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Monday July 14, 2003
03:39 PM

OSCON 3 - Damian does it again, the zoo, and great people

[ #13442 ]

The morning session was Damian, with his partial implementation of the Perl 6 regex engine in Perl 5. The Perl 6 regex system reminds me very strongly of my former favorite language, SNOBOL. With lazy evaluation of variables and closures and its extreme flexibility, SNOBOL was the first language I knew of that had enough flexibility and power to be able to write grammars in it. Perl 6 does the same, only better.

Damian explained the Perl 6 regex engine in detail, and then demonstrated a module which implemented a goodly portion of it in Perl 5. It included a great trace facility, and even allowed you to see the code that was being created to handle the pattern matches. (Of course, these were debugging tools Damian needed to implement the thing in the first place, but who could complain?) He showed us the code, demonstrating it via its test suite; he noted that he implemented it by creating the test suite first, and then implemented the code to make it pass. It was good to see that - the more it's shown that this is a good way to implement a complex program, the more likely others are to adopt the practice too.

Milton Ngan had a great presentation of stuff from the Two Towers, impressing the heck out of all of us again (though he didn't have Return of the King footage to show us, rats). The amount of compute power needed to do what they've done is completely staggering.

Got to talk to Ward Cunningham and thank him for implementing the Wiki concept; he was very interested in our using it as a project management tool and wants to hear more; I owe him a short note. And maybe I should propose a talk about it for next year, or at least an article.

After that, we went to the zoo; I spent some time with various folks - some with the Walls, some with Ask and Robert, some with Joe Johnston (whose rendition of the Star Trek fight music and wrestling trash talk while the lemurs were play-fighting was hysterical). The Portland zoo has little sprayers that put down mist in certain areas to cool things down; I remarked as we were walking through one near the primate area that this looked like "Programmers in the Mist", which cracked everyone up. Larry liked it so much that he got several of us to pose in the mist with him for photos.

The Portland zoo is not al that big, but it's nice. I got to see the polar bears swimming in the pool from underwater; they were astoundingly graceful in the water, and very awkward when they got out. There was a hedgehog at the children's area that was really, really cute. There were a number of things I'd never seen before - a lungfish, an African turtle that has a shell which is hinged like a box turtle's, except it has the hinge in the back instead of the front. The flooded Amazonian forest had a lovely silvery fish with scales the size of dimes. A huge African catfish, a great "insect zoo", including a tarantula with rose-colored hair (I suppose the City of Roses would have to have one of those), and sea otters. Piers noted that he he used to think he'd like to come back as a cat in his next life until he met sea otters.

It was staggeringly hot (especially for Portland); so much so that I developed a blinding migraine and had to bow out at dinner - of course, this was after I had ordered ... The folks I was with - Robert, Joe Johnston, Ask, and a number of other people whose names have slipped my mind for the moment - were extremely kind. I left enough to cover my dinner and my portion of the tip, and walked home to lie down in the dark. They brought me my dinner, plus leftovers, which I sorely needed.

I'm all packed, except for the books, which I think I'll have to mail home. I'm going to hit the sack at a reasonable time and sleep in a bit. I should be feeling better by morning.

Had a wonderful time; hope I can do it again next year too.

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