30 July 2007

OSCON 2007: Friday

OSCON Friday is much like Wednesday and Thursday, but it's a half day: keynotes, two sessions, a final keynote, and a final schmoozing session. The Friday keynotes were pretty good. The first was from Philip Rosedale of SecondLife. He gave a demonstration, which was my first time to actually see Second Life. It looked pretty cool, and he displayed some data graphs from inside the virtual word. He said that lots of people use it for telemeetings. They're beginning to offer voice features, so people will probably start using it for teleconferencing. Some of the components of Second Life are open source, and Rosedale was encouraging the community to contribute to the project.

Next was Jimmy Wales of wikia, which hopes to fulfill Wales' ambitious goal of giving everyone free access to the entire sum of human knowledge. Wales also announced wikia's acquisition of grub, Web-crawling software which lives on unused computer cycles (sort of like SETI@home, but less pointless).

Simon Wardley then spoke about information technology commoditisation. I believe his point was that open source means allowing people not to have to spend all their time building entire infrastructures from scratch, because someone else has hopefully already done it for you and has open-sourced the code. And Simon evidently really likes ducks.

Nat Torkington, OSCON program chairperson, gave a farewell keynote. He's stepping down from OSCON organization duties (and perhaps leaving O'Reilly altogether--not sure). A (paraphrased) quote from his talk was "ignore the noise and make some signal" (participate in and contribute to a cause about which you feel passionate).

The last keynote was "Pimp My Garbage" by an electronics engineer named James Larsson. Larsson like to make interesting things out of computer equipment that other people want to throw away. His creations have to be seen to be fully appreciated, and he took the notion of building a better mousetrap to a hilarious conclusion.

The first session I attended was "Subversion Worst Practices" [sic] by Ben Collins-Sussman and Brian W. Fitzpatrick, a couple of Google software engineers who moonlight as subversion developers. They gave a good list of things to avoid when implementing version control, like storing ISO images in a repository, skipping out on backups, and manually editing repository files.

I was wanting to go to "Testing With Selenium" as my second session, but it was cancelled (selenium is an in-browser unit testing framework, which can be a good way of automated javascript testing). So I went down the hall to "Running Your Programming Language on Parrot", and was quite promptly confused. shrug

So I had some time to kill Friday afternoon. I decided to go to the Chinese Garden and the Japanese Garden. I didn't much care for the Chinese Garden, which was pretty small. It was $7 and 30 minutes of my life I'll never get back. It was OK, but nothing special. It didn't seem very well-kept: the water was pretty murky, and cobwebs were everywhere.

But the Japanese Garden was awesome. It was $8, it's in Washington Park (western Portland), and it was really beautiful and peaceful. I spent a couple of hours there, and took several pictures (I posted them to flickr). I highly recommend this to anyone with a couple of hours to spend in Portland.

Here are a couple of my favorite pictures:

Heavenly Falls

Moon Bridge

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