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Perl Oasis rocked

Wed Jan 20 21:45:00 2010

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At six o'clock in the morning, I step out onto a cold Morecambe street, icy sea breeze caressing my face, looking around at the mostly cleared snow on the pavements as I step into a taxi. Next to mdk's place to collect him, and on to the airport. In fifteen hours we'll be in Orlando, warmer than an english summer even if I did find the rain awfully familiar.

Perl Oasis, aka the Orlando Perl Workshop, is now in its second year, and is showing remarkably rapid growth, perhaps due to its tendency to be an Enlightened Perl conference - we had a large chunk of the Moose crew present and many of them speaking, and for the second year running a director of the organisation gave the keynote.

International Drive is strange to me; a dual? triple? carriageway that stretches for miles, little clusters of commercial and service businesses with their own turn off and parking lot. As somebody who can get around the nearest town centre in half an hour on foot (for a full circuit) this is ... societal dissociation, almost, although it's clear that it's simply a difference of culture. I found it out of frame of reference enough that it would only have needed one perambulatory dolphin singing a chorus of hallelujah to push it over the edge into 'surreal' rather than the traditional three.

miyagawa is here to talk about Plack. I'm loving the uptake and the excitement around it, almost as much as I love how much code it's allowed Florian Ragwitz to rip out of Catalyst. At the end of the conference, having failed to think of anything sensible to do with the copy of The Definitive Guide to Catalyst that I brought with me (Perl Oasis has no auction this year), I will present it to miyagawa as a thank you.

The inestimable and irrepressible Cory Watson and the brilliant but reclusive Jay Shirley got addicted to go karting at an arcade last year, so unusually the pre-conference meetup goes from food to karting and never gets to the serious drinking. After an appalling first attempt which involves an epic failure to actually keep the accelerator depressed for any period, I discover that I'm not quite as bad as Stevan Little, the Man of Moose, but pretty appalling compared to everybody else. This results indirectly in my inflicting a haiku on the audience to my talk.

Devin Austin is here to talk about Google Summer of Code, the fear and horror of diving into a codebase you've never dealt with before knowing that you're supposed to rework the entire thing before the summer's over - and yet he's also here to say that the Catalyst::Script and Catalyst::ScriptRunner infrastructure is now on CPAN (and now that area of the code is cleaned up, starting to attract contributors).

After the conference we end up back at the arcade, then at an "English Pub". I do my best to ignore the grating of the hodgepodge of cultural elements, all recreated beautifully to the letter but never quite the spirit, and focus on the fact that the beer is really rather good. The hotel bar's isn't, but they have vodka, so we keep drinking until the barman goes to bed. Perhaps more impressively, a hotel lobby full of geeks never sprouts more than a single laptop, and those are rapidly put away under a hail of derision.

Incidentally, the keynote speaker this year was our very own mdk, talking about promotion, attitudes, and generally the softer, saner side of the marketing push, and hopefully making the audience feel damn guilty for not doing more. The words "fight a giant soldier for your language" were deployed to good effect, along with a reminder that we are all epic fail for not hyperlinking things properly, and especially for not back to the Iron Man contest itself - because clearly pagerank 6 is insufficient and what we really need is an even more attractive target for spammers so the team behind the soon to be launched new Iron Man site are kept properly on their toes.

My talk went reasonably, although apparently it's a little tricky to keep an epic saga of revelation and mighty deeds running straight for 40 minutes when your slides are all talking about ORM design and implementation. It's even trickier if you stop in the middle to recite a haiku as an apology for not making it an epic poem rather than a tale:

Orlando Workshop / Warmer than English Summer / At karting I fail

I suspect the audience mostly enjoyed the epic saga; as for the ORM design and implementation side I'll discuss that in a later post.

Chris Prather, our erstwhile organiser and his delightful wife were everywhere, all the time, including finding us a restaurant to eat in (for whenever 3 or more geeks are gathered together, lo, they shalt lose the ability to organise their way out of a paper bag) and organising what was apparently a fantastic speaker's brunch (which I opted out of in favour of deep and meaningful pondering of the advisiblity of drinking quite that much vodka the night before) - and next year promises to be even bigger and better, the contracts were signed during the conference so I don't think they really have a choice.

I was immensely amused by two facts on the way back: first, there was next to none of the heightened security on flights leaving the US - we were through security lovely and quickly in spite of an architecturally induced bottleneck in the flow. Second, when we grabbed food on the other side of the barrier, the cutlery was plastic. Cheap plastic. We discovered this after Mark had already ordered a steak. So, to sum up:

Perl Oasis is awesome

Orlando isn't all bad either.

We should remember links in our Iron Man posts

Watching a grown man try to cut a rare steak with a plastic knife is hilarious.

-- mst, out