Registration in a new venue for OSCon

by Andy Oram

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The coolest thing about the start of the

2003 O'Reilly Open Source Convention

is the free T-shirt. It's provided by MySQL AB and bears on the back a
box with a check-mark next to the word TRANSACTIONS. I've got to
take my hat off to Scandanavian humor. A single word (along with a
simple icon) here packs an elegant and ironic message combining
history and philosophy; a statement about the importance and place of
transactions in database applications; a defiant challenge to unnamed

A different statement is made by the conference's terminal room, now
dubbed the Rendezvous Room and furnished completely with Apple
computers. These were at the conference last year, too (and in fact
are offered by Apple to several O'Reilly conferences) but I shuddered
upon entering the room as if I had been transported into the
affectless cyborg dungeon of a sci-fi horror flick. In the lobby I had
just seen at least one person wearing a Free Software Foundation
T-shirt, and I could well imagine someone using the presence of the
Macs to bolster their arguments--"We always knew that Open Source was
a plot to adulterate and compromise our freedom!"

But I set up my Thinkpad running Linux in the foyer and recorded my
various grievances and satisfactions for the day. Six hours of flying
left me plenty of time to think up lofty issues for my weblog, such
as: why are the only clocks in Dallas/Forth Worth International
Airport in a store that sells clocks?
By two-thirty I was in the unDallas of the United States:
Portland, Oregon.
I immediately met half a dozen people I knew, and heard a tip about
why the current trend toward dynamic construction and execution of
code would lead to a resurgence in popularity for Lisp. (Don't expect
a book about it from O'Reilly soon, in any case.)

For an hour and a half I walked about downtown Portland, whose main industry seems to be parking lots. But this plenitude
does not do justice to the city. It has one of the best public
transportation systems in the country, which serve largely to entice
you own to the historic district where you can get anywhere you want
easily on foot. Powell's Books--the bookstore that outdoes almost any
other in coolness, with a special Small Press section that collectively constitutes a
complete history of every fringe or avant-garde trend in literary
history, where the meandering aisles make you feel literally lost in
thought--provides both free parking and a heavily used bike rack
area. Add to the city's walkability the observation that the
down-and-out sections seem much less down-and-out than ghettos of the
East, and that even the down-and-out people try to preserve a bit of

I'll be weblogging after tomorrow's tutorials, so some actual content
will be forthcoming.