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Day Three of University of Perl

posted by pudge on 2000.10.06 7:17   Printer-friendly
Nathan Torkington continues on his daily journal of the University of Perl.
Wow, what a fantastic day! Flew from Seattle to Los Angeles, walked on Venice Beach, and had a great dinner. Oh, and checked into the ultra-fancy hotel. Ok, small pleasures.
I realized last night, while packing, that I'd left my bloody cellphone in the room where Damian was giving his evening talk. I'm such a moron. At least I didn't lose my wallet or something equally catastrophic. Then again, it's my wife's cellphone, and losing *anything* is 10 times worse when it's really the missus's.

I spent the entire day with Damian, more or less. We had breakfast, flew to LA, went for a 7 mile walk around Venice Beach, and finally had dinner (with Dan Klein) before heading off to bed. The man is incredible. He didn't saw off his own head from the boredom of talking to me, and he was interesting the whole time. And he is in incredibly good shape: I was helped by being used to walking at high altitudes, but Damian had no trouble keeping up my speedy walking pace (and in fact handled it better than I did).

We talked about teaching, what we do right and how we could do better. We talked about the classes, wondering why the signups for his Practical Extraction and Reporting classes have been so low, even though it's a killer class with all the data extraction clue you could ever want, from regexps to recursive descent parsing in it (all we could think of is that the title wasn't sexy enough: perhaps it needs to be "Client-Server Active Parsing with Proactive Regular Expression Synergies"?). The classic marketing problem: while we can talk to people who *did* come to the tutorials, we can't ask folks who *didn't* "why didn't you like the sound of this class?". We talked about marriage and country life and the pain of trans-Pacific flights.

I'd been told that Venice Beach was the home of all the freaks in LA, but I think that must only be on the weekends. On weekdays they're apparently holding down 9-5 jobs, as our 4:00-6:00 walk didn't turn up many weirdos at all. Well, except for the guy painted silver pretending to be a statue. And the guy with the afro riding rollerblades while playing the electric guitar (he had a portable amp slung around his shoulder) was pretty cool. By the end, though, my feet were pretty sore and I was looking forward to dinner.

The hotel is very fancy. Huge white feather bed, a chair the size of a couch, and a pretty impressive view. The rooms for the talks are nice, although we didn't get net access. The Seattle hotel had ethernet in the classrooms, while all we'll get here is a phone line. Oh well, can't have it all. The luxury of this is quite overwhelming to this random bloke from New Zealand.

I'm knackered after the walk, and have to get some sleep. I'll write again tomorrow after the first day of classes here.


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  • Should I do this again for the Atlanta and New York tutorials? I never know whether anyone's reading, whether a peek into the behind-the-scenes work at these things is interesting to folks. Please let me know.



  • I'm enjoying reading these messages. This way you get to know the teacher and get some hints on Perl community stuff. It's sort of like sitting down with you in an internet cafe talking with a bunch of other Perl Mongers. ;-)
  • Totally enjoying your daily synopsis!

    --Mark (wishing he were at the L.A. classes, but couldn't get the time off to attend)
  • I am reading them as well, and enjoying them quite a bit. They offer a nice (and different) view of community. So I would vote for the continuation of the series.

    In addition I would say that the name of the Damian's "Practical Extraction and Reporting" is a problem. I at least thought, from it's title, that it was a more basic regex and text parsing class. I think that may have been the reason at least one colleague of mine went to the DB class (in Seattle) instead. Of course we probably shou
  • I also am reading... now I just need a way to
    exchange all this interest I'm building in going
    to one of these afairs into cash to do so...


    $self =~ s/interest/principal/g;

    drats... didn't work :(
    too bad it's too late to RFC it for perl6

  • Nat,

    I'm reading and enjoying your reports. Please keep posting.

    As for the naming of Damian's "P, E & R" talk - perhaps it could be something a bit catchier, like, oh, off the top of my head, "Data Munging with Perl" :)


  • <aol>me too!</aol>
  • Presumably because the number of comments has been so low, Nat Torkington asks:

    Should I do this again for the Atlanta and New York tutorials?

    Sure. I'll never get out to any of these events, and it's great to live vicariously through the accounts and descriptions of others. If the question is more an expression of concern about the number of commentators using in general, I'd point out that the most glorious days of Usenet (and maybe even Slashdot) were when people did not feel compelle