At a Glance: What is SCaLE?
- What: 16th annual free and open source software conference in Pasadena, California
- Where: Pasadena Convention Center
- When: 8 – 11 March 2018
The Fedora Ambassadors gathered statistical feedback from attendees and distributed swag items during SCaLE’s four-day expo.
- Modularity in Fedora 27 proved to be trending with guests.
- Peak visitor days were Friday and Saturday.
- We collected detailed information for our various Fedora teams. Roll-up found below.
Our Ambassadors/Volunteers in the Field
This report is for the following Ambassadors who were on-site at SCaLE 16x:
- Perry Rivera (FAS: lajuggler)
- Alex Acosta (FAS: aacosta)
- Scott Williams (FAS: vwbusguy)
- Tom Callaway (FAS: spot)
- Michael Singh (wadadli)
- Langdon White (FAS: Langdon)
Supplemental assistance provided by:
What is SCaLE?
SCaLE is an exciting four-day convention covering a variety of free and open source topics, training, and speeches. This year marks the sixteenth annual event in the general Los Angeles (LA) area, specifically Pasadena.
The SCaLE conference showcases Linux and technology ideas from around the globe. The Conference Chair, Ilan Rabinovitch, and Bala (Hriday Balachandran) guided our team throughout the registration process and coordinate a well-run, informative, and entertaining event.
Day 0: Before March 8
To save Fedora some shipping costs, Brian Monroe delivered the event box and a portion of the swag items to Scott Williams.
Brian Exelbierd transmitted a messaging guide via Tom Callaway, which we later received Day 2.
Day 1: 8 March
We arrived in Pasadena on Thursday morning to deliver supplies for the Expo portion of the conference. Depending on where Ambassadors could find parking near the expo, the loading and unloading situation proved a little challenging for some because certain lots were a block away.
We checked in at the self-registration booths to receive our badges and pre-conference materials.
As a departure from last year, we were informed that the exhibit hall opened for exhibitors after 12p. That freed ambassadors to take in some of the day’s earlier workshops.
Next, we located our exhibit booth, number 402, and dropped off: a fresh new banner, the event box, a previous year’s table cloth, and other supplies. We met up with our new volunteer, Michael Singh, who was very enthusiastic to join us for the conference.
All the Ambassadors met throughout the afternoon to discuss our plans for presenting and exhibiting and to perform some initial setup. We also checked into our various hotels. The Sheraton Hotel is adjacent to the convention center and expo hall, and parking appeared convenient and plentiful for Thursday morning. The area felt fairly safe to walk around during evening and night hours.
The room was one of their renovated rooms and was quite clean and comfortable. Unfortunately, the hotel has done away with previous years’ complimentary continental breakfast, which added to ambassador ancillary personal costs.
Day 2: 9 March
After lunch and later that afternoon, we set up the swag in our Exhibit Hall booth. The first peak day of exhibiting brought an estimated 700 guests to our booth.
Our Ambassadors observed how conveniently SCaLE situated our booth right next to the exhibit hall entrance. The SCaLE team also located us near the Everbridge tables, which in turn brought much excited neighboring traffic. Michael, Alex, Tom, Perry, and Scott fielded questions and supplied by our booth visitors.
General questions we asked others were open-ended (not direct “yes” or “no” answers); this established rapport with our guests and engaged people into further discussion.
Such questions included:
- So tell me what brings you here today?
- How do you use Fedora?
- If not using Fedora, what do you use and why?
- Do you have any suggestions or comments for us to pass back upstream to Fedora?
Since we had a finite amount of swag, we placed a few items here and there to mitigate “swag” vacuuming, and handed shirts or premium swag out to 1) really great questions and detailed feedback and 2) people who had Fedora natively running on their notebook systems / tablets.
Tom Callaway stopped in to provide a surprise: a box of about 100 USB sticks. We used the Fedora Media Writer to transform these to live USB media. These sticks proved quite popular especially with new guests excited to try out Fedora.
He also graciously gave a messaging guide that turned out useful in referring to other ongoing Fedora projects/efforts.
Having a fair amount of Ambassadors, we rotated shifts as needed for meal breaks or attending the occasional workshop.
