Speaker Interview: Don Marti

Over the years, Don Marti has never had a shortage of interesting material to present at SCALE. And SCALE 13x is no exception, as Don will regale us with tales of Showing Off Your Software with a Great Demo System, on SCALE 13x Sunday at 11:30 a.m. Rest assured that his presentation will be far more than one minute of setup and 44 minutes of Creative Commons photos, as the SCALE Team interview explains below.

Q: Could you please introduce yourself and tell us a little about your background?

A: I'm a former Linux user group organizer and magazine editor. Bad news is that now I'm a marketing weenie with a not-so-secret agenda to sell you stuff. Good news is that I have a short attention span and usually at SCALE end up talking about random topics instead.

I have spoken at SCALE several times, including talks on how to defy user interface guidelines until your computer is totally unusable by anyone else, how to get more work done on the Internet by disconnecting from the Internet, how web content management systems are evil and you should keep your web site in Git or something instead, and some confused rant about using GNU Make for typical office tasks (https://lwn.net/Articles/589196/).

I was going to explain a really fast new cloud computing thing, but when I realized that the demo was only 9 seconds long, I decided to stretch out the talk by making it about how to set up demos.

Q: You're giving a talk on Showing Off Your Software with a Great Demo System. Without tipping your hand on the actual talk, can you give us an idea of what we might expect?

A: Most of the time we install and run software, it's not for production -- it's for a test or for some kind of demo or evaluation. You can really help out a software project a lot by making it possible for more people to demo it in more places. You know how there are

1. demos that nobody can do

2. demos that the developers can do, when they're available

3. demos that a few key people can do

4. demos that interested and motivated people can do

5. demos that anyone can do

This is about getting a demo from a 2 or a 3 up to at least a 4.

Q: Is this your first visit to SCALE? If so, what are your expectations? If not, can you give us your impressions of the event?

A: I have been to SCALE before. Somebody once asked me if it was a weird hacker show or a professional devops show, and I said my impression is that it's the place where professional devops people go to do weird hacker stuff. There's always a good mix of Professional Information Technology, that you can justify having your employer pay you to pick up, and edgier, more interesting stuff. Did I say more interesting? I mean, professional information technology is totally interesting, too.

Q: So what's so hard about demos? Just make a virtual machine, set it up just right for your demo, and do a snapshot. Then roll it back when you want to give the demo again. Are you going to spend one minute on a screenshot of the "snapshot" button and then 44 minutes showing us Creative Commons photos of ponies and monkeys?

A: That's two questions. The answer to the first is that usually the more you want to demo some software, the more of a moving target it is, so the last thing you want is a snapshot of an old version. The answer to the second question is maybe.

Q: Is there anything else you'd like to add?

A: Yes … at the talk. See you there.

[SCALE Team interview by Larry Cafiero]