OSCON D2

by brian d foy

Pre-Correction: a lot of people noted to me in person yesterday that I sound really tired in my OSCON posts. That's probably true because it's true. As I said in the "Conferences for Beginners" BOF, a lot of people come here after cramming in two weeks of work the week before, then get up early and stay up late. I've decided to make any corrections by striking the original text so you can still see it, and then correct text. For OSCON attendees only, tonight I'll treat anyone providing a correction to beer and pizza at Ground Kontrol.




For Tuesday morning I moved into the speaker room to set up camp. Monday was all about the tables outside Starbucks, but I got to the convention center at the wrong time and the tables were taken up by a lot of the facility staff. It must have been their break time. I actually had to get some work done so I wanted to hide a bit too. Conveniently, there is a Kinko's copy shop in the facility, so once I finished working on the Stonehenge flyer I just had to walk over to them.

The Kinko's shop was a bit of a Monty Python sketch. I had put my file online (I keep losing my jump drives), so I asked the clerk what I needed to do to give it to her. She asked me if I needed to copy it to something. Repeat that three times. I wanted to know how to give it to her, and she needed it on physical media. Oddly, once I gave it to her, she simply digitally shipped it to the big Kinko's shop who would run the job and deliver it the next morning. That I had this small step where it had to leave the wire (or wireless) to use sneakernet was a bit amusing.

After that I decided I should get some more work done. Someone (check the perl5porters archives) had gone through the Perl documentation with a Pod spellchecker. I integrated those changes to the perlfaq and also fixed up a lot of bug reports that have been waiting in the queue.

Lunch came around, and various people starting arranging locations and whatnot through the IRC channel and wiki. Those are amazingly useful for dispersed conference attendees. You don't have to fall into the group you're physically next too! Of course, things like Thai and Sushi made it onto the short list, leading the group seated at the speaker's table to break into the usual "Thai again?" discussion. Any time any of us go somewhere, the local group wants to treat us to a special dinner, which to them means Thai food. It happens almost everywhere, so we end up eating a lot of Thai food. It's not quite as special for us, then. Indeed, one group asked me if the restaurant was the best Thai food I'd ever had, and although I tried to beg off the question, I finally had to answer "Well, the best Thai food I had was in Bangkok". To the people who are forced into Thai food everywhere they go, this is uproariously funny. Remember: if you want to impress the guest of honor, ask him what sort of food he wants. ;)

I ended up at Jax Bar because it has free WiFi, which we ended up using a lot less than you might think. Against my better judgement I got the Cuban Pulled Pork sandwich, which is the same as a bagel outside New York or a cheesesteak outside of Philly. It was decent pulled pork for something above the Mason-Dixon line. I could say "It's nothing to blog about", but it's too late for that.

Our lunch crowd was Randal and I, Jim Brandt and Jeff Till (both from Univeristy of Buffalo), Bill Odom (TPF), Curtis "Ovid" Poe (Portland Perl celebrity and Kineticode guru), and Dan Brian. (I really should provide links to all these, but that means I have to find them (Google is my bookmark manager). Maybe I'll update it later---I just want to finish this and I'm only up to lunchtime!) Most of the conversation was dishing on Perl book publishing. Most of us knew things that aren't public ("Who really wrote that book?", "Why does that editor hate Perl?"), and most of us have had book proposals die horrible, flaming deaths. Book publishing is an odd industry, and we're mostly lucky to have a publisher like O'Reilly (and Apress more and more) who are willing to take a chance on topics that might not sell. Now that I'm an official O'Reilly book author, I get to puff out my chest and wear the O'Reilly author hat.

Afternoon is a blur. I think I did work in the speaker's lounge, but I can't remember who I talked to or what I did. The CVS commit logs aren't helping either. Maybe I didn't do any work. Maybe I just stood motionless in the middle of the hall staring into space as crowds flowed around me. Maybe I'm too old for OSCON.

While most people took off for dinner, the Stonehenge staff got together for a lightning meeting, which we try to do twice a year. I hate meetings that go over 45 minutes, so we got everything done in 30 minutes. We had to get everything done in 30 minutes so we could make it to the O'Reilly User Group reception to hang out with all the cool user group leaders, eat free food, and drink free drinks. Tom Phoenix (Stonehenge Consulting), Ricardo Signes, and Ronald Kimball (Boston.pm) played Zendo, a game of inductive logic in which the Master demonstrates a rule and the players have guess the rule by demonstrating it. Okay, it's really fun even though my description sucks.

Our game was interrupted by a real fire and a staff member telling us to leave everything behind and go to the elevators. I told everyone to take their stuff with them and use the stairs. We continued the game of Zendo outside.

Then it was time for the Tuesday evening festivities. David Adler (New York Perl Mongers) gave out the White Camel Awards to Stas Bekman, Eric Cholet, and Andy Lester. Larry Wall talked about the personalities in spy movies. He says Perl was almost called "Spy". SPECTRE is not a good spy name, but CHAOS is. Everyone fits into the spy ecosystem somehow.

Paul Graham talked about how business try to control time and space. You have to be in this cubicle at this time to this time. Additionally, here are some meeting places and times to break up your day into unmanageable little bits. He claims that whole concept is set up not to get work done but to control employees. He also says MBAs aren't the right people for new business. You need to "create business", not administer it. Worrying about the color of the office walls or the type of chairs to get aren't the right thing if you're just starting out. This sounded a lot like Joel Spolsky's "Hitting the High Notes" (which has an opera example involving the high F in Queen of the night from The Magic Flute, which my wife can actually sing (with ease ;) ). Maybe Paul will post the complete talk online (and indeed he has) so you can read it yourself and not judge it by my mostly incoherent babbling.

All of that was just a lead up to Damian Conway's "Dead Langauges" talk, which was about half in Latin. Seriously. He demonstrated his evolution through Lisp, Postscript, C++ (and his rewrite, SPECS). He ends up with his program that translates Latin into Perl programs. Damian doesn't much like the syntaxes languages offer so he keeps creating his own to fit over them. When Iu get a chance I'll translate one of his C++ trick to Perl.