· 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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