Notes from YAPC in Austin

I’m posting this much later than I started writing it. I thought I’d get back to it and fill in details, but that basically didn’t happen. So it goes.

This year’s YAPC was in Austin. A lot of people complained about the weather, but it was pretty much the same weather we had at home when I left home, so I wasn’t bothered. This was good planning on the part of the YAPC organizers, and I thank them for thinking of me.

I’m just going to toss down notes on what I did, for future memory.

I landed on Sunday, having flown with Peter Martini and Andrew Rodland. Walt picked us up at the airport and we went to Rudy’s for barbecue… but first we had to check in. I was worried, because it was after 19:00, and it sounded like nobody would be at the B&B to let me in. I called, and nobody was there. I wandered around the back of the building and found a note for me. It told me where to find my key and how to get in. “…and help yourself to the soda, lemonade, and wine in the fridge.” Nice. I really liked the place, The Star of Texas Inn, and would stay there again, if the opportunity arose.

Rudy’s was fantastic. I had some very, very good brisket and declared that I needed nothing else. I tried some of the turkey and pork, too, though, and they were superb. The jalapeño sausage, I could take or leave. The sides were great, too: creamed corn, new potatoes, potato salad. The bread was a distraction. I also had a Shiner bock, because I was in Texas.

From Rudy’s we went to the DoubleTree, where lots of other attendees were staying, and I said hello to a ton of people. Eventually, though, Peter and I headed back to our respective lodgings. I worked a little on my slides and a lot on notes for the RPG that I planned to run on Thursday night.

Monday morning, I caught up with Thomas Sibley, who was staying at the same B&B. We had breakfast (which was fine) and headed to the conference. I attended:

  • Mark Keating’s history of Perl, which was good, except that he seems to think that my name is “Ricky.” I think he’s been talking to my mom too much.
  • Sterling Hanenkamp’s telecommuting panel discussion, on which I was a panel member. I think it went pretty well, although I wonder whether we needed an aggressive interviewer to push us harder.
  • John Anderson’s automation talk, which was good, but to which I must admit I payed limited attention. I forget what I got distracted by, but something.

For lunch, we had a “p5p meetup” at the Red River Diner. The food was fine and the company was good, but we ended up quite a few more people than I’d expected, and it sort of became a generic conference lunch. Jim Keenan presented me with a copy of the Vertigo score, which is sitting on my desk waiting for a good 45 minute slot in which to be played. Sawyer was keen to get anything with blueberries in it. “We don’t have these things in Israel, man! They’re incredible!” I was tickled.

In the next slot, I spent most of my time in the hallway, talking to people who were interested in the state of Perl 5 development. The big questions that arose in these discussions, and similar ones later in the week: how can Perl 5 get more regular core contributors, and how can interested people start helping? For the second one, I need to boil things down to a really tight answer with a memorable URL. I’m not sure it will help, but it might.

I attended the MoarVM talk, which was interesting, but which I can’t judge very well. At any rate, I’m excited to see the Rakudo team doing more cool stuff. After that, Larry spoke. It was good, and I was glad to be there. The lightning talks were good, and then there was the “VIP mixer.” That’s basically free drinks and an opportunity to meet all kinds of new people. I did! I would’ve met more, but it was loud in there. If we could’ve done it outside, I bet I would’ve stayed much longer, but I was losing my voice within the hour.

After that, we were off to Torchy’s Tacos. Walt had previously described their tacos as “a revelation.” They were definitely the two best tacos I’d ever eaten. Especially amazing was the “tuk tuk,” a Thai-inspired delicacy. I went back to Torchy’s twice more before I left town, and regret nothing. I’ll definitely go again, if I go back to Austin.

