Friday marked the last day of the O’Reilly Open Source Convention (OSCON), and my last day in Portland, Oregon. Unlike previous trips, I traveled home on Friday night instead of Saturday morning. In the past, I’ve sat around my hotel on Friday night with nothing to do except finish posts about OSCON. There is one drawback, though. I’m finally finishing this post 20 days later, which means it probably won’t be as fleshed out as my posts about Wednesday and Thursday.
After my near complete lack of interest in the keynotes I saw on Wednesday and Thursday mornings, I paid little attention to those on Friday. I thought the message Karen Sandler had about open health was good, but that’s about all I can say about them.
By far I was the most pleased by the sessions I attended on Friday. First, Kevin Falcone’s Shipwright: Application Distribution Simplified. Kevin works for Best Practical, a company with the best shirts. I plan on doing some evangelizing of Shipwright at work, as it would help a lot of people, including me, to better develop and deploy their applications.
I wasn’t planning on attending OSCON this year. I was perfectly happy skipping it and staying home during the last week of July. Then I happened to be looking over the list of Perl sessions and saw, at the very end of the list, Easy Distributed Computing with Perl and Grid::Request. It seems that Victor Felix has released a module that does exactly the same thing as some of the modules I’ve maintained at work, only the design is much better. However, it doesn’t support the batch system we use. I emailed Victor to discuss some collaboration and registered for OSCON so I could meet him. So yeah, I attended OSCON for one session. But it was worth it. The module looks great and Victor seems happy that I have an interest to contribute. It will be much better use of my time to contribute to a module on the CPAN than to continue pouring effort into what we have today.
Since, after chatting for a bit with Victor, I was already standing outside the room well into the next time slot, I popped into Git for Ages 4 & Up. Michael Schwern and Ricardo Signes demonstrated the Git commands everyone should know to get started with the version control system. As an added bonus, they used tinkertoys to help the audience visualize what Git’s internal representation of the repository looked like after each command. It was definitely a different and entertaining talk.
Prior to the closing keynote, Piers Cawley was invited to sing his library song, which I mentioned in Thursday’s post, again for the benefit of all OSCON attendees.
After three days in Portland, I finally ate at Burgerville. Eating at this regional chain is something I look forward to every time I’m in the area. Though, I suppose my change in diet may have suppressed my eagerness and led me to put it off until Friday. In any case, I ordered a cheeseburger with grilled onions (ditching the bun) and a large raspberry shake. While I prefer their blackberry shakes when available, the meal was delicious.
The high point of the conference happened, oddly enough, after it had ended. For whatever reason, I happened to wander into a different area of the convention center, in which a sock knitting conference was taking place. Outside of their expo hall was the Sockgate, a cardboard replica of a Stargate. As we were waiting to take pictures with it, Paul Fenwick happened by and offered to take some photos. He’s a really nice guy and I enjoyed finally getting the chance to meet him. After the photo op, he headed into the knitting expo hall. In retrospect, I should have done the same. It would have been interesting to see what it was like.
Photo Credit: Paul Fenwick
Finally, I learned that when I attend OSCON, I really do need to go for the entire week. Apparently, it takes me about two days to acclimate myself to the environment and really start interacting with people. Of course, by arriving Tuesday night, I was ready to interact on Friday, just as everyone was heading home. It didn’t help that I was staying in a hotel way out by the airport, with MAX service ending before 11:00 PM. With a new baby at home, I certainly don’t regret my choice to be away for a shorter period of time, but if I go next year, I’ll probably go for the entire week.
Thursday was the second day of sessions at the O’Reilly Open Source Convention (OSCON) and my third day in Portland, Oregon. Overall, the sessions I attended were arguably more relevant to my work than those I attended on Wednesday. Still, the day left me feeling unsatisfied. At past OSCONs, I ended each day with my mind brimming with new ideas, scarcely able to wait until I could put some of them into practice. So far, this year’s conference hasn’t had the same effect on me.
