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Day 1.1 of University of Perl

posted by pudge on 2000.10.17 20:26   Printer-friendly
Nathan Torkington continues with his daily journal of the University of Perl, starting a new week in Atlanta.
We arrived inauspiciously in Atlanta on Sunday. Most of the speakers, it seems, were tripped up by the fact that there are multiple Sheratons ("Sherata") in Atlanta. Brian Foy of the Perl Mongers, and his able assistant Amelia, actually ended up being driven by cab to the wrong one even though they gave the address of the correct one.
It had been a long day just getting there, and none of us were in a party mood that night. Mark-Jason Dominus, Damian Conway, Dan Klein and I sat around talking last night about ... not much at all. I sent back a Guinness, disgusted that it was Extra Stout and not the much better-tasting Draught. My only chance to play primadonna. :-)

The big news for me, though, was that by way of thanks for the modem I'd given him in Seattle, and various other good deeds I'd thrown his way, Damian Conway bought me a travel guitar. I'd been pining for a stringed instrument in Los Angeles, going nuts with music in my head but no way to let it out (you so *don't* want to hear me sing :-). So he knocked on my hotel room door and handed me a brand new Martin travel guitar! It's got a tiny body, but has a full sound and has already given me delicious callouses on my fingertips. What a friend!

Today's class went really well. I abbreviated the right things, I think, and ended up only half an hour over time. Damian ended around 5:15 or 5:30, but I think everyone else managed to end on time. Brian has brought his WaveLAN gear, and we're trying to set up a LAN. Randal and Brian can connect just fine, but according to the slowly blinking lights on my card, it can't detect a carrier let alone transfer bits. *sigh* And of course every time I try to change something, I end up having to restart Windows. Yes, yes, there's a lesson in there about which operating system I use, but I don't want to hear it. Haven't I suffered enough?

Good questions today included the guy who asked about whether a symbol table held an actual typeglob, or a reference to a typeglob. I couldn't give him an accurate answer because as I recall it's kinda both -- there's a pointer stored in the table, but it's automatically followed for you. Or something odd like that. I was gratified to have a lot of people in my class who'd programmed networking code in C -- they were able to attest to how painful it is. I always show the class IO::Socket and folks who have written C socket code nearly cry with gratitude. I like teaching: Graham Barr writes the labour-saving module, and I get the gratitude :-)

Poor MjD! He worked on his notes last week and sent them to the printer in time to have them printed for his classes here. The printer somehow used an ancient version of his notes (2 revisions out of date now!) that were sent in for the Perl Conference in July! I'm not sure whether he's working around it or having them reprinted.

I stuffed the wireless microphone into the body of the guitar and used the PA as house sound, "treating" students to Duelling Banjos, Blackberry Blossom, and other great bluegrass hits. One of my students even gave me a guitar pick, he had a handful in his wallet! It was amazing.

Tonight's dinner was also in the hotel restaurant. Damian, Brian, Dan Klein, Amelia, Mark-Jason Dominus, Randal, Damian Conway, myself, and two students from my class were there. Conversation ranged from the institutional woes of the students (constantly under time pressure, never given the opportunity to really learn Perl by using it, because as beginners it's slower for them to do it in Perl than ksh or /bin/sh) to baseball to Paul Erdoes (I'm sure I've misspelled that) (apparently it depends on who you ask; I've seen Erdös, Erdos, Erdõs, and Erdoes -- p) the mathematician, teaching C to first-year students, Damian's possible year of Perl slavery (see, and escaping Korean military service by chopping off the last segment of one's trigger finger (and how that no longer became an exemptable condition for military service).

Then after dinner we went down to one of the training rooms and did "Whose Line Is It Anyway"-type improvised comedy. It was incredible fun -- spontaneous, creative, and really hard at times. We discovered that verbal is easy, but being physical *and* verbal and somehow keeping it in with the story ... that was really challenging. We had been planning to do it for the New York Perl Mongers on Wednesday, but realized that we hadn't had enough practice to take it public. I think that we're going to enjoy playing those games the rest of the nights we're together.

More news tomorrow,


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