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July 2007
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OSCON: Day 1 [Computing,Journal]
Well I’m out here in Portland for the first day of OSCon. {Kimsal} and I arrived yesterday, arriving so early that we couldn’t check in for about an hour. Due to a goof up, we had to stay at an airport hotel the first night. Once we got situated we headed over to the convention center to pick up our registration materials and explored the facilities and surrounding areas. We also went to a Zend/MySQL party at the DoubleTree and ran into the president of Zend (who is good friends with our COO) and Cal Evans. Plus I ran into {Andrew} and his co-worker Dan who I had met at the last TriJUG. The keynotes were pretty good. Tim got up on stage and gave his usual prognostications. Some guys from Intel put on a little show to announce the open sourcing of their new Threading Building Blocks abstraction layer. It actually sounds quite neat, but as it’s for C++ it might a while before we see the concepts they’re introducing in things like the JDK. An interesting Microsoft researcher gave a presentation on new conceptual ways to deal with parallelism (beyond the 30-year old concept of locks and condition variables) which I thought was very cool. His implementation is only implemented in Haskell, but again I could see the concepts eventually in the JDK. synchronized and waitFor are lame. I attended quite a few sessions. I started off with a session called “Managing Technical Debt,” which was good but also fairly obvious. The basic premise being that skipping documentation, not having backups, code ownership, etc, are all technical debts that will have to paid in various forms (typically time, money, features, etc). It was fairly common sense stuff, but it did remind me of how far behind in this department we are at work. There has been a recurring theme at the con about the proverbial 1-bus developer, meaning what happens if a particular developer gets hit by a bus? We could be easily and significantly set back a long way. Next we went to a MySQL session by Monty and Jay Pipes, which was interesting but a bit too technical for me. I’ve looked inside MySQL on a few occasions but this was a bit too deep into the internals for anything I could ever imagine doing. At lunch I met Kevin, the creator of Discogs, a service I’ve been using for 3+ years now. Turns out he has cut over to using SOLR, which Kimsal and he talked a bit about. Small world. After lunch I first went to see a talk on comparing java web frameworks. As it turned out, I had read the presenter’s website and seen a PDF version of the talk. Granted, it had been a bit updated since I’d last seen it, but it was mostly known stuff and the presenter was basically just phoning the talk in. Oh well. After that I saw an interesting talk about using YUI’s CSS. I’m now (re-)convinced that tables have absolutely no place in my markup. After a brief break I saw a not-so-great talk about the issue/bug tracker Trac, which I will check out but not because of anything I learned in there. And after that I saw a really cool talk by the Chief Performance Yahoo! who announced the release of YSlow, a Firebug extension to measure website UI performance. This talk again reminded me of things I already knew, such as Expires headers, mod_gzip, JS/CSS minification, and others, but brought them back to my attention. After dinner, and we checked into our new hotel and then headed back to the convention center to attend some Birds of a Feather sessions. The first was all about Scrum and was mostly people lurking like I was and less people who actually use the technique. Still, it was good to see that it is still alive and made me think about how we could apply Scrum, or any other agile methodology at work. After that we went next door to the MySQL BOF where Monty was handing out cups of his homemade black vodka. It was good but terribly strong. Overall it was a good day. It was busy though, my feet hurt, and I’m exhausted. I’m ready for another tomorrow.

One Response to “OSCON: Day 1”

  1. Dena Says:

    Sounds like a thoroughly exhausting and yet completely awesome day! I really miss the mad scramble and brain/idea overload that are conventions. And I also really miss you. :)