In any case, the Thursday morning keynotes were far better than those foisted upon us on Wednesday morning. Gabe Zichermann’s talk, in particular, caught my attention. In Game theory applied to user engagement in Open Source he talked about using so-called gamification techniques to draw people into using Open Source software. Many of his examples had to do with using game theory to alter real life behavior, such as a lottery to reward good drivers in Sweden or the use of consumption graphs in hybrid vehicles. On a separate note, I tend to grow annoyed at the latter, having been stuck behind too many hypermiling drivers.
Getting into the sessions, I favored those more in line with the work I do as a Perl programming system administrator. Also, it didn’t hurt that The Conway Channel 2011 happened to take place during the first time slot of the day. I’m a bit sorry I passed up DIY Clinical Trials (Or: How to Guinea Pig Your Way to Scientific Truth and Better Health), if only for the reason that it would have been completely different from anything I normally do. But, I attended those types of sessions on Wednesday, so it was back to business, so to speak. Damian Conway was in his usual top form, as entertaining as he is educational. I won’t go into too much detail, only to note that he demonstrated four of his modules, using a theme I’m sure most will recognize. First, something old, updates to the Regexp::Grammars module. He then introduced something new, the IO::Prompter module, which supersedes his older IO::Prompt. There was something borrowed, the Data::Show module, which serves as a convenience wrapper around the Data::Dump module. And finally, something blue, the Acme::Crap module, which seems oddly cathartic.
I like to think I’m a halfway decent Perl programmer, but that doesn’t mean I think I can ignore things like Jacinta Richardson’s Perl Programming Best Practices 2011. The talk was a round-up of the tools and modules that are generally considered to be the best practices by the Perl community today. Yes, generally. People will have their differences of opinion, and I don’t always agree with the advertised best practices. However, if followed, the practices will lead to better code, and if violating a practice, I like to be able to back that up with a well thought out reason (it doesn’t necessarily have to be a good reason). The first of two, possibly pithy, examples of this is the local::lib and it’s default use of ~/perl5 as its include path. I prefer to use ~/local/lib/perl5 and, sure, the module allows me to do that easily enough, but it’s an extra, non-standard step. Second, the cpanm has been touted as the best way to install modules from CPAN. As a control freak with a highly customized CPAN configuration, I’ve never liked the way cpanm seems to do things its way. Admittedly, it may be customizable, but I’ve never had the need to look into it.
There’s been some noise around the office about testing Amazon’s EC2 offering. To that end, I thought James Loope’s Utility and Automation: Low Overhead Operations with Amazon & Puppet would be educational, possibly giving me some ideas about how to managing our own potential EC2 environment. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out that way for me. The talk was heavily focused on the way the web application was designed and pieces of Amazon’s infrastructure were used. We’re not creating or running web applications, so none of it was beneficial to me. There was nothing about Puppet aside from explaining that using it (or another configuration management tool) is vital for keeping everything running.
At this point, I was turned off from any cloud talks at OSCON. There seems to be, with probably good reason, an inextricable tangling of cloud and web applications. Because of this, I decided to pass on Achieving Hybrid Cloud Mobility with OpenStack and XCP and instead attended Piers Cawley’s Polymorphic Dispatch—It’s Not Just a Good Idea, It’s the Law. I’m glad I did, because there were definitely some very useful ideas presented. The idea, taken from Smalltalk, of passing messages to objects has a lot of merit. Combining this with polymorphism, sending a message and allowing different objects to act on it differently, vastly simplifies code. Simple code, of course, is easier to test and easier to debug when things go horribly wrong (and actually is less likely to go horribly wrong in the first place). Of particular interest to me were the Null Object pattern and what Piers referred to as the key tenant of object-oriented programming: tell, don’t ask. That is to say, if I understood correctly, instead of querying an object for information and using it to determine which action to perform, give the information to the object and have it perform the action. Finally, Smalltalk Best Practice Patterns was recommended as the best book on good coding practices out there. According to Piers, it “will change the way you think about programming.”
