scrottie (scrottie) wrote,

YAPC::NA 2012

What a ride. I didn't get more than 5 hours sleep any night, and usually got less. Yet I kept staying up till the wee hours, which left me feeling pretty rough. Unlike previous YAPCs, I was somehow able to drag my ass out of bed and make it to the morning talks. But enough about me (for the moment).

Sponsors bought us all beer. One anonymous sponsor rented out a nightclub. Linode put on a roof top dinner and beer garden. Beer on tap magically and mysteriously showed up to game night, where it failed its saving throw against our mouths. Hope you like Spotted Cow because YAPC got kegs and kegs of it. If it were Dogfishhead Palo Santo, YAPC probably would have turned into another Jonestown, so it's probably better that it was just Spotted Cow. Free beer is an exciting development, as was game night, though at that point, I had been roped into a traveling hack-a-thon. The nightclub wasn't as horkey as some people (alright, including myself) suspected. The nerds were dancing.

After a number of YAPCs, I've come to see them as a sort of exchange. It isn't money for information, as conf costs almost nothing and the slides generally go up on the 'net for free. The trade is entertainment in exchange for attending community recruitment event. YAPC works on new people to learn about their local PerlMongers groups (ask dict.org if you don't know what a monger is, and none of the definitions are the least bit negative) by advertising the fun and useful things they've done. Ditto for the The Perl Foundation. Then they advertise other conferences. YAPC was more heavily commercially sponsored this year, but that didn't begin to touch the amount of non-commercial advertising there. That's a wonderful thing. Recruiting people into the ranks of *Perl* *community* makes everyone stronger. Better programmers build stronger companies which make and pay more money, and some of that gets funneled back into The Perl Foundation to build a better Perl and continue the recruitment. The one and only way that Perl is going to be taken seriously has nothing to do with what methodologies we boast about or how seriously we take ourselves and has everything to do with how well Perl pays. And free beer does not hurt this recruitment effort. We, the Perl community, upped the ante on our sales retreat.

That said, a half drunk, sleep deprived scrottie probably didn't actually help matters.

I saw more old faces than I could count and enjoyed catching up with many people I've worked with before, including people who worked on and have a hand in the project I'm currently on. I saw a lot of the old Phoenix.PM'ers, including the astonishing awwaiid and Andrew. I met garu and kthakore and learned a lot from them. I hope to write about that soon.

Madison has a million restaurants, but in the evening, the wait to get a seat is an hour. I love how people come out of the woodwork into the public spaces in that town. It's just so... human friendly.

It was fun sitting in the lobby of Lowell coding at 4am and watching bands of completely hammered Perl hackers stumble in while having loud, inane conversations.

Other slide programs do lots of obnoxious text effects. I need to up the ante on mine and write more text effects. Adding more transitions is easy enough; I didn't use most of what I had, but most of them suck. Going from ttf to full color graphical lettering will be harder. And apparently I need to make the slide software do unicorns even when it isn't in the foreground. I'm very sorry (but amused) that other speakers were getting "unicorns!" yelled at them mid-talk. Having some connection with my audience helps me freak out less during talks, so thank you for indulging me on that.

cwest came in on his bike and lead a group bike ride around a lake, which absolutely rocks. I have to up my game. rGeoffrey played Clue with us and logged every scrap of information observable for to-be-written algorithms to datamine.

Gosh, I should probably qualify that some of the talks were highly educational. Of the ones I saw, one of my favorites was _Perl for Big Data_, http://act.yapcna.org/2012/talk/163. With almost no hardware, they're doing real-time, on-demand reporting on damn near petascale datasets that change constantly. They have performance metrics, and their rig is insanely much faster than MySQL. I liked this talk because they gave lots of specifics on better things rather than hand waving about using what everyone else is using, because they accomplished something interesting technologically, because they debunk "common sense" myths we tell ourselves about design and performance, but, most of all, because they demonstrate that the hacker spirit is alive and well and has very serious application for real work. "Just use this framework and don't ask too many questions" is bad all of the way around, and I resent how trendy it has been at YAPCs. Remember, give a man a fire, and he's warm for the night. Light him on fire, and he's warm for the rest of his life.

I met an interesting lady on the way out who was there for another conference. (Talk to someone from another conference should be on the alternative YAPC bingo.) She researches games in education with an emphasis on women in games. I have to wonder if her research has bearing on programmers as well as gamers.

I wish I could have made all of the BoFs, rides, shows, talks, hack-a-thons, and games... I didn't, but I swear, I tried...
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