Top 5 Reasons to Attend BSDCan

by Dru Lavigne

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BSDCan 2004 has wrapped up and, as any participant can attest to, was a smashing success. Over 150 developers, committers, security officers, end-users, and administrators had the opportunity to meet with their peers and learn more about Free/Net/OpenBSD and various open source applications.

Like many of the attendees, this was my first conference so I wasn't quite sure what to expect. For those who are wondering whether a BSD conference is worth the entrance fee, travel costs, and time off work, here's the Top 5 reasons why BSDCan 2004 won't be my last BSD conference and why I can't wait for BSDCan 2005:

1. The opportunity to associate names with faces. If you lurk or participate on any of the mailing lists, read BSD documentation or manpages, or keep up with BSD news, you see a lot of names and even end up corresponding via email or IRC with other BSD users. It's pretty cool to finally get the opportunity to talk face to face with these "names" and to see how many people have come across your name before and have always wanted to meet you!

2. Meeting new people. Sometimes you feel like you're the only user who has ever even heard of BSD before, especially if you live in a small town or isolated area. It's amazing to mingle with users from -16 to 60+ from all corners of the planet and to compare notes on how they use and advocate BSD. What a great venue to share frustrations and successes.

3. The scheduled talks. With 3 tracks each running 4 talks per day, there was something for every level of user. There was also a good mix of topics of interest to developers, sysadmins, businessmen, and end-users. If you've been reluctant to attend a conference because you feel intimidated by the skill level of the other attendees, go anyways. You may not understand everything, but you'll still learn a lot.

4. The Birds Of a Feather sessions. You've not attended a conference if you miss out on these. This is where the brainstorming occurs that ranges from deeply technical to absurdly silly. This is where you learn that the "gurus" are people too, each with their own personality. This is where you forge new friendships, broaden your horizons, and come away with new ideas to try when you get back home.

5. Networking--and I'm not talking the type that requires cabling or WAPs here. There is such a mix of users out there! If you've been thinking of starting a user group, you'll find a dozen people who already have and can provide direction. If you're trying to bring a product or service to market, you can compare notes with those in the same boat. Whatever your pet peeve or back burner project, you'll find others from whom you can garner insight and experience.

Be sure to bring lots of(and if need be, print your own) business cards and to always carry a pen. You'll want to write yourself a reminder on the back of each card as you collect them so you'll remember who was who when the conference is over.

Well, I need to catch up on a large backlog of email and some much needed sleep.

What was your favourite part of BSDCan 2004?