When
· Naughties
· · 2006
· · · July
· · · · 29 (4 entries)

Johnson on Feeds · Dave John­son gave a talk this morn­ing at a lo­cal XML in­ter­est group. His slides (PDF) are the sin­gle best in­tro­duc­tion and overview I’ve ev­er seen about feeds and syn­di­ca­tion and RSS and Atom and all that stuff.
 
OSCON Notes · I have a bunch of notes and thoughts scat­tered round my com­put­er and brain and I was go­ing to do a big round-up post, but who knows, some­thing might turn out to be a conversation-starter, so I guess I’ll split ’em all up to keep things or­der­ly. Be­fore I get go­ing on that, I just want to say “Thanks!” to the O’Reilly peo­ple for putting on this even­t. What with the new ba­by I could on­ly stay for about 48 hours, but it felt like a 48-hour-long warm bath for the soul. Not on­ly am I among my tribe, but the peo­ple are most­ly friend­ly and most­ly wit­ty and quite a few of them are stylish in off­beat and in­ter­est­ing ways, and then a whole bunch of them have be­come friends over the years. The talks weren’t, on av­er­age, as good as the crowd, on av­er­age, but then some of them were ex­cel­len­t. Here’s a ques­tion: should OSCON be­come part­ly an UnCon­fer­ence or Camp or some­thing? I’ve been to some of those and I re­al­ly like them, but on the oth­er hand, quite a few of the OSCON ses­sions amount to some­one who Real­ly Knows His-or-Her Shit stand­ing on stage lay­ing out what the next few steps are in some deeply im­por­tant piece of the com­put­ing ecosys­tem. I mean, wel­com­ing grass-roots voic­es is good, but if you want to know where Python is go­ing, you need to lis­ten to Guido, and if you want the bleed­ing edge on the Atom Pro­to­col, along with a command-line de­mo, I’m your guy. Which is to say, in­for­ma­tion trans­fer from ob­ses­sives is a valid sub-function of trib­al gath­er­ings. Hav­ing said that, dur­ing this kind of ses­sion, the di­a­logue with the au­di­ence is or­gan­ic and spon­ta­neous and the ques­tions are typ­i­cal­ly so good that there’s re­al­ly no “authority” re­la­tion­ship be­tween the per­son with at the front of the room with the mi­cro­phone and a per­son in one of the chairs fac­ing them. Stil­l, I think OSCON would ben­e­fit from turn­ing one of its days—or even half—into an UnCon­fer­ence. Stand by for more OSCON-driven frag­ments. [Up­date: Here’s a con­trar­i­an voice. I thought the pa­per se­lec­tion was good, but he rais­es a trou­bling ques­tion: If I hadn’t al­ready known dozens and dozens of at­ten­dees, how would I have gone about meet­ing them?]
 
OSCON—Perl & Python · I man­aged to at­tend most of both Gui­do van Rossum’s talk on Python 3000, and Lar­ry Wall with Dami­an Con­way on Perl 6. It’s re­fresh­ing to look at tech­nolo­gies that have passed that tenth birth­day that seems to be cru­cial for soft­ware to es­tab­lish that it’s re­al, and to see that they’re liv­ing and squirm­ing and grow­ing. Python, per its cul­ture, seems to be tread­ing a straight-and-narrow path on a well-defined sched­ule guid­ed by a ruth­less­ly ra­tio­nal set of de­sign cri­te­ri­a. On a tech­ni­cal note, Python 3 will have a String type that is 100% Uni­code and that’s all it is, and sep­a­rate­ly a byte-array type that lets you in­dulge your most squalidly-perverse bit-bashing fan­tasies. I ap­prove. Per­l, on the oth­er hand, is whim­si­cal and wit­ty and un­sched­uled and blithe­ly dis­re­gards many gen­era of con­ven­tion­al wis­dom. One could eas­i­ly have con­clud­ed, lis­ten­ing to Lar­ry and Dami­an, that the prob­lem with pre­vi­ous ver­sions of perl was that they didn’t have enough syn­tax, and thus there was an ur­gent need to add more. It ill be­hooves me to diss Lar­ry Wall’s lan­guage de­sign­s, since I have suc­cess­ful­ly in­ter­nal­ized all but the most per­verse (type­glob, blec­ch) of those that are here to­day and they have en­abled me to wran­gle large amounts of da­ta in sur­pris­ing­ly lit­tle time with generally-popular re­sult­s. Noth­ing would warm my heart more than Perl 6 leap­ing to the cen­ter of the dynamic-language stage and re­claim­ing mind­share. The jury’s out.
 
Two Thousand · I checked the front page and it said “1999 fragments”, which means that with this one, there are twice the num­ber of your fin­gers times the num­ber of your fin­gers times the num­ber of your fin­ger­s. Dam­n, that’s a lot. To any­one and ev­ery­one who hap­pens to read this: a big “Thank you!” I think I’d go on writ­ing if no-one were read­ing (but I haven’t had to make the ex­per­i­men­t). I’ve learned, to my cha­grin, that what I think about what I write has no re­la­tion to what oth­ers think about what I write; as in, throw­away squibs reach mul­ti­tudes and carefully-polished es­says are ig­nored. I have failed to learn what peo­ple want to read. Which is on bal­ance a good thing, I think.
 
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