The last session I attended on Thursday had so much potential, but, for me, it fell flat. I expected A. Sinan Unur‘s Visualizing Economic Data Using Perl and HTML5′s Canvas to focus far more on visualization than it did. Instead, the majority of the presentation was about the difficulty of parsing public data published by the United States government. For this, Sinan uses Spreadsheet::ParseExcel and explained a few of the techniques he uses to extract data from tables designed primarily for visual consumption. Unfortunately, very little time was spent showing how Canvas was used. We were given one static example and an explanation that there is no method available for determining the height of text in a Canvas element. I had hoped to return to work with some ideas for using Canvas to visualize data from our batch scheduling system, but ultimately left disappointed.
After the last session, I met up with a coworker, an old friend, and a new friend to have dinner at Chipotle. Normally, I like to avoid chain restaurants—national chains in particular—when traveling, preferring to sample the local cuisine. But, we wanted a quick dinner and it was nearby. My opinion was requested, on the relative healthfulness of pinto versus black beans. I simply stated that I would be ordering my carnitas bowl without any beans.
After dinner, we returned to the convention center for the Perl Lightning Talks and the State of the Onion. As always, the talks were quite entertaining. Of note was a juggling demonstration, illustrating various programming languages and databases. Near the end, Ricardo Signes recounted a conversation he had with a couple of women from the knitting conference sharing the convention center with us. Its presence provided a wonderful juxtaposition. While OSCON is male-dominated and many don’t know how to act when women brave their way into our midst, the knitting convention is completely opposite. Ricardo’s message to us was, take the time to look up from our laptops and chat with those around us. We might just have a better time and make new friends.
Finally, Piers Cawley favored us, as he does every year, with a song. This year, however, he did not bear a tale of levity, but a message of deadly seriousness. The United Kingdom is closing libraries in an attempt to reduce public spending. As a protest, Piers wrote a song, “Child of the Library”. There doesn’t appear to be any video (yet) of Piers performing at OSCON, but I’ve gone ahead and embedded one that I found. It’s catchy, I had it stuck in my head for a couple of days after the conference.
We could easily see the same thing happen in the United States—and in fact I have already seen it proposed in San Diego. I’ll first admit that I have not set foot inside a library since college, over a decade ago (high school, if only counting public libraries). Do libraries still matter, or is the concern over their closing merely the knee-jerk nostalgia of those of us who came of age in a world that didn’t yet know the Internet? I can’t, and won’t, take a side on this issue until I’ve taken the time to visit my local library. If I can recognize it as something I saw in my childhood, perhaps it should be closed. If it has adapted to the so-called Information Age, maybe it’s worth funding.
As a final, humorous note, I almost didn’t make it back to my hotel. At least, not without finding an alternate method of transportation. At 10:22 PM, excusing myself and apologizing for staying so far away from the conference, I left Media Temple party at the Jupiter Hotel, arriving at the convention center MAX station at 10:32 PM. The schedule at the station listed 10:42 PM as the last red line train to the airport, with Google Maps concurring that a train was 10 minutes away. About two minutes later an unmarked blue line train arrived at the station, traveling east. At this point, Google Maps had decided it would rather show me its trip planner instead of the previous screen which showed the impending arrival of the red line. Forced to make a split-second decision, I hopped on the train. I knew that I could take it at least as far as the Gateway station, where I could transfer to the red line if it was still behind me. Around 11:00 PM I arrived at Gateway, after spending the ride thinking about how much a cab would cost. This station had a real-time display with train arrival times. The last red line of the day was only three minutes out. Whew.
Today marks my first day of the O’Reilly Open Source Convention, since I chose to only attend the sessions this year. I will also depart with my tradition of writing a post for every session I attend. I enjoyed it in the past, but it adds more stress and distraction than I’d like this year. Instead, I plan to relax and enjoy each session I attend. I’ll still take a few notes, but I’ll limit myself to recapping an entire day in a single post.
I had breakfast in my hotel’s restaurant this morning, a mistake I won’t make again —over half the plate was composed of potatoes and toast, leaving little room for the eggs and sausage—. It was an easy walk to the Cascades MAX station, until I saw the train arriving before me. I likely could have made it onto the train had I sprinted, but I also had to buy a ticket, so I let it go. Fortunately, it was the beginning of the morning commute, so another train was not far behind.
