24 July 2007

OSCON 2007: Tuesday

This morning's tutorial was "PHP and MySQL Best Practices" by Luke Welling and Laura Thomson. I've heard her speak previously at OSCON, and she's a good speaker. And this morning's talk was also good, but it turned out to be mostly review for me, so maybe I should have signed up for something else. But I did pick up a few interesting things that I'll want to research further:
  • test_more (which is like Perl's Test::More) for unit testing
  • PEAR's quickforms2 for form processing
  • PDO might be a good alternative to the PEAR DB in PHP5, but I should probably consider just using the mysqli interface, since I don't really need to be writing my applications to support multiple backend DB engines
  • xdebug looks interesting for profiling
  • if I need to develop in a load-balanced environment, I'll need to move away from storing session data in flat files on the Web server--encrypting the session data and putting it in a browser cookie might be an interesting alternative to storing sessions in a DB
  • I need to look at memchached again
  • mysqlperformanceblog.com looks worth following
Anyway, they had a couple of copies of their book, PHP and MySQL Web Development (3rd ed.), to give away. I asked a couple of questions during the talk, so I scored a free book. Woo-hoo!

The afternoon session was "How To Be a Better Programmer" by Michael Schwern. I've been to Michael's talks before, and he's a bit different (and opinionated). He appeared to have three non-OSCON groupies today, which was a little odd. The first half of his talk turned out to be mostly about soft skills (like getting along with people). While those are certainly useful and important skills, I guess it's not really what I was looking for. Oh, well.

It picked up a bit after the break, and Michael talked about things like version control (specifically SVN and SVK) and unit testing.

A couple of the more interesting (to me) points from Michael's talk:
  • he suggested learning a radically different programming language, and then bringing that language's best features back to your 'native' language
  • hiveminder.com looks interesting for task management
Then there was the evening event.

Seems like Tuesday night is typically a fairly well-organized affair, with several speakers and a pretty interesting program. This year, not so much. Instead of setting up the ballroom with chairs lined up seminar-style (as in years previous), the chairs were arranged around lots of tables, and we were made to go from table to table meeting people. Like speed dating.

There was a musical guest who, to his credit, sang and played guitar fairly well. But he sang about man pages. Yes, man pages. It was supposed to be funny, but no one was really laughing.

There was the annual open source award ceremony, in which PJ of Groklaw (who, disappointingly, was not present) and Paul Vixie (of BIND and cron fame) received some well-deserved recognition. But lots of people were talking, rather than paying attention, so it was difficult to hear the people on stage.

And there were no other speakers. So the evening event was pretty lame. I left early. At least they served booze, which took the edge off, a bit.

1 comment:

henthoca said...

That's interesting that you mentioned the MySQL Performance Blog, as I just stumbled apon it myself this weekend when a job posting for a DBA referenced it, stating loosly that they want someone that understands everything on the blog.

I think I ran into memcached once when an article mentioned that Facebook uses that as a base (with some optimizations). Some interesting stuff sometimes pops up on the facebook developer's blog. :)

The task managment app reminds me of something I've seen on 37signals. They've got some pretty slick apps, and a very nice design philosophy (even a free online book) about "getting real" and keeping things simple. Good read.