Flock 2017 – My experience

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This year I had the pleasure of attending Flock in Hyannis, MA. I taught, I learned, I saw old friends and made new ones. It was another wonderful experience with the Fedora community. This year, there were quite a few design sessions, which was very cool. I attended them all and learned some pretty neat stuff. I also made my way to as many other sessions as possible and had some great conversations about Badges.

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Day 1

The first day I found myself at the opening session, Matt Miller’s Welcome/Intro + Fedora State of the Union. Matt showed us some of the usual stats, and advised that we are aiming to be in the sweet spot that covers both innovators and early adopters. Matt touched on his proposal to guide our Ambassadors. Matt also stressed that to keep evolving, we need to be bold with our work, or in other words… to start fires and break things. As a designer, I am not quite as in touch with Fedora’s cutting edge technology than the average developer.

I use Fedora, for my personal computer, and to make design things. I contribute to Fedora with my work on Fedora Badges and the Fedora Design Team. How do I start fires or break things? Matt’s talk had my brain churning. I want to make my contributions to Fedora the most impactful and meaningful as they can be. My mind went to Fedora Badges. I came to some conclusions about Fedora Badges, and I had the opportunity to tell Flock attendees some of them on the last day at the Demo Session. More about that later.

I popped up on the microphone for the Advertise Your Session hour with Masha Leonova to tell everyone to come to our workshop and then grabbed lunch in Bass River. I chatted with the guys at the Red Hat Booth and posed for a caricature as well as answered a few questions about my involvement with Fedora. Looking forward to seeing the video they make!

Next Masha and myself ran the Designing Fedora Badges workshop. We had about 15-16 attendees, who came in an out during the three hour session. In attendance were some experience badge designers, some complete newbies and some developers. We ran through an intro, the tutorial, and we had also had Kanika (a2batic) talk about the work she has been doing for Badges. Kanika has been working on a symbol library resource for creating Fedora Badges designs. It is still in the testing phase right now, but as soon as it is ready we will add it to our resources page with instructions. The session was very productive, with no major bumps getting everyone set up, and artwork for multiple badges being approved!

I chatted about Badges with a few people and then stopped by the Fedora Magazine Workshop. Next was dinner and Game Night in Bass River. This event was a fun social time for everyone, with a lot of hub and bub around the candy swap. Jenn made some sweet portraits and I jumped in for a little sketching near the end. Myself and a few others then decided to wander Main Street to see what we could find, which included some delicious tapas and music.

Day 2

On day 2, the first session I went to was Create, Develop and Build our Fedora Websites. This session was run by Andrea Masala and Robert Mayr, both who had attended my workshop the day before, so  I thought I would return the favor. I learned about how they keep our Fedora websites up and running, and which ones that includes, as well as more info on how they communicate/ their workflow/etc.

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I then went on to attend Simple User Testing – Early and Often by Jenn Kotler (in the same room conveniently). This session was really interesting to me. Jenn taught us the entire breakdown for a micro test, a user test which is usually done early in the process, with a small amount of participants. She explained the workflow for such a test starting with the question “Who are the users?” Jenn explained how to design the test by creating a goal and creating your test around that goal, and any other smaller goals you may need to gauge.

Next to find testers- Jenn says techies make bad testers! Unless they will be the primary users :). She also explained that your interaction with the testers make a huge impact on how the test will go. Stay reserved, neutral in your tone/body language about all things, and don’t let the testers know that you have created the app. Doing these things will help maintain the quality of the test results. When running the test, have a written script ready to go, that way each tester is getting the same experience. You can and probably will need to give your testers assists, but note each assist. This means you have a place which needs serious revamping in your project.

Lastly, Jenn spoke about what to do with your test data. This includes making a spreadsheet with all the information you have gathered during your testing. You would then use that spreadsheet to look for trends, such as which tasks do you the users pass or fail consistently? Then Jenn ran a Q&A portion of the session, where some good questions were asked. For example, how is a micro test different from a regular test? The difference is the scope, a micro test is useful for testing a smaller sub set of features wheres a regular test you may be testing an entire application.

I grabbed some lunch in Bass River and then headed over to the Fedora Hubs Hackfest. During Flock, I was also in the process of updating my laptop to the most current version of Fedora Workstation. This session ended up being a good chance for me to finish updating with the help of some of the attendees. All set with Fedora 26 Workstation now :).

Wednesday evening was the night of our event at Wackenhammer’s, which was a lot of fun. I tried out many of the games, and spent time catching up with old friends and spending time with new ones. I played the Plush Palace claw game until I got my new Pusheen friend pictured below(adding to my already existing collection of pusheenabilia). After the event, myself and a couple people wandered Main Street again until we found a nice tavern to have a couple of drinks.

