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This is a bit late, as per usual, but I'm finally getting around to blogging my experience at this year's GUADEC 2019 in Thessaloniki, Greece.

This was the second GUADEC that I've had the chance to attend, and the first time being able to attend with Caroline. Likewise, for this GUADEC Caroline and I had spent a metric ton of time helping organize the event, with much of my effort going to getting the registration/room booking website up and running and getting the GUADEC Companion apps off the ground. Needless to say it was a stressful lead-up.

Before GUADEC and the two days of Board activities that I was obligated to attend just prior, Caroline and I took some time to drive around the northeastern coast of Greece, staying in a beautiful little town on the coast called Ouranoupolis.

While the coast was phenomenal, alas it came time to get the event off the ground and partake in my Board responsibilities. We drove into Thessaloniki early in the morning, arriving to the board meetings just in the nick of time. These were my first in-person board activities, so I was a hare nervous about the process, but it became very clear early on that whatever romanticizing I had done about the Board meeting procedure was wrong. The board meetings themselves are actually a quite boring and formal affair, which is actually just fine, it's important to talk about policy and direction without emotion, stress, or drama.

Soon thereafter GUADEC itself began, and besides a few small logistic and technical issues, everything went off fairly smoothly. This was due in no small part to Kristi, Caroline, and the rest of the volunteers working their asses off to pull everything together. So kudos to them. During the actual event I spent my time attending talk, managing the content for the companion apps, and putting out fires. I specifically tried to be more hands off this year than I was last year as a volunteer, as I hardly had time last year to attend any of the talks.

Thessaloniki the city is quite spectacular. It's a combination of bustling, hectic, and beautiful. The social events and night life were excellent all-around this year, though it's hard to compare to last year in Almeria. Almeria had nothing short of outstanding social activities, I'd rate this years as "very good".
One evening we had dinner and music outside the front of the university (though the music choice was a little bit odd...being pretty nsfw pop music), another night we had a picnic at a really nice petting zoo in the woods, and on another evening there was a soccer (football) match that I sadly didn't attend. I between these events there was lots of eating meals at different restaurants with many different groups, and exploring the city.

All in all, I would call this GUADEC a success, and I'm super happy the debut of the companion app built from the Connfa platform when off without any major hurdles. The board activities I felt were very productive, the AGM went well and was very informative and organized, and the talks were all quite on-point. A few talks left me super excited for the future of our software, and a few others left me thinking of the philosophy of why we do what we do with regard to FOSS software, maintainership, development, marketing, etc.

The BoF's were great, though I didn't attend as many as I had initially intended. I helped to lead the Engagement BoF, and in that we planned out some activities with regard to updating the Wiki (which is blocked atm), University outreach, and diversity initiatives. We also had a great number of new people join the Engagement team post-GUADEC, which is excellent!

As always, I am extremely grateful to the GNOME Foundation, our donors and sponsors, and the Engagement committee for giving me the opportunity to attend GUADEC again this year. Without their support, there would have been no way for myself nor Caroline to attend, and we are so very happy to be given the chance to attend GNOME events in far off countries.


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