A PHP Guy at YAPC: Part I

by Chris Shiflett

Related link: http://yapc.org/

Day 0: I took a train from Penn Station to Philadelphia to stay at Geoff's house Monday night (Day -1). We then drove to Buffalo on Tuesday (Day 0) with Jeff and Mike (a former co-worker of Geoff and Jeff). Everyone is staying at the University Inn, but since I had just decided to tag along at the last minute, I didn't have a reservation. I arrive to learn that they're booked, so I end up rooming with Geoff.

The four of us had dinner at the hotel restaurant, then sought out Main Street (at the waitress's recommendation) to have some fun. We quickly learn that Main Street is dead, so we drive to Sean Patrick's to see if anyone is left from the arrival dinner. There were a few people there, including Nat, so we chatted over a few beers, then headed back to the hotel to sleep.

Day 1: We made our way to campus, got registered, and listened in on the last of Allison's keynote. Geoff then spent quite a while trying to get his laptop to play nice with the facility's AV equipment, which was finally successful. Lunch was at Fuddruckers, courtesy of Scott Meyers (of Sams Publishing). Perrin and a few other people joined us.

I listened to Damian Conway speak (my first time hearing him) at his Perl 6 talk. He is a very good speaker, even with his quirky pronunciations of words like data and cache. What surprised me the most about the upcoming Perl 6 features are the non-ASCII characters in the language syntax. The Yen symbol is a zip operator ("it looks sort of like a zipper"), while "naughty French brackets" and "naughty German brackets" are two others. These each have ASCII equivalents, but this decision seems really odd to me. Apparently Perl people aren't very happy either. On the other hand, the coolest syntactical sugar I learned about was the semi-infinite yada (...), which has all sorts of handy uses, all of which are mostly intuitive (which is not how I would describe many of Perl's operators). All in all, I was impressed with Damian's speaking talent as well as what I can best describe as a solid theoretical foundation upon which language design decisions seem to be made in the Perl world.

After going back to the hotel for a bit (I went for a short run), we (Geoff, Jeff, Mike, Perrin, and I) joined other YAPC people at the Anchor Bar, which is where Buffalo wings were invented. Geoff has a picture somewhere of two college girls who apparently didn't notice that the whole room was reserved for the large crowd of computer geeks. Nat's choice for a caption: "One of these things is not like the other."

We finished the night with a trip to the IMAX cinema to watch the new Harry Potter movie (sponsored by O'Reilly). When Mike, Perrin, and I went to get some concessions, Geoff gave me $5 and asked for a large Coke. Well, it turns out that $5 gets you a lot of Coke, so we brought back this enormous souvenir barrel of Coke that required its own special straw. It made for a pretty funny scene when we returned. The movie itself was pretty good, although the YAPC crowd is very unforgiving of all the lame parts and would laugh mercilessly at them. I think the highlight was the IMAX introduction that described how the speakers were laser-pointed at us.

Day 2: Geoff gave his Why mod_perl 2.0 Sucks, Why mod_perl 2.0 Rocks talk at 9, which marked its final showing. The idea will live on at OSCON this summer with Adam's similarly-titled talk, Why PHP 5 Sucks! Why PHP 5 Rocks!.

I watched Andy Lester speak about Perl testing before heading to the Lightning Talks. For some of those speakers, I'm glad they only spoke for 5 minutes. Nat, on the other hand, was excellent (and hysterical).

There was a nice dinner held at the hotel prior to the Perl Foundation auction (I found a picture with Perrin, Mike, Jeff, Scott, and I). The most memorable moment was hearing Uri say something like "who's ever heard of the Developer's Library?" (in a rhetorical manner, suggesting that no one has) while sitting near Scott Meyers, the creator of the series. I think Geoff has a picture of Scott's expression.

Tomorrow is the last day of the conference. I'll give another update once I get back to New York over the weekend.