Web Site, CFP, and Sponsors

We need you.

While sponsorships have started to arrive, we have several potential large sponsors and are honing our pitch to them. They want to know how BSDCan has changed both people and organizations. I don’t know how often I’ve seen some bewildered first-time attendee asking someone about their problem and be led to the person who created the code responsible. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve seen that same newcomer standing in a tight group with a handful of other users and developers discussing exactly how the software should function. Many times, I have seen that same “bewildered newcomer” return the next year to present on their solution for the problem.

I know many people who found employment via BSDCan.

I know of many companies that decided to use BSD software, came to BSDCan seeking guidance, and learned we could solve not only the problems they knew about but ones they hadn’t yet considered.

Potential sponsors want these testimonials.

If you or your organization are one of them, and you’re willing to go on the record saying that BSDCan changed your life for the better, please send us a brief testimonial. You can comment below (please sign your real name, not “DeathDaemon1999” or whatever your handle is), or email it to me at mwl at mwl dot io.

In other news: all web sites are painful, but sites from 2004 are differently painful.

We now have a functional 2024 web site on the new team’s infrastructure. It’s the same old BSDCan web site we all know and, supposedly, love. I’m not knocking Dan; this is how it was done, back in the day. Bringing this site up has really driven home that the operations team includes zero front end people. We would really like to archive the historical sites and start over, but have no good options for doing so. (Yes, we could slam up WordPress and get something running, but I said good options.) We need something that can easily be replicated and archived year after year, but works well on mobile devices. If you’re a web designer who regularly attends BSDCan and want to get involved, do drop Lucas a note at mwl at mwl dot io.

The CFP was supposed to be live 1 December. You’ve probably noticed it isn’t. David is working hard, and we should have a submission system ready soon. When it’s ready you’ll see it here, and on the announcements mailing list and the various social media sites.

At a vendor meeting last month, Dexter spoke with several prospective sponsors. We’ve implemented their suggestions, and simplified the sponsorship tiers and created a handy brief explaining why people should sponsor BSDCan. We’re approaching potential sponsors hat in hand, but you can do that same. If your employer uses any BSD-adjacent technology, such as OpenSSH or OpenZFS, our conference aligns with your business interests. While I’d love to have a single $50,000 sponsor, ten $5,000 sponsors is far more sustainable. Getting your company immortalized in the conference videos is the kind of publicity money can’t buy—except it can. If you’d like to help us restart without full-on sponsoring us, we’re taking donations via Paypal at funding@bsdcan.org.

BSDCan is now an Ontario non-profit corporation. This simplifies a whole bunch of stuff, at the cost of Allan and Colin doing extra paperwork. Everybody but Colin and Allan are fine with this, and those two don’t mind too much.

Things are coming together. I expect this month to have an extra blog post once the CFP launches.

(MWL, for the ops team)

Dates and Dinosaurs

Actual news this month, including: Dates! Donations! Dinosaurs!

No. Wait. No dinosaurs. Sorry, my bad, carry on.

The bsdcan.org web site has a splash screen giving the 2024 dates. Why a splash screen? We’re still looking to get the web site moved from Dan’s control to ours. Dan is being fully cooperative, but the computers are being jerks. We have hopes for this week, but we must get the date out this week. (Why this week? FreeBSD is having a vendor summit this weekend and our fine, fearless, fulminous sponsorship coordinator will be there shaking hands and smiling and holding out the hat. Having actual dates will grant his efforts gravitas. (If any other BSD project invites a bunch of vendors to a meeting, we would appreciate a heads-up so we can dispatch Mister Dexter. (Better him than me, that’s all I can say.)))

Speaking of money, quite a few folks have offered to send us a few bucks to help us restart. The email address funding@bsdcan.org is now live at Paypal. Your nickels and dimes will help us grease the rails into 2024.

We’ve also decided on a greater amount of financial transparency. Our goal is for BSDCan to develop sufficient resources to carry us through another bad year. We won’t achieve that in one year, or two. Maaaybe five, if we’re lucky. But a couple slides at the closing session saying “This is about what we spent, this is about what came in, here’s where we are, thank you” will go a long way.

We’ve had a serious discussion on the mask policy, and the consensus is it stands for 2024. None of us like it. We all eagerly look forward to the day it won’t be needed. Some folks live in communities that have abandoned masks except for medical reasons, while other communities still wear them rigorously. But many of us are especially vulnerable. We are biased towards safety, and while we can’t control the hallways where students walk around we can control the event rooms.

We also had another discussion around ancillary events. We want to remind folks that we’d like to welcome any projects that want to host adjacent meetings. If you’d like to plan such an event, please let us know as soon as possible. Adam is still running under the Big Giant Lock and needs time to prepare.

So. What’s your favorite dinosaur?

Migration and Business

A short blog, because we’re in the slow time.

Over the last twenty years, Dan built up a bunch of BSDCan technology infrastructure. Andrew is busily scooping that out of his hands and migrating it to servers under his control. Once the web site is under the current team’s control, we’ll launch the 2024 edition and announce the 2024 dates. We won’t be using all of Dan’s infrastructure. Paper submission and conference registration systems are solved problems, and re-solving them is neither educational nor interesting.

Colin and Allan are still setting up the Canadian business to handle the money. Paperwork, government, all that translates to “hurry up and wait.” They’re pretty much settled on non-profit. A Canadian non-profit needs three directors, so Peter Hansteen got volunteered. We specifically wanted a director who was not part of FreeBSD. Peter’s main role will be to say, “Uh, guys, what about NetBSD?” (Allan and Colin will certainly do their best to be inclusive, but they’re unabashed FreeBSD folks.)

