FOSDEM’09 Summary

It's been a busy few days in Brussels. FOSDEM, XMPP Summit and more!

FOSDEM’09 Summary

So, I’ve been back from Brussels nearly a month now, and I have finally found a few spare minutes to write this post.

For me, the trip to Brussels consisted of 3 great parts. The Actual FOSDEM, the XMPP Summit and last but not least: The Social Events all around it.

FOSDEM: A place where people talk and hand out T-shirts

After arriving in the evening from London and having had a dinner with the nice guys from Seesmic, we headed down to the FOSDEM Beer Event. Having lived in the UK for a few months now, I was missing my real beer. Until today, I haven’t had a beer in the UK that comes close to the good taste of Belgian Beer, and people are trying hard to prove me wrong 🙂

The FOSDEM Beer event is an event held in the city centre near the grand place in the Delerium Cafe. The equation more or less goes like this: Geeks + Free Beer = Overcrowded bar. But it’s always nice to meet up with the people you IM with atleast once a week. Ofcourse, you can’t stay there too long, as you have to try to get up relatively early the next morning to get to the conference.

So Saturday morning, I realized that it’s actually quite difficult to fit a box of 25KG with 110 T-Shirts into a small Golf. After about 20 minutes of turning and moving around the box, it finally fit, and we we’re ready to head down to the ULB Campus. Arriving there with the box of T-Shirts, Dave found his calling as a T-Shirt salesman. He saw the box of T-Shirts, ripped it open, and before anyone realized, the first batch of T-Shirts we’re already sold. AMAZING!

In the back of the building, XMPP had it’s DevRoom, which was the place to be around the conference. The room was packed on nearly every single talk. It just shows you, that XMPP is actually quite popular. Who would’ve guessed?!

The Crowd

So at 16:30 the big moment had arrived. My turn to hold a talk in front of a room of XMPP Fans. Thanks to Will for the pictures.

For everyone who’s interested in my presentation, it can be downloaded here: fosdem09-largescalexmpp-public

Sunday mainly consisted of running round at FOSDEM and selling shirts at the booth, although we actually only had 3 left in the end which then got back ordered.

So let’s move on to the XMPP Summit. Actually, let’s give a summary of the Social stuff in Brussels.

Social Events all around Brussels

The XSF Dinner:

Some time in December, I heard that there wouldn’t be any XSF Dinner. Not being able to rest before knowing that there actually would be one, I talked to some people in the XSF, until one evening, Jack gave me an idea. Small contributions towards the dinner, making it an official event, and a cheap dinner for participants.

Running around with this idea, people quickly joined in and pitched in some money towards the dinner. In the end, we had more money than the dinner would cost. Unbelievable! We collected 1875€ for the dinner.

I would like to thank again everyone who pitched in and made this dinner happen. Thank you a lot.

The hard thing was actually getting there. I underestimated public transportation timing, and the costs to transport that amount of people. I’m sorry that it took this long. I should of have tried the route before. But, public transportation had it’s fun moments.

Hermann-Debroux Metro Station

One was when getting in to the Metro, we went down to the normal departure platform, where we noticed the Metro arriving on the other side. Adding 1 and 1 together, we quickly realized that we were on the wrong side. Not wanting to miss the Metro, everyone started running up the stairs to reach the other side. It was mayhem. However, some smart people, to be exact only Will, actually saw that there was an unused alternative path. You’ll soon know why it was unused. Will saw the stairs and thought it wasn’t enough of a challenge. So he took the escalator. The escalator that was going down, not up. Running alongside the stairs, you could see him trying to fight the system, and actually nearly beating Dave on the way up. Will would’ve won if he didn’t trip on one of the last steps, which set him back a few seconds, allowing Dave to reach the top first.

Arriving on the other platform, completely exhausted, we saw the Metro driver leaving her car, slowly walking to the other side of the train, as yes, Hermann-Debroux is a Terminal Station. The Metro wasn’t supposed to leave for another 7 minutes. But hey, sports are healthy 🙂

A side note on this story: We had the XSF Dinner, which consisted of a solid 4 course menu about 20 minutes beforehand.

The second thing that was quite funny, was the size of the group. On Sunday evenings, public transportation is usually running empty. No-one uses the Buses on a Sunday night. Getting on to a Bus with 45 people which was empty just seconds before, filling it up completely is a funny thing to see. The Bus drivers couldn’t believe their eyes.

Saturday Night @ Poechenellekelder:

After having had a good dinner at a nice restaurant on the Grand Place, we headed down to the Poechenellekelder.

This pub is just amazing. We had the best bar tender ever! EVER! EVER! After a few initial beers, he said to us: “Challenge me!”. We had to describe a taste for a beer that we would want, and he would bring a beer tasting like that. So the first round, we gave him a decent challenge, and he matched it perfectly. Seeing this talent, we quickly challenged him with the impossible. However, he always got a perfect match! Unbelievable! Just amazing!

The biggest beer bottle I have ever had.

Some random notes on the evening: I have never seen Artur smile that much; I have had the biggest bottle of Beer I have ever seen in my life; I have tasted amazing beers that were too good to be real.

I want RIBS!:

On Monday evening, StPeter mentioned that he knew an amazing ribs place in Brussels. Being all up for a solid meal, we quickly found a few people that thought the same way. Remember the beer place? Well this was the same for Ribs. You basically had a cow each! And they actually brought more! Again, pictures say more than words.

Please note: This was a huge plate! And I think the salad was just there to decorate. You can’t have those ribs, and then some salad!


So, having covered all of the major social events, let’s move on to the Summit.

The Summit

The XMPP Summit was held in the Bedford Hotel this year, as we’ve had a lot more participants than the year before. Like you’d expect, there we’re a lot of hot discussions going on about PubSub, File Transfer, Mobile Optimizations, and one of the most interesting for me, Server Security and Abuse Reporting.

I won’t go in to detail for any of these in this post, as this post is already way too long, and you’re probably already asleep.

So just some closing words: It was great seeing everyone at the Summit, and hope to see you again next year!