by Brian K. Jones

Well, my first day at OSCON in Portland was both hot, and pretty cool. The weather was a steamy 230F or so. I don't remember exactly, because the fluid that protects my brain has evaporated. Luckily, a steady supply of coffee seems to have alleviated that.

I'm attending the conference on a press pass, which allows me to hop around the tutorials more or less at will, so I can cover a little more ground. It's been wonderful so far. But I'm a geek, really, so I was more interested in learning than writing about the presentations. Still, it's worth writing about, because there's some cool stuff.

On Monday, I saw speakers that were really excellent. My main goal was to attend Amy Hoy's "JavaScript Boot Camp", because I like Amy's writing, and I felt I could use a good schooling in javascript just so I could keep up with all the ajax stuff going on now. I do lots of PHP and Perl, and am getting into Python and Ruby, but I've successfully avoided JavaScript thus far. Ajax, though, is making that near impossible these days.

Amy's talk, though hounded early on by a partial power outage and A/V issues, was wonderful. Amy handled all of these issues, not to mention a rather nasty sinus infection, with more grace than could have reasonably been expected. I learned a lot in that talk, and now feel I have the tools to take my knowledge the rest of the way. Thanks Amy!

In the afternoon I attended Brian Aker's talk about the new features in MySQL 5.1. In the first 20 minutes of the talk, Brian answered a couple of extremely obscure, low-level questions about MySQL with so much ease and authority, that you got the impression that this guy had just done one of those things from the movie "The Matrix" where Neo learns Japanese in about 30 seconds. The guy knows his stuff. Unfortunately, he was covering things like clustering and partitioning, which are things that I'm never going to use in my environment (I'm in a rather small environment, data-wise). But listening to him talk made me misty-eyed for my ginormous-data days when I was a Sybase DBA.

Rather than be teased by all of MySQL's new features that are for a mostly enterprise audience, I went instead up to Damian Conway's "Mastering Vim" talk, which was absolutely wonderful. I consider myself a vim power user. I use key maps, I use vim's ability to recognize file types and change its behavior accordingly, I use shift commands, etc, etc. I *still* learned plenty from Damian's talk, and Damian is one of the most enjoyable presenters I've ever seen at a technical conference. Very entertaining, and extremely effective. I'd go to a presentation I was less than enthused about if Damian were doing the talk.

Day 1 went off without a hitch. And now we're on to day 2. I'll write about that tomorrow, since tonight there's a reception held by O'Reilly, which promises to be a great time with lots of stuff going on.