Supporting Free and Open Source Software
No! Not the Battle of Waterloo. Not the Abba song. We are talking Jammin’ at Waterloo, Canada. Home of the University of Waterloo. Today I interviewed dscassel of the Canadian Loco Team about holding an Ubuntu Global Jam in the hopes of inspiring others to ‘Jorge Castro It!’
<cprofitt> Q: How many global jam events have you planned and executed?
<dscassel> Lessee… I think the first one was for 10.04… I’ve done every one since then, except one. So that’s… 3
<dscassel> And now 12.04.
<cprofitt> Q: What is your background?
<dscassel> Professionally or culturally?
<dscassel> I’m a software developer…
<dscassel> And Canadian, from Ontario. English-speaking.
<cprofitt> I think English speaking Canadians from Ontario rock!!
<cprofitt> though I happen to be biased.
<dscassel> Which isn’t saying anything against the excellent Ubuntu Quebec folks, for example.
<cprofitt> Yes, all Canadian rock!!
<dscassel> So yeah, I’m living in Waterloo and working for an evil, proprietary software company. But hey, it pays the bills.
<dscassel> (and actually they’re very nice for an evil, proprietary software company)
<dscassel> Also, in my spare time, I help run the local hackerspace, Kwartzlab.
<cprofitt> that is a pretty full background!
<cprofitt> Q: What made you interested in planning and hosting Ubuntu events?
<dscassel> Well, I like Ubuntu!
<dscassel> I got into it because there was a guy who was hosting a Windows 7 release party at Kwartzlab in 2009.
<dscassel> So, of course, I needed to host an Ubuntu release party. Which was much cooler, naturally.
<cprofitt> ah, yes I remember that ad campaign…
<dscassel> I met Ralph Janke (txwikinger) because he was running an Ubuntu booth at the 2009 Ontario GNU/Linux Fest and was looking for volunteers. I went to drop hand out flyers for my release parties.
* cprofitt nods
<dscassel> We decided Kwartzlab would be an excellent place to start running Global Jams. And since he’s a bug triage expert, it worked out really well.
<cprofitt> Q: Will you be adding less technical jam tasks (like art, documentation, etc) to this cycles jam?
<dscassel> I haven’t been able to convince my artist friends to come out yet.
<dscassel> But one of the main things we do every cycle is install and hardware testing. And pretty much everybody can do that.
* cprofitt nods
<dscassel> If they don’t have a computer of their own, we have a bunch at Kwartzlab they can try.
<cprofitt> Q: What about testing now that testing can be done from a CD or memory stick?
<dscassel> Yeah, absolutely. That alleviates fears that running a beta will break their systems. And it means their hardware gets tested, which will hopefully help them avoid problems after the release.
<cprofitt> and they can help send their results to the friendly database now
<dscassel> Yup. Posting bugs can be a bit of a hurdle for people, although we have plenty of people to help out there if need be.
<cprofitt> Q: What is the most difficult hurdle to hosting a global jam?
<dscassel> For us, since we have the venue already, it’s finding an activity that everyone can participate in so nobody gets bored and comes away with a bad experience. Over the last few cycles we’ve fallen back on hardware testing…
<dscassel> We’ve tried to get a bit more ambitious, attempting a development hackathon, for example.
<dscassel> The result of that was only two or three people working on programming while most of the people weren’t all that interested, or didn’t feel they could contribute.
<dscassel> But they can always load up the iso, or triage some bugs.
<dscassel> It just feels like less of a group activity then, if people are doing different things.
* cprofitt nods
<cprofitt> I agree with that… in my events I try to have three threads
<cprofitt> development, technical (testing and the like) and more social – art, documentation, etc
<dscassel> Not a bad idea.
<cprofitt> Q: What suggestions do you have for someone trying to get a global jam started in his/her area?
<dscassel> Just get started.
<dscassel> Really, it’s not that hard.
<dscassel> You just need a venue and something for people to do.
<dscassel> Burn some CDs or bring some USB sticks, and you’ve got that.
<dscassel> For a venue, a coffee shop will do, most of the time. Although if you have a hackerspace, college, or a community centre (with wifi) in your area, that will probably work better.
<dscassel> If you’re just trying to build a community, I’d recommend an Ubuntu Hour or release party first, but I’ve talked to plenty of people who are more interested and see more value in joining the Jam.
<cprofitt> dscassel I truly appreciate your time and your sage advice. I hope your global jam goes well and the answers you have given inspire people to ‘just do it’ in their area.
<dscassel> Thanks, Charles. Any time.
<cprofitt> have a great weekend
It appears amazingly easy and immensely rewarding to hold an Ubuntu Global Jam.