I help with Melbourne Perl Mongers.
I spend an awful lot of time talking about Perl, and have had my picture in the Australian newspapers with a camel. That's rather scary.
I'm sitting on a pristine beach. Nearby, a bee that's almost the size of my thumb lazily makes its way between the fragrant violet flowers on the tree that provides my shade. The sun is warm, but not too hot, and a few small sailing craft are out on the water, enjoying the mild weather and light winds. Beyond the water a breathtaking range of mountains rise. In the water, a wetsuited man swims to a nearby moored boat, while nesting gulls swoop him from overhead, and a flotilla of ducks cautiously follow, hopeful for an easy meal.
You'd be excused to think that I was on holidays, but actually I'm at Linux.conf.au (LCA), which this year is being held in Hobart, Tasmania. Tasmania has always been known for its breathtaking landscapes, pristine wilderness, and excellent beer. Having spent the last week here, I can assure you that Tasmania has all these things in abundance.
Like most conferences, one has to make a choice at LCA: talks, social, sleep; pick two. Since I fell into my usual bad habit of working on my slides and presentations during the conference period, I was really only able to pick one; in this case, I picked social.
This year I seem to be a lot more trendy than I'm used to, and this was even before I gave my talks. I've been invited to the exclusive dinners, I was readily included in conversations with authors of famous books and software, and there was a most touching moment where one of the local University of Tasmania students told me that he managed to get a number of registrations based purely upon my lightning talk from last year.
Jacinta had the first talks for the conference, both of which occurred on the Monday LinuxChix mini-conf. Her talk On Speaking had the audience in rapture and easily rates as one of the best talks, if not the best talk I saw at the entire conference.
For my talks, I had one scheduled presentation, and three unscheduled ones, one of which was a lightning talk. The other two talks were due to a speaker giving notice of a late cancellation, and I happened to have a few talks that were ready to go.
For my fill-in talks, I gave my talk on The Art of Klingon Programming and What's New in Perl 5.10 (heavily revised from the talk I gave before 5.10 was released). Some vanity searching revealed some excellent feedback with regards to these talk, which I'm really happy with, because they weren't as polished as I would have liked them to be.
My main talk was Awesome Things You've Missed in Perl , discussed a range of new Perl technologies, many of which have only been written in the last two years. My lightning talk was a small mention of ack, a better grep, which ended up winning one of the (three) awards for best lightning talk. Next year I'm going to have to give a lightning talk on how to give good lightning talks.
The most newsworthy event (at least by local media standards) was the Penguin Dinner. As is the custom, we had a charity auction at dinner, in this case to raise money for the Save The Tasmanian Devil foundation. Part-way through the bidding process, Bdale Garbee made a commitment to shave his beard if the money raised was more than a certain amount. While I wasn't able to keep track of all the pledges and contributions, the result was a final amount of money raised that approached the $40,000 AUD mark, and Bdale lost his beard.