OSCON D2.1

by brian d foy

Randal needed to sleep in today, so we skipped the early morning portion of the conference. We thought we would beat rush hour driving into town, but apparently the construction of the highway has most of the Oregonians confused. Randal says nobody has ever taught them how to merge. He kept yelling at other cars "It's like a zipper! One of them then one of you!" Randal drives a really, really fast car in a slow car world.

He dropped me off at the hotel then had to rush off to take care of some Stonehenge party business. I think they are going to have about 15 people working this party, counting security and the bartenders. Bill was up early getting ready for the party load-in. I don't think either of those guys is going to get much sleep until thursday.

It seems that a lot of people at the tutorials are still doing phone support for the people back at work. There is usually one or two people in each of the hallways explaining over the crappy cellular connections how to log in and run various commands. It makes me glad not to have a real job. Wasn't life much better before the telegraph?

All sorts of O'Reilly people are happy to see that I am alive. Really. It's kinda spooky, actually. Tim O'Reilly came up to me today for a quick chat, which is quite the honor considering he has people for that sort of thing. He's usually so busy that he's practically jogging in the hallways. I guess everyone is happy that I made it back from Iraq, although CNN has infected their minds with dangerous stories that make them more scared of the war than I was when I was there. Still, I like the attention. I should do that every other year. Or not.

Steve Mallet went out geocaching. This was a new thing to me, and apparently people give out some clues along with an earth coordinate, and you have to search for the little prize. It's not as simple as just showing up at the right spot: you have to find the object, which may be hung from, stuck under, or on the other side of something. I'd like to try this out with the Magellen GPS Springboard module I have for my Handspring Edge. Geo-anything seems to be a really hot topic. The trick is to get the data. The US has TIGER, and I hear the Denmark has a lot of geo data available. Other places are kinda spotty. I read once that France is the most mapped country because the artillery folks of the various wars needed elevation data to accurately blast each other to bits.

I talked with Brian Jepson (O'Reilly editor and Rhode Island resident) about the Salem Witch trials and the Rhode Island vampire Mercy Brown (who died in 1892, but keeps getting dug up in various vampiric scares), haunted houses in Rhode Island, and kids who have multiple cell phones among which they pass around a single SIM card.


And now the news:

The Perl Review is here.I have them. They are sitting next to me. We have 500 for the conference, leaving 500 back in Chicago for subscribers. Most of those are already spoken for, so if you want one, you need to subscribe. If you don't want to do that, you can bid for one of the first ten copies to come off the press when Allison Randal auctions them off during The Perl Foundation fund-raiser.

O'Reilly is hiring: Can't get O'Reilly to accept your book proposal? Take one of their advertised software engineer jobs and write programs to take over other people's books. If you get the job, see if you can help me out with my bookshelf idea.

Lots of cool things at Powell's: See the Powell's booth in the exhibition hall (down there in the bowels of the hotel) for a free Portland Walking Map, a 20% discount coupon good at the main store during the conference, a "Carpe Noctem" t-shirt, and a Python Quick Reference laminated card that is either a really fat bookmark or a small piece of paper. Peter Scott (author of Perl Medic) will be speaking in the Powell's booth on Thursday at 12:20pm. Buy his book: it's really cool.

Runners unite: I brought my running shoes with me, but I probably won't have time to go out with [robertom AT sas DOT upenn DOT edu] who has a note on the announcement board. He's looking for running partners for 2 to 4 mile runs.

Rampant exhibitors: I think I need a hard hat to be on the lower level of the hotel. The exhibiters are loading-in their display, fancy booths, laser light shows, and giant inflatable peguins. At least, that's what I think are in all of those boxes behind the black curtains. Watch yourself when you are down there.

White Camel Awards: The Perl Foundation awards this year White Camel Awards, which Perl Mongers started, um, a long time ago. David Adler still won't tell me anything about it even when I show him my fancy, all-access purple press badge. I tried to get the news out of Allison Randal, but apparently she's under an oath of secrecy too. The White Camel Awards happen right after Paul Graham tells everyone about painters and hackers and probably Lisp too.

Free O'Reilly books: I haven't used O'Reilly's Safari service so far because I'm really cheap and I don't have time to read all the real O'Reilly books I already have. Safari is a lot more than just the O'Reilly books though: most of the major publishers seem to have their books there. It looks like there is already a 14 trial period anyway, but with that one I would have to give up a credit card number. The OSCON preview just wants my address. So far it looks interesting, although I don't think I'd give up real books for it.

New Sea Otter book: I hear rumors that David N. Blank-Edelman has a new Perl for System Administration in the works. Since he first got the sea otter as his cover animal, I've almost lost all interest in being an O'Reilly author. It's even worse now that there is a kitten on the cover of some other book. All are the good animals already taken?

John Kerry Town Meeting on Friday: Not really. I just made that up. Supposedly Bush and Kerry are running very close in the polls in Oregon, but Kerry has a prior engagement. His staff have not returned my calls, but that's normal.