This year I had the pleasure of serving as a Google Summer of Code mentor on the Mercurial project. I’ve been using and contributing to Mercurial for about five years, and was made a core contributor about a year ago. With three students, we were among the smaller Summer of Code mentoring organizations, but all three students contributed some very useful work to the project.
At the end of the Summer of Code, Google invites two mentors from each organization to their headquarters in Mountain View for a Mentor Summit. I was fortunate enough to get a slot, so on October 18th I flew out to California. (Not a bad change from Minnesota’s increasingly cold and dreary weather.)
Throughout the weekend I got to connect with other Free/Libre/Open Source developers on projects ranging from
embedded real-time operating systems to programming languages to databases to web applications to game engines to continuous integration tools to scientific computing libraries for my favorite programming language. I got to know people in person whose names I knew only from mailing lists, people whose software I’ve used regularly for years, and people working on some really interesting projects I’d never heard of before.
Being able to spend a weekend talking to really smart people about deep technical issues was great. I found some unexpected areas of overlap between other people’s work and mine here at Software for Good, as well as on Mercurial.
We did our fair share of eating and drinking together as well—at one point we went for late-night donuts at a place practically on Apple’s corporate doorstep.
All in all it was a great weekend. Kudos to Google for throwing so much support behind the open source community, and to the other mentors who devote their (often volunteer) efforts not just to writing Free and Open Source software, but to supporting others in learning to do the same.