OSCON 2008 – tutorials and intro stuff

The OReilly Open Source Convention for 2008 is underway in Portland, OR. I’ve been here since Monday, picking up a few tutorials and generally bending my brain around some new concepts.

I went to the Introduction to Seaside, which included a 30 minutes full-speed, fast-forward, all-thrusters-at-max introduction to smalltalk. I’m afraid that the details of Seaside were lost to me after my mind was reeling from that introduction. Very cool, but reeling.

The other noteworthy tutorial session I attended was An Introduction to Actors for Performance, Scalability, and Resilience by Steven Parkes. Another brain bender, the first half of the talk was going through example Actor code – translating back and forth between Ruby and Erlang. I think if I knew either of those languages it would have been better – instead I sort of ended up getting the equivalent of translations from russian to greek – able to spot the similarities, but likely missing some of the key concepts in the process. The second half of the talk was more abstract, and in many ways easier for me to grasp. I’m very interested in the overall topic of the Actor’s pattern and how it can be used to make concurrency more sane – it’ll be interesting to see how Steven and his library (dramatis) evolves.

The evenings talks were hit and miss for me. I heard a lot of people saying really positive things about Mark Shuttleworth and Damian Conway’s talk, but the only one that really had a consistently deep and amusing message at once was r0ml’s talk. Damian’s was amusing, but went on way long for me. Mark Shuttleworth’s talk didn’t stick with me at all. He listed out some goals for Ubuntu, but it didn’t really seem to come to any significant point.

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