Tag Archives: Fosdem

Sometimes I speak

I view myself as primarily a software developer. Perhaps secondary as someone who’s somewhat knowledgeable in networking and is participating in protocol development and discussions. I do not regularly proclaim myself to be a “speaker” or someone who’s even very good at talking in front of people.

Time to wake up and face reality? I’m slowly starting to realize that I’m actually doing more presentations than ever before in my life and I’m enjoying it.

Since October 2015 I’ve done 53 talks and presentations in front of audiences – in ten countries. That’s one presentation done every 25 days on average. (The start date of this count is a little random but it just happens that I started to keep a proper log then.) I’ve talked to huge audiences and to small. I done presentations that were appreciated and I’ve done some that were less successful.

The room for the JAX keynote, May 2019, as seen from the stage, some 20 minutes before 700 persons sat down in the audience to hear my talk on HTTP/3.

My increased frequency in speaking engagements coincides with me starting to work full-time from home back in 2014. Going to places to speak is one way to get out of the house and see the “real world” a little bit and see what the real people are doing. And a chance to hang out with humans for a change. Besides, I only ever talk on topics that are dear to me and that I know intimately well so I rarely feel pressure when delivering them. 2014 – 2015 was also the time frame when HTTP/2 was being finalized and the general curiosity on that new protocol version helped me find opportunities back then.

Public speaking is like most other things: surprisingly enough, practice actually makes you better at it! I still have a lot to learn and improve, but speaking many times has for example made me better at figuring out roughly how long time I need to deliver a particular talk. It has taught me to “find myself” better when presenting and be more relaxed and the real me – no need to put up a facade of some kind or pretend. People like seeing that there’s a real person there.

I talked HTTP/2 at Techday by Init, in November 2016.

I’m not even getting that terribly nervous before my talks anymore. I used to really get a raised pulse for the first 45 talks or so, but by doing it over and over and over I think the practice has made me more secure and more relaxed in my attitude to the audience and the topics. I think it has made me a slightly better presenter and it certainly makes me enjoy it more.

I’m not “a good presenter”. I can deliver a talk and I can do it with dignity and I think the audience is satisfied with me in most cases, but by watching actual good presenters talk I realize that I still have a long journey ahead of me. Of course, parts of the explanation is that, to connect with the beginning of this post, I’m a developer. I don’t talk for a living and I actually very rarely practice my presentations very much because I don’t feel I can spend that time.

The JAX keynote in May 2019 as seen from the audience. Photo by Bernd Ruecker.

Some of the things that are still difficult include:

The money issue. I actually am a developer and that’s what I do for a living. Taking time off the development to prepare a presentation, travel to a distant place, sacrifice my spare time for one or more days and communicating something interesting to an audience that demands and expects it to be both good and reasonably entertaining takes time away from that development. Getting travel and accommodation compensated is awesome but unfortunately not enough. I need to insist on getting paid for this. I frequently turn down speaking opportunities when they can’t pay me for my time.

Saying no. Oh my god do I have a hard time to do this. This year, I’ve been invited to so many different conferences and the invitations keep flying in. For every single received invitation, I get this warm and comfy feeling and I feel honored and humbled by the fact that someone actually wants me to come to their conference or gathering to talk. There’s the calendar problem: I can’t be in two places at once. Then I also can’t plan events too close to each other in time to avoid them holding up “real work” too much or to become too much of a nuisance to my family. Sometimes there’s also the financial dilemma: if I can’t get compensation, it gets tricky for me to do it, no matter how good the conference seems to be and the noble cause they’re working for.

At SUE 2016 in the Netherlands.

Feedback. To determine what parts of the presentation that should be improved for the next time I speak of the same or similar topic, which parts should be removed and if something should be expanded, figuring what works and what doesn’t work is vital. For most talks I’ve done, there’s been no formal way to provide or receive this feedback, and for the small percentage that had a formal feedback form or a scoring system or similar, taking care of a bunch of distributed grades (for example “your talk was graded 4.2 on a scale between 1 and 5”) and random comments – either positive or negative – is really hard… I get the best feedback from close friends who dare to tell me the truth as it is.

