What even is OpenStack?

A few days ago, I needed to learn what OpenStack is. Here’s what I’ve learned so far.

OpenStack is a collection of open-source “cloud infrastructure” services. One way to think of it is as an alternative to Amazon Web Services for those who want to operate their own data center instead of paying Amazon.1 Several of the OpenStack services are roughly analogous to Amazon services. For instance, OpenStack Nova is an alternative to Amazon EC2; OpenStack Swift is an alternative to Amazon S3; and OpenStack Cinder is an alternative to Amazon EBS. The OpenStack people publish a long list of organizations that use OpenStack in various ways.

Help the !!Con 2016 attendees eat breakfast

Update (May 5, 2016): Thanks to everyone who’s offered to chip in and help !!Con out financially! There’s now an easy way to do so as an individual: (hosted by my fellow !!Con organizer Leo Franchi). Read the rest of this post to learn about our financial situation and why I’m asking for help.

Update (May 11, 2016): You people are amazing! At the last minute, !!Con got a sponsorship from Stride, plus over $1600 in contributions from individuals. With their help, we were able to serve bagels, fruit, and coffee on both days of the conference! Thank you so much!

Regular readers of this blog may know that I’m one of the organizers of !!Con (“bang bang con”), an eclectic and inclusive conference of ten-minute talks about the joy, excitement, and surprise of programming.

2016 marks the third year of !!Con, which is held annually in New York City. This year, our program features talks on the usual bewilderingly broad range of topics: lossy text compression, interplanetary spacecraft flight software, storing your data in kernel space, and more. I can’t wait!

That time my tweet got cited in a scientific journal

I use Twitter a lot. A couple years ago, I was walking through the woods near my building on campus in Indiana when I saw a gorgeous, shiny green critter that I didn’t recognize. I wanted to know what it was, so I snapped a photo and tweeted about it, asking if anyone could identify it.

Don’t “invite” people to your program committee; ask them to serve

Recently, a friend told me that one of their pet peeves was being “invited” to do things like review papers on a program committee, rather than being asked to serve on said committee. I had never considered the difference between inviting people and asking them to serve, but as soon as my friend pointed it out, I realized that I had sent a few of these so-called “invitations” myself not so long ago.