The Perl Conference 5: Wrap-up
The rest of the day saw two real Perl tracks: Damian Conway, and everyone else. "The Conway Channel" was a three-hour presentation of all the modules that Damian had created so far during his indenture--from the sublime (
His next talk described the mechanics of how Perl's OO system despatches methods, and how you can change it with modules like his
Jeff Pinyan braved the wrath of his peers by proudly demonstrating his use of Powerpoint, then went on to tell us how to write loops in Perl, and Nat Torkington reminded us of people in the Perl community doing hard work without necessarily taking the big lights.
After the break came my absolute favourite talk of the whole conference, by Jon Bjornstad. Jon's friend is a quadriplegic who cannot speak by herself. Jon wrote her a Perl/Tk application that she can use by moving a mouse pointer with her head; she can select letters and words and put them together into a sentence, with speech software producing the sentence for her. Jon's application also allows her to look at pictures and read books on the screen. I could not imagine a better example of Perl used to improve the quality of life.
Autrijus Tang told us about the use of BBSes in China and how Perl is helping to build up the BBS network while restoring privacy to its users. Scott Penrose gave two short talks on two modules he'd written, and Charles Engelke, a self-confessed manager, told us how Perl got him coding again. Dave Cross reminded us--jokingly, I hope--that if we get more people programming Perl, we get more stupid people programming Perl. Geoffery Avery advocated the deprecation of
And suddenly it was over. I think it's a good sign that a conference leaves you wanting more, and certainly if it makes you feel more inspired about Perl rather than less. The Perl Conference 5 and the Open Source Convention 2001 certainly fired me up on so many levels; there's a lot of important work to be done on Perl 6, and there are so many people around me doing great and interesting things. I think the highlights for me were Larry's State of the Onion since it gave us so many new directions; the perl5-porters party, as it's always enjoyable to see the Perl community at play as well as at work; Mark-Jason's tutorials, which proved to me there's always more to learn about Perl, and finally, Jon Bjornstad's lightning talk, which for me summed up what Perl was about: not just improving things on a technical level, but on a deeply personal level as well.
I had an excellent time at TPC, and I'm looking forward to the next conference, as well as to getting the time to play with the ideas I've picked up from here. But now, it's time for me to continue my tour of the U.S., heading on to New York, Washington D.C., and Philadelphia. Until I get back to the U.K., happy hacking!
Simon Cozens is an Open Source programmer and author.
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