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SeaGL speaker Q&A: Julia Kreger
September 08, 2017

Julia Kreger gives her talk titled, “How to get a cross-project feature landed in OpenStack: Or how I plotted to obtain success… “ on Saturday afternoon.

Q: Could you please introduce yourself and tell us a little about your background?

A: Hi, I’m Julia, and I might be crazy. Well, I guess that always remains to be determined. I’ve been interested in Linux and Open Source for about twenty years. I got my first job helping someone install Linux on a computer, which started my career in computer networking. Over time I drifted from networks, to systems, systems automation, and I’ve been in more of a development focused role for the past five years or so. I presently contribute to OpenStack Ironic and several other related projects, and I care deeply care about the communities I work in, because I see the difference I make in people’s lives.

Q: Without tipping your hand on the actual talk, can you give us an idea of what we might expect?

A: Attendees to my talk should really expect a down to earth, realistic kind of journey coupled with reflections. I really hope people enjoy it, and they leave with another way to look at cross-community problems and what might help solve them.

Q: Is this your first visit to SeaGL? If so, what are your expectations? If not, can you give us your impressions of the event?

A: This will be my first visit to SeaGL. I had hopes of trying to visit last year after a few of my friends that are local to Seattle all spoke highly of SeaGL, but timing just didn’t work out. My impression of it is that it is a smaller local gathering as opposed to some of the huge regional conferences, and that it has a great cross-section of Open Source community enthusiasts.

Q: Are you excited?

A: I am really excited. I feel that local communities are the foundation of larger communities, and every time I have attended a smaller community event, while I feel awkward, I’ve had some of the best discussions and learned some of the most interesting things by people in that community.

SeaGL speaker Q&A: Christopher Aedo
September 08, 2017

Christopher Aedo gives his talk titled, “ Brewing Beer with Linux, Python and a RaspberryPi “ on Saturday afternoon.

Q: Could you please introduce yourself and tell us a little about your background?

A: I’m Christopher Aedo, my day job is developer advocate for IBM. That means I get to learn new technologies and experiment with stuff for work, but I’m also constantly doing that in my spare time too.

Q: Without tipping your hand on the actual talk, can you give us an idea of what we might expect?

A: You can expect to learn the best way to feed yeast, how to suspend hops in liquid, and find out how I convinced IBM to pay me to brew beer.

Q: Is this your first visit to SeaGL? If so, what are your expectations? If not, can you give us your impressions of the event?

A: This is my first visit, and I’m expecting it to be one of the most fun but laid-back conferences I’ve been to. I also expect to see tons of old friends there and make lots of new ones too.

Q: Who would you like to see deliver a keynote this year?

A: You read my mind when you picked Rikki Endsley, I can’t wait for that!

SeaGL speaker Q&A: Omar Ravenhurst
September 07, 2017

Omar Ravenhurst gives his talk titled, “From Al-Qaeda to Shia LaBeouf - How Crowdsourced Intelligence Analysis Removed Any Idea Of Privacy: Finding What Doesn’t Want To Be Found” on Friday afternoon.

Q: Could you please introduce yourself and tell us a little about your background?

A: I’m Omar Ravenhurst. I’m a Linux and privacy enthusiast. I do cool things sometimes. I’ve worked in the “tech industry” for a bit but right now I’m teaching myself various things.

Q: Without tipping your hand on the actual talk, can you give us an idea of what we might expect?

A: Mostly what it says on the tin. Education and speculation. Some tips, and hopefully a few jokes.

Q: Is this your first visit to SeaGL? If so, what are your expectations? If not, can you give us your impressions of the event?

A: First time at SeaGL. I’m expecting something like Linuxfest Northwest but smaller. People, talks, vendors, and parties. Also bad wifi.*

Q: If you cut a sandwich in half, do you have two halves of a sandwich or two sandwiches?

A: The answer is two sandwiches and if you say differently then you’re just factually wrong. Open a dictionary.

* Editor’s note: the wifi was fine last year except in that one room – which we’re keeping a surprise for new attendees.