Conforming to silly formats. Slightly different, but some places want me to send me my slides in, either a long time before the event (I’ve had people ask me to provide way over a week(!) before), or they dictate that the slides should be sent to them using Microsoft Powerpoint, PDF or some other silly format. I want to use my own preferred tools when designing presentations as I need to be able to reuse the material for more and future presentations. Sure, I can convert to other formats but that usually ruins formatting and design. Then a lot the time and sweat I put into making a fine and good-looking presentation is more or less discarded! Fortunately, most places let me plug in my laptop and everything is fine!

Upcoming talks?

As a little service to potential audience members and conference organizers, I’m listing all my upcoming speaking engagements on a dedicated page on my web site:

https://daniel.haxx.se/talks.html

I try to keep that page updated to reflect current reality. It also shows that some organizers are forward-planning waaaay in advance…

Here’s me talking about DNS-over-HTTPS at FOSDEM 2019. Photo by Steve Holme.

Invite someone like me to talk?

Here’s some advice on how to invite a speaker (like me) with style:

  1. Ask well in advance (more than 2-3 months preferably, probably not more than 9). When I agree to a talk, others who ask for talks in close proximity to that date will get declined. I get a surprisingly large amount of invitations for events just a month into the future or so, and it rarely works for me to get those into my calendar in that time frame.
  2. Do not assume for-free delivery. I think it is good tone of you to address the price/charge situation, if not in the first contact email at least in the following discussion. If you cannot pay, that’s also useful information to provide early.
  3. If the time or duration of the talk you’d like is “unusual” (ie not 30-60 minutes) do spell that out early on.
  4. Surprisingly often I get invited to talk without a specified topic or title. The inviter then expects me to present that. Since you contact me you clearly had some kind of vision of what a talk by me would entail, it would make my life easier if that vision was conveyed as it could certainly help me produce a talk subject that will work!
Presenting HTTP/2 at the Velocity conference in New York, October 2015, together with Ragnar Lönn.

What I bring

To every presentation I do, I bring my laptop. It has HDMI and USB-C ports. I also carry a HDMI-to-VGA adapter for the few installations that still use the old “projector port”. Places that need something else than those ports tend to have their own converters already since they’re then used with equipment not being fitted for their requirements.

I always bring my own clicker (the “remote” with which I can advance to next slide). I never use the laser-pointer feature, but I like being able to move around on the stage and not have to stand close to the keyboard when I present.

Presentations

I never create my presentations with video or sound in them, and I don’t do presentations that need Internet access. All this to simplify and to reduce the risk of problems.

I work hard on limiting the amount of text on each slide, but I also acknowledge that if a slide set should have value after-the-fact there needs to be a certain amount. I’m a fan of revealing the text or graphics step-by-step on the slides to avoid having half the audience reading ahead on the slide and not listening.

I’ve settled on 16:9 ratio for all presentations. Luckily, the remaining 4:3 projectors are now scarce.

I always make and bring a backup of my presentations in PDF format so that basically “any” computer could display that in case of emergency. Like if my laptop dies. As mentioned above, PDF is not an ideal format, but as a backup it works.

I talked “web transport” in the Mozilla devroom at FOSDEM, February 2017 in front of this audience. Not a single empty seat…

My 10th FOSDEM

I didn’t present anything during last year’s conference, so I submitted my DNS-over-HTTPS presentation proposal early on for this year’s FOSDEM. Someone suggested it was generic enough I should rather ask for main track instead of the DNS room, and so I did. Then time passed and in November 2018 “HTTP/3” was officially coined as a real term and then, after the Mozilla devroom’s deadline had been extended for a week I filed my second proposal. I might possibly even have been an hour or two after the deadline. I hoped at least one of them would be accepted.

Not only were both my proposed talks accepted, I was also approached and couldn’t decline the honor of participating in the DNS privacy panel. Ok, three slots in the same FOSDEM is a new record for me, but hey, surely that’s no problems for a grown-up..

HTTP/3

I of coursed hoped there would be interest in what I had to say.

