OSCON Days 3&4, then home...

by Andy Lester

Day 3 was mostly given to hallway sessions, talking about testing
and WWW::Mechanize, and talking about The Perl Foundation to booth
visitors. It was also great to be able to put faces to the names
of all the folks at O'Reilly and oreillynet.com who I've worked or
corresponded with over the years, like
Terrie Miller,
Chuck Toporek,
Marsee Henon and
Tony Stubblebine.
Derrick Story turns out to be
very tall. I'm glad he fights for the forces of Good.


Another person I've known for a while, but never met, is Pat Eyler.
We're both active on the perl4lib mailing list for libraries that
use Perl. He gave a talk on Koha, the open source library automation
system that's a competitor to the products that my former employer,
and corporate sibling, Follett Software Company sells. It was scary
hearing about all the cool stuff that they're doing, but Pat also
pointed out that free software, and especially library software,
is more like a free puppy than free beer. It echoed Tim O'Reilly's
keynote where he noted that when the software becomes commoditized
that the the service will be the differentiator. For the sake of
my own profit sharing check, I'm glad FSC has always pushed quality
service as much as quality software.


The Perl Lightning Talks were a lot less frantic and comedic this
year, and half the length. I gave my little lightning talk on why
you should use the prove utility, and a couple of people told me
afterwards that they were glad to have heard about it. Where past
years had a full 90 minutes of talks, this year, Geoff Avery used
the 2nd 45 minutes for a session called "Works In Progress." It
was a chance for people to get up and tell about projects they have
going on, and call for volunteers if wanted. It's a great idea
that I'd like to see done at future OSCONs.


Thursday night, I detoured from the Stonehenge party and went to
Powell's with Marsee, O'Reilly's user group contact. I think
Powell's grew since last year. It just seems larger than last time
I looked. I ran into someone from OSCON, and talked about career
management, and then someone else who was looking for a book about
automated unit testing, which I was only too glad to discuss as
well. It's just as well that the store closed before I was done
talking: I would only have bought a dozen books to stuff in my
suitcase for the trip home.


Finally, on Thursday was my "Open Source Hiring Tips" talk with
Bill Odom. About 100 folks sit and listened to us discuss how to
present yourself through all stages of the job hunt. It was an
honor to have Larry Wall and Damian Conway sitting and listening,
and when I noted that I am indeed hiring, Larry piped up "I'm looking
for a job." What a hiring coup that would be!


I'm now at the gate at PDX, pleased with how many electrical outlets
there are. O'Hare has one per gate, so far as I can tell, and the
seats around it are usually already taken by someone else with a
laptop. I'm surprised, however, that there's no wireless. For
such a wired city, I'd think that it would be available here, even
for pay.


A final note: I finally got to meet Tom Limoncelli, and he's one
of the nicest people you could ever want to know. My list of
"swell people I've met at OSCON" gets bigger every year...