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Meet the LISA '12 Program Committee: Mike Ciavarella

LISA '12

Mike Ciavarella has a long history as an active member of the USENIX community, and this year he has a packed schedule at LISA '12. Mike will lead half-day Documentation Techniques for Sysadmins, Advanced Shell Programming, and Core Skills: Scripting for Automation training sessions. Mike and Lee Damon will also lead a full day of training in their Seven Habits of the Highly Effective System Administrator session.

In this interview, Mike shares some memories from past LISA events and offers a preview of what LISA 2012 attendees can expect.

Rikki: What memories do you have from your first LISA conferences?

Mike: For a first-time attendee who knew one or two people because they'd come to conferences in Australia, I expected to have a pretty awkward conference — the usual type of thing when meeting new people. That lasted all of about five minutes. I made some of my closest friends at that first conference.

The other memory I have is seeing the very clear sense of community that LISA attendees have. I've been involved with other conferences and groups, but have yet to see that same community elsewhere. Even when people have actively disagreed with each other, it's still really obvious that their concern is for system administration as a profession, just that their approaches are different.

Rikki: How do you think the 2012 event will compare to past events?

Mike: Sysadmins tend to be hackers — in the traditional sense — much like what is being seen nowadays with the various Maker movements. It wouldn't surprise me at all to see this kind of presence at LISA.

Rikki: In addition to the descriptions on our website, what should attendees know about or expect from your training sessions?

Mike: Hard question. There are people who have attended some of my classes multiple times. Their explanation for this is that even though the content is familiar, they get something different and worthwhile out of the class each time, probably because their requirements and knowledge change over time. Attendees should come to my classes expecting to leave with better questions than they arrived with. If you have specific questions before class, please let me know.

Rikki: What would you tell a first-time LISA attendee to expect from LISA'12? And what should they know about the LISA community?

Mike: Play bingo. Seriously. You're going to meet the people who wrote the books and software you use, and a bunch of other great people, too. And they're sysadmins, just like you!

Rikki: Thanks for giving us an advance look at LISA '12, Mike. [Note that we replaced the Bingo Card with a Scavenger Hunt Card a couple of years ago, but the questions still help you meet the organizers. LISA '12 activities are a great way to break the ice and meet people.]