by brian d foy

Offline, shit. I'm still only offline. Every time I think I'm going to
log onto the network. When I was offline over the weekend,
it was worse. I'd wake up and there'd be nothing...
I hardly said a word to my co-workers until I said yes to my cell phone.
When I was here I wanted to be there. When I was there, all I
could think of was getting back online.
I've been here a week now. Waiting for a module, getting
softer. Every minute I stay in offline I get weaker. And every minute
Java squats in the bush he gets stronger. Each time I look around the walls move in a little tighter.

This F2F stuff is strange mojo. You talk to people by looking at them and making sounds. You share their music by hearing the bass from their headphones. You exchange notes by writing on business cards. You shake hands. You don't use Google Maps for directions to the Intel booth giving away the thumb drives. You point. With your finger.
You do this all day.

It's an odd week. It's the Reality Distortion, and it seems to show up earlier every year. It's creeping into Wednesday now. I wished Perl Conference 1 went on for another week. Now I talk to so many people each day that it seems like every day is a week. Randal and I were talking about something, and I was convinced that we had had some shared experience. I could picture it in my head. He was sitting on my right and we were working on this thing at the same time. I could see my Firefox window and his Safari window. He could see it too. But where was it? We knew that we'd hung out recently, but where? New York, Boston, San Jose? We each went back through our mental calendars calling off cities we'd been in recently. "No, haven't been in Chicago this year". "Wiat, I was in Boston when you were in New York". We both exhausted. Ten minutes later, unable to drop the déja vu, we figured out it was San Francisco for WWDC; an alternate universe connected to this one only through weblogs. We send each other messages from the other side of the space-time rift through RSS feeds.

I was hardly online yesterday. I didn't even get to post my news from the second day. I was too busy talking to people, pushing The Perl Review on people, taking business cards, and thinking "Just keep your eyes open". Plenty of people want to talk to me about doing business with Stonehenge, and that's a good thing. The problem is that I'm not only the guy to talk too, but the guy that handles a lot of the other things to keep our business running. I'm exhausted before I get here and that gets exponentially worse. Tomorrow I won't even remember my name. At 34 years old, I'm starting to feel like I'm not keeping up with the open source pace. How is everyone else writing all these MVC frameworks and updating their modules up-to-date and going to this conference? Obviously I'm just a slacker. And damn it, parts of Intermediate Perl are due next week. Allison is breathing down my neck. I tell people I blame it all on the Tour de France and OLN. Three hours of coverage everyday is more TV than I usually ever see. Darn that Livestrong! I want a bracelet for conference survivors.

Despite the fact that Jim Brandt and I told people in "Conferences for Beginners" that this isn't the business card sort of conference, I'm handing out and asking a lot of cards, I wonder briefly about RFID tags on the conference badges and some sort of device to collect the input (maybe a cell phone). I space out a lot. Potential business contacts most think I'm weird.

I run into Jordan Hubbard (Apple Computer) in the exhibit hall. He's on his way to a huge Apple multi-player game fest on Apple hardware and giant displays. They had the same thing at WWDC and I though it was very cool, even though I'm not much of a gamer. I imagine a world where the person to drop Jordan's name the most gets a free lifetime subscription to the Powerbook of the Month Club. I'm way behind the curve so I don't think I'll win.

Andrew Sullivan from Afilias Canada was at the Postgres booth. I love Postgres. I use MySQL because my ISP has it installed, but on my own machines I use Postgres, unless I don't. Sometimes SQLite is enough. Someone has a Far Side style cartoon showing an elephant roasting a dolphin on a spit.

The Google booth has breth mints. The conference bag has breath mints from Yahoo! (I think). Strange. Well, maybe not. This is a geek conference. Some posits an increasing trend. Next year a sponsor might be Right Guard, or maybe Tide.

Gibson, the makers of guitars and banjos and the the like, is a major sponsor this year. They're giving away two guitars. I fill out the little form and drop it in the fish bowl wondering how much it might sell for on eBay. That's probably not right. I'll have to use it for a Christmas present if I win. I don't think there is any danger of that. For the rest of the day I refer to "the gibson girl". People ask me if I mean Debbie Gibson (who is now Deborah Gibson, serious artiste). I keep dropping the reference anyway.

Sarah Burcham (St. Louis Perl Mongers) in back in town. I hadn't seen her in years. She's old school Perl Conference from back in the day---you know, the people that still say "O'Reilly & Associates" and "Netscape" and still call this shindig "The Perl Conference". Cool deal. She purposedly rubs her feet on the exhibit floor carpet then comes up to shock me. Everyone seems to have seen her wiki except me, and she tells me it's still in beta and its not public.

There is a caricature artist in the booth around the corner from the Stonehenge booth. I'm all over that. I'm a really bad reporter though: I can't remember the name of the company, but they have an Eclipse plug-in to do flow-chart programming. Forget about code as words. Drag and drop the date processors into place and get on with like. It looks a lot like Anthracite from Metafy, and I already know that is cool.

I finally get to meet Julie Miller from Apress. They have a very nice booth in attractive black with yellow highlights. Geeks like black. Apress is getting into the Perl space, and I expect some good things from them. They publish one of the most wise Perl books out there: Writing Perl Modules for CPAN by Sam Tregar. Don't let the publication date fool you: it's still really good information, and it's very useful even if you don't want to put your stuff on CPAN. Apress is looking to fill out it's Perl catalog, so send book proposals. Failing that, stop by the booth to get a nifty limited edition t-shirt.

I also ran into Scott Mathews of Geekstuff.com. He used to sell the Perl Mongers merchandise before he decided having boxes and boxes of shirts in his house was more than he wanted to deal with. It's amazing that the shirts we sold five and six years ago are still showing up at the conference. I see a lot of JAPH and Perl Mongers shirts that I designed. That's old school too. I'm thinking that the next issue of The Perl Review should have a collage of Perl t-shirts. I know Leon Brocard has a one of a kind orange Perl Mongers shirt I made just for him, so I should get a pic of it.

Before dinner I got to be part of my first O'Reilly author event. I got the O'Reilly author hat that initiates me into the club. I got to sign "Authentic author signature" on O'Reilly book plates. Damian conway started signing Perl t-shirts, which led to a horde of people collecting the whole set of signatures. I'll have to watch eBay next week. Phillip Torrone and a Make Magazine crew was figuring out the maximum distance where a laser pointer could pop a balloon. I think they figured it was about ten feet. They were using a green laser (maybe 1500 mA, from the looks of it), so those puny lasers from the Dollar Store might have shorter distances.

I finally got to meet Greg Corrin and Kyle Hart from O'Reilly. Since I'm promoting the Llama book, they are going to be my new best friends.

Have you seen Mighty Mouse? Kevin Lim from the University of Buffalo has a video review.

The night ended (and the next morning began) with the Stonehenge party at Ground Kontrol with free beer, free pizza from the best pizza in Portland, Nona Amelia's. Randal got his picture in News4Neighbors. I played a lot of Tron and Ms. Pac Man. The place was packed all night, and some people had to wait in line to get into the sauna bar, but I think everyone had a good time. We got home very late.