Day 3: 10 March
Early in the morning, we set up our displays and swag in our Exhibit Hall booth. I hooked up a mini-synth keyboard to Fedora 27. This drew some attendees in to ask about what we were doing. We encouraged them to try out Fedora 27 Jam spin and advised we were tinkering with the distro. Many hadn’t heard about the spin, and sounded quite enthusiastic about experimenting later.
Day 4: 11 March
The final day of exhibiting (on day 4 of the conference) brought an estimated 150 guests to our booth. To keep things interesting, we passed out different and interesting regular swag and premium swag to encourage new visits by attendees.
We were well out of Large and above shirts, which is unusual compared to previous years; this year, we had very few shirts to start with in the process.
By this day, however, guests attended workshops or took steps to return travel back to their homes.
- Have something music related or something that lights up or a project to draw visitors.
- PopSockets. See below…
- Rotate new swag in to encourage our Fedora users to visit. They can spot legacy swag a mile away, but will stop by and say hello when they see new items.
- More USB thumb drives. Based on the number of visitors we had, I think about 250 USB thumb drives as premium giveaways would be advantageous to distribute.
Future event box suggestions
- PopSockets. These are the hot item of the conference: PopSockets.
- More USB thumb drives
- Candy: Minimal funds for reimbursement for donated candy
- Ribbons for badges: Ribbons are gathering popularity and advertising interest at expos and conventions. It might be advantageous to make various sets of these for fun and pass them out.
- Stickers: More! Everyone loved them and want to use them for their boxes. Perhaps additional Fedora designs and shapes might garner increasing popularity.
- More Meta Key Stickers: These were a hit.
- T-shirts: These were a hit and all disappeared by conference end. Could definitely use more and mixed designs and all sizes, especially larger sizes (L, XL, XXL, XXXL).
- Lanyards for the Ambassadors: It’s interesting to advocate Fedora while wearing the stock lanyard for a completely different organization because that’s what was received in the registration goodie bag. Having Fedora-branded lanyards for the ambassadors to use at events would add value to our guests of the Fedora way.
Community feedback: All days
At our booth, we provided a sign-in sheet for visitors to leave feedback, suggestions, and comments about Fedora. The following highlights this feedback.
There were 45 respondents. At least 21 respondents appear to be using extremely dated versions of Fedora (less than or equal to Fedora 25). 4 respondents are behind 1 release (using Fedora 26).
- All: 2 respondents had positive feedback, ranging from “Already excellent” and “Your distro is great”.
- VirtualBox?: 1 respondent replied Flicker on VLAN, Mac OS, Sierra, VirtualBox.
- GNOME: 1 respondent replied Kind of gave up on switch to GNOME3 but you have to evolve.
- Marketing: 3 respondents requested shirts.
- Windows: 1 respondent requested get Fedora working in WSL.
- Marketing: 1 respondent wanted more stickers. (best guess, more sticker varieties).
- Marketing: 2 respondents liked the Fedora stickers for the Meta key.
- Community: 2 respondents would like another Fedora Day.
Guests thanked us for our presence at the conference and look forward to our return for SCaLE 17x.
We had a room availability issue and budget concerns this year that prevented an official Fedora Day from taking place. Hopefully a budget improvement might help chances of Fedora Day returning for 2019 (SCaLE 17x).
Based on our post-rollup from Ambassadors, we discovered the following:
- Excitement that Fedora is very much alive, well, and active.
- Langdon’s Modularity Talk drew around 30 interested attendees.
- We had a severe lack of t-shirts this year, especially for sizes L, XL, XXL, and XXL, and XXXL. Small sizes were a hit, especially with kids excited about Fedora.
- We did have plenty of stickers, which were well-received. People enjoyed the variety and would like more different types in the future.
- People enjoyed having the Fedora e-badge for this year.
All staff members and guests appeared to enjoy being there. Feedback on talks and training given by SCaLE speakers from random attendees indicated their high interest in seeing a Fedora Day track. We thanked everyone who stopped by our booth and acknowledged all the people that helped make this a success.
That’s all the news from the Fedora Ambassador team and SCaLE 16x. Hope to see you next year!