I started off this year’s OSCON a day early with a negotiation workshop put together by Selena Deckelmann. The workshop was given by David Eaves of Mozilla, and my only complaint about it is that it was too short! I didn’t realize how much material we were going to try to pack in to a single day. (Read what Selena and Leslie Hawthorn had to say about the workshop.)
That night I attended the PDXPUG post-PgDay party at Gotham Tavern. It was an intimate yet lively gathering, with lots of draft root beer consumed. I think for the next party I will just get a keg of the stuff.
On to the conference proper.
My top three picks from this year:
Hands-on Arduino Workshop
DIY Clinical Trials
Things I missed but wish I’d seen:
Growing Food with Open Source
Spelunking a new-to-you codebase
And now for a slightly more detailed review. In the interests of full disclosure, I was on the program committee. If you have additional comments about the sessions you’d like to share with me, please do.
Day 1, tutorials.
The morning slot was a tossup between Learning jQuery and Presentation Aikido. The jQuery talk seemed to be more immediately relevant to my job, but I got enough out of the first half to get me started, so I headed to Damian’s talk at the break. And then giggled about the people I heard saying “OMG now I have to redo the talk I’m giving in two days!!!” (There’s a reason that tutorial is scheduled in the first slot.)
My sister & I have been wanting to tinker with the Arduino Lilypad, but have never gotten around to it. I did the Arduino workshop Monday afternoon to force myself to sit down and play with it. (Now I just have to make the time to experiment some more!) This is a great workshop – there were enough helpers to get everybody up and going in a reasonable amount of time, and the examples actually work. Note that if you attend this workshop in the future, it’s a good idea to have the Arduino IDE pre-installed. A couple of us on Ubuntu had a tricky time with that. You’ll also need to purchase the kit, so bring your CC.
Monday night was the LinuxChix BoF, which was well-attended. I got to meet a couple of people I only know from the mailing lists, but I didn’t get to hang around and chat, unfortunately (the BoF started at 9 which is already past my bedtime.)
Day 2, tutorials.
I didn’t read the description of the git tutorial closely enough, and went to that based on its “master class” tag. When I walked in and heard “If you don’t already have git installed, …” and asked one of the speakers about the course content. To his credit, he told me I’d be really bored with the material, so I went to the “Hacker’s Area” and hung around until Selena’s Pg 9.1 talk started.
That afternoon I was amazed and astounded with all the things I didn’t know I could do with vim. I’ve already saved myself at least a few minutes of typing every day since the conference. Thanks, Damian!
Day 3, sessions.
Web Development for the Pathologically Lazy had a catchy title and was very entertaining, but it felt a bit light on actual content I could take home and use.
I was really excited about the next two talks on my schedule: Mistakes were Made and What Went Wrong With Our Disaster Recovery Plan packed the room and brought out the war stories. They were both horrifying and educational. One of the most important steps in disaster recovery is identifying wether or not you actually have a disaster . I love hearing stories of other people’s disasters, having had a few myself. It reminds me a lot of sitting around the campfire rehashing the day’s events – “No shit, there I was…” There are people who say “I’d never do anything that dumb!” but I think those people are either lying, or not taking risks, which means they’re not learning much.
I really liked that Brian mentioned some concepts from Selena’s talk in his; that provided some continuity.
Day 4, sessions.
First up was DIY Clinical Trials. I was really interested in this when we received this proposal for review, and I have to say that this BLEW MY MIND. I had no idea something like this was going on. My background is in biological sciences, and I actually used to work for one of the hated government regulatory organizations, and I can’t wait to get more involved with this project.
Another session I was super-excited about was Explorable Microscopy. People building gigapixel cameras in their lab (or basement!) and taking pictures of really small stuff? Cool! There were lots of really neat pictures, but this talk went a bit fast and not into quite enough detail for my former microbiologist self. About halfway through, they switched over to talking about the BodyTrack project, which was very interesting and I’m glad I heard about it because it is potentially life-changing for me, but it wasn’t what I’d come to see.
The last session I was able to attend this year was the Event Planning for Geeks panel discussion. Christie, Audrey, and Sherri had a lot of hard-earned info to share, and I’m glad they’re talking about making this into a longer session, because 45 minutes wasn’t quite enough.
I spent less time in the Exhibit Hall this year than I expected to – probably because we didn’t have a PostgreSQL booth. We should be back next year, though. Ubuntu had a booth, and I learned a bit more about the Oregon Team, which I’d coincidentally just learned about the week before, and Ubuntu-women. My favorite booth was No Starch Press – their Manga Guide to Databases is my favorite introductory db text, and it looks like they have a lot of other fun, friendly titles too.
1 – I have a funny story about that, which I will tell over beer.
Additional tip: shop the book vendors on Thursday afternoon, they don’t want to carry their books home & might like to make a deal with you.