[sf-perl] OSCON impressions

Joe Brenner doom at kzsu.stanford.edu
Fri Jul 24 19:27:49 PDT 2009

A brief round-up of OSCON impressions --

I got to see Damien Conway's talk this morning about his new perl 5.10
module, Regexp::Grammars:


This one is another mind-bender: essentially he took perl 5.10 regexps and
extended them to get a (probably) faster version of Parse::RecDescent that
can handle back-tracking...  It has a "debug" feature that looks like it's
tremendously useful for developing regular expressions in general.

I heard some complaints about there being a lack of great talks at this
OSCON, but for me this Conway talk made up for everything (and there were a lot
of good things that I had to miss, myself).

Larry Wall's "State of the Onion" was a bit on the sad side -- he was making it
clear that his health hasn't been very good lately, and he's had a scare with
one of his kids as well (leukemia, but evidently a treatable variety).  He
used this to segue into a discussion of warning signs and error messages in
general, with a lot of emphasis on the perl 6 messages he's been developing.
The general point was that it's important for error messages to be accurate and
informative (which is apparently difficult with yacc-based grammars), but it's
okay to also make guesses and tentatively suggest a fix.

Another talk I happened to catch was Damien Conway going through some perl 6
features with Larry Wall sitting by (a few times, Damien tried to show
something, and Larry interrupted him saying "no, it doesn't work that way
any more"...).

We actually had a visit from Larry Wall at the Perl Mongers booth -- he
happened to walk up behind Hilary Holz, just as she was complaining about the
perl6 object model (with perl5, since it's not built-in, you decide what
features you want).  I asked him if the design for perl6 might change next
week. He said "yes"... but added that many of the design changes at this point
aren't really visible in user features.

In general, I ended-up meeting quite a few luminaries at this event.  Most
embarrassing moment, for me: I went up to Perrin Hawkins at one point, and
started treating him like Tim Bunce (fortunately, he commented that Tim Bunce
was a good guy to be confused with).

Geoffrey Avery came by the booth trying to recruit people to do Lightning
Talks.  I signed up at the last minute the next morning and that afternoon gave
my "Esthetic Randomness" talk again (or rather, the first half of it, which fit
neatly into a five minute slot).  Several people came up to me later saying
nice things about it (including Tom Christensen...).

Let me thank everyone who helped with running the sf.pm.org booth at OSCON (and
everyone who volunteered, but weren't really needed):

Hilary Holz was a key addition to the crew this year, logging a lot of hours in
the booth.  Either Fred or I were around most of the time, but folks like Matt
Lanier helped out, also.  I recruited a few people from the SVLUG list to come
by and help out; a number of them stopped by but Greg Lindhal (I think it was)
and Jean Phillipe Granchi was particularly helpful.

We all got to talk to quite a few people, and I suspect we'll have some new
folks showing their faces at the next few meetings....

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