We’re also discussing financial transparency. Ideally, we’ll provide a subject-to-much-revision rough cut during the closing session, and a more complete report after the conference closes. We will not detail individual receipts for surge suppressors and whiteboard markers because someone will nitpick that we didn’t need them and even if we did we could have gotten them cheaper at https://FellOffATruck.crime — but on the other pitchfork tine, if we’re asking for money we must document that we’re not squandering it. Like any venture, our goal is to build up sufficient cushion to carry BSDCan through lean years.

We plan to get the the CFP out at the beginning of December and close it 15 January. That’ll let us announce accepted papers in February and let folks start booking travel.

Migrating two decades of accumulated tech is ugly, thankless work. If you see Andrew, buy him a drink.

Planning and Fundraising Update, September 2023

Dan Langille ran BSDCan for nineteen years, building it into one of the keystones of the BSD community. This was a stunning feat of service. Dan has chosen to step down, handing the responsibility over to a group of volunteers.

The operations team meets monthly. We have a decent grasp on the mechanicals of running an event and have divided up responsibilities. Adam has opened negotiations with the university. Colin and Allan are working out the details of opening a Canadian business to handle money. (Our gut reaction is this should be a non-profit, but that’s a matter to discuss with accountants. Both Colin and Allan run Canadian businesses, so we’re leaving it to them.) Lucas is busily deflecting all actual work onto other people.

The critical issue today is money. (Canadian dollars, because Canada.) BSDCan isn’t quite broke. The 2023 event, with its dearth of sponsors, mostly drained our resources. Don’t get me wrong, we love the sponsors who showed up for us! But we needed more. We have a few thousand bucks for seed money, and that’s it.

BSDCan needs enough money to pay for:

  • Rooms for tutorials, presentations, and the evening hacker lounge
  • Lunches
  • Travel for speakers
  • Accommodations for speakers, including the nights before and after the con
  • T-shirts
  • Swag bags
  • Video recording and streaming

We would like enough money to pay for:

  • The Saturday night party

How much money does BSDCan need?

About $80,000. We might get away with less, but prices are going up so it might be more.

How are we going to get it?

First, admission has remained $195 for many years even though supplier prices have increased. We want to raise it to $250. We had 130 paying attendees in 2023, which was pretty good for the first in-person event in four years. 150 attendees would bring in $37,500. That leaves us over $40,000 short.

Second: when we have a Canadian business organization and bank account, we’ll have a donate button. That’ll certainly help.

We’ve set a goal of raising $50,000 from sponsors. That should let us tolerate random price increases from airlines and the University of Ottawa. I requested that any extra go towards paying down my gelato bill, but the committee is insistent that excess funds be retained for improving BSDCan. We must also build a cushion for future years.

Michael Dexter ( dexter@bsdfund.org ) is our sponsorship coordinator, partly because he’s good at those things but mainly because he’s the only one of us who owns a suit. He looked at the issue and said, “The real problem is that BSD geeks are actively terrible at raising money. We should explore ways to reduce the stress of funding all of the BSD events.” You can find his initial efforts at bsdfund.org while we work out the BSDCan infrastructure.

BSDCan’s sponsorship options accreted over the decades. If you wanted to sponsor T-shirts, Dan would make up a “T-Shirt Sponsor” category and take your check with a smile. Some of those options don’t make as much sense today. Other options have not increased in price since the naughties. Dexter went through them, boiled them down, and built a rationalized table of sponsorship options. He’s starting to knock on doors right now. The front page of this site has a funding thermometer to track his progress.

Without sponsors, BSDCan doesn’t happen. We could raise admission to $600 and cover everything directly from your pockets, but that’s a dramatic and hideous change. BSD software runs some of the biggest industries in the world, and we anticipate that a handful of them are still willing to give back. If that describes your organization, please check out the sponsorship options. Dexter would love to hear from you.

Twenty years of BSDCan has made the event something of a sacred trust. Everyone is working together to continue it into the future. That starts with money.

Bringing BSD Together

Running BSDCan consumed Dan’s bandwidth, leaving him with zero interest in publishing financial reports. That left space for confusion. Let me categorically state: BSDCan does not pay for project devsummits flanking the con.

The FreeBSD Foundation is traditionally a conference sponsor. The FF also pays for the FreeBSD devsummit. They also have a separate program to sponsor travel for folks who want to attend. Yes, they leverage BSDCan paying for speaker flights. They should. Other projects should do the same.

BSDCan’s motto is bringing BSD together. Having an operations team rather than a Single Point of Dan will make that easier. We would happily reserve space for related projects such as bhyvecon or NetBSD or whoever, and give such projects a couple minutes at the closing to say how things are going. Video coordinator Patrick McEvoy has volunteered to stream such events, provided that they happen right next to the main con and he has enough cameras and staff. We will be asking all such devsummits to pay room fees in advance. Total expenses wobble with the number of lunches needed, so we’ll also have to settle up afterwards.

If you want to hold such a meeting, watch this space. We’ll figure out a process soon.

One day I’d like to see several related groups meeting for a couple days before BSDCan and all gathering for lunch. If I let my imagination soar, some of those lunches would not involve sandwiches.

First post! 30 August 2023

We’re working to convert BSDCan to a team approach, and want to document our efforts–both so that we can keep our facts straight, and so that the community knows what’s going on.

We’ll make a post after each monthly meeting. We want to be very open, except for information that will make people take ill-advised actions. For example, we have picked the best available dates for BSDCan 2024 but have not yet gotten agreement from the university. Publishing those dates would inspire some of you to schedule your lives around them and then get annoyed when the university rejected them. (Not you. You’re sensible. Other people.)