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scrottie (4167)

scrottie
  scott@slowass.net
http://slowass.net/

My email address is scott@slowass.net. Spam me harder! *moan*

Journal of scrottie (4167)

Thursday June 28, 2007
10:15 AM

YAPCNA2007 personal highlights and the next big Perl thing

[ #33625 ]

In no particular order...

There was a talk about 100 Acme modules in 40 minutes or something (Jose did it, it was a riot)... one of them scraped playboy.com for stats on centerfolds. One of the ladies in the audience interrupted the talk and declared that she *built* the code that generated the centerfold stats pages, and that it was Perl on both ends. Beppu pointed out later that playboy.com used to be (in addition to Webserving for Playboy) a CPAN mirror. Now *that's* sexy.

Pip never mentioned Perl or really talked about projects much. Mostly he was on some insane bender, which is clearly the reason that God created humans. So, Pip did a lightning talk -- he was modeling computer opponent AIs and editing them in a modified graph view in Tk. He showed an example of a running game, where monkeys had personalities -- good 3d graphics, though obviously not a full boxed game, and smart opponents. A collective gasp swept the audience and the applause was fierce.

That got me thinking... Perl is a great old worker, but we're short on things to be excited about. Perl 6 is exciting but it's probably not going to give birth to an industry all by itself (rather it would supplant and replace P5). Hacking on P6 is fun, and playing with it is exciting, but it's hard to justify time on it when your mind is on money, as money is what establishes niches. Bioinfomatics was Perl's next niche and get people excited, but again, it's not something that's accessible as a career to most of us without a lot more (re-)schooling. So, there are some neat things going on, but jobs in Perl still amount to business gunk -- the same stuff COBOL programmers were doing -- reporting, business apps, business logic, business infrastructure. Bo-ring. Pays the bills but doesn't get people excited. Makes something sucky suck less -- kind of like COBOL did over assembly language. We *need* people writing games in Perl, or working at game shops writing tools in Perl, or doing *fun* and *marketable* stuff in Perl, or else we're toast. PHP has dumb but fun websites, Ruby has sophisticated mashups on the Web, and that space is crowded anyway.

As coincidence would have it, at the BeerBoF, I talked to someone else (of name, who may or may not want their name used) about what he was working on for fun, and he sheepishly confessed that he wanted to write an SNES emulator in Perl -- hell yeah! I commented that PDL would be perfect for building the sprite engine. The 65816 CPU runs at 4mhz I think, so that could be done in Perl or Inline::C could suck in an existing one. I commented that people might just play SNES games on it, then might use it as an environment for writing some games or playing with example games, but ultimately, it could be a simple, more accessible game library foundation. 3d graphics is nice, but sometimes it's too much *work* and it gets in the way of actually building the game, which is the fun part. The SNES sprite engine for Perl sounds like great fun to me.

And I'm writing my zombie game, of course. And Awwaiid has his Go server. And there's the Illuminati server. A few of my friends mentioned this. We're 30-somethings who played Intellivision, 2600, NES, SNES, Sega Master System, etc as kids, we're adults, we're sick and tired of self-important inane companies that monopolize our energies, and we want to write games, dammit! But we're also low energy, so we don't have the attention for those big fat volumes that show you how to do 3d graphics in C++ and we're not overly interested in micro-optimizing assembly, and none of the game-builder thingies appear to our mode of thinking -- we want the power of textual source.

The various Catalyst and Jifty and so on talks got okay crowds in, but the air was distinctly absent of glee -- this is stuff we can use, but not something we can create a revolution with.

Juggling for geeks was awesome too -- the "f" work just crept in all over the place and there was a lot of insane juggling. The module being touted looks at juggling descriptions (which have a standard notation which include things like sending two balls up at once, holding one, passing, sending straight up, sending from one hand to another, and a bunch of other stuff) and decides if they're possible according to the constraints of the math behind it (whether you have the dexterity is another matter).

I gabbed with cwest and chromatic a bit -- I'm not good at connecting with people (heh, you might have noticed). Even when I try. Unless I'm drunk. I guess I like drinking for that way. I guess I'm too shy to treat people like they're all really cool, even when I know they are, and booze gets me out of that shell. In the case of chromatic, I think I need to work on finding points of agreement so we have fun things to talk about -- since most of my opinions are outlayers and it just isn't fun to talk at length about why you think someone is wrong.

I gave my own Lightning Talk this year -- I was hoping Brock would be there. He's always cool, never flustered, adores people, has a great personality. I wanted him to be the personality of Continuity. I wanted to stand on stage and perhaps interject, sort of like how Randal has done in the past when co-speaking. There's a lot written about giving talks, but I chose two ignore two things (well, maybe three) in the name of not seizing up with fright: I read my slides, and I didn't look at the audience. I decided that if slides were to be read, I would *not* sit there and read off bullet items one by one. So, instead, each sentence is a slide, and the wording flies out at you (bwahahaha!). I figured that, worst case, I could not talk, which someone else did. I don't think I managed to communicate to anyone who didn't already understand Continuations what Continuity does but at least I got the name out there and made a fuss and waved my arms.

I got Larry Wall back and lost him again. I even went to lost and found to try to collect him like a good boy but they couldn't find him even though that's where who I left him with sent him (er... ah, never mind). So, someone is taking him -- muahahaha! He's a collectors item, no doubt -- gorgeously modeled in plastic with exquisite portrayal of his posture and demeanor. It's a true work of art. It came in a glass case. Everyone wants to touch it. When I had it, briefly, it was all grubby. No one could resist touching Larry. That's discipleship! For how fascinated people are with the thing, it's amazing that it went for the $300 or $350 or whatever that it did. So, I'm thinking of making a lol* site, posing Larry in various positions, taking suggestions on more, letting people upload backgrounds and type in captions, and vote on the images (with an understanding that I'm not willing to host any images generated that are in poor taste).