Tuesday, in fact, Walt, Tom and I headed to Torchy’s for breakfast. It was a good plan. We got to the venue in time for Walt to give his talk about OS X hackery (phew!). I saw a live demo of Tim Bunce’s memory profiler, which is clearly something I’ll be using in the future, though it looks like it will take significant wisdom to apply effectively. Before lunch, I took in Mark Allen’s talk on DTrace, which provided more incentive for me to finally learn how to use the thing. I’ve been working on the giant DTrace book since YAPC. I also managed, during the talk, to predict and find a stupid little bug when DTrace and lexical subs interact.

For lunch, Walt suggested we eat Bacon, so we did. Peter, Walt, and I piled into his rental and got over there. The Cobb salad was very good, the bacon fries okay. I was very glad to have a selection of local beers beyond Shiner and Austin Amber, and the guy behind the counter suggested Fire Eagle, which I enjoyed.

After lunch, Reini’s talk on p2, Karen’s TPF update, Matt S Trout on automation, and then Stevan’s talk about the state of Perl. Despite calling Perl “the Detroit of scripting languages,” it made no mention of RoboCop, nor did it liken anyone to The Old Man, Clarence Boddicker, or Dick Jones. It was a good talk, but I was understandably let down.

For dinner, the whole conference (or much of it) headed out for barbecue. The barbecue was made by The Salt Lick, and while good, it did not beat out Rudy’s. Dinner ended with “game night,” and I ran a hacked up D&D game, set in what I’m calling Trekpocalypse. More on that in another entry.

Wednesday started with my last trip to Torchy’s. It was good.

We took our time getting to the conference, and then I killed a bunch of time in the hallway track. The first talk I got to was Sawyer’s talk about async. The talk was good, and one to learn from, as a speaker. I think he did a great job keeping people involved, especially with a hunk of “spot the error” slides in the middle. By the end, he had built a program that did a bunch of parallel queries against IMDB, and then showed results to the audience. He spent a fair hunk of time just commenting on the character actors he dug up, and this went over well, as he’d paid for the digression with strong technical content until that point. I was pleased!

After that, I was obliged to go to Andrew Rodland’s talk on StatsD, as I knew that I needed to start using it at work. It was useful, and I’ve been graphing more stuff, now, which has also been cool. In fact, this talk led to me finding a bug in py-statsd, which has now been fixed. Woo!

After that, it was time for me to give my talk on perl 5. I think it went quite well! I had been worried about it, since I was editing and reworking it until the last day. I was happy with it, though, and will not be making major changes before giving it at OSCON. I look forward to seeing the attendee feedback, once it’s in. After that, it was a lot of post-talk chat in the hallways, then Peter Martini’s talk about his work on adding subroutine signatures to Perl. Everyone was excited, and rightly so.

After that, Matt S Trout and the lightning talks brought things to a conclusion, and I spent some time saying goodbyes. With everyone heading his or her own way, Tom Sibley and I decided that our way was “toward cocktails.” I’d identified a place on Yelp that looked good, the Firehouse Lounge and we headed down. The drinks were okay, but it was amazingly loud, so we headed out. Actually, I should qualify the drink review: my drink was pretty good. I ordered the drinks for both of us, yelling the order across the bar, and I ordered the wrong thing for Tom, forgetting which one he’d settled on. I was mortified. Tom graciously let it go.

We hadn’t eaten yet, and we were still hoping for some more drinks, so I consulted Yelp and it suggested Bar Congress, which was probably the best food and drink advice I’ve ever gotten from a website. I wrote a review which I won’t repeat here, but: I would go there again in a heartbeat. If I get back to Austin, for some reason, I will make a point of getting there.

After dinner, we headed back to the inn and I turned in. I’d have to get up early for my flight, so I packed and went right to sleep. In the morning, I used the “Catch a Cab in Austin” iOS app that people at YAPC had been talking about. It worked, and I got to the airport with plenty of time, and my flights home were uneventful. As always, I’d had a great time, but I was ready to get home to my family.

Next year’s YAPC::NA will be in Orlando, and although it won’t be easy to be as good as this year’s, I’m pretty sure it will do just fine.

Written on July 1, 2013
perl   yapc