I spent the time immediately before my talk with a coffee in the awesome newly opened cafeteria part to have a moment of calmness before I started. I then headed over to the U2.208 room maybe half an hour before the start time.

It was packed. Quite literally there were hundreds of persons waiting in the area outside the U2 rooms and there was this totally massive line of waiting visitors queuing to get into the Mozilla room once it would open.

The “Sorry, this room is FULL” sign is commonly seen on FOSDEM.

People don’t know who I am by my appearance so I certainly didn’t get any special treatment, waiting for my talk to start. I waited in line with the rest and when the time for my presentation started to get closer I just had to excuse myself, leave my friends behind and push through the crowd. I managed to get a “sorry, it’s full” told to me by a conference admin before one of the room organizers recognized me as the speaker of the next talk and I could walk by a very long line of humans that eventually would end up not being able to get in. The room could fit 170 souls, and every single seat was occupied when I started my presentation just a few minutes late.

This presentation could have filled a much larger room. Two years ago my HTTP/2 talk filled up the 300 seat room Mozilla had that year.

Video

Video from my HTTP/3 talk. Duration 1 hour.

The slides from my HTTP/3 presentation.

DNS over HTTPS

I tend to need a little “landing time” after having done a presentation to cool off an come back to normal senses and adrenaline levels again. I got myself a lunch, a beer and chatted with friends in the cafeteria (again). During this conversation, it struck me I had forgotten something in my coming presentation and I added a slide that I felt would improve it (the screenshot showing “about:networking#dns” output with DoH enabled). In what felt like no time, it was again to move. I walked over to Janson, the giant hall that fits 1,470 persons, which I entered a few minutes ahead of my scheduled time and began setting up my machine.

I started off with a little technical glitch because the projector was correctly detected and setup as a second screen on my laptop but it would detect and use a too high resolution for it, but after just a short moment of panic I lowered the resolution on that screen manually and the image appeared fine. Phew! With a slightly raised pulse, I witnessed the room fill up. Almost full. I estimate over 90% of the seats were occupied.

The DNS over HTTPS talk seen from far back. Photo by Steve Holme.

This was a brand new talk with all new material and I performed it for the largest audience I think I’ve ever talked in front of.

Video

Video of my DNS over HTTPS presentation. Duration 50 minutes.

To no surprise, my talk triggered questions and objections. I spent a while in the corridor behind Janson afterward, discussing DoH details, the future of secure DNS and other subtle points of the different protocols involved. In the end I think I manged pretty good, and I had expected more arguments and more tough questions. This is after all the single topic I’ve had more abuse and name-calling for than anything else I’ve ever worked on before in my 20+ years in Internet protocols. (After all, I now often refer to myself and what I do as webshit.)

My DNS over HTTPS slides.

DNS Privacy panel

I never really intended to involve myself in DNS privacy discussions, but due to the constant misunderstandings and mischaracterizations (both on purpose and by ignorance) sometimes spread about DoH, I’ve felt a need to stand up for it a few times. I think that was a contributing factor to me getting invited to be part of the DNS privacy panel that the organizers of the DNS devroom setup.

There are several problems and challenges left to solve before we’re in a world with correctly and mostly secure DNS. DoH is one attempt to raise the bar. I was content to had the opportunity to really spell out my view of things before the DNS privacy panel.

While sitting next to these giants from the DNS world, Stéphane Bortzmeyer, Bert Hubert and me discussed DoT, DoH, DNS centralization, user choice, quad-dns-hosters and more. The discussion didn’t get very heated but instead I think it showed that we’re all largely in agreement that we need more secure DNS and that there are obstacles in the way forward that we need to work further on to overcome. Moderator Jan-Piet Mens did an excellent job I think, handing over the word, juggling the questions and taking in questions from the audience.

Video

Video from the DNS Privacy panel. Duration 30 minutes.

Ten years, ten slots

Appearing in three scheduled slots during the same FOSDEM was a bit much, and it effectively made me not attend many other talks. They were all great fun to do though, and I appreciate people giving me the chance to share my knowledge and views to the world. As usually very nicely organized and handled. The videos of each presentation are linked to above.

