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Mario García
Mario García

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My experience as a GitLab Hero in 2020

2020 was a challenging year in so many ways, but it also was the year that I contributed the most to GitLab as a member of GitLab Heroes.

It's been a year and a half since I joined the program and most of my contributions have been through:

  • Public speaking
  • Writing
  • Event organization

Public Speaking

@ Pyjamas Conf
@ Pyjamas Conf. December 5th.

In February last year I attended a few in-person events and returned to my city at the beginning of March. A few days later I took the decision of taking a break from public speaking, at least that was the plan.

I've been speaking at conferences for almost thirteen years and I used to travel at least once per month to participate at events. I wanted to spend more time on creating content and working on personal projects.

How wrong was I. I took two months off and meanwhile some virtual events started to happen. I saw this as an opportunity to share with a wider community and learn other technologies.

My first talk at a virtual conference was on May 15th. It was one of many conferences and workshops that I presented at events in the months that followed.


If you follow me on Twitter you probably remember I mentioned that my conference at GitLab Commit London in 2019 was my first talk in English.

The reason why it took me many years to present a conference in English was imposter syndrome. Even though I have spoken the language for more than a decade.

But I never imagined I would be speaking at so many events during last year. Here are some stats of my participation at conferences in 2020:

  • 19 virtual events and 2 in-person (in February)
  • 7 national events and 14 international
  • 20 conferences and 5 workshops
  • 4 conferences and 1 workshop in English
  • 9 conferences and 1 workshop about GitLab

Positive outcomes

Accepting invitations and writing many talk and workshop proposals gave me the opportunity to go out of my comfort zone.

I presented more conferences in English than in 2019 as you can see in the stats I shared before. Hosted my first 3-hour workshop in my second language.

With some previous experience speaking at just a few virtual events in the past, but it was the first time I prerecorded some of the talks I presented last year. I had to learn how to use tools like OBS Studio and Kdenlive.

When I write a new talk or workshop proposal I not only choose those technologies I had previous experience with but those I want to learn. Many of the proposals I sent were accepted, and I had the opportunity to try new tools and frameworks.

Speaking at so many conferences also gave me the opportunity of sharing with a wider community. I presented talks and workshops in both English and Spanish, and I also tried to translate one of my slides to Portuguese, a language I understand a bit but don't speak.

Meeting some attendees and speakers is something I really appreciate as it is a way to learn what people have to share about the projects and technologies they are working with and an opportunity to know other cultures and make new friends, even if it's through virtual spaces.

Tech Problems

Some problems I faced when participating at virtual conferences last year were related with updates, hardware and internet connection.

I've been using Arch Linux and Arch-based distributions since 2009. Some apps stopped working after updating the system, especially those installed from Arch User Repository (AUR) as it is a system with a rolling release update cycle, and updates (from AUR) have some problems a few times.

Here's a list of the platforms I used for speaking at conferences last year:

From the list above, the clients for Zoom and Jitsi stopped working a few times due to problems with updates. Mic, headphones or camera not being detected was an issue I had to deal with.

I also had problems with Droidcam as I was using my phone as a webcam to get a better quality for the video and the client for Linux stopped working a few times.

The browser not detecting the hardware was also a problem I had when using StreamYard.

Some problems mentioned above were related with kernel updates and having to configure hardware again.

Using Bluetooth headphones with Zoom was also a bad idea. The audio quality was not good. If you watched my conference at GitLab Commit last year you know what I'm talking about.

After participating at so many events and finding solutions for the problems I mentioned, I think I'm better prepared for speaking at virtual events. I know having problems is common, but I know how to solve most of them now. I also have better equipment for recording or livestreaming.

If you're interested, this is the hardware and software I'm using now:


Writing was one of the ways I contributed to GitLab last year. I published 13 blog posts from which 8 of them were about GitLab CI.

Most of the written content I created in 2020 is available on DEV, but I started publishing on PuntoTech last year.

The articles I wrote are in both Spanish and English. I published 4 blog posts and a series of articles. The topics I covered were:

  • Rust
  • Python
  • Docker
  • Heroku
  • GitLab Pages
  • GitLab Heroes

Event Organization

Last week, on January 21st, we celebrated our first GitLab Heroes Summit. An event where members of the program gathered for sharing their experience with GitLab and the community.

I joined the team behind the organization and got involved with a few tasks before the event.

At this event I presented a lightning talk to share my experience as a GitLab Hero in 2020, that is what this blog post is about.

In 2020, we had our firsts GitLab Meetups for Latin America. Spreading the word, preparing a demo for one of our events and also presenting at our last Meetup in December is how I got involved with these events for our Spanish-speaking community.

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