Thursday, June 17, 2010

Travelling

I have spent this week in beautiful Chicoutimi / Saguenay this week at the Rendez-vous OSGeo Qu├ębec. This is a two day conference put on by the local chapter here in Quebec in association with another local geomatics conference.

It has been some time since I have been to a significant event, unfortunately having missed FOSS4G in Sydney, so it was good to be involved again. As long ago as the Ottawa OSGIS conference in 2004 I recall Daniel Morissette, Steve Lime, and me hanging out in Dave McIllhagga's penthouse and talking about visiting Chicoutimi. Perhaps because of that Daniel, who was a primary organizer, made an effort to invite Steve and me. Unfortunately Steve was unable to attend in person due to a knee injury, but many other friends were here including Paul Ramsey and Jeff McKenna. As you can imagine, in addition to an excellent program, there were great social activities.

Today, during the other geomatics conference, I am helping to man the OSGeo booth. I unfortunately speak no french, and I was worried about having nothing I could say or provide to french-only speakers. However, I was immensely pleased to discover that the booth was well equipted with the full set of OSGeo promotional materials all translated into french, printed out and very professional looking.

I have at times not been all that excited about translation efforts. I am uni-lingual, and can't really help. I have also had the impression that at least some of the translation efforts have been rather haphazard and might not reflected particularly well on the projects or OSGeo. But here I was very impressed with the complete and professional job that has been done with the promotional materials, and also how useful it is. It really is very helpful for our credibility today, and I can see this would apply in many other venues. I understand the translation is done by the Francophone chapter, and that one major contributor has been Yves Jacolin. I am sure there are many others also involved. So, my hat is off to their efforts.

I should also mention, I finally got to see Paul's fantastic talk "Beyond Nerds Bearing Gifts: The future of the Open Source Economy". I can see why everyone was raving about it after Sydney. One message that I took away from the talk was that as all companies become open source companies to some degree, we need to be cautious about thinking of ourselves primarily as open source companies or consultants. Our excellent integration into the open source ecosystem is one of our selling points, but we need to ensure our primary focus is on serving the needs of our clients effectively and efficiently.

Today I was also invited to attend a technical meeting in Zurich at the end of the month as part of the GEM (Global Earthquate Model) project. I was not aware of this activity at all until Steve Arnold (aka nerdboy on IRC) brought it to my attention recently. Among other things, GEM is interested in using open source components in their IT infrastructure and I will provide some feedback on their plans and efforts so far, particularly on the geospatial aspects.

This week, after discussions with Paul Ramsey, Jeff McKenna, and Venkatesh Raghavan, I am tentatively planning to go to Japan in November for the OSGeo meetings held there. Everyone who has attended these meetings in the past as an invited speaker has raved about what a good experience it is, so I am looking forward to it very much. I believe that Paul Ramsey will also likely be there, and Jeff may be back in Japan at the same time for his OSGeo4W cooperation.

Also, everyone is very much looking forward to Barcelona. I am confident it will be the best FOSS4G ever. I have registered, but still need to book my flight and hotel. I'm thinking of taking a little extra time to see the area. I sometimes find travel tiring and puts me behind in my work. But I think the social and networking opportunities are too good to miss. These meetings reengerize me in ways that last much longer than the jet lag.