I met many people, old and new friends. I handed out a lot of curl stickers and I enjoyed talking to people about my recently announced new job at wolfSSL.

After ten consecutive annual visits to FOSDEM, I have appeared in ten program slots!

I fully intend to go back to FOSDEM again next year. For all the friends, the waffles, the chats, the beers, the presentations and then for the waffles again. Maybe I will even present something…

My talks at FOSDEM 2019

I’ll be celebrating my 10th FOSDEM when I travel down to Brussels again in early February 2019. That’s ten years in a row. It’ll also be the 6th year I present something there, as I’ve done these seven talks in the past:

My past FOSDEM appearances

2010. I talked Rockbox in the embedded room.

2011. libcurl, seven SSL libs and one SSH lib in the security room.

2015. Internet all the things – using curl in your device. In the embedded room.

2015. HTTP/2 right now. In the Mozilla room.

2016. an HTTP/2 update. In the Mozilla room.

2017. curl. On the main track.

2017. So that was HTTP/2, what’s next? In the Mozilla room.

DNS over HTTPS – the good, the bad and the ugly

On the main track, in Janson at 15:00 on Saturday 2nd of February.

DNS over HTTPS (aka “DoH”, RFC 8484) introduces a new transport protocol to do secure and private DNS messaging. Why was it made, how does it work and how users are free (to resolve names).

The presentation will discuss reasons why DoH was deemed necessary and interesting to ship and deploy and how it compares to alternative technologies that offer similar properties. It will discuss how this protocol “liberates” users and offers stronger privacy (than the typical status quo).

How to enable and start using DoH today.

It will also discuss some downsides with DoH and what you should consider before you decide to use a random DoH server on the Internet.

HTTP/3

In the Mozilla room, at 11:30 on Saturday 2nd of February.

HTTP/3 is the next coming HTTP version.

This time TCP is replaced by the new transport protocol QUIC and things are different yet again! This is a presentation about HTTP/3 and QUIC with a following Q&A about everything HTTP. Join us at Goto 10.

HTTP/3 is the designated name for the coming next version of the protocol that is currently under development within the QUIC working group in the IETF.

HTTP/3 is designed to improve in areas where HTTP/2 still has some shortcomings, primarily by changing the transport layer. HTTP/3 is the first major protocol to step away from TCP and instead it uses QUIC. I’ll talk about HTTP/3 and QUIC. Why the new protocols are deemed necessary, how they work, how they change how things are sent over the network and what some of the coming deployment challenges will be.

DNS Privacy panel

In the DNS room, at 11:55 on Sunday 3rd of February.

This isn’t strictly a prepared talk or presentation but I’ll still be there and participate in the panel discussion on DNS privacy. I hope to get most of my finer points expressed in the DoH talk mentioned above, but I’m fully prepared to elaborate on some of them in this session.

Post FOSDEM 2017

I attended FOSDEM again in 2017 and it was as intense, chaotic and wonderful as ever. I met old friends, got new friends and I got to test a whole range of Belgian beers. Oh, and there was also a set of great open source related talks to enjoy!

On Saturday at 2pm I delivered my talk on curl in the main track in the almost frighteningly large room Janson. I estimate that it was almost half full, which would mean upwards 700 people in the audience. The talk itself went well. I got audible responses from the audience several times and I kept well within my given time with time over for questions. The trickiest problem was the audio from the people who asked questions because it wasn’t at all very easy to hear, while the audio is great for the audience and in the video recording. Slightly annoying because as everyone else heard, it made me appear half deaf. Oh well. I got great questions both then and from people approaching me after the talk. The questions and the feedback I get from a talk is really one of the things that makes me appreciate talking the most.

The video of the talk is available, and the slides can also be viewed.

So after I had spent some time discussing curl things and handing out many stickers after my talk, I managed to land in the cafeteria for a while until it was time for me to once again go and perform.

