North West Perl Mongers First Technical Meeting

Thu Feb 26 00:00:00 2009

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Pingu was the first to start racking up the pints and was as usual quickly slaughtered

Lancaster University Campus: Infolab

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NWE.PM's mascot get's a little slaughtered

The "fledgling"[1] North-West England Perl Mongers (nwe.pm) group had their first technical meeting at the University of Lancaster's Infolab building on Wednesday 25th February. The group have decided to have bi-monthly technical meetings which alternate with their bi-monthly social nights. Speaking at the first meeting was Matt Trout and myself. Matt did two twenty minute talks, the first was an introduction to Modern Perl and was called Perl 5 is Alive, a variation of a talk he gave at the Postgres West Conference in 2008, the second a quick introduction to Catalyst and Moose. I spoke for ten minutes each on Enlightened Perl Organisation and the Google Summer of Code 2009 (GSoC).

The attendance was quite good for the second meeting of a local Perl Group, especially one that has to support a rather wide geographical region. There were fourteen people at the event and that turnout was due to the efforts of Ian Norton who worked hard to promote the event and secure us a venue. The only disappointing factor was the lack of students[2].

The talks themselves seem well received. There was some initial problems with the devices (Matt's laptop and the projector) not talking to each other - we had tested beforehand successfully but the great God Murphy decided that he should strike so Matt transferred his talk slides to a memory stick and presented on my Mac. Matt's talk, when it started [:)], was a blisteringly good introduction to Modern Perl and outlined how Perl 5 is far from dead in fact it is very much alive. The best feature of this talk is the wide-range of projects that Matt covers and introduces and the breadth of his awareness of the state of Perl 5.

My first talk was on the Enlightened Perl Organisation, what it is and some of it's aims. This was okay, my personal feeling was that I was a little nervous eventhough there were only a small group of people. I soon settled down and the second half of the presentation felt smoother to me.

The next talk I gave was on GSoC and how you can join in on it. The talk may have had less value than what we could have hoped for [see 2], but on the whole it gave me the experience of presenting to people which is beneficial in itself. I relaxed a little and felt more confident. I had practiced this talk more beforehand and that helped as I was more familiar with the sequence of my slides and the subject matter.

Matt concluded the presentations with a quick introduction to the Moose and Catalyst modern Perl libraries. Again it was a good example of how much Matt knows the implementations and the development of these projects. If I had one niggle it was that the presentation felt loose and a little disorganised, this is often the case when one has such a short time to prepare and Matt was unable to do as much preparation as he would have wanted to on the talk. He mentioned afterwards that he had about half the number of slides he needed to present as well as he would have liked. It was still a good introduction and with a little more work will turn into another great talk.

We finished the evening with a visit to one of the local bars on the University Campus. Our mascot Pingu was once more the first to start racking up the pints and was as usual quickly slaughtered, he really cannot hold his ale.

[1] Not sure I like the term fledgling, it is commonly used in relation to new organisations as an indication perhaps that they do not yet have their wings, but it always seems a little too indicative of immaturity, surely we can have an organisation that is young but yet composed of experienced people? Would not their experience confer somewhat to the organisation they have formed? probably not :)

[2] There were two students at the event, one who is waiting for confirmation of the start of his PhD, the other I think is a part-time student. Unfortunately neither of them wanted to do the GSoC.

Mark Keating is: Managing Director of Shadowcat Systems Limited
Director and Secretary of Enlightened Perl Organisation
Co-Founder/Co-Leader of North-West England Perl Mongers
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My Homepage: Mark Keating's Personal site