yapc: the beginning

What a long, long day it’s been!

I got up around 0630. I had a really hard time sleeping last night, and kept waking up. When I woke up at 0500, I considered getting up and doing things, but I really didn’t want to, so I got in another bit of sleep before taking a shower and getting ready for the day. The hotel’s continental breakfast turned out to be much better than I’d expected. I had a waffle, a (tiny) muffin, an egg, and a banana. And tea and juice.

Phil was late, and we semi-stressed a bit, but for no reason. We got to the site with no problems, parked far away, and got in place before things started.

I took notes from the talks, but most of the notes are abortive, because my interest in most of the talks was quickly lost. Here’s my quick rundown:

Jim Brandt’s welcome address was short, sweet, and just plain fine.

Allison Randal’s talk was basically, from what I could tell, “The State of Perl Stuff, Being An Illustrated and Annotated Perl History.” The intentionally bad jokes bordered on dada, and I just felt alienated by the whole thing. I also didn’t feel like I got much more than I would’ve from a reading of the perlhist page and a few similar documents from Parrot and company. That was sad, since I think a Big Overview of Perl Stuff could’ve been a very dynamic, interesting presentation.

Next up was Steve Hayward from Apple. He started off his “Mac OS X and Unix” talk very well. It looked like it was going somewhere interesting, and he was a very good speaker. Once he got to building a project with Interface Builder and Perl, he quickly lost me. I knew what he was doing, but he spent so much time futzing around with IB that it was no longer about Unix or Perl. Maybe a Glue script would’ve been a better example. Or, maybe it would’ve been better to walk us through some prebuilt code, instead of pretending to build something. After all, he only built the interface while we watched, and then used pre-written code to add Perl logic.

Someone in the hall outside our hotel room is beating on the soda machine with rebar, or so it sounds. Maybe I should throw the bolt.

From the Apple talk, I headed to “Using the Perl Debugger,” which was far, far too short. I’m not sure how much the speaker wanted to cover, but he ended up covering about three debugger commands. Seriously. They were s and c and a. Oh, and x. He had twenty minutes, and spent about five fixing his too-small-to-read gnome-terminal font. Meanwhile, every welcome kit came with a Perl Debugger quickref card. For a twenty minute talk, I wonder if he couldn’t have rewritten it to use that as a guide. That might have been really slick. I want to see a really good Perl Debugger crash course, although maybe I’ll wait until MJD finishes his new debugger. (ETA: no idea.)

I stopped into Fowler’s talk on essential CPAN modules (the Advent Calendar talk), but it looked sort of dry, and I think I’ll be happier just reading the notes, so I shoved off and chatted with some folks in the hall. We clumped up and headed to lunch. We, there, was Uri, Phil, Steve, Andy, Chris Fedde, some guys whose names I don’t remember, and me. I had a giant serving of rice and General Tso’s Chicken, and it was so-so. Andy and Steve talked about testing and Tk, and I was embarassed to realize that Steve co-wrote the Perl/Tk book I have on my shelf, and I never knew! I’ll have to embarass him back by getting him to sign it.

I also picked up a longer fw cable so that Bryan can sit on his own bed while using IP-over-fw. He’s doing that now.

After lunch, I stopped into the wxPerl talk, but it was hard to follow. There was a lot of skipping around. It looked like it was largely an opportunity to watch the speaker go through the tutorial, and there was a lot of demonstration of wxGlade. Also, he started with “What is wxPerl?” His slides had too much information on them. You don’t need to have seen or read Judo, but you should know most of what it says! A slide with multiple paragraphs is an abomination.

The talk after that, after a bit of wandering around on my part, was one of the talks to which I was most looking forward: Pierre Denis’s talk on what Fontango has learned about Perl programmers in their experience interviewing them. It was very good, although once or twice I think it lost its thread—but I might have been the one to have lost the thread. It was good, Pierre presented it well, and I learned things.

The final talk of the day, for me, was Andy Lester and Bill Odom’s “Getting a Great Job in Open Source Software,” and it was really good. I had really enjoyed Andy’s lightning talk on the subject last year, and this covered all that and more. I took really extensive notes (see my YAPC page) and plan to review them again after the conference to update my resume and put together a “what if I get fired” sort of plan. I feel no qualms, at all, in any way, in saying that this talk was much more useful than Damian’s Perl 6 talk. This talk gave me information that could affect my waking life. Damian deals in dreamstuff, these days.

After the talks was the Stem BOF. I attended, and I mostly listened, but it didn’t do much for me. I’d like to do more async I/O, but I don’t have the need, and I think I’d probably go with POE, because it’s got so much code already against it. I know that’s not a great reason, but it’s not a horrible one, either. I need to learn more about each.

I spent some time in that BOF working on my own version of mendel’s little tool to dump del.icio.us bookmarks to a Netscape bookmark file. So far, so good. I’m trying to get it much much smaller and close to the same speed. I’m using Net::Delicious, Config::Auto, and some other fun little modules I’ve taken to liking. I’ll get it working perfectly tomorrow.

From there, we went to dinner at the Anchor Bar, the home of the Buffalo-style Chicken Wing. Their food was fine, but nothing to write home about. I sat between Bryan and Jon Steinert (aka hachi) and we talked about stuff. It was interesting. hachi does scary things like parse PostScript files to mine data he can’t get except by printing. Ha! I need to find awful problems to solve at work so my stories can be more heroic! (This would also help build a portfolio; see the Job Talk notes!)

After dinner, Harry Potter on a fifty foot IMAX screen. It wasn’t really that impressive. The screen itself was, but once the movie was on it, I didn’t feel like it was a radically different experience. There was some MST3King of the movie, but not enough. I don’t remember much of it, but someone had Lupin asking Harry, “Have you ever seen a grown man naked?”

We got back to the hotel around 0100, so of course Gloria was already in bed. I had spoken with her between dinner and the movie, but only very briefly. I’m hoping that tomorrow will be less ridiculously busy so I can get in a more relaxed chat (possibly—mmmmmmm—with iSight). The conference is mostly a good thing so far, but I am definitely looking forward to being home again.

When tempted with prospects of moving away, this week, I always end up thinking, “That sounds nice, but it’s so nice to be settled in a place, with my wife, where we know people and where we have things we like to do.” The idea of finding a new ice cream lady, a new place to get grits… I know I’d get used to it, but I’m a very change-resistant person, I guess. So, the short of it is: I’m looking forward to getting back home where I belong.

I need to prepare some notes for the audit team, now. Ugh. Too tired to work, but I must. Back tomorrow.

Written on June 17, 2004