OSCON in reflection

As I’m chilling out, home and relaxing, I’m thinking back to OSCON – the people and the sessions, what I thought. Figured it was worth babbling out to everyone. Or not – you can always close the page if you don’t like it.

There’s nothing from Day 1 at OSCON because I didn’t take the laptop. I never did get any connectivity from my hotel room at the Red Lion Inn (wouldn’t recommend the place, to be honest) – and I decided I wanted to go light and just took my notebook and pen. Notably, I got the itch to listen (and talk) on the backchannel/IRC, check my personal email, etc, etc – so I took the laptop on day 2.

So from the notebook of Joe…

The tutorials were overall good, but very hit and miss. I’m glad they weren’t “locking you down” to the tutorial you originally set up, because I found that pitching out and finding something else made the tutorial sessions useful to me. I’m thrilled to have stepped into the python optimization tutorial and learned a bit about pyrex there. Downside, not everything from the tutorials really hit the streets. Jacob’s JellyRoll code is still in limbo somewhere. I’m happier to have django 0.95 released though. The tutorial overview of Postgres was great for a beginner, and I got some good snippets out of it, but I didn’t really need to be told how to do SQL…. yeah, you get the gist. Hard to judge your audience for that kind of thing I guess.

Anil Dash gave a nice keynote presentation talking about “make things that don’t suck”. I liked it, primarily because he was dismissing the Web 2.0 meme to some extent and talking towards the point of making applications – be they on the web or not – that don’t suck. He handed out a URL at the very end of his talk, pointing out that SixApart is giving back to the open source community – http://www.sixapart.com/developers/.

(as an sidenote, Jacob doesn’t like to tell others to use Django, but he’s happy to tell everyone to use Memcached and Perlbal citing them both as amazing and indespensible. I think it’s a little too self-deprecating given my opinion of Django, but I also found it amusing.)

The session overtly hosted by EWT Easy AI with Python was a really amusing session, mostly because I enjoyed watching Raymond’s sheer delight at doing all these problem resolution/search style programs in python and clearly loving every minute of it. The majority of his session is in his recipes at the online ASPN Python cookbook.

The session that Tim Bray gave on The Atom Publishing Protocol as Universal Web Glue was very disappointing. I’m sure he’s doing a great job with all this stuff in groups and standards committees, but the whole darn thing felt kind of half-assed and not really working. I didn’t really buy his basic assumptions on what’s easy and what’s hard for programmers, and while the concept really resonates, the specifics of his implementation make me think that it’s going to be another cat-fight-everyone-with-their-own-damn-standard thing that don’t interoperate but can legitimately claim to be following this standard he’s whacking together. I’m sure it wasn’t helped by a borked demo (the demo gods didn’t favor him).

Oh – and for the record – it’s not at all surprising to me that he’s switching from MacOS X to Ubuntu (or so the rumors have it). When he gave his presentation, he didn’t really even use a Mac – he used a terminal window and vi. No Mac really involved, it was just the carrier of the underlying bits. Even scanning his dock during the presentation didn’t really show any very “Mac” programs outstanding except for NetNewsWire.

Another thing that really struck me was how I felt both a part of the conference and very “outside” at the same time. I swear that something in the open source movement has clear roots back to some 1960’s counter-culture thing. I mean, it has the “feel” of that – all the hallmarks to my eye. And it’s very tribal. I’ve not been actively involved in any open source projects… (contributing that is – I use them a LOT – probably a bit of an expert in using and knowing various open source projects) and that left me feeling a little “out of it”.

I never really quite felt like I fit in anywhere. Part of that led to “well, you could…” thoughts, but I’m pretty darned booked up already. Not like I need to make MORE work for myself. Considering how much I’m using Django right now, being more active in that community makes some sense. I’ve started a little (Django installation instructions for the mac), but there’s more I could easily do. Like making available the Django VMWare image I created on Ubuntu – I’m sure someone would find that interesting, and it was a beer conversation after the Django BOF meeting.

Published by heckj

Developer, author, and life-long student. Writes online at https://rhonabwy.com/.

One thought on “OSCON in reflection

  1. Hey Joe, I know this is completely unrelated to anything, but I didn’t see any other way of contacting you. I was just wondering if you could e-mail me and let me know how Seattle is and what the best things to see there are. I am coming to Seattle for the Seattle Sea Fair, I am stationed on one of the ships coming in. I am kind of a wannabe aspiring web designer who is very fascinated my Django but doesn’t really know much of anything yet. I was able to get django installed on my dreamhost server, but haven’t built anything yet.


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