Archive for July, 2004

OSCON: Day 2

Wednesday, July 28th, 2004

No detailed notes for day 2. Started off in the morning heading to Programming the Apache lifecycle, but after the break, switched to Practical Parsing with Perl6::Rules. A mental note for future OSCONs:

If the session you’re in sucks, and Conway is speaking, it doesn’t matter what he’s talking about, just go to that one.

I walked out of Perl6::Rules really impressed with a lot of the changes being made to the Perl 6 regex engine. The afternoon consisted of Tricks fo the Wizard, which basically covered tricks with globs, AUTOLOAD, and tie. The bit I found interesting came right at the tail end, when talking about source filters.

Right now, I’m listening to Tim O’Reilly’s keynote address. Some interesting points, but most of it feels like it’s a big infomercial for O’Reilly.

OSCON: Monday Afternoon

Monday, July 26th, 2004

For Monday afternoon, I was signed up for Advanced DBI by Tim Bunce, but after the break decided to switch to Presentation Akido. Looks like Kevin did something similar. :-)

Advanced DBI had some interesting nuggets, in particular:

  • connect_cached() & prepare_cached() do what you’d expect & are good things. Not sure how long these have been around, but I’m guessing a while. Regardless, no more need for global $dbh’s or implementing my own $sth cache.

  • DBI has some solid profiling built in. By setting the DBI_PROFILE env. var. you can enable it to various levels. Setting it to ’1′ will give you a summary for the script, ’2′ for a breakdown by statement, etc. Lots more details in the perldoc.

Presentation Akido, also by Damian Conway, was outstanding. It’s clear how much attention and effort gives to be a good speaker and was very insightful to learn a lot of his tricks & methods. The best analogy I can make here is when you were first learning bash & stumbled across a guru’s .bashrc.

Overall, first day was pretty interesting.

Best Pratice Perl

Monday, July 26th, 2004

The OSCON conference is off to a good start, and the
first session I attended was Damian Conway’s Best
Practice Perl
. I had heard that Conway was a terrific speaker,
and after having attended my first talk, I would have to agree.

Needless to say he had a lot of interesting things to say but here’s
some highlights of the bits I found most interesting:

  • For data sets, attempt to format them so they look like a table.
    It makes a big step forward in readability.

  • I generally haved tried to name my functions with verbs, and
    variables with nouns. He expounded on that quite a bit, suggesting
    things such as:
    • verb_noun_preposition (e.g., get_record_for)
    • verb_noun_participle (e.g., get_record_using)

    After thinking about it for a second, I liked it.

  • He pointed out that when you localize a variable, you *don’t* get
    a copy of the variable’s value (as I and a lot of other people thougth
    you did). Instead you need to do local $Pkg::Foo = $Pkg::Foo.

  • Several cool modules that I hadn’t heard about where pointed out,
    • List::Util – May cool operators for
      working on lists. What Damain said “was left out of Perl.”
    • Scalar::Util‘s – in particular the weaken function
    • Readonly – like use CONSTANT but allows for variable
      interpolation & can be used to build-up very complex Regexes.
    • Regexp::Common

  • Nested ternary blocks can be particularly useful for assign
    initial defaults. E.g.:

    my $foo = $n  0 && $n  10 && $n
    It took me a second but I liked this. The big advantage here, as
    pointed out by Damain was that a value has to be assigned.
    With an if/elsif/etc. construct, having a final else cannot be enforced.

  • Have a POD template for for modules & applications.

  • POD's =for doesn't display when a user perldoc's your manual and
    is a good place to include longer comments explaining the rational and
    work-arounds or suggesting possible optimization & improvements.

  • Don't use prototypes in Perl. I never liked them because they're
    not what most people thing they are, but Damian pointed out several other
    reasons as well, including that they're ignored when subroutines are
    invoked as methods and, based on where the prototype is declared, can
    be ignored in other circumstancs as well.

  • A bare return is better than return undef,
    as it's content-sensitive and yields () in list context & undef in

  • Somewhere around 5.5.3 lexical filehandles are supported. (Very cool.)

  • He'll be releasing IO::Prompt. This will make it easier to
    handle input from users (esp STDIN). In the meantime, check if a
    program is being called in interactive mode & prompt instead of just
    sitting there waiting for input.

  • The regex /m & /x flags are going to be defaults in Perl 6.

  • Gave a good reminder to use ?> to turn of backtracking. If you
    don't need backtracking, this can be a big win.