This morning’s keynotes were dry. At least, I didn’t find them at all interesting. Well, except for one. I enjoyed Ariel Waldman’s brief talk about Hacking Space Exploration. It reminded me that I don’t spend nearly enough time on Galaxy Zoo.
The final keynote was a so-called surprise announcement. We were first treated to a video in which a bunch of big names in technology—Bill Joy, Tim O’Reilly, and Al Gore to name a few—gushed over the possibilities of commodity cloud computing. All that build up ended up being nothing more then a lead-in to an overblown advertisement for something called Nebula. While the idea of open and commodity elastic compute is cool, I have difficulty taking something seriously when it’s surrounded by as much hype as I saw during the keynote. Maybe I’m alone in this, but OSCON doesn’t really seem like the right venue to go heavy on marketing and light on technical detail. Maybe those of us sitting in the ballroom weren’t the real audience for the announcement. Perhaps they were just using the large and popular conference as a way of getting media attention.
So, what sessions did I attend?
About half way through OSCON last year, I realized that attending Perl sessions was mostly a waste of my time. They tended to fall into two categories: stuff I already knew and web development (which I don’t do). Where do I end up for the first session of this conference? In Perl 5.14 for Pragmatists, presented by Ricardo Signes. For anyone who has read the Perl release notes (perl*delta), very little of what was presented will be novel. However, it was very useful to see the relative emphasis placed on different features by someone as familiar with Perl as Ricardo. In particular, fully half of the session was dedicated to Perl’s improved Unicode support. As Ricardo stated, Unicode isn’t going away, so we need to get better at working with it.
After attending a session of some relevance to my profession, I wanted to take advantage of a series of back-to-back sessions of a more personal interest. My passions of late have leaned towards health, fitness, and, in particular, a more so-called primal lifestyle. So I was excited to see the session Geeking in a Cabin in the Woods, presented by Ryo Chijiiwa on the schedule. Previously employed as a software engineer at Yahoo! and then Google, Ryo took us through the history and motivation behind quitting his job, buying 60 acres of barren land in northern California, and simplifying his life by living on it. It was a fascinating tale of overcoming challenges. Part of me would love to do exactly what he did. Ryo has a blog (with a really cool domain name) where he writes about his experiences.
Following in the same basic genre, I next attended Sarah Sharp’s talk on Growing Food with Open Source. Sarah is a Linux kernel hacker who also enjoys gardening. Being a lazy hacker (I can relate), she wants to automate all of the mundane, tedious work that comes with a hobby like gardening. She’s written code to manage planting calendars, hoping to eventually integrate it with a service like Remember the Milk, and an Android app to alert her of impending weather conditions that could affect her garden. The most impressive piece was the work she’s done to create an automatic watering system, using home-made moisture sensors and Arduinos. More information can be found on a site I will soon be spending a lot of time on, Garden Geek.
My earliest computer-related memory is playing text adventures on our Apple Macintosh, circa 1984. For that reason, I was excited to attend Ben Collins-Sussman’s talk on The Unexpected Resurgence of Interactive Fiction. So excited, in fact, that I passed up a session r0ml was presenting. Ben took us through a brief history of interactive fiction, from Adventure to present day. He talked about both the science and the art of the genre as both have evolved over the years. He focused primarily on the Inform language and the Glulx virtual machine (not to mention current efforts to produce a web browser-based player), which leads me to think that there isn’t much point in putting any more effort into playing with TADS. He also mentioned the annual Interactive Fiction Competition, which I love and have participated as a judge in for the last several years. This session has gotten me excited about interactive fiction again, after mostly ignoring it as a hobby for the last few years. I have a couple of ideas for games that I’d like to enter into the competition, which I should finally get started on.
For the final two sessions of the day, I decided to return to my core competency, and arguably the whole reason I’m here, and sat down in the Perl room. Damian Conway talked about (Re)Developing in Perl 6. I’ve previously attended his six hour class on this topic, but it was a nice refresher, since I don’t use Perl 6 regularly. He guided us through porting a handful of his modules—Acme::Don't, IO::Insitu, IO::Prompter, and Smart::Comments—from Perl 5 to Perl 6. Each of these modules was selected as a representative of a given method used to port the code. In the simplest case, a basic transliteration can be used. For some modules, new features of Perl 6 can be used to replace long pieces of code; argument lists are a great example. Finally, the ability to extend the grammar removes the need for source filters and allows the programmer to seamlessly add language features.
