Paw Prints: Writings of the maddog

Jon
Off Topic: A small issue with Facebook OR "Do people at Facebook really use Facebook?"

May 02, 2011 GMT

This is a little “off topic” for a Free Software blog, but since a lot of my Free Software friends use Facebook, I hope that others will suffer me writing about this today.I have a lot of Facebook “Friends” (at this time, approximately 3300). Maybe this is not as many as some people, but it is definitely more than most.Many of these people I “befriended” mostly because they sent me a request. For some reason they wanted to be a “friend” to a sixty year-old guy who works a bit with computers, and otherwise likes to repair clocks and automated musical instruments when he is not drinking beer or scotch. I have other hobbies too, but this is a family-oriented blog, so......(As...
Mea Culpa

May 01, 2011 GMT

 I believe that one of the measures of an adult is to have the ability to admit “I was wrong”. While I am not happy when I am wrong, I take pride in the fact that I often give people the benefit of the doubt, and when I am wrong I freely admit it. I believe that once you admit your mistake, and apologize if necessary to any offended people, you can then move on to the next task and try to do better the next time. One of my first managers was a very bright man who could not say the words “I was wrong”. It took the people under him a while to realize this, but one day we were sitting around the lunch table and it occurred to us that we had never heard him say that phrase,...
FLISOL: A Continent (and more) of Free and Open Source Software Celebration: April 9th

Apr 06, 2011 GMT

FLISOL, the Latin American Festival of (Free and) Open Source Software Installation will be celebrated throughout Latin America and the Caribbean this Saturday, April 9th, 2011, typically between 0900 and 1800 hours (9 A.M. and 6 P.M. for Microsoft users), but you should check your local dates and times on the FLISOL website.For the past months I have been receiving emails, tweets, Facebook event notices, and many other types of communication about this event, and it has been overwhelming. It is one thing when a large organization puts on an event, with sponsorship and money behind it, and it is another when passionate people band together to push forth an idea.Many cities in every...
Setting Up A Conference: Part 4 - The Exhausting Minutia

Mar 31, 2011 GMT

 Now you have your theme, your audience definition, your venue, your track layout, your speaker list...life is sweet...but now the exhausting part starts....the minutia. You are going to have a reception...you need to order the food and drink. What about vegetarians? What about Vegans? How much beer and wine? What about non-alcoholic drinks? Wait, does the facility allow alcohol? What about under-age? Do you need bartenders? Are you charging admission? How do you tell people who have paid? Do you need badges? Do you accept non-registered walk-ins? How many? Will we have enough badges? Too many? How about security for the equipment? And what about insurance for the...
Setting Up A Conference: Part 3 - Speakers

Mar 31, 2011 GMT

Why did I insist on talking about sponsors before speakers? Because it was necessary.First of all, having good sponsorship means that you may have the funds to finance travel and an honorarium for some well-known speakers who will help attract a good audience.You may be blessed by having well-known, local speakers who would be happy to show up at your event and give a talk, or you could be lucky to have a speaker as accommodating as a friend of mine that took a five-hour bus ride from upstate New Hampshire to a conference, but a lot of speakers may need to have their travel expenses paid, and this (of course) involves money that typically comes from sponsorship.Another reason for planning...
Setting Up A Conference: Part 2 - Speakers...no, no, Sponsors!

Mar 31, 2011 GMT

 I know that I promised to talk about speaker selection next, but before that I should talk about sponsors. Since you know the theme of the event, the target audience, the estimated size, scope (local, regional, national or world-wide) and with a rough budget, you can start to develop your sponsor strategy. First realize that large companies (IBM, HP, Oracle, etc.) usually have multiple marketing groups and multiple marketing budgets. They budget for large, recurring events at least a year in advance from a “corporate marketing group”.Then there are typically “product marketing groups” that have additional funds for marketing their particular product or service....
Setting up a conference: Part I - Determining Theme, Time and Place

Mar 30, 2011 GMT

 I am often invited to small and medium sized Free and Open Source Software events, and I enjoy going to them. Some of these events have been taking place for almost a decade, happening every year without interruption. Others happen only one or two times, then fade from view. Some suffer a stillbirth, and never make it to the first year. Sometimes people ask my advice on their event, how to make it better, or even how to get it off the ground in the first place. Often this advice is asked a few months before the time planned for the event, and that is often too late. Or people ask me how to recruit people to help them with the event after they have exhausted themselves by...

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