OSCON 2004

Sunday, July 25th, 2004

Portland is nice. You could do a lot worse than living here.

At least based on this roughly square mile area I’ve seen. You can walk everywhere it seems. I like that people here jaywalk more than I do. I have a theory that there is some correlation between walkable a city is & how often people jaywalk. And police here just don’t care. Add in lots of greenery & water. Sweet.

And the airport — well done. Whoever is responsible for signage at LAX really needs to get their ass to PDX. (Actually, they should be beaten with a stick, but that’s a different story.) PDX is well laid-out, spacious, clear signs on where to go for what, terminals indicating your baggage claim area are in logical spots (say, I don’t know, right by the down escalators). I rented a car, but the hotel was close enough that it was probably overkill & I’m planning to try to return it tonight or tomorrow.

As the Marriott where the conference is being held was sold-out, I’m staying a short ten minute walk away at the Heathman.Being lazy, I piggy-backed on Rick‘s research and I’m quite glad I did. I was upgraded to a suite (I imagine because of either my boyish charm & rugged good lucks) and this suite is *pimpin’*! If I had brought Sang with me, I could have had my own personal, smooth asian man-servant staying in the room just outside. Maybe next time.

OSCON starts at the ungodly hour of 8:45am tomorrow. Why a conference targeted at developers starts that early, I have no idea. Time to call the front-end for a wake-up call tomorrow morning.

I wept that I had no shoes ’til I met a man with no feet.

Monday, July 19th, 2004

So my last week hasn’t been what I would call great. Shitty is one word that comes to mind. Cornholing is another. Still, it’s nothing compared to the day a friend of mine from college must be having:

Tech breakdown nearly stops Tribune presses

The Chicago Tribune, which hasn’t missed an edition since the Great Fire of 1871, came perilously close to doing just that Monday.

Because of a computer breakdown, about 40 percent of subscribers received no paper Monday. And those that did got a truncated version with strange page numbering and unusual placement of some features.

The problems occurred after a flaw in software installed over the weekend crashed the newspaper’s production system. After struggling through the night, the newspaper managed at daybreak to begin printing an abbreviated Monday paper.


Jim, bite the pillow.

Joliet, IL — Birthplace of the Stars!

Friday, July 16th, 2004

While watching Andy Dick’s new MTV show, The Assistant, he made an odd comment. After the kids auditioning for his assistant where introduced to their sleeping quarters — a series of cots in his garage — he asked what did they have to complain about? When trying to make it he spent a year living out of his car! Behind a Jewel!

A Jewel?! There are no Jewels in California! People in California wouldn’t even know what a Jewel is! (Okay, people in California wouldn’t know what a real grocery store is, what with this Walgreen’s sided places they have the gall to call supermarkets. Feh.)

Anyway, curious & suspecting Andy Dick now as a fellow Midwesterner, I jumped over to his IMDb page. He’s from Charleston. Guess I was wrong. Since I was there, I clicked his bio only to find:

  • Was the 1984 Homecoming King At Joliet West High School.


Growing up, the only hollywood fame associated with anyone from my alma mater, was Anthony Rapp! (You know, the kid from next door in Adventures in Babysitting! Okay, he latter was in School Ties as one of the random anti-semites who hated Brendan Fraser, and then Road Trip & Beautiful Mind, but come on, Adventures in Babysitting was the movie were we all fell in love with Elisabeth Shue for the first time! And it was in Chicago! And it had Thor! Okay, and it was the only one that was out while I was actually in high school. But Elisabeth Shue is still smokin’.)

Curious, about who else I might be unaware, I clicked the little linked Joliet, IL bit in IMDb, and found out that Vince Vieluf is from Joliet as well! (You know, the guy with the fucked up tounge piercing in Rat Race! Okay, I had no idea who that was either, but he was born in the 70s, so I clicked his name.)

Apparently, Joliet is not only one of the fastest growing cities in America, but is also quickly become birthplace to the stars!

And if anyone thinks I’m strange, just remember, I could have easily have been as fucked up as Andy Dick.


Saturday, July 10th, 2004

Mini-Republicans 279, Democrats -2.

Welcome Back, Mr. Kotter^H^H^H^H^Hhayman

Wednesday, July 7th, 2004

After sufficent harassment, Khayman has returned to the blogging world. Apparently, Rick and I drove him into the alleys of the Internet by our insessent request for the ability to comment on his blog. For now, we’ll have to stick to harassing him on IM. C’est la vie.