I ended my day with a session on improving code performance: Sooner, Cheaper, Better — Optimization on a Budget, presented by Eric Wilhelm. I didn’t find it very well organized or delivered, which is a shame, because I’ve seen him present before and he was rather good. After introducing us to the Rules of Optimization Club, Eric took us through a number of real world examples in which optimization might prove to be a waste of time. Old hat for a lot of people, I know. In fact, many people just wait for computers to get faster. However, he then switched gears into a more interesting problem. With today’s advances coming in the form of more cores rather than more speed, optimization was replaced with parallelization. The same rules apply and it’s good to remember that.
Following the last session of the day, a booth crawl was held in the expo hall. This involved setting up food and drink tables at the booths of various vendors, the idea being to bribe attendees to approach them. There was beer, possibly wine, and the food leaned heavily towards cookies and grain-wrapped items. I wandered around, played a Mario Kart-like Pac-Man multi-player racing game on an Android tablet at the QuIC booth, ate a bunch of cheese, and left at 7:00 PM …
To attend the .vimrc birds of a feather (BOF) session. A .vimrc, oft pronounced vim-wreck, is the name of the configuration file Vim uses. It’s more than a configuration file, though; it’s a full scripting engine, which provides quite a bit of potential for customization of one’s editor. Damian Conway, famed teacher of Vim, Perl, and myriad other topics, was in attendance. As expected, the entirety of the session was spent learning about some of the neat, as yet unreleased, scripts Damian has been working on for Vim.
I didn’t have it in me to attend any of the evening events. I was aware of two parties, but I neither wanted to drink nor stay out late. Unlike years past, I haven’t been very social this year, either. Instead, I made the relatively long trip back to my hotel, where I wrote this post (well, just the first draft; I finished it on Thursday morning over the lousy coffee provided by the Oregon Convention Center) and turned in early.
This marks the fourth time in five years I’ve attended the O’Reilly Open Source Convention (OSCON). I skipped it in 2009, when it took place in San Jose. This year the convention is back in Portland, Oregon, as it was last year. So I’m here, too.
Unlike in previous years, I didn’t show up on Sunday to explore Portland and attend the Monday tutorials. I didn’t want to spend an entire week away from home, but at the same time, nothing I saw on the tutorial schedule interested me. So I flew up Tuesday afternoon and plan to return on Friday night.
Most of the hotels near the Oregon Convention Center (OCC) were booked up, and I left my itinerary planning to someone else (who is unfamiliar with Portland), so I’m staying at the Courtyard Marriott by the airport. This wouldn’t be so bad, but, according to Google Maps, it’s a 1.2 mile walk to the Cascades MAX station.
Anyway, after getting settled in my hotel room, I headed to the OCC to meet up with my friend, Jonathan. I made it in time to register, pick up my swag, and grab some cheese and beer on the expo floor. I wandered over to the QuIC booth to chat and saw a nice demo of Android and HTML 5 applications running on Qualcomm demonstration hardware. It really showed off the power of the platform.
We decided not to stick around for the so-called OSCON Carnival, so hopped across the river on the MAX and looked around for dinner. In our wanderings, we dropped into Bailey’s Taproom to use the bathroom and have a beer. The bartender recommended the Davis Street Tavern for a good burger paired with a good tap list. I ended up having seared scallops, which were quite good. After dinner, we wandered over to the Puppet Labs party, where I got a souvenir Open Source Lab beer mug.
Bailing fairly early on the party, I caught the MAX red line back over the river and on to the Cascades station. The hotel’s shuttle driver had warned me against the walk, pointing out that there are no sidewalks. However, Google directed me away from the main road and through a business park. I don’t know why people are so averse to walking more than a couple of blocks. I found the walk to be quite pleasant, and there are blackberry brambles growing wild along the streets, providing snacking opportunities. It takes me back to childhood trips to the Pacific Northwest, when I would pick wild blackberries with my grandfather.
