I’d be hard-put to say whether OSCON or RubyConf is my favorite conference of the year; when I miss either I’m grumpy. Here’s a brief report from the latest San Jose instalment, with pictures.

Never once even for a minute did I have trouble finding a conversation about something interesting. I think most people would say the same.

Brian Behlendor talks to someone in a Google T-shirt

The guy with his back to you is Brian Behlendorf.

People’s Parties · And if the hallway conversation wasn’t doing it for you, the better-lubricated evening versions might. I enjoy a bubble as much as the next geek, but some of those parties sure had that like-it’s-1999 flavor. You have to wonder what they think they’re buying with all that free booze (make mine a margarita).

One hoe-down offered the alcohol-enhanced geeks the opportunity to decorate themselves with a tattoo — none of those wimpy rub-on thingies, we’re talking needles and heat and with you forever. The artists were being kept busy; I didn’t see any of the results but Tux featured heavily among the designs on offer, and I’ve seen lots uglier body-art themes.

The trade-show floor was rockin’, I have to say. Microsoft was there with bells on, well at least with Xbox on.

Father and daughter share quality Xbox time

And yes, in between the parties and trade show and hallways there was an actual conference; guess I should cover that too.

The Un-Hallway Track · I went to quite a few sessions, and it seemed to me like two themes were hot. First, the public sector; most visible was Open Source for America, which I guess would be our Chamber of Commerce and lobbying organization, just like the oilmen and chicken farmers and pharmaceuticals have. I suppose it’s a good idea but then I’m not American.

The other big theme was storage and persistence, starting at the filesystem. Ted Ts’o gave a damn fine session on filesystem economics — SSD’s are stuck in a niche for a while, Moore’s law or not — and politics — Linux is likely to offer a good home to your pet filesystem code.

Moving up a level there’s SQL and it was well-covered; I saw a ton of PostgreSQL messaging, and then both the Drizzle and MariaDB flavors of MySQL were speaking to apparently receptive audiences.

Taking another step (up? sideways? not sure), the non-relational options were also getting lots of attention. I didn’t keep track of all the talks, but I caught bits and pieces from MongoDB, Couch, and Cassandra. At the moment some if not all of these have a pretty bright future.

The standard of talks was pretty high, even though there were way too many tracks. If I had to pick one it’d be the lightning-talk track, which is about as good a way of finding out what’s hot and new in the OSS world as anything else I can think of. Here are the speakers from one of the lightning-talk sessions all lined up on stage; I’d identify the ones I know (most of them) but that’d get boring real fast. Josh Berkus, on the right, did a fine job of MCing.

Lightning-talk presenters at OSCON 2009

See Ya Next Year · But I’m not sure where. I like Portland a whole lot better than San Jose and I suspect I’m not alone. The attendance was really respectable for a pretty-expensive conference in shitty economic times. I noticed that at the start of keynotes on Day 1, the hall was looking scarily-empty; but then I looked over my shoulder a half-hour in and the place had really filled up.

I mentioned that to Tim O’Reilly and he called it a symptom of a high ratio of local attendees; because they have to commute in through traffic as opposed to saunter over from their hotel, they tend to be late. He might be right.

And I have to admit that San Jose isn’t terrible. There were quite a few decent places to eat and drink within walking distance, and I heard that the nearby hotels had rooms available right up to the last minute. I gather the San Jose Convention Center might be a bit under-utilized.

Whatever; I’d like it to go back to Portland. But I’ll probably be at OSCON either way.

Hallway track at OSCON 2009


Comment feed for ongoing:Comments feed

From: Pessimist (Jul 27 2009, at 02:27)

Free alcohol and tattoos. Sounds like the work of an evil genius, or at least a part owner of that tattoo shop


From: Nate Abele (Jul 27 2009, at 07:53)

But you are an American, you're just not a United Statesian.


From: Donald Smith (Jul 27 2009, at 08:39)

Things did get a little crazy at one point :)


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