A Short Overview of My First OSCON

25 07 2008

Here’s a quick overview of my first OSCON.


Portland seems like a nice city. The weather was very reasonable for July. Cool at night. Warm during the day. It did not rain.

The MAX is a nice train system. It makes everything in downtown Portland pretty easy to get to. There’s even a fareless zone.

Portland’s brand of pan handler seems to be chatty young idealists with Save the Children binders. They are much harder to get rid of by tossing a quarter on the ground and ducking into the Rite Aid. I pushed mine in front of a bus.


Because of plane issues and company obligations, I could only attend one tutorial. But it was Randal Schwartz talking about Seaside. If I could only get to one tutorial, that seemed like a pretty good one to make. Unfortunately, it wasn’t that great. Half of the tutorial ended up being intro to smalltalk. The format was live demo, which makes me feel like I’m the third wheel in a pair programming exercise.

When you’re talking about Seaside, and you don’t get to continuations until the last seven minutes of the talk, then all you’ve presented is how to use smalltalk to generate HTML.

I might just be a little bitter because I was looking forward to seeing the Magritte and the Glorp stuff.


Danese Cooper and Nat Torkington were both very good. One of the MySQL guys said MS is irrelevant. Moving along.

Breakout Sessions

Laika tests for interoperability between EHR’s. It’s part of the CCHIT certification process for 2008 (suckers!). I plan to have more to say about this in another blog post.

Hadoop and EC2 are cool and make a nice pairing. Furthermore, this session attracted more women then all of the other sessions I attended combined. Advice to lonely, single nerds: work on your Hadoop.

Subversion worst practices.

memcached is a cool, simple way to scale your webapps. However, it’s very difficult to talk about with reggae music blaring through the connector wall.

Sam Ruby is the most patient presenter I have ever seen. Perhaps that comes with having to deal with Ruby programmers. To be fair, Sam said he’d like it informal. It was.

Meta Programming Ruby was a good talk, but there wasn’t much new there. Except proof that, given enough Ruby programmers with too little to do, someone will eventually try to recreate Tapestry. The presenter was a cool guy though.


rosscooperman pointed out that the random arrangement of motion sensitive soap dispensers in the restrooms would consistently produce a soapy wrist, unless one was diligent.

update – I was a tad more snarky then I had intended in the original post. I think the post as it is now constituted contains the correct amount of snarkiness.




4 responses

26 07 2008
26 07 2008

I read your blog, and I know all about Seaside. The point is that I was disappointed that I was in Portland and wanted to see Randal Schwartz talk about Seaside, and, instead, I got 3.5 hours of smalltalk as an html generator. I felt that it didn’t do the topic justice.

26 07 2008
Randal L. Schwartz

I apologize. It was badly designed. In my rehearsals, I had forgotten how much I would also be talking to explain, and instead just going through the typing motions and saying “uh huh” in my head. Had I also talked through it, I would have realized that the bias was wrong.

However, in my review comments, there were a number of people who did *not* know smalltalk, and were happy that I had covered that first.

In fact, every public presentation will go too fast for some, too slow for others, and cover too much or too little of every category of each thing you talk about. 🙂 It’s the nature of a group presentation.

As James suggests, there are more focussed tutorials online. I’m also motivated to produce a series of screencasts of what would have been covered in the more advanced sections of this tutorial, so watch my blog at http://methodsandmessages.vox.com/ for updates.

26 07 2008

I’ll add your blog to my feed list. BTW – It was very nice meeting you, and I was pleased to see so many people taking an interest in smalltalk.

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