Back at the hotel, I grimaced at what they call a fitness center, swam a bit in the poor excuse for a pool, and soaked in the hot tub. Then it was off to bed, because, unlike the lucky folks staying near the OCC, I have to wake up in time for a 20 minute walk followed by a 25 minute MAX ride.
I returned from the O’Reilly Open Source Convention three weeks ago, and I’ve had drafts for my Tuesday through Friday travel posts sitting around since then. I’ve finally found a moment on a lazy Sunday afternoon to enjoy a pint of ale while writing. Although, it is a beautiful day, which I’d be spending outdoors if my family weren’t sick (and I’m not convinced I’m altogether healthy).
I didn’t feel like going across the river to the food trucks for lunch, so I joined Debbie for lunch at Burgerville. Aside from the delicious food made from local ingredients, there are two things that struck me about Burgerville. The first I noticed when I walked in the door: for the first time, disposing of my trash would require me to read instructions. Burgerville uses three bins for trash: one for recyclable materials, one for compost, and finally one for trash that can neither be recycled nor composted. I thought this was neat, though I did get a kick out of the soft drink cup. It’s from the Coca-Cola company and advertises itself as something that can be composted; with the footnote that this was only possible in a large facility capable of composting such cups. Not something one can throw into their garden compost pile, I guess. The second thing I noticed caused me immediate regret: the receipt lists the calorie count of the foods ordered, along with carbohydrate and fiber content. Looking over the details of the burger, onion rings, and raspberry milkshake I ordered, I decided that it would not be a very paleo day for me. Oh well, the milkshake was very good.
While enjoying our carb-loaded, calorie-filled lunch, Debbie noticed someone wearing a pair of Vibram FiveFingers that we hadn’t seen before. From a distance, they looked almost like normal shoes and appeared to be made with a dark brown suede. With both of us deciding that a post-lunch, calorie-burning walk was called for, and sharing a desire to buy a new pair of FiveFingers, we set out for Portland’s REI store. A trip on the MAX, a walk, a few blocks on the trolley, and another walk brought us to the store.
The shoes turned out to be the KSO Trek. They’re very nice and I’m considering purchasing a pair for hiking. Unfortunately, I struck out on the trip. REI has been having a hard time keeping FiveFingers in stock, so I wasn’t able to find or buy a pair of the Classic version. Fortunately, I’m still satisfied with my KSOs, which I was wearing at the time.
Our impromptu quest for footwear took us well beyond the alloted time for lunch. Fortunately, this time was not wasted. While walking, we had received a call from our coworker back in the expo hall, who needed help setting up the QuIC booth. For some reason, it was fun being allowed into the expo hall while booths were still being constructed. Not sure why, other than that I enjoy seeing things taken apart and (sometimes) being put back together. After getting the booth set up, I made it to the second half of the Cassandra tutorial. I’m told by those who attended the first half that I didn’t miss much.
We had some time to kill between the end of the day’s sessions and the evening’s Ignite talks. So we walked a few blocks to a place called rontoms. Had I not been looking for the specific address, I would have walked right past, not noticing that this was either a restaurant or a bar. The cavernous interior was devoid of anyone save the bartender and a waitress, who would disappear as quickly as she appeared. The photographs on the wall, ost of which featured a man in an animal costume, ranged from strange to disturbing. After a moment’s hesitation, we ventured out back to find a patio crowded with patrons enjoying food, beer, and spirits. With what appeared to be only a single waitress working and not having particularly strong appetites, we went back inside, obtained pints directly from the bartender, and found a comfortable area to sit and chat. Twice we encountered people entering the restaurant, looking for people they didn’t know by sight. Both times my colleagues convinced them that we were those people; one girl even sat down with us for a few minutes before we let her in on the joke. After a while, I received a page from Jonathan that there was beer, salami, and cheese being served outside the ballroom at the convention center. This sounded like an excellent and delicious dinner to me, so I made my way back.
