February 17, 2014
I've been involved in LOPSA's regional conferences since 2010, when NJ-LOPSA first held the Professional IT Community Conference. The next year, Seattle got in on the act, and the Seattle-Area System Administrators Guild put on Cascadia IT Conference in 2011.
This year, helping Lee Damon along is Atom Powers, a gentleman I've not yet had the pleasure to meet. I wanted to get to know him, and more importantly, I wanted you to get to know him, too, because he's helping out in a big way.
Matt Simmons: Is this is going to be your first year being helping to run Cascadia IT Conference? How did you get involved?
Atom Powers: This is my first year helping to organize Cascadia IT Conference and my first year helping to organize any conference. We are very fortunate to have Lee Daemon lead the organizational effort and impart some of his wisdom unto me that I may shoulder more of the burden next year.
MS: What is the process like to put together something like Cascadia? How long does it take?
AP: It is a constant effort, barely a day goes by that we don't do some kind of planning for the conference. Even before this year's conference starts we will begin planning for next years conference.
MS: According to your LinkedIn page, you live in the Seattle area. Has that always been the case? If not, what brought you there?
AP: From my parents' hippie roots I've been in the Pacific North West for most of my life, although rarely in the same place for more than three or four years at a time. In 2004 I found a part of Renton that I like well enough and I've been there since.
MS: What in the Cascadia schedule are you most looking forward to?
AP: We are very fortunate this year to have so many well known people presenting: Tom Limoncelli, Garrett Honeycutt, Steve Murawski, to name a few. We have a good lineup of MS Windows administration tutorials as well, something you don't usually see at an IT Conference. You can find a full list of presenters and presentations here: http://casitconf.org/casitconf14/conference/schedule/
MS: Was there anything that didn't get put in this year that you think should get put in next time?
AP: We select talks and tutorials based on what we think people will want to learn about because we want this conference to be useful and to
elevate the IT industry generally. It is always difficult to predict what other people will want and we always have to turn down many very promising proposals. We won't know until after the conference if we made wise choices and we may never know if a different choice would have been a better choice.
Every year is new. If you have an idea or a request then it is never too early to start thinking about preparing your proposal for next year.
MS: If someone is on the fence about coming to Cascadia, what would you say what would convince them?
AP: If you want to grow and learn and be valuable to your team, your company, and our industry then you need to get out and learn. The
Cascadia IT Conference is a unique opportunity to do that among friends and colleagues. This conference provides many difference kinds
of registrations for those with difficult time and financial commitments. If you can't afford two days then you have the option of
one day, or half a day, or even just an hour; and it will be one of the best things you can do with your hours.
MS: One last question. On your Google+ profile, you have a picture of a Kerbal, from Kerbal Space Program. What's your proudest in-game accomplishment?
AP: I think Kerbals are cute.
I wasn't playing Kerbal Space Program (KSP) with much dedication until recently. My favorite games are sandbox games but "stock" KSP is a bit too open-ended and not very challenging. With the 0.23 science update and a few mods (BTSM, MechJeb) and a spreadsheet of science "missions", I find the game much more enjoyable. Enjoyable enough that my Minecraft world hasn't had any attention in many weeks.
I'd like to thank Atom for taking the time to answer my questions, and I've got to say, I'm looking forward to meeting him when I attend Cascadia this year.
In fact, I feel like I should tell you, I think it's important enough that I'm paying for my trip out of my own pocket. I'm lucky in that my work is picking up one conference a year for me, and that's going to be LISA this year, but I feel like going to Cascadia is important enough that I'm paying for my flight, my hotel, and my conference registration out of pocket (although after my work saw how important it was to me, they DID offer to pick up the cost of the Advanced Puppet training course I'm taking on Friday, so thanks NEU!).
If you're on the west coast and you've never been to a conference, why not make this your first? If you can register today (Feb 17th, 2014), you can still get the Early Bird savings. It's going to be full price tomorrow, so do it today.
Thanks for reading!