Friday, July 27, 2007

OSCON notes

- One of the highlights for me was a panel discussion at Powell's Technical book store with some of the authors of the book "Beautiful Code". Besides just being interesting to put some names with faces it was really fun to see some famous programmers talk about code they found beautiful. It was sort of like watching people who have been given an opportunity to talk about how awesome their children are.

As a side note there was sort of a heated exchanged between the developers of svn and one of the lead developers of perl (chromatic). It some how surprisingly came down to an argument over whether lisp was beautiful and whether perl was like the only language that one could write the programming equivalent of Finnegan's Wake. And then something about getting tattoos with perl code. Etc. The content of the discussion was pretty interesting but just seeing that these were real people who don't necessarily think that you are awesome simply because you are an open source developer was a bit enlightening.

- I was very disappointed to that Damian Conway didn't speak this year. After first seeing his perl in klingon talk a few years ago, I've been hooked. Almost makes me want to rediscover my perl roots. Almost.

- On the other hand it was interesting to finally see Steve Yegge talk in person. His powerpoint slides crapped out but he gave pretty interesting talk on the importance of product positioning. Much more interesting than it sounds. And NBL is javascript2 if that wasn't already obvious.

- Giles Bowkett gave a rehash of his seaside presentation which is available from his web site. I was excited when he started the talk because he was actually up there going thru code, but then he fell back to his prepared talk. The talk was interesting, but was more marketing than reasoned argument for the wonders of seaside.

- I saw two talks by Simon Peyton Jones on parallelism and memory management using haskell. Here's a case where the personality of the person was a bit surprising to me. He was the most friendly and ebullient yet soft spoken and modest speaker I've seen so far at OSCON this year. Quite in contrast to haskell which makes me cry when I try to use it. But I keep trying.

- overcoming bias. I had recently discovered this web site (I think thru oreilly radar) so it was interesting so see one of the bloggers from there speak. I've been thinking alot lately about how you can detect biases in your self and other and how to systematically recognize and overcome them. So it it's pretty uncanny (to me) that there is a site about this and I got to see a talk on this. The universe is trying to tell me something....

- State of the Onion: Always interesting to hear Larry Wall speak. Once again I can't help to be intrigued by perl to hear it described, but I'm always a little horrified when I do. his talk was basically a tour of the features and concerns that a language designer must consider. it seems that perl 6 (if it is ever released) will be the kitchen sink of all kitchen sinks. Interestingly his talk was not given the focus it usually does and was just given in a well packed conference room rather than the central meeting area.

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