So as already implied I attended FOSDEM 2020, my second FOSDEM. The weather was nicer than last year and I was better prepared for trying to manage the conference, although a helpful analogy I heard this weekend was to think of it more like a festival than a conference: You go for one or two headliners and everything else is a bonus.
The business reason to be there was to attend (and help out the on-the-day running of) the Free Java dev room. We had the same room as last year, and just like last time, there were queues out the doors right from the first talk. The quality of the talks was very high. Of note was the presence of Microsoft, both with Nikola Grcevski's interesting talk about selectively stack-allocating some objects to reduce GC time and their contribution towards the Free Java dinner that evening.
I caught several other interesting talks outside the Java room but (inevitably) missed far more so I'm catching up on some of them as and when the videos appear. A couple of fun talks were about beeps and bloops in one form or another (Open Cubic Player, Just-in-Time Programming (live coding)). I was also drawn to a number of community management talks, ethics talks, etc.
The "Corridor Track" (and evening sessions) were great as usual. It was fantastic to catch up with some old Debian friends as well as meet some friends for the first time (including from the mumsnet-for-nerds private mailing list I somehow ended up on some years ago). This year several fellow PhD students from Newcastle attended. We saw out Brexit o' Clock at A La Mort Subite, my favourite Brussels pub, which I got to twice. It was a strange coincidence to be in the home of the European Parliament at the time my country is leaving it. Before arriving I wondered what the general attitude towards Brexit would be in Brussels, but it was indifference. I was happy to also get to The Sister Brussels Café which we discovered by accident last year and I've advocated for to anyone who will listen. Other folks who I met for the first time in-person (in sometimes extremely briefly) include Scott McCarty who I'm working with on a project in Red Hat (more on that soon), Michael Meeks (LibreOffice), Drew DeVault (aerc and sourcehut), Sam Hartman (Debian Project Leader), and more.
On the way home I managed to swing past the British Library / Turing Institute and meet my supervisor who by happy coincidence was visiting there at the time.
Hopefully I'll be there again next year!