Herewith some illustrated take-aways from OSCON 2008; I enjoyed it (and, I think, benefited from it) as much as any conference in recent years.

MySQL · I was unfortunately traveling and overcommitted during the Sun-MySQL integration process, so didn’t get to play much, and in fact hadn’t met a lot of the people. The Wednesday-morning keynote session had a three-way conversation, Tim O’Reilly hosting MySQL’s Monty Widenius and Brian Aker.

Brian Aker, Monty Widenius, Tim O’Reilly
· · ·
Brian Aker, Monty Widenius, Tim O’Reilly

Brian Aker, Monty Widenius, Tim O’Reilly.

I had a long talk with Brian, still really haven’t gotten to know Monty. I get the feeling that the Sun deal has liberated a few core MySQL engineering impulses that were not expressible in the context of an IPO-bound startup.

The Drizzle project is a no-brainer for a bunch of reasons, not all of which were obvious to me when I started talking to Brian.

My personal opinion is that what MySQL needs to succeed is more salespeople and fewer features. Sun can help with the first, and it looks like they’ve got an in-house grip on the second.

I would have been happier to hear more about CouchDB and SimpleDB and Cassandra and so on; didn’t spot many sessions and couldn’t make it to the ones I did.

Saving Your Data · I made it to a few technical sessions and most enjoyed Eat My Data: How Everybody Gets File IO Wrong by Stewart Smith.

How not to lose data, by Stewart Smith

Didn’t get a good photo of Stewart, but here’s the meat of his message.

This is a subject that’s extremely close to my heart, and while I went in knowing most of Stewart’s lessons, I still learned a fair bit, especially about the subtle pleasures of fsync(2).

I was horrified to learn that on Mac OS X, fsync(), well, doesn’t. Which perhaps helps explain Apple apps’ propensity for casually discarding user data.

Anyone who’s doing serious data persistence in C needs to do whatever it takes to get Stewart to come in and give his talk, because it’s quite likely that your program has data-loss vulnerabilities you don’t know about.

The Trade Show · There’s no denying that there’s tension between the Open-Source ethos and trade-show culture. The show floor ranged from old-style formal booths to radical-hippie-anarchist outposts. Sun and O’Reilly both had big comfy sofas and decent free coffee, which seems about right to me.

People at the OSCON 2008 Sun booth
· · ·
People at the OSCON 2008 O’Reilly booth

I love talking to the people at this show, and I love looking at them too.

Camera Geeking · I enjoyed a bit of hanging out with Tom Christiansen and James Duncan Davidson; the conversation quickly became metaphotographic. I got a nice picture of Tom:

Tom Christiansen

He and I go back some, having sailed together on a Perl Whirl. Up till yesterday, his Wikipedia entry didn’t have a picture.

While we were showing off our camera goodies, I pulled out the little Ricoh and showed off its nifty instant-hyperfocal-mode-shot with this quickie pic of Duncan. The focus is a tad off, but it’s good enough for the Web.

James Duncan Davidson at OSCON 2008

Boys will be boys with their toys:

Tom Christiansen and James Duncan Davidson photograph each other at OSCON 2008

Unfortunately my Sigma at f2.0 couldn’t get both Duncan and Tom in focus.

Evan · Among forward-looking Twitterati, there’s been brief buzz-burst about, a microblogging service whose software is open-source and (as a goal at least) designed for federation.

There was an OSCON talk on the subject by Evan Prodromou.

Evan Prodromou at OSCON 2008

His talk was mostly a free-culture rant, but with enough self-deprecating wit to keep it listenable. I have no idea if is going to take off, but it does feel wrong that a substantively-new Internet communication medium should be centralized; that’s not how things are supposed to work here.

Silliness and Others’ Pix · If you want real actual professional-quality photos of the event, you want James Duncan Davidson. His photos are several times better than mine, but my photo equipment is even more times lighter and smaller, so by my rules I win.

Sun’s own Terri Molini got some decent shots, too.

There was a extremely big, silly, and fun Sun/MySQL/Zend party in the garage at the Doubletree. Craig Russell and I were slaughtered by some much-younger geeks at shuffleboard, but I had my mojo working at the air-hockey table, holding it for a half-dozen games and leaving undefeated.

The crowning silliness was my “sumo” match with Geir Magnusson; you can watch the last thirty seconds. Geir took me down fair and square for the first fall, but then I came back and bounced him out at the corner. If you look closely at the third fall in the video, you can observe that my shoulder hits the ground just before his, so he wins the match two out of three.

The nice thing about those suits is that after you take someone down, you can do a flying belly-first leap on your opponent, and who could resist that? The downside is that they are incredibly heavy; both Geir and I were gasping for breath after a couple of minutes in the ring.

I read somewhere recently: “Now is the youngest you’ll ever be; act accordingly.”


Comment feed for ongoing:Comments feed

From: Manuel Simoni (Jul 28 2008, at 15:39)

Re fsync() on OS X, see this message:

AFAIU, Apple is actually the only company that provides a real sync-to-hardware, and they do this by ensuring this at the hardware level (which is a luxury other vendors do not have).


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