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Day 3

Day 3, I started my day with a breakfast sandwich from DD(which was conveniently close to the hotel and conference center) and then straight to the Diversity Team Hackfest. The conversation seemed very productive in my opinion, with helpful and genuine feedback from different Fedorans who attended. The discussion about events allowed for people to talk about the importance of wording, and who and how we target a diverse audience. The importance of inclusion without singling groups of people out.

After that, myself and a couple people decided to go out to lunch- and we chose Spanky’s. It was a cute seafood place by the water. We sat outside, enjoyed our meals, and then took a quick walk up and down the pier to see what we could see. I found a couple of artist “shacks” where the city provides grants for artists to make and sell artwork out of these little buildings during the summer months. Apparently this is a popular program in Cape Cod which I would found to be super cool. I like to see communities that value artwork.

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The rest of Day 3 was a design session afternoon :). Starting with Get Together with Local Fedorans: A UX Design Case by Suzanne Hillman. Suzanne spoke about User Design via her work on creating a localized version of Hubs. The session focused on the process of User Design more than the actual project. To break it down as simply as Suzanne did, the process overview is a trifecta of Research <-> Design <-> Analysis. Moving back and forth between those three activities until you have a finished project.

Next was a quick session by Mairin Duffy, Fedora Design Pattern Library. In this session, Mairin gave an overview of her work to help Fedora website and apps to be contiguous in their design. A tool to make the everything we create feel “Fedora,” using atomic design principles and patternlab. I asked her, is this a style guide? Her reply was yes, and no. It is more than a style guide, it is a tool that can actively be applied to websites to change their design on the code side. Cool!

Last for the day was the Design Team Hackfest. This session I spent working on replying to the latest issues for Fedora Badges on Pagure, generally triaging and helping people out. I created a badge design for the Fedora Council – which has been pushed out already! Overall the afternoon was informative and productive. I also did an extracurricular activity, that I have little use for generally. I braided a new friends hair :D.

After dinner, a group of us decided to hit the town and find some dancing. Which we did at a fun place called Embargo. Decent food and drinks with dancing, it was a great night! They closed at 1AM(so early!?!?), so we brought the gathering back to the hotel and enjoyed each others company until the wee hours!

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Day 4

I managed to get out of bed in time to make it to the What did we do?/Demo Day session on Friday morning. This session was a good summation of what we accomplished during Flock this year. As some of the other design team members were missing from this session, I was *selected* by popular demand to speak about what design things had happened during the conference. I gave a brief overview of the different design sessions I had attended and then I gave a breakdown on the current state of Fedora Badges and spoke about some of the conclusions I mentioned earlier in this post, which I would like to share with you now.

Fedora Badges is awesome. It is a fun and exciting way to get recognition for the hard work we put into Fedora. This project is also 5 years old now? I am not sure of the exact date of conception, but suffice to say, it is not the new hotness anymore. Which is totally OK. I have been around working on this project since 2013, and since my start, have taken more of a leadership role. Mentoring, triaging and helping to run things as smoothly as I can with the time I am able to give. Since I so closely monitor it, I have noticed a few things:

  • We have old tickets. I mean, in terms of the project, stone age old.
  • We have less ideas being submitted generally. Most new issues are filed for events.
  • We have less developers able/willing to put time into the project.
  • We have a lot of the same designers designing badges, not many newbies.

To me, all of these things seem like kind of eventuality with an old project, but it also says to me, this project is becoming less relevant, and helpful to our community. Which I indicated during my mini talk during the What did we do? session. I had *multiple* people come up to me after saying “I love badges! This project is awesome!” and that is great! But how do we keep this awesome? To get back to Matt Millers talk, how can we use Fedora Badges to help make fires and break things?

This is my call back to the community for Fedora Badges… How can we use Fedora Badges to continue to achieve our goals? For each project maintainer, developer, ambassador, QA person, etc, etc, etc, I challenge you to come up with an idea for a Badge based on where you need work to be done on your project. For the people who know what the new hotness is, can Badges help it become an even greater success? To the Fedora leadership, I ask how can we use Fedora Badges to further the efforts of the entire community? We know this system can and has created significant work and movement within Fedora. To design people reading this who haven’t worked on Badges before, this is a great, fun, collaborative, project and we would love for you to join in. To developers who have some time, please take a look at some of these old badges and define if they are possible. I am also open and interested to hear ideas on how to improve Badges as a whole.

Fedora Badges is a project in which we need all different peoples ideas, efforts and contributions. Not just once, or twice, but continually, as Fedora continues to evolve and grow in different ways. How can we better use Badges as a tool to excite, empower and help drive contributions to Fedora as a whole?

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Conclusions

Flock 2017 was awesome! I had a wonderful time learning, teaching, and doing. The scenery was very quaint and I did manage to get to the beach a couple times, although the weather was barely cooperative. I really enjoyed seeing all my friends, acquaintances, and making a whole bunch of new ones. The social aspect of Flock is a great motivator and reward of being involved with Fedora. My friendships with Fedorans continue to build and that is the best 🙂

 

 

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