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
Friday started with the second session of Lightning Talks. Up for another 5 minutes of fame were:
Simon was first up, as he had to make a dash to the airport this morning. This will probably his last Perl presentation for quite sometime, as he is off to study to become a missionary for two years. Simon introduced us to another of his pet projects called Wherewas, the ability to index your life with Perl. Basically a complex storage/search mechanism to help you remember all the things you last referenced just when you need them. This includes documents and websites scattered about online, but was very geared to Simon's setup. So although not immediately useful to anybody else, it could potentially be made more generic. Thomas then talked about the unsuccessful nature of Perl Success Stories, and why what we really need is a Power By Perl site instead. This makes sense as although there are some very nice success stories for Perl, many of them are big projects and old. Perl is featured in many, many companies, some never even knowing it. That's a success, but because it isn't a big project, it never gets added in as a success story. Enter Powered By Perl.
Leon then got up to talk about Perl Development. Or rather what other people thought a Perl Development Lightning Talk should be about. It was mostly none of those things. In the middle of the talk he did get to subtly announce the London Perl Workshop, which will be happening in December. Leon also managed to name check a good book on coding, Code Complete by Steve McConnell, which I shall now be looking up. Claes was up next and dispite his original abstract his talk was about CPANXR, the CPAN Cross Referencer. A neat little tool and web app for cross reference CPAN and Perl code. My top X things that bugs me about the language, the virtual machine and the community from a Perl programmers viewpoint.". Ivor's talk was a very quick introduction to PAR and why it's a good tool in the Perl arsenal. Fellow MessageLabs attendee, Jon Mitchell, was up next with his Perl Spectrum Emulator. Jon has been working on this for sometime and here was an ideal opportunity to show it off. I have been asking Jon to give a talk on this for Birmingham Perl Mongers, so now he has got over the 5 minutes of fame, I'll have to to prompt him for a longer talk now
Tim Bunce then talked about his plans for the DBI, including its intergration into Parrot as a universal database interface for all languages running on Parrot. A nice idea, but I foresee ALOT of work. H.Merijn used to use the FILES.last28days file alot, but it no longer gets updated, so he does it for himself. H.Merijn (under the guise of Tux) then featured a really cool little perl script that raised or lowered the volume of his internet radio app, depending upon whether or not he liked the music the station was playing. Birmingham.pm's Brian McCauley then explained why a certain little FAQ bugs the hell out of him. Why he feels the current FAQ is incomplete and why newcomers should be told the full answer. It sort of leads on to his Usenet Gems talk after the Lightning Talks. Lastly David Landgren brought up an interesting subject of how START/FINISH and BEGIN/END have kind of gotten intermingled in the world of Perl programming. All in all a great set of talks. Lots to digest and hopefully some snippets of usefulness along the way.
Another coffee (and tea) break, before heading up to the Moveable Type room for Brian's 'Usenet Gems' (pdf) talk. While I have seen both of Brian's Birmingham.pm presentations, this talk picked the best from both talks and added a couple of new gems. Brian has been on USENET for sometime now, and while helping to guide newcomers, has also picked up some very handy hints and tips along the way from all number of Perl gurus. These gems are just a few of those hints and tips. Abigail seemed to get quite a few name checks
Next up we headed for José's talk on 'Perl Black Magic'. I missed the 'Perl White Magic' that Alberto presented on Wednesday, so I was determined to see this. While a really good talk about obsfucation, I couldn't help but reminisce about seeing Thomas's talk on the same subject several years ago. José managed to inject a nice degree of humour into the talk, although occasionally I think it was unintentional. It did remind me to learn some more Perl internal variables though, so that was good
While trying to decide where to go for lunch, I got chatting to Endrew Wilson (conference organiser, Belfast.pm'er and occasional Birmingham.pm'er) and a few others. By the time we got outside we ended up losing the others, so Endrew, Andrew Gallagher, Carolyn, Kitty, William Getz and I headed for The Crown Dining Rooms. We were so engrossed in conversation that we completely forgot about the time. We hurriedly paid the bill and headed for the venue.
Most of the afternoon in the main hall was taken up with Life Hacks. An idea that Casey West was hosting, to allow people to show off their cool scripts, which help their day to day life. I was planning to get up and do a turn, but unfortunately my laptop had run out of batteries. Although I was powering up, being an old thing (the laptop, not me
As the afternoon coffee break ended, and people began to head back into the main hall, the final announcements began. IMHO, the conference has been a success and was a credit to the Belfast crew who organised it. Lots of thank yous and notices later, Norbert and the representatives of the YAPC::Europe Foundation came up to give the announcement that was eagerly awaited. Where was next year's conference to be held? The winners were
As with every YAPC::Europe conference, the final bit of fun is always the auction. Unfortunately Greg decided he wasn't going to come to the conference this year, due to his family being so close by. However, it later transpired that he was in fact in Belfast for a stag do. So shame on you Greg, you could have least come and had a drink with us. So in his stead Marty took the mantle of Auctioneer. There is obviously something about Belfast auctioneers as Marty was a great auction master. There was a lot of stuff up for auction, which thankfully Russell recorded and added to the Wiki. I was too busy trying to take photos. Nick managed to beat Mock for the Perl 6 book
There is always a silly auction item from London.pm, and this year it seemed a little hard to come up with something. Finally Mark announce the London.pm Exeperience. A chance for some poor^WPerl soul to enjoy the delights of London.pm, at their expense. José finally won with £75, and I'm really not sure he knows what to expect. But it'll be a good night out nevertheless.
Unfortunately, for a change, London.pm were topped by the final auction item. However, it should be noted that London.pm were quite noteable in getting the figures so high. The colour of the organisers shirts for 2005. BooK started the bidding with Pink shirts, Leon claimed Orange. Then things got rather silly. It's all BooK's fault. So next year José, Alberto and the other organisers are to wear fishnet tshirts. I hope there is a lot of warm weather in Braga next year. There was also the question as to whether any female organisers of the conference. If there are, once they hear what they will be wearing, I sincerely doubt it now
The conference finally drew to a close and decisions about where to meet (drink) for the evening were quickly drawn up. Several were heading off home immediately after the conference, but there were still a considerable number who planned to stay the night. The Crown was called as the meeting point for the night, although with the bar in the hotel alledgedly staying open until 3.30am, the final party of the week would be there. I distinctly remember being at The Crown for a while, then heading off to find a restuarant with Brian, David, mirod and a few others. I also remember the food being rather good too. As it turned out everyone sort of made plans to do things, but intended meeting up at the hotel later.
The hotel bar was an event in itself, but I think I better save that bit for another time
All in all I had a great time. Now I know how easy (and cheap) it is to get to Belfast, I hope to be able to get over for one of their biggish technical meetings in the future. I might even be able to get the copmpany to pay for it
Thanks to all the conference organisers, you did a grand job. Thanks to all the speakers for some great talks. I'm also pleased to have met some great people during the week, far too many to name, and I hope you weren't too disappointed when meeting me to discover I'm not female
Update: Corrected the text for Claes' lightning talk.