My KubeCon EU experience: First time in person, meeting friends, and speaking
KubeCon EU was special, for many reasons. One of them was to finally meet friends, old and new, for the first time ... or after a very long time.
The second reason was to give a talk at KubeCon EU. Something which took me a while to process and realize. It has been one of our goals as a team at GitLab, and I felt truly honored to share my ideas and experience in front of a large audience. And then I got a little nervous about the slides and should I do a demo? On the 2nd weekend before KubeCon, I could not sit still and created a C++ app that leaks memory but only when DNS requests fail. Documented the demo, and made it open source so that everyone can contribute.
Finished the talk 1 week before the event, a new side of myself. I knew that the week was going to be huge and long, preserving energy until Friday and my talk needs no more slide edits :-)
Monday and Tuesday: Zero-day events and meeting friends
I was really looking forward to eBPF day, with eBPF being a topic I need to learn a lot and level up my knowledge. From there, I can help folks with directions and new project ideas. The keynote from Thomas Graf perfectly summarized what I needed to know (including open-sourcing Tetragon), followed by great insight into Parca and secure programming in Rust instead of C.
"How did you get an invitation to Erica's happy hour?" was one of the questions I smiled a lot about. A friendly conversation on Twitter, common interests with eBPF and WASM, and the idea to meet and say hi, with Erica being so kind to invite me and Brendan. Lovely conversations, meeting community leaders and folks whom I have not seen in a while - hi, Priyanka <3
Tuesday: Meeting John, and inventing the DevOps Twins
Brendan and I decided to move to the GitLab booth buildup after lunch, and met John later :-) Together with Lauren and Amanda, we figured that all shirts needed to be rolled as a give-away. 5 is more efficient than 2, so we made it a fun experience with some great pictures later too.
While posing at the DevOps wall at the GitLab activity booth, ...
Brendan came up with the insider joke again ... When we first met on Sunday, we kinda figured that we look like Twins - Schwarzenegger and DeVito, Austria and USA. In a taxi towards the beach in Valencia. :D
After posting the picture on Twitter, it was not far to get a DM from Michael Aigner. "Yeah, sure, photoshop whatever, go for it." The final result speaks for itself, who could have imagined the "DevOps Twins". Bored by layovers, I registered https://devops-twins.com/ and created a static HTML site at Frankfurt airport later on Saturday. More ideas here.
Wednesday, Thursday, ... - GitLab activity lounge and long evenings
Dinner in Spain is at 8, 9, 10, or even 11 pm. At first, the shift from 6 or 7 pm was a little weird, but we adjusted to it. GitLab team members were so kind to organize dinner every day, except for Wednesday with the Observability event together with Dynatrace, Isovalent, Pagerduty, and Polar Signals. Been talking all evening, and was like "oh, 11 pm already".
The evening event on Thursday brought a large crowd into a (wine) farming house a little outside of Valencia, and oh my ... such tasty food, in a beautiful atmosphere, and great conversations with Cyrille :)
We left early though, meeting for dinner at 9:30 pm. Later, I went for a walk to the hotel, getting 8 hours of sleep for my talk instead of some more happy hours ;-) Marin kindly reminded me of my passion for my talk, feeling energized on Friday <3
Friday afternoon: My talk
500+ folks in person, filling up the room for my talk. 200+ waving virtually. 870 signed up. I "grew up" in smaller communities, practicing at meetups and events, with only virtual for the past 2+ years. What a wonderful experience to be back in person, and see folks following the stories and ideas.
Honestly, I feared that I would be speaking in front of an empty room on Friday, 4 pm CEST. Instead, I was overwhelmed, and after seeing my stories go so well forward, I made the move to do the live demo, even if the conference wifi was not great. After the
kubectl get pods the command took 10s, I knew that the final note will be "We are pretending the demo worked by looking at this Prometheus chart screenshot" ;-)
Before the talk, I went for some "me time" somewhere sitting outside with other folks. I don't need a silent speaker's lounge, I love practicing the slides and maybe catching eye contact with someone wondering what I am doing.
There, I figured that the live demo needs some screenshots as a backup, and quickly edited the slides once again. Added a lot to the confidence level, in addition to what John Coghlan said in our 1:1: "You are the expert in the room, tell a good story.". Decide for yourself :-)
Practicing the talk was done in new ways: Lauren Conway asked me on Tuesday about the Chaos in my talk. She got the 5 minute director's cut when I scrolled the slides in my head. After many conversations, each asking about the talk, I got better at shorter storytelling, and also was able to refine my key messages.
Even after the talk, Martin said "developer experience", and I was like "Oh, interesting, did not really think of this until now". As such, I have refined my talk themes for my FY23 Observability strategy (that's public, I love transparency).
Brendan, Stefania, and Joanna were so kind to share pictures and threads, I totally forgot to take a selfie :)
Lifetime achievement unlocked.
KubeCon was both - a cloud-native community meetup, and a GitLab team offsite. I'd wish we had more time; evenings were made into team dinners, big and small :)
I have met so many of you, and great conversations and memories are still floating by, with more ideas to follow up in the future. I appreciate everyone saying hi, thanks, and smiling (you can see that through a mask even!). We will see us soon again :-)
I - obviously - brought some (30+ packages) dragee keksi with me, Austrian butter cookies with chocolate, getting you addicted. Delivery successful.
What did I miss?
I missed all of the main event talks, except for some keynotes. (Our team did not, and adjusted the product roadmap too). At some point, I decided to meet as many folks as possible and explore the venue when not at the activity booth staff duty. The 0-day events with eBPF and Prometheus hooked me into great new ideas; the afternoon was "reserved" for team bonding and quality time.
The venue was huge - I could not figure out where the Auditorium was (sorry Anaïs for missing your talk) and only later learned that level 1 was one floor down (lol). While searching for the Gitpod booth, I ran into Kunal who brought me there thankfully - and so we made a picture where Pauline is taller than me ;-)
The great folks at CNCF have professional talk recording and video editing, providing the talks ~2 weeks after KubeCon EU. This is exactly the time needed to recover, and recap fresh ideas for future developments and talks.
For example, OpenTelemetry announced metrics being GA, and logs are in draft. A hot new idea is to add Profiling as a new OTEL event type in the future. A few days later, Jaeger Tracing shared that it can receive trace data natively in OpenTelemetry protocol, thus not needing the OpenTelemetry collector. What a great time to start hacking again on https://gitlab.opentelemetry.love/.
Those are just a few highlights, I'll share more in the next opsindev.news newsletter issue.
KubeCon EU was my experiment, first-time travel in the pandemic after 2 years. I'm lucky that 3x vaccination made Covid19 only 2 weeks of coughing and feeling tired. My guess still is that it was the airport or evening activities, and not the main event. Otherwise many more folks would have tested positive. In the end, it does not matter - we are all healthy again, and I look forward to new adventures, safe and sound.
My travel mood is awake again. I'll take things slowly with events I planned thoroughly in 2022 already, and seeing my talks accepted too :) June 29-30 brings me to Kubernetes Community Days Berlin, Sep 5-7 will be in Hamburg at Container Days, both times in Germany.
Holidays will be somewhere in the Austrian alps, avoiding the stress with folks flying in summer, and just relaxing with hiking, wellness, and amazing views. Later, I am hoping to travel to Contribute meeting more GitLab folks ... and potentially OS Summit in Dublin, KubeCon NA in Detroit, ... and wherever else my ideas bring me with all-remote.
I cannot wait to see y'all again 💜