Google Reunion in Silicon Valley with FOSSASIA
Being at the get together of more than 500 mentors and students of over 200 projects from 50 countries at the 10th anniversary of Google Summer of Code and join the celebrations at the Reunion 2014 is an amazing experience. It was the first time that Google brought together such a large number of contributors in Silicon Valley for a fantastic Unconference, a great day out at the “Great America” and a Gala at the San Jose Tech Museum with Linus Torvalds and a catering with an outstanding American Fusion cuisine.
Yes, 10 years! Google Summer of Code is the only program of a company supporting hundreds of Open Source projects for many years and bringing them together with students from around the world. The magnitude of this support shows the real commitment of Google to Free and Open Source Software and I would like to thank everyone involved including Carol Smith, Cat Allman and Stephanie Taylor, and all the other fantastic people at the Open Source office supporting us.
The idea of free sharing and collaboration across borders has always inspired me. And I could not be happier to enter the conference room in San Jose – full of creators, developers, contributors of many amazing Open Source projects such as Mozilla, KDE, Python, Haiku, Blender, GNU, Debian, Inkscape and many more.
In previous years, the program brought together mentors of each active organization, but for this years celebration Google also flew in mentors of former years and even some students of the program. As an organizer of our annual FOSSASIA event I know what a challenge it can be to bring in a few dozen speakers from different parts of the world, but flying in 500 Open Source contributors from around the world is a logistic masterpiece. Organizing this event takes a huge amount effort and resources. Two thumbs up for the organizing team, they did an amazing job. I am grateful to be among the participants.
Great Day Out at the Great America
Every year the Mentor Summit spreads out in two days filled with interesting unconference sessions, lighting talks, and plenty of spaces for group discussing and code sprints. This time Carol and the team went an extra mile to surprise participants with an additional day-out at the Great America Theme Park (exclusively for us!). Believe it or not the majority of my lovely geek friends apparently have never been to an amusement park in their lives. We had such a great morning and afternoon there. I am sure some of us will never forget that very first roller coaster ride. It is great that Google makes this experience possible for mentors and appreciates their contributions.
Gala at the Tech Museum San Jose with Linus Torvalds
Another of the highlights of this year was the Gala at the Tech Museum in San Jose. Everyone dressed up in beautiful garments. It was fun to see all the developers who kind of always wear black shirts suddenly dressed up. And, on top of organizing everything the team also arranged a meetup with a star of the Free and Open Source community: Linus Torvalds joined us as a special guest. Of course Linus was everyones hero. And I was thrilled to meet him and Dirk Hohndel just before their talk. Sincerely thanks to Cat Allman for introducing him. I took the chance to invite them to our next FOSSASIA in Singapore, which will take place from March 13-15, 2015.
After the interesting talks about the history of Linux, Open Source at Google and future projects, we experienced the interactive exhibits at the Tech Museum and enjoyed more of the yummy food. Coming from Asia, experiencing the food in the US is always very special for me. Especially in Silicon Valley and San Francisco I love the Fusion food, the blend of Western food and Asian cuisine. On the night of the party, the Google team really did arrange a fantastic catering with very friendly caterers, who knew a lot about all the different ingredients. I learned from Stephanie that this was one of the best catering companies and that they came all the way from San Francisco. It was truly special indeed.
Participants at the Reunion
Personally I was so excited to meet with the developer team of Processing at the Google Reunion. Processing is one of my favorite software applications. One team member – Andres Colubri from Argentina – told me he finally met his friend and co-developer whom he worked together with during the last 7 years but never got a chance to meet.
Some voices of participants of this years summit: Doris Lee, a first year GSoC from Taiwan said: ”The program is a great way to practice and apply what I have learned in programming. I took computer science at UC Berkeley but I never had the feeling I get the right assignments to work on. I enjoyed so much to work with GSoC program which gives me a chance to improve my coding skill, to learn how to use Git, Python and much more.”
Adnan Zahid – 2nd year GSoC student also commented: “It is good that Google created the program for public benefits and I wish this program can be extended not only during summer but throughout the entire year. My suggestion is to create cooperation between Open Source projects and universities so that the schools constantly receive assignments and then distribute them to students”
Hamish Bowman from OSGeo said: “We are participating at GSoC for many years and I am happy to see new and old faces at the Reunion. For me the mentor summit is a chance to meet developers from projects, that we are using and working together with. Many of them, we would not be able to meet some anywhere else. After a long time, I had the chance to talk again with Mario Behling who is working with lots of projects and founded Lubuntu. It was great to see Mario’s excitement when I showed him our OSGeo Live distro which we build on top of Lubuntu.”
I also spoke with one of the most senior mentors – Kevin Krammer from KDE, it was Kevin’s 10th time mentoring. He said: “This is a fantastic thing. I appreciate the opportunity to be mentor. I think we had very good students who have helped KDE a lot during the past few years. GSoC gives us the possibility to experiment new things for which we normally do not have enough resources and this is a great training opportunity as well.”
The closure Q&A session marked another year of GSoC was over. We are all looking forward to another 10, 20, 30 …years to come. Once again congratulations to GSoC 10th Anniversary!
Google Melange http://google-melange.com