Open Source Convention [Days 3-6]

Day 3

More sessions today: This time around: Object Oriented with PHP5 was first, and was quite good. I got what I considered a pretty decent grasp of OO design from classes at Calvin, which used C++ for training, but now that PHP has completely redone their Object Oriented implementation (or, more accurately: “Finally done correctly”) a session on all the shiny new things that are possible was quite welcome. One thing I liked about this session in particular, and a number of the sessions the next few days was that they traveled at a speed that seemed just perfect for me. They assumed you knew most of what was going on, and slowed just slightly when potentially confusing information (or behavior different from that of other common languages or implementations) was reached. So this wasn’t your “I’ll hold your hand while you click on the button” type deal. I took notes, and felt very much like I was back in school, [only I stayed awake here.]

After first session, the 4 of us took a long walk until we found a Wendy’s.. It was packed, and so after a short time I volunteered to save us a seat (there were about 4 available when I suggested it, and less by the time I claimed ours.. For the next 10-20 minutes I played Super Mario 3, while Brian2 and Luke stood in line. I’m making my way through Mario 5 quite well now.. I must admit I really, really sucked at it the first two worlds or so, but now that I’m used to it, (and side scrollers in general), I’m back to good form. I’m half way through World 5 as I write this, making it a point to get perfects on all the worlds before moving on. (Note that the GBA allows for save points after each castle defeated, and allows you to quick save, and then continue one. (e.g. I play, get to World 3-4, then have to leave. I hit “save” and my game has a “Continue” icon by it. Next time I play, I Continue from there, but were I to die or turn it off, I could not continue from there again, and would fall back to the last major save point. That game rules.

Second session of the day was PHP/Mysql best practices. As my primary area of responsibility at work is a PHP/Mysql site, this seemed like a wise tutorial to take. There was some useful information given, and some confirmation of information I had researched while programming the last two years. Luke was there with me, and taught me a valuable lesson about security.

Dinner was at a steak place, I believe.. about a block or two away.. and it was good. Afterwords we headed back to the convention center for the kick off dealie with big famous people giving speeched, etc. Larry Wall gave his state of the Onion address, which was funny. Actually, all the speakers I heard there were quite good. We eventually headed back, and played some Euchre, I believe. After that, Luke and I headed back to our room, and I read Harry Potter 5 for a few hours, then eventually went to sleep.

Day 4 – Day 5

I’m going to zip past these next few days, not because they weren’t interesting [well.. if you’re not into computers and such, then yeah, I think you might have a pretty strong argument] but mainly because I’m tired, and I’m just writing this post so I can add a new Trivia question. The first 2 days of OsCon were tutorial days, meaning you had 1 particular topic, and they’d teach you about it for half a day (8:00-12:00, and 1:00-5:00) The next few days were session days, were each topic lasted 45 minutes, where the speaker tried to get in about 1 hours worth of material, and there were 10 or so such sessions all going on at the same time, and you did this 8 times during the day. Some were a bit disappointing, but many were quite interesting/helpful. Ones that stand out to me:

  • Building Firefox Extensions: All about how to build add ons and widgets for the Firefox browser. Expect something BibleGateway related at some point, I’d wager.
  • Mod Rewrite: All those things I wanted to know how to do, but didn’t really, got explained in about half an hour. Essentially, take your knowledge of Perl Regexes, and make them work in your Apache config. So if at some point I wanted to make all of my blog entries look like “” I now know how.
  • PHP and Unicode: Imagine being wrapped in pure joy.. and then also being able to treat Chinese character strings as though they were no different than English (e.g. How many characters are in a Chinese string versus an English string. PHP currently screws this one up big time. Also, being able to just throw UTF-8 into the script itself just seems beautiful.. It’s what I’ve been waiting for… Mysql 4.1 and PHP 5.1ish.. Very Sexy.
  • Optimizing PHP: Here was a session that was just plain useful. It was bullet point after bullet point of “If you’re doing this.. try doing this, and it’ll work better because of this.” All very practical, all very clever, and all very useful.

There were others, but that gives you a good idea. After Sessions on Wednesday we had dinner at a pizza joint, and I danced the robot. We ate back at the Hotel on Thursday, and played a bit more cards as well.

Day 6

Friday we were heading home. Everything was relatively uneventful (save for the Dinosaur guy on the train to the airport that kept talking to a less than enthused Luke.. until BCP and I kinda looked over amused, and he shouted over to us “No More T-Rexes!”.. I was frightened, and spent the remainder of the trip staring out the window. We made it from Portland to Chicago no problem.. but when we landed, we saw that our 9:15 flight from Chicago to Grand Rapids was currently scheduled for 11:20. As we sought out the reason why, first from the gate, then at the information booth, the time continued to rise, to 11:25, then 11:27, then 11:30, then 11:35. We finally learned that there currently was not plane assigned to our flight, and they were currently searching for one. We finally opted to place our hope in them finding a plane, and decided to wait it out (rather than rent a car or something). We grabbed some dinner, then played some cards for a while, and sure enough, at around 11:40 we did indeed leave, and landed in G.R. with no real excitement.

In closing, Portland is a land of contrast amidst a sea of troubles. Trip Over!

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