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Day 1.3 of University of Perl

posted by pudge on 2000.10.30 22:05   Printer-friendly
Nathan Torkington continues with his daily journal of the University of Perl.
(This first bit isn't truly Wednesday 18th, it's just stuff I did Tuesday night after sending my email)

I transcribed most of Larry's talk, late into Tuesday night. It was hard, listening to the talk in thirty second chunks, again and again trying to distinguish words. Fortunately it was interesting material. If I'd been doing it for presidential debates, I'd have canned it after the first "with all due respect to my opponent".

I'd called United to get my ticket changed to an earlier flight tomorrow, because my original flight would have ended up consuming all the day. I got the only person worth a damn in the entire company, I think. She didn't just change my flight without a charge, she also got Damian and I sitting together in an exit row. Yes! I took her name to write and tell United that HR obviously failed and hired a happy competent person.

(ok, now back to Wednesday)

I finally got to sleep around midnight, and woke up again at 4:15am. Damian and I checked out and shared a cab to the airport at 4:45. This turned out to be a mistake: the checkin desk for the 6:45 flight didn't open until 5:30, so we spent some time twiddling our thumbs. Well, I read some murder mysteries and Damian read the transcription of Larry's talk.

The flight was delayed in Dulles, and the voice over the airport PA said that LaGuardia had instituted "flow control." I had a vision of aircraft caught in while() loops, foreach()ing their way across runways, and being told by air traffic control that gotoing earth is considered harmful. These are the thoughts that four hours of sleep inspire.

We got into the hotel after a taxi ride to the heart of Manhattan. We gawked out of the windows like tourists. I'd been to NYC before, but it was just after I'd met the woman who would become my wife and I had no interest in sight-seeing. This time, though, I was much more appreciative. The grimy city parts seemed to make it an authentic New York experience, while the shiny parts were just stunning.

I slept a little in the afternoon, trying to make up for the early start. When I woke at 4:30 or so to a phone call from Mark-Jason Dominus, it took me half an hour to wake fully up and join him. We wandered around looking for a dinner place. He told me how to pass as a New Yorker: it's spelled "Houston" but pronounced "How-stun"; the signs say "Avenue of the Americas" but everyone calls it "6th Ave"; and instead of "Greenwich Village" say "the village".

We dined at a Lebanese restaurant. Mark ordered food based purely on the reaction the menu listing gave him. If he went "wow, that sounds like a really unlikely combination" then he'd order it. I am, by comparison, a timid diner. I ordered something vaguely meat-like and safe, but was not yet really hungry again after a large lunch at the hotel.

We talked about Mark's book a little. He'd lost momentum around the time of the Perl Conference, but recently had started to get back into it again. He said he'd sent what he'd written to a bunch of people to review, and had received replies from all of them. This was very heartening. He was particularly pleased at receiving a reply from Peter Norvig, an AI/Lisp/everything God.

After dinner, we walked to the Perl Mongers talk that Damian was giving. It was high up in a financial firm's office buildings, and I was very impressed by the giltz and glamour of it. When I organized local Perl Monger meetings, they were always held in a bar, and I considered myself to have done well to get a *smokeless* bar. This was very very fancy.

Damian's talk went well. That was the third time I'd heard the Quantum::Superpositions talk, and this was definitely the most involved audience he'd had for it. There seemed to be some people who genuinely understood the physics behind it, and one or two that seemed to belong on sci.math or the net-kooks groups. Still, Damian dealt well with the heckling and finished to a lot of applause. To make sure they realized how good a talk they'd got from Damian, I gave my Python rant again.

Afterwards, we retired to a bar with fancy flat-screen terminals in the lounge. It was a lot of fun. Damian had to abandon us in order to sleep, but a bunch of us stayed up drinking. We had the obligatory Randal laser pointer light show (no Pink Floyd soundtrack, but he did manage to get it to show on a cloud overhead). Chris DiBona from VA Linux showed up and bought everyone a drink, and we talked about the Linux track at the next Open Source Convention for a while. Chris is a real nice guy, and a lot of fun to talk to.

I bailed out of the party at midnight, when the others decided they wanted to catch taxis across town and have a meal. I had to teach the next day and so wimped out. New York really impressed me, though--I definitely like any town where you can party all night like that. I've lived in a cowtown (Fort Collins) for too long, I guess!


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  • To make sure they realized how good a talk they'd got from Damian, I gave my Python rant again.

    Cute line, but Nat's selling himself waaaaaaay short here. His WIIWTPF talk is a tour de force: eloquent, incisive, and funny as hell. It's about the same amount of cleverness as the Q::S talk, but distilled down into five shining minutes of pure attitude. The epithet wordsmith leaps to mind every time I hear it.

    If you can convince him to give it -- controlled application of beer is a good method, I'm told

  • We talked about Mark's book a little.

    Book? I won't ask when we should start salivating, but I am curious enough to ask what we might be salivating over... Any interest in posting a draft table of contents, or a ten word topical hint? :)

  • From what I can pull from my addled mind at this early morning time, the book is about certain programming techniques that have been discovered by Lisp programmers over the years, but aren't very well known since they're impossible to implement in conventional programming languages -- like C -- but which work just fine in Perl. I seem to remember something about a chapter being devoted to memoization. As to when, I think it was supposed to be mid-2001. That's all I got right now. I know there's some lis
  • You suck! Learn to pay attention to whether you're posting in Text or HTML!
  • Mark's book should be published sometime in the first half of next year. For the most complete and up-to-date information, visit: book/ []