SeaGL speaker Q&A: Laura Abbott
September 07, 2017

Laura Abbott gives her talk titled, “Creating Fresh Kernels” on Saturday afternoon.

Q: Could you please introduce yourself and tell us a little about your background?

A: My name is Laura Abbott and I’m a kernel developer. I started out doing kernel development for Android phones but these days I’m one of two people employed by Red Hat to maintain the Fedora kernel.

Q: Without tipping your hand on the actual talk, can you give us an idea of what we might expect?

A: Kernels, kernels, kernels!

There’s a lot of different ways of delivering a kernel to end-users. If you’ve ever wondered why some distributions choose to deliver specific kernel versions or why you never seem to get brand new kernels, this talk is for you.

Q: Is this your first visit to SeaGL? If so, what are your expectations? If not, can you give us your impressions of the event?

A: I attended SeaGL last year to help with the Fedora booth. I enjoyed hearing all the different ways people used Linux and what they wanted to accomplish.

Q: Is this talk for everyone?

A: YES! Come and learn about kernels.

SeaGL speaker Q&A: Brian MacDonald
September 07, 2017

Brian MacDonald gives his talk titled, “Writing the Next Great Tech Book: From Idea to Successful Publication” on Saturday afternoon.

Q: Could you please introduce yourself and tell us a little about your background?

A: I’m a freelance technical book editor. I’ve been doing this for about 20 years, mostly independent, but sometimes working in-house. My previous employers and clients include O’Reilly, Pragmatic, IDG Books, Wrox, Apress, Wiley, Manning, Osborne, and Coriolis. I’ve also done some contract work as a technical writer.

Q: Without tipping your hand on the actual talk, can you give us an idea of what we might expect?

A: There are a ton of tech books out there, good and bad, which leads to a lot of people wanting to write one, for a variety of reasons. Unfortunately, it’s very easy to do it wrong, and even if you’ve got a great idea with great execution, there’s no clear path to getting your book in front of a publisher. I’ll use my experience to shed some light on what publishers are looking for, how to frame your idea in a way that will be appealing to a publisher, and what you can expect from the publishing process.

Q: Is this your first visit to SeaGL? If so, what are your expectations? If not, can you give us your impressions of the event?

A: This is my first SeaGL, although I’ve been to conferences in other parts of the country. I enjoy going to regional conferences because I get to meet new people who don’t attend the big conferences. Also, the tech community is different in each part of the country, so I enjoy hearing what people are interested in. This is my first conference in the Seattle area, so I look forward to learning what’s unique about that area.

Q: Do you know the story behind the animal covers on O’Reilly books?

A: I do! And if someone asks about it at the session, I’ll tell it.

Presenting the 2017 SeaGL Schedule!
September 04, 2017

The 2017 SeaGL Schedule is now available!

There may still be a few changes, and there are still a few empty schedule slots as we await the final confirmations from a few speakers, but otherwise this is it: the 2017 SeaGL Schedule.

And what a schedule it is! We’re really happy with how things worked out as far as variety and quality. There really is something for everyone in this line-up. Don’t take my word for it, though. Have a look for yourself!

If your talk was one of our waitlisted sessions, there’s still a chance that we may need to schedule it. We have four speakers who are still awaiting approval to attend and may have to withdraw their talks. We hope they’ll be able to join us, but if they can’t then we know we have really good talks waiting in the wings. Thank you for your patience during this process. We know it can be annoying to be put on hold like that and we’ll do everything we can to keep you posted and the schedule evolves.

We’re really excited for this year’s event and can’t wait to have you join us for our 🎂 Fifth Birthday 🎂. These amazing speakers, you amazing attendees, two amazing keynotes, one amazing award… This is going to be a SeaGL to remember.

Clear your calendar on October 6-7 and come be a part of the fun!

Cascadia Award Nominations Closing
August 19, 2017

Take a moment to thank someone for their work

We know there’s a lot going on right now. We believe that building strong local communities is really important work that doesn’t get a lot of the splashy credit it deserves. Please help us recognize someone by nominating them for the Cascadia Community Builder Award by the end of the day Wednesday, August 23rd.

To nominate someone, please send us a quick email ( with the nominee’s name in the subject line.

