Help! There's a Giant Penguin at LinuxWorld Expo.

by Adam Trachtenberg

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The first booth I see as I walk in has man dressed in a giant penguin costume. Good God! Now
the penguin is dancing around in pantomime to music and a mysterious
voice is droning on about Computer Associates's
commitment to

I've only been at LinuxWorld
for 5 minutes and I'm already scared. (Or trapped inside of Billy Madison.)

Luckily, I'm supposed to be at the O'Reilly booth in 20 minutes, so
I'm able to tear myself away and head across the floor to set up for my
presentation on " href="">A Sneak Preview of
XML in PHP 5." (PowerPoint)

This year's O'Reilly booth is much larger than last year's. In
addition to the print division, the href="">Safari folks are here and they've
arranged to set up a giant computer monitor attached to the side of the
booth and a "I work at the Gap" headphone microphone to talk into. I
feel somewhat like a carnival sideshow barker as I load up my slides and
begin my half hour talk, but as the crowd gathers the whole experience
starts to be quite enjoyable.

After I'm done I get to chat with some of the audience. One guy
brings up a well-worn copy of href="">PHP Cookbook, which
is awesome. Another person keeps asking me if "PHP 5 supports REST."
Hum... I thought I just spent 30 minutes talking about four different
ways to parse XML in PHP 5. Maybe this presentation didn't go as well as
I thought. (But in answer the question, check out my href="">
SimpleXML article from

With my responsibilities out of the way, I'm free to wander around
the show. David and I start by walking six feet to the MySQL booth to
chat with Brian Aker and Monty. Brian was showing off the new MySQL
toy, an embedded Java VM. Since David's spent some time on an PHP UDF
for MySQL, the three of them talked shop while I just nodded along. (And
to answer the second best question someone asked me at the show, yes,
that is Brian's real hair.)

Next stop was the NYPHP booth at the
.Org Pavilion. I say hi to Hans and Chris who are staffing the booth
and pushing clew, NYPHP's "knowledge discussion package." Looks like href="">Google is trying hard to hire
engineers. Their booth has four people: three technical recruiters based
in the NY office and one (gasp!) actual engineer. I guess when the
entire world is already using your product, there's really no reason to
send a marketing team.

As the day winds down, I head with David to the href="">eBay Web services
developer BOF. Gary gives a nice talk showing the history of eBay's
relationship with third party developers. It began with "Er... no you can't
screen scrape our site since we can almost guarantee we'll update the
site in two weeks and your script will break."

That was a few years ago. Today, eBay has a Microsoft SDK, a pseduo-REST XML interface, and
they're working on a SOAP toolkit. Big change, but now that 40% of eBay
listings come through third-party applications using the API,
you can see why they're interested in growing this area. (Although as
David points out, they still have a little ways to go before their
lawyers let them offer a TOS that's open source friendly.)

Have you ever seen a giant penguin?