a single word, I would say that is “Chances”. I’m going to go deeper into this ahead, but this conference made me wonder several times “what are the chances of this happening?”. One of the advantages of attending a nerds conference is that you may find someone who would actually calculate it. It reminds me of that Sheldon quote that reads “was that rhetoric or would you like me to do the math?”  LOL

Due to COVID pandemic (and probably other strong reasons), this year’s SCaLE was just eight months apart from last edition. It may not sound like a big deal but there are some factors that made a big difference: not the usual twelve months for planning, sunny hot summer weather versus rainy chilly winter weather and the chance of venue as well, this year the conference returned to Pasadena.

This time I arrived early enough to attend the conference from day one. Thursday is usually used for community events like Kubernetes Community Day, CEPH Day, PostgreSQL day, workshops,  etc. Since my flight landed at 6:00am I was able to practically use most of the day in the Kubernetes community day. 

I attended the GitOps workshop , big attendance to this event, found an empty spot and sat there for the development of the planned activities. While I was there, I couldn’t avoid noticing that the guy next to my was attending a few things on his company’s Slack, I approached to him and told him “I’m sorry but I couldn’t avoid noticing that you’re in Company X Slack channel, I just joined that company a couple of days ago as a contractor”. He was happy to see people of his own even though I wasn’t able to mention my teammates, my team manager, our team name and stuff like that since I was in the onboarding process and the only thing that I’ve done there was attending a couple of daily meetings. Anyway, he helped me identify a few things of my new team and together we completed the remaining activities of the workshops. What are the chances? Let’s not do that math 

We used the rest of the Thursday for setting up the Fedora booth. This year we had Fedora’s ambassadors Perry Rivera, Brian Monroe, Scott Williams from the Southern California area  and Iván Chavero and myself from México. Have I mentioned that this year I was the event owner for SCaLE?  I was and it was a bit challenging since I don’t live in the area and I needed someone local to receive the stuff and coordinate the local logistics like swag shipping. Brian was of valuable help in this and I got so much help from my friends that it didn’t feel like an overwhelming burden as I thought it was going to be. I’ll be happy to do it again if needed.  Booth was completed and it was time to call it a day.

On Friday morning they had the LA DevOps day    , a co-located event dedicated to the DevOps community and professionals who wish to improve the interaction and integration between the traditional silos of Development and Operations. The opening talk was delivered by John Willis  -author of several books on DevOps- and this time his talk was on their book “Investments Unlimited”. A great talk and a magnificent opportunity to hear from a big leaguer in DevOps like John.

The morning time flew fast and right after lunch it was time for expo floor. This year the attendance was bigger than last year’s, probably due to venue capacity and less covid cautions, anyway, as soon as the Pasadena Convention Center opened its exhibition floor doors, we happily started receiving the crowd. Talking to people at Fedora booth is not only part of my mission in the conference, but it is also one of my favorite parts. Fedora always have this attraction that people just stop by, even though our booth is community driven and may not appear too attractive at first glance. We had swag, sign in page for further contact and a QR code for getting the Fedora badge for the event. Our badge was awarded 22 times, in my opinion an important number since not everybody has a FAS account nor has the Intention to open an account just for this purpose

Friday was over, exhibition floor was closed and how long came Saturday. This day I wore my Fedora Mexico t-shirt just as a token of  pride and to recognize the work of the community in Mexico and honestly and mostly because I love it. This single fact caused an effect that I wasn’t expecting  , it attracted the attention of people that somehow have a connection with Mexico and otherwise I wouldn’t be able to identify.

I stopped by the New Relic booth because they had a challenge to create a dashboard that looked attractive, you complete the challenge and you get some swag (maybe a interesting idea to try for Fedora in upcoming events). Thing is that one of the New Relic guys asked me if I came from Mexico, yes, then what part, Chihuahua, and one question led to another, I know someone from Chihuahua, do you know Jane Doe?  My cousin is related to them and PUM!!  Your cousin is my wife’s aunt living in San Diego. Just by identifying me coming from Mexico turned out in getting to know a relative I wasn’t aware that even existed. What are the chances? Let’s not do that math

At noon we had lunch in the expo market, a convenient place inside of the exhibition floor to grab a bite. I took a seat at one of the shared tables and the guy next to me asked me if I was from Mexico. Dude was from Monterrey, Mexico. This is starting to look like a weird pattern.

We talked a lot during lunch, this was his first time for SCaLE but he was so looking forward for not being his last, he loved it and he was determined to coming back to it in the future. I told him that a few years ago, the community in Mexico was just a guy from his hometown and me, and today is a growing, active and enthusiastic community with several members, needless to say he was welcomed to join.  Again, just by wearing my Fedora Mexico t-shirt attracted a conversation that probably would not have happened otherwise. What are the chances? Let’s not do that math

A few minutes before closing Saturday I stopped by the Argo booth. I have tried Argo Ci/CD for POcs, labs and testing and I really love it. Guy in the booth looked at my shirt and asked THE question. Yes, I’m from Mexico. Which part? Chihuahua, in northern Mexico, we share borders with New Mexico and Texas, we’re located about 250 miles south of El Paso. Guy interrupted me and said “oh yes yes, my dad lives there, I’m very aware of it. What are the chances? Let’s not do that math

This day we also got interviewed by the Tux Digital guys. It was an informal talk, part serious part relaxed, in which we had the opportunity to talk about our role in Fedora project, what we like love about it, what makes us different, ways to get involved, etc.

Expo floor closed but Saturday is not over until game night is over. Even though I was beaten,  tired, I couldn’t miss game night because I know that is an important part of the social exchange and also perhaps the only space and time that I get to see old SCaLE friends that I may not see in the rest of the event.

And then came Sunday, usually a not too busy day as the expo is open just for a few hours, but one of my favorite days because they usually close with a keynote from a real Rockstar from the industry. This year was no disappointment and the closing talk was given by Ken Thompson himself!  There are not many opportunities to meet a personality this big, listening to him live and meeting in person is an experience that I cannot put into words. This is an invaluable gift that you get once in a lifetime. Contrary to what we all expected, he didn’t talk about Unix, or Go , or any of his big and well known achievements, instead he talked about a personal project that he’s been working on for 70+ years and it was delightful to hear. Not going to spoil it, see the recording for yourselves in the Conference’s YouTube channel.

Finally, just to put the cherry on the pie, on the event closure it was mentioned that we were awarded as the «Most Memorable Booth» !!! This is in recognition to the vendor with the most memorable experience for visitors and attendees. Worth mentioning this is something that attendees vote for while visiting the expo.

And so it ends, a magnificent conference this year. This time we’ll have to wait for another twelve long months compared to the previous few, but I’m sure that it will be totally worthed .

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