  • Name and email address of the nominee (if you have it)
  • A sentence or two about why you think they deserve this award
  • Projects or organizations they serve through (links are very helpful!)

Please only nominate people who are doing their free software work in the Cascadia region and who are currently living. Thanks in advance for helping us honor a great community builder!

The award will be presented in October at SeaGL and announced on

PS Got a suggestion for a hashtag for the award? Tweet at us at @seagl and let us know!

The SeaGL CFP Reviewing Criteria
August 17, 2017

Our team of external reviewers (one of whom just returned from seeing the 🚀 Hugo Award Ceremony 🚀 in Finland!) are making great progress on reading and scoring all 140 of the proposals we received for this year’s program. As we’re doing this we thought to ourselves, “Selves, wouldn’t it be cool if a conference actually shared its proposal selection criteria? That might help a lot of people craft their future proposals.”

So here it is! What follows is more or less exactly the guidance we sent our reviewers for how to rate proposals. Hopefully it’s helpful for you, our reader and potential speaker, and perhaps even for future conferences looking to direct their review process.

Audience profile

The audience runs the gamut from experienced FOSS technologists to the uninitiated/students, leaning quite heavily to the latter rather than the former.

Therefore talks about how to scale your unicorn are less applicable than more introductory topics.

Which isn’t to say there’s no space for unicorn scaling type talks, just that they will be in the minority for the program.

This is also a much less corporate conference/audience than, say, SCALE/OSCON/ATO/etc. The event is free to attend, so it attracts those who are interested in or passionate about technology more than those who are getting their company to pay for them to attend for training purposes. This also means that most of the audience will be very local to the Seattle region.

Reviewing/voting criteria

  • Our CFP system can’t do blind reviews, but try to do as blind as possible (the abstract/content is more important than the presenter, on first pass at least)
  • Only vote on talks which you feel qualified to judge
    • Leave stars blank else
    • Exception: something which sounds so cool or so crappy that you feel compelled to vote
  • Similarly, consider the proposer’s qualifications to present the material
    • For instance, if someone proposed a talk on mental health & has not shown either that they’ve trained in the field or have done enough research to speak from a position of authority on the topic
      • Mental health is just an example here; substitute “containerisation” or “Linux init systems” or what have you if that helps internalise this criterion
    • Please vote down proposals where the presenter lacks adequate qualifications
  • Keep the audience needs front and center
    • Don’t simply go with, “Yeah, I would like to see this” but rather, “Yeah, the audience would like to see this.”
  • No advertisements or sales pitches allowed
    • Please vote down anything which looks like it’ll be a pitch
  • GNU/Linux/Free Software not required
    • Yes, it’s the Seattle GNU/Linux conference
    • No, we’re not bigots against non-Free (as in speech) technologies
    • That said, proposals predominantly about proprietary technologies should be voted down
  • Proposals including questionable language/messaging should be voted down
    • Language/platform/community shaming
    • Colloquialisms based in or statements implying or outright stating racism, sexism, anti-LGBTQ-ism
    • Etc.
  • Non-software tech is welcome
    • For instance, last year we had a very well received talk about WW1 technologies
  • Naturally, if you proposed something, please don’t vote on your own talks

Final selection process

Once everyone has reviewed all of the talks, we’ll be getting together on a call to discuss them. The topics of discussion are currently up in the air (because we’re still voting on talks right now) but will probably include things like, “We received 5 good container talks and can’t accept them all. Which one(s) do we prefer?” and “This talk got voted down but I’d like to make a case for it to be included in the program.”

After the call it’s up to the program chair, leaning on the feedback from the external reviewers and in coordination with the official SeaGL program committee staff, to select which talks will become a part of this year’s 50 hours of scheduled programming. The program needs to be a balance of topics, speakers, and difficulty levels, so it may be that some otherwise highly-rated talks can’t be included lest they upset that balance. As well, we’re hoping (if possible) to limit each speaker to a single talk. This will allow us to give more people a chance to present. Naturally there may be exceptions to this rule, particularly as life situations cause selected speakers to need to drop out of the program as the event approaches. (eh, it happens; we don’t take it personally or hold it against you)

We’re aiming to notify all proposers on August 28th. Here’s hoping we can hit that target!


