The social part of the Zabbix Conference 2016

or Why should conferences have long breaks

A wizard kneeling to a wounded knight
Picture (c) Zabbix

In the post about the first day of the conference I explicitly mentioned that the coffee/tea breaks were fairly long. And that was not a complaint – it was a positive observation and “thank you” to the organisers. Why should conferences have long breaks then?

The good long break

Back in 2011 when the first Zabbix conference happened, the very first break was 20 minutes long. After the break time was over, it was very hard to get people back in the conference hall, and this repeated every break. Not because the talks were no good – they were great. Because everybody was so eager to discuss monitoring related topics with other conference attendees, they were not ready to return to the talk format just yet.

A break at the Zabbix Conference 2011
A break at the Zabbix Conference 2011, picture (c) Zabbix

Later Zabbix conferences extended the breaks and it has helped indeed. It’s not just the breaks, of course – there are also social events that give all the participants even more time to learn about the ingenious ways other people use Zabbix. I’d even say that the off-the-record discussions are close to being as useful as all the talks – you get to clarify things from the speakers and learn various tricks from non-speakers.

Socialising at the Zabbix conference

This year Zabbix Conference had three main “social events” that allowed the participants to meet and pick up great ideas. On the evening before the first day, the welcoming event took place – this year it was a medieval-styled party in the Small Guild building. It had some medieval fights and even a wizard visiting!

Conference visitor in a wizard costume

It’s really great to see more and more participants joining in with the thematic welcoming event, making it into a small masquerade event.

This was also the first time the Zabbix Beer Glass was unveiled:

Zabbix beer glass with "alert levels"
Picture by Patrick Fouquet

We also had a monk and a jester among the visitors.

A monk at the welcoming partyA jester at the welcoming party

And there was a romantic ending as well.

Romantic ending with some guitar music

After the first conference day there was a Zabbix party. Although the real Zabbix birthday is April 7th, it is more fun to celebrate it during the conference.

This year the birthday party happened in a beer museum. Yep, there’s a museum like that in Riga, and it is an operating brewery at the same time. There was also a tour of the brewery included. Zabbix conference participants managed to confuse the tour guides by asking more questions about the equipment and sensors than usual… Some participants even brewed their own beer here.

During this event, persistent and loved conference visitors were honoured, and here’s a quick picture of the ones who have been to all the Zabbix conferences so far:

Zabbix conference guests that have been to all the conferences since 2011

Yes, all of the conferences since 2011.

And to finish off the non-talk part of the conference, after the second day we all went to a cinema. There was a Zabbix movie night, followed by a farewell party.

Zabbix movie night in a cinema

Admittedly, I took less and less pictures, as there were more and more talking about Zabbix, open source, Linux, system management and other similar topics. For example, on the farewell party the Zabbix development process, open source implications and long term maintainability were discussed heavily. You can get an idea what it all looked like from the official picture gallery.

It’s worth mentioning that these social events are different each year and have included bowling, dinner in a palace and a soviet bunker, and a rock-themed party among many other events. And they all have been really well organised, this year’s conference being very, very great.

To get the feeling of the earlier conference events, check out the picture galleries from previous years:

And a huuuuge thank you goes to the conference team for making it all happen. We know it’s much more than just the working hours spent to make sure it all goes smoothly. And we all really appreciate that.

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