We’re usually a team of friends that hang out during FOSDEM and we all went over to the Mozilla room to be there perhaps 20 minutes before my talk was scheduled and wow, there was a huge crowd outside of that room already waiting by the time we arrived. When the doors then finally opened (about 10 minutes before my talk started), I had to zigzag my way through to get in, and there was a large amount of people who didn’t get in. None of my friends from the cafeteria made it in!

The Mozilla devroom had 363 seats, not a single one was unoccupied and there was people standing along the sides and the back wall. So, an estimated nearly 400 persons in that room saw me speak about HTTP/2 deployments numbers right now, how HTTP/2 doesn’t really work well under 2% packet loss situations and then a bit about how QUIC can solve some of that and what QUIC is and when we might see the first experiments coming with IETF-QUIC – which really isn’t the same as Google-QUIC was.

To be honest, it is hard to deliver a talk in twenty minutes and I  was only 30 seconds over my time. I got questions and after the talk I spent a long time talking with people about HTTP, HTTP/2, QUIC, curl and the future of Internet protocols and transports. Very interesting.

The video of my talk can be seen, and the slides are online too.

I’m not sure if I was just unusually unlucky in my choices, or if there really was more people this year, but I experienced that “FULL” sign more than usual this year.

I fully intend to return again next year. Who knows, maybe I’ll figure out something to talk about then too. See you there?

My talks at FOSDEM 2017

I couldn’t even recall how many times I’ve done this already, but in 2017 I am once again showing up in the cold and grey city called Brussels and the lovely FOSDEM conference, to talk. (Yes, it is cold and grey every February, trust me.) So I had to go back and count, and it turns out 2017 will become my 8th straight visit to FOSDEM and I believe it is the 5th year I’ll present there.First, a reminder about what I talked about at FOSDEM 2016: An HTTP/2 update. There’s also a (rather low quality) video recording of the talk to see there.

I’m scheduled for two presentations in 2017, and this year I’m breaking new ground for myself as I’m doing one of them on the “main track” which is the (according to me) most prestigious track held in one of the biggest rooms – seating more than 1,400 persons.

You know what’s cool? Running on billions of devices

Room: Janson, time: Saturday 14:00

Thousands of contributors help building the curl software which runs on several billions of devices and are affecting every human in the connected world daily. How this came to happen, who contributes and how Daniel at the wheel keeps it all together. How a hacking ring is actually behind it all and who funds this entire operation.

So that was HTTP/2, what’s next?

Room: UD2.218A, time: Saturday 16:30

A shorter recap on what HTTP/2 brought that HTTP/1 couldn’t offer before we dig in and look at some numbers that show how HTTP/2 has improved (browser) networking and the web experience for people.

Still, there are scenarios where HTTP/1’s multiple connections win over HTTP/2 in performance tests. Why is that and what is being done about it? Wasn’t HTTP/2 supposed to be the silver bullet?

A closer look at QUIC, its promises to fix the areas where HTTP/2 didn’t deliver and a check on where it is today. Is QUIC perhaps actually HTTP/3 in everything but the name?

Depending on what exactly happens in this area over time until FOSDEM, I will spice it up with more details on how we work on these protocol things in Mozilla/Firefox.

This will become my 3rd year in a row that I talk in the Mozilla devroom to present the state of the HTTP protocol and web transport.

My talks at FOSDEM 2015

fosdem

Sunday 13:00, embedded room (Lameere)

Tile: Internet all the things – using curl in your device

Embedded devices are very often network connected these days. Network connected embedded devices often need to transfer data to and from them as clients, using one or more of the popular internet protocols.

libcurl is the world’s most used and most popular internet transfer library, already used in every imaginable sort of embedded device out there. How did this happen and how do you use libcurl to transfer data to or from your device?

Note that this talk was originally scheduled to be at a different time!

Sunday, 09:00 Mozilla room (UD2.218A)

Title: HTTP/2 right now

HTTP/2 is the new version of the web’s most important and used protocol. Version 2 is due to be out very soon after FOSDEM and I want to inform the audience about what’s going on with the protocol, why it matters to most web developers and users and not the last what its status is at the time of FOSDEM.