If, on or around August 28th, you receive notification that your proposals were not selected, there are a few things you can do…

  1. Please don’t take it personally! We have a lot of proposals and a limited number of speaking slots. Declining your proposal only means it didn’t fit in with the program we chose. It does not necessarily mean it’s a bad talk idea or that you’ve failed in any way.
  2. You can ask for feedback. Email VM Brasseur, our program chair, and let her know the proposal on which you’d like feedback. She can’t promise that there will be feedback to give, but if there is then she’ll share it as soon as she can.
  3. Remember that all program selections are final. We cannot and will not change our decisions on whether to include a talk or not.

This post is copyright VM Brasseur and licensed CC BY-SA.

The CFP is closed. Long live the CFP!
August 11, 2017

Thank you, everyone, for participating in and sharing our CFP. It closed this past Monday, which means now is a good time for an update. So, how have we done so far this year?

CFP by the numbers

This year we received a grand total of 138 proposals. This is slightly fewer than last year’s 149, but we suspect that what we’ve lost in quantity we’re making up in quality.

We tried something new in 2017: both 50 and 20 minute time slots. This seems to have been a good idea, since 36 of the 138 proposals (26 percent) are the shorter 20 minute format. This leads to some really interesting possibilities for scheduling, but of course it will depend on which talks our reviewers select.

As far as topics, we have a nice distribution in the proposals:

  • Systems/Ops: 29
  • Programming: 24
  • Something different: 22
  • People: 20
  • Security/InfoSec: 18
  • Hardware/IoT: 7
  • Documentation: 6
  • Data/AI/ML: 5
  • Education: 4
  • Design/UI/UX/Accessibility: 1

It’s disappointing that we received so few proposals on Design/UI/UX/Accessibility, but that just shows where we can spend more effort in outreach next year. That Something different category is very exciting though. We can’t wait to see what sort of treasures are hidden in there.

This year for the first time the CFP form included checkboxes for whether the proposer is a first time speaker or self-identifies as a member of a group under-represented in tech. Unfortunately (due to a bug) that data wasn’t collected despite being on the form, so this is another place where we can do better next year.

Overall though, we’re really pleased with how the CFP went and how it ended. So far 2017 is a success!

So what’s next?

Now what? Well, for starters we’re starting to work with our reviewers to organise that process. Next week we start reviewing talks and… Wait, this is probably easier if I just give you a timeline:

  • August 6th: CFP closes (done!)
  • August 14-ish: Reviewers start voting on proposals
  • August 14 (or before): Schedule talk review call
  • August sometime: Have talk review call with reviewers
  • August 28th: Speaker notifications
  • September 4th: Schedule published

So if you’re waiting to hear back about your proposal: hang tight. You should hear back from us by the end of the month.

Last year we had 50 50-minute speaking slots. We don’t know how many speaking slots we’ll have this year since it will depend on how many of the new 20-minute proposals the reviewers accept. But at 138 proposals, even at the fewest number of time slots (50) we’ll still probably be accepting a nice proportion of them. Will yours be one? We’ll find out on August 28th!

Registration is now open

SeaGL is a free-to-attend conference. No registration is required to join us on October 6th and 7th. That said, it’s really handy when people register. It allows us to do better planning for our catering, coffee, and conference party.

If you would like to RSVP and be a part of our fifth year, create an account and register today. We can’t wait to see you!

This post is copyright VM Brasseur and licensed CC BY-SA.

The 2017 SeaGL CFP closes soon!
July 31, 2017

The SeaGL CFP closes at 23:59:59 PT on August 6th!

Less than one week remains to submit your talk proposals to the SeaGL Call For Proposals, which means it’s time to stop procrastinating and put on your favorite thinking cap.

Click here to propose a talk.

CFP by the numbers

In 2016 we received 149 talk proposals for a total of 50 talk slots.

So far this year we’ve received 50 talk proposals. We don’t know how many slots there’ll be since we’ve added a new 20 minute talk type. The number of talk slots will depend on the number of short and long talks we receive.