The Beef BoF was raided by campus security, who reminded us sternly of various things: we were breaking policy; we'd be reported; all trash cans must be returned to the rooms which they came from or the conference would be charged for them (duh), our behavior was inappropriate, if we returned, we'd be turned over to the city police, etc, etc. This was a young man addressing a group of mostly older professionals -- balding, pudgy nerds. I've had a few similar experiences here in Texas -- I was, for the second time in Texas, asked to unplug from an outlet, but not just asked -- lectured on why what I was doing was wrong, and what would happen to me if I didn't comply, and so on, where a simple "please" would have sufficed. People don't agree with me (as usual), but I think there's something strange going on here. People don't have a healthy sense of personal power and lean overly on any petty position of authority, such as Greyhound station employee, or climbing gym employee, or campus security guard. The flip side of the token was when people were in a lesser power position, they were overly obseqious, and it made me feel like a big meanie, so I started tipping at strange times and trying to make casual conversation (which only added to these poor people's stress) just to try to re-establish a human-peers type thing, or at least try to establish that some people are basically... oh, what's that word... stupid being on battery power...

Um, yeah, so, anyway. Once again, getting in to town on Greyhound was a mess. It was raining, I thought my target was two miles away, I started walking. Turns out, I got confused by the map and went the wrong direction. So I hoped on a train going back the other direction. The car in front of us broke down and stranded us. I walked to a bus stop and waited an hour for a bus. When I arrived at the destiation -- Google Maps has exactly one hit for "university of houston" -- I discovered that I was in the wrong place. There are four campuses, and the main campus doesn't come up on fucking Google Maps. Hey, Google Maps people -- be really, really fucking sure there's only one of something before you skip to a single result. Hell, you don't even display your Mountain View location when people search for "google". Fartknockers. Someone (thanks cyklocopter -- oops, I think I forgot the nick) actually drove down to the wrong location to pick me up and drive me there -- thank you thank you thank you! A few pints of coffee and I felt worlds better (but still smelled bad -- 24 hours on Greyhound -- which I'm on the reverse trip of right now).

Moody Towers, which thankfully wasn't the one were staying in, looked like something from Bulgaria in the 60's -- huge, stark, virtually windowless, oppressive stained concrete as blocky as possible. For landscaping, they chose communications antennas, which were mounted at the 1-story level rather than on top of something tall. The quad was old, only a few stories, looked vaguely like an old mortuary in decor, and also had cockroaches. I was greeted by one when I went piss in the middle of the night. Cockroaches make me nervous because people try to spray them, which is ineffective against the roaches but devastating against me. For some reason, the dorm didn't bother me much at all -- though the heavy drinking (alcohol being a diarertic) helps. The whole place was wet, wet, wet. I mean, the whole state. Almost every time I went outside, my glasses fogged up. Water condensed on the windows, and all of the windows would have what could most closely be described as a layer of liquid frost on them. All day long I felt like I got out of the shower without draying myself off and put on clothes right out of the washing machine that hadn't been dried.

Attendance was lower this year... Houston might have been part of it (despite the occasional social awkwardness, it wasn't that bad at all -- the humidity was just kind of funny, not really that much of a problem).

There was bowling and video games, air hockey, ping pong!

Better wrap this up. Met tons of really cool people, talked about lots of ideas and deep magic,
partying... an excellent time.

Here's to next year!

-scott

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  • Thanx for the long report, but you don't need (more) games, you need a life. Yes, that's right - a life - and a quality life makes even $work more interesting :-).
    Here in Melbourne (Australia, not that like-named dump in Florida, ha, ha, ha) my Perl code helps manage almost 11,000 (sic) network routers for Telstra (Aust-wide phone/internet company). What Perl needs, here, and what it's got, is a superb reputation for delivering what's required, and games are not required. What's even better, games are simpl
    • In your reply, games are, apparently:

      * Something I worship
      * Something I use to escape reality
      * Something of no benefit to Perl's corporate reputation

      My original point was that a community cannot grow and thrive without something to be excited about -- some way, besides the banalities of corporate work, to be marketable, relevant, and interesting. Your argument has nothing to do with my argument. You might as well have responded "chicken!".

      That's well enough. Slashdot has set the norm for online debate --
  • Hey scrottie, I'm glad our little chat about emulation/gfx stuck with you. I had actually said an NES emulator (see my Games::NES::ROM module :) -- it was pretty loud in the room, but that explains why i gave you a strange look when you said 65816 and not 6502 :)
    • You might also be interested in the perl spectrum emulator as an interesting starting point. It's still a bit slow - doing all that register work in perl is a bit painful compared to a CPU.
  • Well, somebody had to do it.

    And down you go. You're a foe from now on.
  • Somehow, you "seizing up with fright" at giving a presentation doesn't jibe with the model of you that I have from reading your posts.

    I'm the same way, though. Although I realize it's illogical.

  • I gabbed with cwest and chromatic a bit -- I'm not good at connecting with people (heh, you might have noticed).

    I've never found you particularly anti-social in person. You'd probably have to jump over the table and strangle me for me to dislike you though. I'm all for healthy disagreement with intelligent people who are willing to listen to what I say. It's the nuts who can't listen that drive me crazy.