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I had a good time at OSB this year. But I enjoyed it more in past years, and I’d say that this year was good, but not great.

In terms of focus and information, OSB is geared for projects first and technology second. Most of the talks are about the psychology, logistics, mechanics, or organization of open-source projects, often from the perspective of a project organizer or lead developer. If you use (but don’t organize, run, or contributed often to…) open-source projects, you have to internally re-map these talks to benefit from them. There are some technology talks, and of course technology is also brought up in the project talks. But no talk delves into technology to any great degree.

The other (big) open-source conference, OSCON, is (I think) inversely geared. It’s for technology first and projects second. Most of its talks are about effective technology use and migration; a minority are about project management and organization.

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I continue to be impressed and excited by the Open Source Bridge conference. It’s easy, because the conference organizers have been a poster child for how to create a first-class grass-roots conference.

I’m doing my small bit to publicize the conference here in Seattle, and did some outreach at PyCon 2009. I’m hoping that John Cook will cover it in TechFlash, at least in an article, or (better) with an article + also covering the conference sessions. [Some of TechFlash's news choices have been very odd lately, but that's a post for another day.]

My interest exists at several levels:

  • It’s a conference focused on open-source technologies
  • It’s community- and volunteer-driven and organized
  • Its accessibility, both from being local, and reasonable fees
  • It fills a void left by OSCON’s departure. It also fills voids that existed even when OSCON was here, given OSCON’s straight-ahead technology focus
  • It’s new
  • Note the correct usage of “its” vs. “it’s”
  • I’m unemployed, so what the hell else have I got to do during the day?

Today’s big news is, some talks have been accepted. They are:

RubySpec: What does my Ruby do?, Brian Ford

Drizzle, Rethinking MySQL for the Web, Brian Aker

Advanced Git tutorial: Not your average VCS., Sarah Sharp

Remember Tcl/ Tk? Grandpa might be old, but he can still kick your ass!, Webb Sprague

Open Source Library Software: Empowering Libraries – Creating Opportunities, Lori Ayre

The Linux Kernel Development model, Greg Kroah-Hartman

Configuration Management Panel, Moderated by James Turnbull

My Grand Experiment: A Portland Women-focused Tech Group., Gabrielle Roth

Is the Web Down: a Practical Tutorial on How the Web Works, Michael Schwern, Joshua Keroes

HOWTO earn an open source living without taking on investors or selling your soul, Brian Jamison

A Tour of CodePlex, Sara Ford

Drop ACID and think about data, Bob Ippolito

Organizing a Volunteer-Driven Open Source Community Project, Sarah Beecroft, molly vogt, Joaquin Lippincott, Melissa Anderson

See the announcement blog post for more detail.

If you’re working with/in OSS, this will be an event you won’t want to miss. Sign up today!


I was disappointed by OSCON’s move to San Jose starting this year. Their official justification was nonsense — basically, O’Reilly expects infinite growth forever, and thinks that bigger is better.

As a happy northwestern transplant, I wish O’Reilly lots of luck with infinite growth in this economy. And with San Jose’s higher costs of everything, concrete everywhere, more traffic everywhere, poorer air quality, and general suckitude. Personally, I’d rather have my arms gnawed off by mutant radioactive weasels than be in San Jose.

Well. Into the vacuum comes Open Source Bridge, a result of Portland geek natives taking matters into their own hands and creating an OSS conference to replace OSCON. It’s being held June 17 – 19 at the Oregon Convention Center. They already have 13 talk proposals.

I’m rooting for Open Source Bridge. I’ve signed up to be a volunteer, and I’ve registered this morning. Have you, and will you?

——
Updated 2/26/09: Replaced a very coarse adjective with one less so.

Updated 2/26/09: They just opened registration, and I updated this accordingly.

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I greatly enjoyed OSCON 2008. But I won’t attend OSCON 2009, because its locale was moved from Portland to San Jose.

I lived in San Jose for six months, when I worked for a former employer. (Maybe it was nine months… That job is fortunately a distant fuzzy memory.) Deciding whether to attend a conference involves many tradeoffs; one of which is, of course, its location. My negativity about San Jose is sufficiently strong to move this decision into the “No” column. (If you’ve never been there, I have one word for you: Concrete.) Read More


Two memorable postscripts to OSCON 2008.

I got to Portland’s Union Station about 1 1/4 hours before I had to board. Joe said its restaurant was decent, so I opted to allow some time to eat lunch there.

But… The restaurant’s name is Wilf’s Restaurant. Good food, decent prices, nice atmosphere. No complaints. But that has got to be one of the most unfortunate names possible in the modern world. When I saw “Wilf’s,” I thought of, eh, another well-known acronym. My mind started to wander in unexpected directions. “Waitresses I’d like to…?” “Waiters I’d like to…?” “Water glasses I’d like to…?” Focus, John, focus! It’s just a club sandwich with potato salad on the side, dammit!

Have sympathy for the poor owner. That was a fine name for a restaurant — until American Pie came out in 1999.

On a more normal note, my waiter turned out to be a Perl/MySQL hacker, working there between software gigs. Wade Burgett, if you’re reading this, ROCK on!


The day starts off with a Windows blue screen of death on the system that drives the main hall’s projection screens. Hmm. But, relax, it was just a visual prop for the first keynote address. Yay!

I have to take a taxi to the train station.  Radio Cab advertises reservations over the web. But their site says that online reservations have to be made 24 hours in advance. Fail.

Dawn Nafus talked about technological challenges. Data sets, context, and social implications thereof. Adding data is seductive but sometimes meaningless. Data does not communicate in and of itself. Sam Ramji of Microsoft walked into the lion’s den and talked about Microsoft’s support of open-source. But if Microsoft really supported open-source, it wouldn’t send Sam here to say that it supports open-source. The IRC comment stream was very, very, very funny. As was the Q&A session’s IRC stream.

Tim Bray gave a great talk about programming language inflection points.  “We are now emerging from the nuclear winter of language design caused by Java and .NET.” +1. Read More

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