We’re really excited at the progress so far. Despite being open for much less time than in 2016, we’ve already received 1/3 of the number of proposals as we did last year. Most proposals always come in during the last week (the last day, really), so we’re well on track to receive a record breaking number of proposals in 2017.

THANK YOU! The more talks you propose, the more interesting our schedule. Please keep them coming!

Click here to propose a talk.

Topic gaps

As we skim over the proposals received so far, we notice that there are some topics which could use more love. Maybe you’re the one to provide it for one (or more!) of these?

  • Programming languages: We’re surprisingly light on language content. PHP? Perl? Python? Javascript? Rust? Swift? Go? Ruby? Scala? C/C++? Whatever your language of choice, we’d love to see a proposal from you about it.
  • Cloud, containers, & virtualization: We didn’t see this coming: a relative lack of cloudy-containery-type proposals. We have a few but as you know these are huge topics so we could always use more.
  • Design, UI, UX: Making software usable is hard! Not just web or desktop interfaces, either. APIs, CLIs, and even hardware all have interfaces as well. Will you be the one to introduce us to the design/UI/UX concepts which will improve what we create?
  • Document Document Document: The recent GitHub Open Source Survey highlighted the effects poor or lacking documentation have on free and open source software projects. Documentarians, please propose talks to help the rest of us learn more about the importance of docs and how we can do them better.
  • People: The hardest part of software isn’t the coding or the infrastructure. The hardest part of software is learning how to work together. Project management, people management, community management, time management… How can we create together through open, inclusive, and welcoming teams?

These are just a few of the many different topics. If you don’t see anything inspiring here, check out the #cfpideas hashtag on Twitter for dozens and dozens of potential talk ideas.

Click here to propose a talk.

New speakers welcome!

SeaGL is a friendly, low-stress, low-pressure environment. A large percent of our attendees are community college students, just starting their software dev and free/open source software journeys.

While we love all of our experienced speakers, SeaGL is a great place for new speakers to dip their toes into the conference pool. You have knowledge to share and a story to tell. Tell it to us!

  • We offer skilled support to help you craft your proposals.
  • You only need a proposal now, not an entire talk (low barrier to entry!).
  • The 20 minute talk type is a great option if you want to start small.

Click here to propose a talk.

Extended CFP office hours this week

As this is the final week of the CFP, not only will we be doing our regular Wednesday afternoon office hours, we’ll also be adding extra time on the weekend to help you with any and all questions relating to the CFP. Our office hours this week will be:

  • Wednesday, 2-3PM PT
  • Saturday, 11-12PM PT
  • Sunday, 12PM-??? (we’ll try to be available most of the afternoon/evening if possible)

All office hours are held in the #seagl IRC channel on Freenode IRC. Don’t worry if you’re not familiar with IRC. Just click here for the webchat, choose a nickname, and you’re good to go!

Assistance via email

If you can’t make it to CFP office hours in IRC, or if you feel more comfortable with a less public venue, you can email the SeaGL program committee with any questions about the CFP or for help with your proposal.

Just drop us a line at s-p-e-a-k-e-r-s (remove the dashes) at We’re excited to help you and to answer your questions!

Target dates

Here’s our target timeline for proposal review, notification, and schedule publication:

  • CFP Opens: June 19th, 2017
  • CFP Closes: August 6th, 2017 - Midnight PDT
  • Speaker Notifications: August 28th 2017
  • Schedule Published: September 4th, 2017

Speaker travel support

As SeaGL is a free to attend community-organized conference, we regret that at this time we are unable to help with the cost of travel and accommodation for speakers.

Code of Conduct

All speakers and attendees of SeaGL must agree and adhere to the Code of Conduct for the safety and enjoyment of all organizers, volunteers, speakers, and attendees. We ask that all prospective speakers review and confirm their willingness to abide by the Code of Conduct terms and expectations when interacting within SeaGL community spaces.

Propose today!

So what are you waiting for? Propose a talk today and join our flock in October!

This post is copyright VM Brasseur and licensed CC BY-SA.