Jimmy took me on a tour of Microsoft today. Or parts of it. As far as a I can tell Microsoft occupies Redmond much like how the Germans once occupied France. I couldn’t have thrown a stone in the town without hitting a Microsoft building. I didn’t get to see Eric, as he wasn’t in town. We did visit the MS store and walked away with the many requested copies of Office, XP and the like, nearly blowing out Jimmy’s spending quota in one trip.

Despite all the high tech culture, it was two unexpected details that most impressed me of Microsoft:

  • Yes, they stock free pop, but they stock Diet Sprite!
  • They have their own library! Their own 24 hour library! Not only that, but they go so far as to stock ACM publications. Meaning, Jimmy could check out various SIGIR publications for me browse.

Quinn continues to be quite possibly the cutest baby ever born. He’s at the point were can roll over (one way), squeel and giggle. He’s also teething, which apparently means he drolls a lot & like to stick his tounge out. Gross, normally, yes, but adorable when he does it.

One tip on Seattle — if you hear someone pitch you for an “Underground Tour”, take a second to think & realize you’re being sold a tour of a couple of basements. Maybe I can at least save you $10.

4th of July in Seattle

Monday, July 5th, 2004

There’s an inherit value in planning out a vacation. Not necessarily a plan to be strictly followed, but maybe a rough agenda. One that can be discarded if a better option should come along, but also one to provide guidance in the lack of options. It is with this lack of agenda that this vacation was embarked upon.

Some of the unexpected, was, frankly, to be expected. Especially with my family — in fact, those parts aren’t even so bad. At some point you become amused of the eccentricities of your own family. Take for example, our first night here. My sister, Terri, Jason, and Quinn spend the better part of a day flying from Raleigh, I spend a few hours flying from LA, none of us having been to Seattle before, and where is our first visit? A mega-store that is essentially a combined grocery and Target store, wherein we shop for roughly an hour, filling roughly two groceries carts. Really, at this point in my life, if I don’t know to expect that, I’m the one who’s crazy.

Today, however, I feel safe in saying I’m not the one who was crazy. No, today it was my sister. Possibly my brother-in-law. Honestly, I’m suspicious of both. Quinn gets a pass, because a six-month old infant, I’m pretty sure he wasn’t the one who decided to park the car literally two miles away from Gas Works park. Two miles uphill. It’s hard to say who to blame for having the idea that Jimmy & I should head over to the park to stake out our territory around 5:00pm. 5:00 for fireworks that were to start at 10. Perhaps it was because in checking out the view from the Space Needle, it was clear that Gas Works park was already starting to have quite a crowd built up.

Regardless, I have to say waiting 5 hours for 30 minutes of fireworks, followed by lugging 30 pounds of gear 2 miles, uphill, back to the car was a… dubious decision at best. Although, by them self, the fireworks where cool. Choreographed to the music, at points them seemed to dance in a manner reminiscent of the Bellagio fountains. Hats off to the people of Seattle. After all, they can’t be held responsible for our parking spot.

It looks like there won’t be any whale watching this trip. Any of the outing require a very, very early morning wake-up. In a hope to learn from the past, we have a rough plan for tomorrow, starting with the Underground City before lunch & then the salmon channels in the afternoon. Tuesday, we’ll head over to Microsoft, check out Jimmy’s office, buy drastically reduced software from their store, and eat at their cafeteria prior to my having to be dropped off at the airport.

Oh yeah, I also did meet a well-read clerk at Border’s today. I picked up Booknotes: Stories from American History as I’ve just about finished David Sedaris’ new book, Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim, and wanted something for the flight back. I also picked up The Rule of Four, just in case Booknotes sucked, but that’s not what caught the clerk’s eye. He asked me if I was interested in history, and after a short discussion proceed to recommend several books that I hadn’t heard of: William Cronon in general, and Nature’s Metropolis: Chicago and the Great West & Changes in the Land in particular, followd by Donal Miller‘s City of the Century.

Anyway, Rocky IV is on TV. Holy crap, I forgot what a great movie this is. Look at Rocky, building himself up in the Siberian wilderness, while Drago goes high-tech. Drago’s declaration that Rocky is not a man, but a piece of metal. Rocky’s speech of prophetic speech of change: “If I can change… and if you can change… the whole world can change!” Timeless. Stupid commies. Adddrriiiiaaannnnn!!