I hadn’t been to an Ignite session before, so I was looking forward to this one. Right off the bat we were warned that we would likely enjoy some talks and dislike others. Fortunately, each talk would only last five minutes, so we were free to use the time to retrieve another beer. By the time we returned, the talk would be over. I don’t believe I took advantage of this, instead waiting for the break, during which some awards were being presented.
Two talks stand out in my memory. The first, perhaps appropriately, was the first in the lineup: Paul Fenwick talking about Maximum XP: Optimising life for adventure (which he gave again, at a much better pace, at the Perl Lightning Talks). Presented in song, Paul’s message seemed to be to enjoy travel and to take advantage of opportunities to meet people and have fun. Based on what I’ve read on his Twitter stream, I’d say he’s been successful.
The other talk, Your Infinite Do-Loop Exercises Bores Me, struck a chord with me. John Scott and Jim Stogdill paired up for this talk, one would perform exercises while the other would speak, switching places at the halfway mark. Not only was it refreshing to see a talk about fitness at a convention populated by a class of people not known for their physical exertion, but it was about a method of fitness I’ve recently become interested in. While I don’t practice CrossFit myself, I frequently look at the exercises on the site and prefer it to the typical, repetitive gym workout. They also mentioned the paleo diet, which, along with the primal lifestyle, I’ve become a big fan of.
My coworkers all turned in early, so I hopped back on the MAX and headed downtown to have drinks with Kevin at Bailey’s Tap Room. I had a wonderful sour beer, which I no longer remember the name or origin of, and had the pleasure of meeting Steve, Jeff, and Michael Schwern. Jeff and Schwern were discussing the use of the Log4perl module in the latter’s gitpan project.
After last call at Bailey’s, I caught the last yellow line across the river and turned in myself.
It’s Tuesday morning in Portland and, after last night’s festivities, I’m glad there is fruit and coffee available for breakfast at the Oregon Convention Center. The coffee is Starbucks and the fruit isn’t ripe, but it’s a welcome sustenance this morning. With approximately an hour before the morning tutorials, people are slowly beginning to filter into the expo hall in search of food.
I have a fun day lined up. This morning I will attend Perl Worst Practices in Portland 252. I’m looking forward to this tutorial, particularly because it’s being taught by Damian Conway. I—as well as my boss, I’m sure—am excited about the prospect of putting these practices to work when I return to my job next week.
After the lunch break, which will probably be spent across the river again, I am signed up for Real Time 3D on the Web with Open Source in E143/144, being taught by Matthew Edwards. I’m not sure what to expect from this session. A week prior to the conference, I received an e-mail instructing me to download a set of programs, including Blender and Inkscape. This is well out of the ordinary for me, so I’m not sure what to expect. I hope it will be fun, but if not, I may duck out and into the Practical Erlang Programming in Portland 256, which Al is attending.
A half hour now until my first tutorial. Time enough for more coffee.
After the tutorials on Monday, talk on the #oscon IRC channel turned to dinner. Brad, Al, and I decided we should go in search of beer, regardless of what people wanted to do for dinner. After dropping our conference crap off in our respective hotel rooms, we met up at the conference center MAX station. Joining our party was Jonathan, from my San Diego Perl Mongers group, and Alice, Brad’s wife.
We started the night at Kells Irish Restaurant and Pub on the other side of the Willamette. The hostess there was extremely attractive, even if some in our party made note of how young she appeared. As it’s rude to ask a woman her age, I refrained from doing so. After a few beers and sweet potato fries, we needed to find food. So we decided on Italian, and Mama Mia Trattoria fit the bill. Near the end of dinner, I received a text message from Dan. He and his fellow Tierranet attendees were at Paddy’s Bar and Grill. So we made our way over there for a few more pints.
We called it a night before the MAX stopped running, and made our ways back to our respective hotels. Dan and I happen to both be staying at the Marriott and, as we passed by the bar, we saw his fellow coworkers. Not only that, but the barmaid, at that very moment, announced last call. Not wanting to pass up such a coincidence, Dan and I sat down for another pint.
Not satisfied with the early hour, Dan and I decided to walk down to American Cowgirls, a bar across the street from the Oregon Convention Center. Unfortunately, the bar is closed on Sunday and Monday, so we ended up calling it a night and heading back to our rooms.
