Khaos

Archive for July, 2003

Day 2 at YAPC::Europe

Thursday, July 31st, 2003

It seems that I spent the time before my talk sitting outside the lecture theatre chatting to Leon and Elaine. I always get really nervous before I speak so I was glad of the company. Once I had finished giving my talk I felt much better about the whole conference.

After the break I went to hear Uri speak about writing better Perl code. This was quite an interactive talk with Uri asking the audience lots of questions about what they thought the best way to do something was. I did think that there was going to be an argument over Here Docs but people backed down when they realised the Uri wasn’t going to change his mind about how much he loved these.

I was really looking forward to Marc’s fairy tale talk and as expected it was very enjoyable. I did feel a bit sorry for the non-English speakers in the audience as Marc spoke quite quickly and they probably found him hard to follow. The material was really good and anyone who is about on Monday evening should come and hear him give this talk at Belfast.pm.

After lunch I avoided Marty’s talk and went to hear Richard talking about Siesta. I didn’t avoid Marty’s talk because I thought it would be bad but because I get really nervous when he speaks. And especially when he is going to attempt to code live before an audience. The Siesta talk was a bit different as London.pm decided to play a drinking game and every time Richard said “Siesta” they had to drink a shot of tequila.

I didn’t hear another talk after this as I went back to the hotel to sleep before the speaker’s dinner. The speaker’s dinner was quite enjoyable. I didn’t get to speak to many people due to the layout of the tables but Leon and Dominus gave me some interesting ideas about things to do at next year’s YAPC in Belfast. I don’t know if Leon was completely serious about the dancing girls…

Day 1 at YAPC::Europe

Wednesday, July 30th, 2003

I went to see two tutorials – Dominus’ Programming with Iterators and Generators and Klausner’s Web Application Development using mod_perl and CPAN.

I was surprised by Dominus’ tutorial because I thought I hadn’t heard before yet it seemed to be quite familiar to me. Talking to Tony and Andrew in the break it seems that they think the examples in this tutorial had been used before in one of Dominus’ other tutorials Stolen Secrets of the Wizards of the Ivory Tower.

I didn’t learn anything at Klausner’s tutorial which disappointed me. It seems that everything he was teaching seemed self-evident to him and he kept saying something like “but that’s really simple” and then moving on. So, all the stuff I knew before I went in I understood but anything new went right over my head. It was a pity because he seemed to have some interesting ideas about how to put systems together with Class::DBI and Template::Toolkit.

It must be really difficult trying to take a tutorial class at YAPC as so many members of the audience are expert Perl programmers yet there are some members of the audience who have limited Perl experience. The other problem is that the most vocal half of the audience are the Perl experts which can make it really difficult for someone who doesn’t have a lot of experience to speak up.

YAPC::Europe 2003

Tuesday, July 29th, 2003

I didn’t manage to write any blog entries whilst I was at YAPC. Unfortunately my laptop computer decided to die on the way to OSCon. At some point over the next few days I should get round to writing up the various talks and tutorials I attended.

The Business and Economics of Open Source

Thursday, July 10th, 2003

I’ve just been to hear Stormy Peters’ keynote on The Business and Economics of Open Source in the Enterprise. This was one of few talks that I have been to hear at the conference that discusses commercial reasons to move to Open Source. Even though I know why I use Open Source software I really enjoyed hearing a sound business case as to why HP use this.

Stormy also listed the circumstances when she believes that you shouldn’t move to Open Source:

  • The product is a control point for you
  • The product should be obsoleted
  • The cost involved in moving to Open Source doesn’t justify the benefit
  • The IP risk is too high
  • To compete against the OS Community
  • Just because it’s a cool technology

I can only admire someone who is willing to stand up at the Open Source conference and say something along the lines of:

“Why should Microsoft make Windows Open Source when they are already the pervasive operating system and are making lots of money from it”.

It seems that HP has an Open Source policy document. This is a great idea as is the concept of actually keeping track on the various licenses that are being used across the company.

Hopefully I will be able to get a copy of her slides.

Picture of Marty

Wednesday, July 9th, 2003

I’ve just seen a picture of Marty on the O’Reilly site.

Animal Fixation

Wednesday, July 9th, 2003

Last night Larry Wall, in his State of the Onion talk, announced the creation of a new project called Ponie – Perl On New Internal Engine. I spent some time yesterday at the XP tutorial chatting about the power of naming and the use of a good metaphor. If we keep using ridiculous sounding names for our projects are people not going to assume that they silly projects?

States of the Union

Wednesday, July 9th, 2003

How do you follow Larry Wall’s State of the Onion talk? Well Guido van Rossum, Shane Caraveo, Monty Widenius, Greg Stein and Theodore Ts’o had to try to do this last night at the States of the Union presentation. I didn’t hear them all as after Larry’s well constructed talk I wasn’t able to sit through the rest of them!

Perl Certification

Monday, July 7th, 2003

I have been asked to speak on a Perl Certification panel at OSCON this year. I have just spent the last couple of hours reading through various mailing lists that discuss this topic. It’s scary. There seems to be a huge outcry against the concept of certification.

I have been involved with interviewing Perl programmers when I didn’t know any Perl at all. Obviously I didn’t run the interviews by myself, I had a technical expert to help me, but it still wasn’t easy. Perl has so many different applications and no two people I interviewed at that time had the same sort of experience. This was strange to me. I had been an Ingres/Oracle programmer and I knew exactly the sort of questions you would ask to determine how experienced a person was in something like PL/SQL. But in Perl I was lost. And to confuse me even more there didn’t seem to be any standard type of education for Perl programmers. In fact, I came to the conclusion that most people were in Perl because they had managed to hack together a few scripts and thought that this made them a programmer. It’s not a language that any of the local universities recognised and I was stumped. In the end we came to the conclusion that we would have been better off employing programmers experienced in other languages and then teaching them Perl ourselves.

A few years later and I know that there are lots of really good Perl programmers out there and that it is a really worthwhile language to be skilled at. However, I also know that lots of companies are moving away from Perl because they can’t get skilled staff and don’t know where to look. Some have a body of unmaintable Perl code that they have decided to re-write.

Believe it or not there are loads of companies out there that don’t know that there is a Perl community. They have never heard of The Perl Foundation or YAPC or CPAN. I attend quite a few events in the local business community and I haven’t yet met a person who has heard of the O’Reilly Open Source Conference or even the Perl programming language.

I believe that Perl is the best language for some projects. I don’t know what we have to do to get the word out but maybe certification could help. And yes I know that lots of certifications are really bad but this doesn’t mean that they have to be that way.

OSCON 2003

Monday, July 7th, 2003

Well we have finally arrived in Portland! The flight wasn’t too bad considering it was completely full and we didn’t have any horrible delays to contend with.

The tutorials start tomorrow morning. Marty will be giving his Playing Together tutorial tomorrow afternoon. He doesn’t seem to be overly concerned but I’m feeling quite nervous for him. I hope it goes well.

Writing Stories

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2003

The story is the unit of functionality in an XP project. We demostrate progress by delivering tested, integrated code that implements a story. A story should be understandable to customers and developers, testable, valuable to the customer, and small enough so that the programmers can build half a dozen in an iteration.

Kent Beck, Martin Fowler, Planning Extreme Programming

It’s time for me to brush up on the role of the customer in an XP project. I’m going to be taking part in an XP tutorial at OSCON next Tuesday which is the only reason I’m reading XP books whilst on holiday.