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Monday July 14, 2003
03:36 PM

OSCON 2 - Nine Views and Nine Heads

[ #13441 ]

First up for me was MJD's "Nine Views" talk, which essentially was nine lightning talks in a 45-minute period. Some were brilliant (like the proposal that every object-oriented CPAN module have an interface contract, defining what methods were going to always be supported, to encourace more subclassing rather than forking or rewriting), thoughtful (like how to ask for help and give help), neat (like the implementation of a program to figure out quilt patterns in Perl), some were funny (like the one showing what the Lisp community considers a "one-liner"), and some were just plain odd (like the Arecibo message to the stars - including the typo that MJD found).

Andy Lester's talk on testing large projects with Perl was great. He - I think, and hope - convinced a bunch more people that testing is not just a nice idea; it's critical to making sure you've really done your job. The idea of having a regularly-run smoke process to ensure that the whole project is working was well-presented and looks easy to implement; I'm looking forward to gradually putting it into the EDG/E. The WWW::Automate stuff should be really helpful too. Ed Seufert, one of my co-developers who was also at the conference, suggested that we work on a web proxy that could analyze the data stream and build a skeleton WWW::Automate script. I can see how to do the user side, but the server side will take more thought, if it can be done at all.

I wanted to catch Andy Wardley's Template Toolkit talk, but the room was too full for me to even see in by the time I got there, so I had to skip it. Haim Dimer asked me for a hand in getting Debian onto his Powerbook, but it turned out that the disk wasn't partitioned yet, and I didn't feel brave enough to try to use GNU parted on a) someone else's disk b) without a backup. I gave him a few pointers on getting Debian to boot up even without a CD, but we decided to pass altogether rather than risk the data. I got to Ziggy's XSLT talk a little bit late, which with XSLT is sort of like walking into the middle of Aujitrius' lightning talk. Fortunately, Ed was in there for the whole thing, so he should be able to fill us in on that.

I tried the how database projects fail talk, but the speaker made the mistake of not taking an opinion item offline and ended up in a discussion that ate up so much time that my Powerbook battery went flat before it was over. I skipped the rest of it. The non-database part was right on target and pretty funny though.

Randal and Tom Phoenix did a "Writing About Perl" presentation which was really inspiring. Not only did they tell a lot of plain truths about technical writing (how long it takes, how little it pays, haw hard it is to do), but there was a lot of real honesty about personal things which was touching and big-hearted.

The evening included a trip to Powell's (and of course I missed the fact that Wil Wheaton would be at the Technical Books store, and I went there pretty late, only just getting to meet him for a minute. Man, is he ever a really nice guy, and funny as hell to boot). It really is an incredible bookstore. I was able to find another volume of Hafiz' poems translated by Daniel Ladinsky - Ladinsky doesn't try to force Hafiz into rhyming, or being "ageless". He translates the poems as blank verse, and isn't afraid to use contemporary language. The result is tiny little poems that smack you right between the eyes, touch your heart, and fill you with laughter at the same time.

Afterward, I went to the Perl Foundation auction, and got an O'Reilly 25th anniversary shirt which I'm really happy with. The bidding for the color of the search.cpan.org site was fierce, with a final bid of $1024 to leave it as it is for a year. To acknowledge the willingness of London.pm to pony up a lot of money for orange, even though they didn't win, the site will be orange for one month in tribute.

Finally to bed, after talking with Arthur about implementing the debugger hooks in Ponie and sharing the fries in my belated dinner with Piers.

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  • WWW::Automate is the original module from which WWW::Mechanize is forked. WWW::Automate is a fine module on its own (modulo a memory-leaking bug if you stress the back() function a lot), but WWW::Mechanize [cpan.org] is the way to go for the future.
    --

    --
    xoa

  • Randal and Tom Phoenix did a "Writing About Perl" presentation which was really inspiring. Not only did they tell a lot of plain truths about technical writing (how long it takes, how little it pays, haw hard it is to do), but there was a lot of real honesty about personal things which was touching and big-hearted.
    Thank you! Like last year's talk about how to teach, we had fun preparing this talk about how to write. I'm not sure what's next... how to read? {grin}
    --
    • Randal L. Schwartz
    • Stonehenge