Ah, but it’s only Monday night, and OSCON runs through Friday. It will be a good week.
It’s time once again for my annual pilgrimmage to OSCON, the O’Reilly Open Source Conference. As much as I loathe the anticipation of and the preparation for travel, I grow excited as I finally begin my journey. I look at it as an adventure, even if it’s merely a few uncomforable hours in bland airports and cramped airplanes.
As is my habit, I arrived at the San Diego airport extra early—two and a half hours in this case. I was extremely pleased to see no lines, at the check-in counter or security, when I entered the terminal. Unfortunately, I was immediately told by a customer service agent that there are air traffic control delays for flights in and out of San Francisco today. As a reward for my promptness, I was rebooked on an earlier flight, which was supposed to depart at 10:21 in the morning—approximately half an hour before I arrived at the counter. Once I got through to the gate, which was pleasant with only one person in front of me in the security line, I discovered that it had been scheduled for 11:45. As I wrote these words, it was announced that the flight had been released and boarding would being immediately, at 11:25.
The flight itself was pleasant, if boring. The plane was not full and I was fortunate to receive an aisle seat with a small Asian girl next to me. While complimentary soft drinks were provided, I couldn’t help but notice that the snacks, so common on domestic flights, were nowhere to be found. Another example of airline cost savings, no doubt.
We touched down in San Francisco about 10 minutes after one in the afternoon. My connecting flight to Portland won’t depart until approximately 5:30 in the evening. That leaves me with some four hours to kill in an airport without free wifi. I need to compile a list of airports that offer free access to the Internet, so I can be sure to book trips only through those.
It’s still too early for my connecting flight to be displayed on United’s monitors, so I’ve sat down in an uncrowded restaurant, the Buena Vista, where I’m writing this. I’ve ordered a Gordon Biersch Marzen and a reuben with cole slaw. It’s actually quite good.
I had considered attempting to stand by on an earlier flight to Portland, but the lines are long, and I have baggage checked through. I’ll just enjoy the time I have available to me to both relax and jot down whatever comes to mind my my new Moleskine notebook. Hopefully, the monitors will display my flight’s gate soon, so I’ll know the best place to find a seat.
I’m writing this now from my seat on the MAX light rail, heading to the Oregon Convention Center stop. I’m staying in the Courtyard by Marriott, a couple blocks north of the OCC. The flight out of San Francisco was delayed, but only by about 20 minutes. I managed to sleep for most of the time we were in the air, so I’m feeling pretty good right now. I’m looking forward to checking into my room and finding something for dinner.
As I was composing this final piece of my entry, I received a call from the fraud prevention department of my bank. At least now I know why the MAX ticket kiosk wouldn’t accept my credit card. How annoying.
In a few short hours, I will pack for my trip to Portland, Ore. for the 10th annual O’Reilly Open Source Conference. This will be my third time attending, and I’m looking forward to seeing friends from past years, as well as meeting new ones.
Though I don’t do it very often, I really do enjoy visiting places away from home. Unfortunately, I don’t often enjoy the act of getting there. It seems that the sole purpose of the US airline industry is to make things as inconvenient as possible for travelers. They’re not alone, however. When they’re not up to the task, the US government, in the form of the TSA, steps in to take up the slack.
Most of the time, my trips are uneventful and I end up getting worked up for nothing. Last year, though, my checked luggage ended up on a different flight than I did. Fortunately, both of those flights were bound for Portland, so my suitcase was delivered to the hotel later that same evening. Here’s hoping my trip tomorrow is uneventful.
This is what I get for procrastinating. I won’t be staying at the “official” OSCON hotel, the Doubletree. Since I really enjoy Google Maps lately, I’ve started one for this year’s trip. The blue marker is the Oregon Convention Center. The red marker to the east is the Doubletree. The red pin to the north is my hotel, the Courtyard by Marriott. For distance, it’s no better or worse than the Doubletree. Of course, as so many of my friends will be at the official hotel, I’ll likely spend a lot of time there anyway.