Leader of Birmingham.pm [pm.org] and a CPAN author [cpan.org]. Co-organised YAPC::Europe in 2006 and the 2009 QA Hackathon, responsible for the YAPC Conference Surveys [yapc-surveys.org] and the QA Hackathon [qa-hackathon.org] websites. Also the current caretaker for the CPAN Testers websites and data stores.
If you really want to find out more, buy me a Guinness
Thursday started with the first session of Lightning Talks. Up for 5 minutes of fame were:
Nigel talked about not coding in fear, and looking at code that writes code. Bernd's spot was quite impressive, particularly when he show us a picture of his cellar, and the huge VAX standing in it! Jason Clifford was up next and introduced us to a cute little module called Business::WorldPay::Junior, which he'd used to help him get his business going. Norbert then gave a humourous talk about hosting the YAPC::Europe conferences, together with various quotes from the organisers immediately after their conferences were over, and then a little while later. Mark Fowler introduce some quirks of working with UTF-8 and Perl. Hartog then introduced us the XML::LibXML::Tools module. Sébastien's talk was rather amusing, showing how easy it is to have a Java stack trace style dump, when your Perl program crashes. See Acme::JavaTrace for more details. Jonas then gave a great talk about how to focus your energies on success for your business. Although Jonas works with Perl, the talk is applicable to any business. You may enjoy being a coder, but if you don't set your goals right, then you will lose business. Lastly Scott show us a quick way to integrate searching Perldoc and CPAN into the Mozilla browser, using the search plugins.
Then a break for coffee (and tea), while I headed for the Fotango room to prepare my talk, 'The Perl Auctioneer'. With it being my first conference talk ever, I was a little nervous. However, I had practiced the talk several times, so I was pretty comfortable with it. Going up against Mark Fowler and Casey West I was fairly comfortable that I wouldn't have to talk in front of too many people, and thankfully those in attendance numbered only slightly more than a Birmingham technical meeting. Following suggestions from other experienced speakers, I cut much of the code out and concentrated on the idea of what I was doing. My aim was to interest people enough to use the code and extend it once I had a stable framework. I think I achieved that, as I certainly had a few questions that leaned more to that way of thinking. Now to finish the framework!
I'm glad my talk was early on, as it meant I could relax again and enjoy the rest of the talks for the day. I then headed for the main hall to catch Thomas Klausner talking about 'CPANTS'. This has been something I've been meaning to get more involved with, but my other commitments have meant I haven't. For anyone unfamiliar with CPANTS (read the slides), Thomas gave a very good introduction to the project. Thomas also listed several statistics about the current state of CPAN, including the top rated Kwalitee CPAN authors on one slide. I was quite pleased to see I rated very highly, only dropping a point due to my modules not being dependancies of others. Cue Acme::Raise_my_kwalitee
A few Birmingham.pm'ers and most of MessageLabs decided it would be a good idea to introduce Naime to Chinese cuisine, seeing as he'd never tried it before. Someone had noticed a decent restaurant a short walk from the conference centre, offering a 3 course meal for £5. Bargain we thought, so headed off. While the meal itself was okay, the service and confusion was annoying. We ended up taking far too long over lunch (2 hours) and missed the beginning of the afternoon session.
The two talks I really wanted to see today, Jos Boumans' '20 Things You May Not Know About Perl' and Marty Pauley's 'The Good, The Bad And The Ugly' had both been and gone. I spent the latter half of the afternoon reading mail and making notes. By the time I remember that Karen was doing her talk, 'Hidden Costs of Release' it was too late. Still I did get to chat to a few people about conference things, so my afternoon wasn't completely wasted.
My first BOF session of the conference was the 'YAPC::Europe BOF'. This was supposed to only be about 30 minutes, but carried on for over an hour. There was a lot of discussion about workshops and conferences, and how much the committee were owed, but not much in the way of how the committee can help organisers, which was the aim of the BOF. Although the committee can underwrite a conference or workshop, due to it being based in the Netherlands and the bank account being set up in France, it was pointed out that this could be a bit awkward. Sponsors might have a problem with the setup, and any non-Euro currency nation would not receive the full conference fee. These aren't showstoppers, but they do need to be addressed.
I'm not sure I knew what to expect from the BOF, but I did hope it would give me some ideas for Birmingham's bid for 2006. However, much of what I'd already discussed with Karen, BooK and others had already given me much to think about. At the moment the YEF seem more anxious to ensure that speakers from outside Europe are given the chance to speak at workshops and conferences, but judging by the attendance of non-European speakers at Belfast in September (out of conference season), that doesn't really hold much weight. There were less than half of the full committee themselves who attended too.
The committee appear to want to be able to offer a full hosting and software package (including e-commerce) service to potential organisers, but I feel that this might take away some of the control from the organisers too. There is still some way to go before the complete package is in place, BooK's ACT software is only one part, so there is certainly room for discussion. Hopefully the framework will be sufficient enough that in future organisers only need to change HTML templates to have a fresh site. We shall see.
That evening a trip to The Odyssey Centre was planned. A new complex that featured restaurants, bars, cinema and gaming hall all under one roof. There was also a disco, but the clientele trapsing into that didn't fill me with any desire to join them. All i can say is that whoever sells fake-tan cream in Belfast must be making an absolute fortune. Instead a number of Birmingham.pm along with Ivor Williams and Tom Hukins headed for the Indian restaurant. The food was great, but having eaten well earlier in the day, I was full up far too quickly. Having paid the bill, Brian and myself stayed and chatted to Karen and Endrew for a little while, before heading towards the Bar.
The bar was not too dissimilar from the bars in Birmingham's Arcadian, except it didn't have the same classy interior of the Arcadian bars. Still we got beer
By the time we returned, there were still attendees milling around, but sleep was definitely calling, so I ended the night there.