Archive for ‘Talks We’ve Given’

28 February, 2014

SCALE12x Report

by gorthx

Last week I headed to sunny LA for the SoCal Linux Expo, aka SCALE. This was my first time at SCALE & I’ll definitely be going back (it reminded me of my first OSCON several years ago).

I’ve wanted to go to this conference for a few years now & finally had a reason to go: I gave a talk at LAPgDay (aka the Postgres track) on Friday. The Pg talks were mostly SRO throughout the day! That’s pretty exciting. I had a lot of fun giving my talk about Pg’s vacuum & autovacuum processes & got some good feedback about it. Which reminds me: if you haven’t already, please fill out the speaker survey; there’s a link on the back of your badge.

On Saturday, I spent most of my time in the Postgres booth (of course) with friends old and new. I’m just about finished following up with folks who had questions for me, so if you haven’t heard from me yet, hang tight. :) I managed to take one quick spin through the Expo Hall, and have to say I am very intrigued with the DIYBio movement, and hope the PDX group gets something going soon. I also picked up yet another copy of The Manga Guide to Databases at the NoStarch booth, and gave it away the day I got home. I can’t seem to keep a copy of that book for myself!

Two Pg tips I picked up this weekend (thanks Steven & Joe):
1. “TABLE my_table;” is a handy alias for “SELECT * FROM my_table;”

2. The ‘AS’ keyword is not required to specify a field name for an alias. Apparently it’s been this way for a while, and I just managed to avoid being bitten by it until last weekend when I misplaced a comma.

14 February, 2014

I’m speaking at SCALE next week

by gorthx

I’m giving my Autovacuum talk at SCALE next week. There’s a whole track of Postgres talks on Friday.

I’ll also be hanging out at the Pg booth on Saturday – come by & say hello!

12 August, 2011

I’m speaking at Postgres Open

by gorthx

I’ll be giving my logging talk at Postgres Open in September. I’m looking forward to meeting old & new friends, and experiencing parts of Chicago other than the O’Hare airport. (And eating the first real pizza I’ve had since leaving the East Coast.)

10 June, 2010

OSBridge 2010 Braindump

by gorthx

Conference website: Many of the sessions have user-submitted notes; check the “session notes” link from the session info box on the upper right side of each session’s page.

Year 2 of OSBridge was almost as good as Year 1. I say almost, because I spent Monday (my first day off, completely to myself, in a loooong time) laid up with a nasty cold, and completely missed Tuesday, the first day of the conference. Bummer, because I was really looking forward to another installment of Hal Pomeranz’s Command Line Kung Fu . I’d caught this talk up at LFNW and it was truly excellent.


I arrived most of the way through The Rise of Hackerspaces (Leigh Honeywell), just in time to hear about chalkboard paint. How have I not known about this? More importantly, is there whiteboard paint? Oh yes, yes, there is. Leigh’s book recommendation: _Python for Software Design_: a good intro to programming concepts that just happens to use Python to illustrate.

Next, I participated in the Organizing User Groups panel. Eric Wilhelm briefly mentioned t-shirts, but I didn’t get the opportunity to thank him in public for ordering women’s versions of the t-shirts (twice!). Apparently there is a Drupal UG here in Portland, but they don’t advertise. We talked about ways to publicize groups, all-ages post-meeting activities, and presentation ideas. Sam Keen reports that having a few shorter talks instead of one long one is working well for PDXPHP.

The silliness of the compression algorithm and the overall entertainment value of Markus Roberts’ talk (Copyright Lawyers Can Goedel) both lived up to the high expectations I have for him.

chromatic’s Using Modern Perl made me want to try it out. You can

use Modern::Perl;

and have access to 5.10 features and (soon) 5.12 features, such as say, the ‘//’ operator, and named captures.

Best idea I got from this talk: put your module library in git, so if you upgrade something & it breaks, it’s super-easy to revert back to a working copy.

chromatic’s book is available on github, and he wants us to read it.

Schwern How to Report a Bug: I was disappointed that we didn’t get to see Schwern’s “REPENT! For the end of the UNIX Epoch is Nigh!” (I hear it’s showing at OSCON) but I will take this as a substitute. The basic premise is: it’s about empowering your users. There are a lot of gates (or filters, use your preferred terminology) in place to keep people from filing bugs. I ran into this a mere two days later, trying to file a bug report about pgadmin.

I skipped the last session so I could get dinner at the food carts & get back in time for Move Your Asana. We did this last year, and it’s a great way to do a quick decompression mid-conference.

Next up was the PostgreSQL BoF. Most of what we talked about was 9.0 – beta2 is coming out next week. (It actually came out June 4.)


I had to work in the morning, and showed up for the afternoon sessions. I dropped in on Christof Pettus’s Introduction to PostgreSQL, because I’m planning to give a similar talk at LFNW next year. I have a pretty good idea what I want to cover, but figured I should make sure there wasn’t anything big I was missing. 45 minutes is only long enough for the briefest overview, but Christof covered it well, including some gotchas.

Next up, Jacinta Richardson’s Teach Your Class to Fish. This was geared more toward people giving multi-day intensive training sessions, but there’s good material that applies even to shorter one-day sessions. Like, be organized. I learned some new terms (eg “cognitive load”). Jacinta also stressed that it’s really important for students to take breaks – the kind where they actually leave the classroom & walk around. People who fall behind & try to catch up during lunch tend to fall even further behind. Put the most essential topics at the start of the day, because that’s when people are paying the most attention; save the easy topics for the end.

In You Shall Not Pass, Amye Scavarda and Chris Strahl talked about managing client expectations. I’m not a freelancer, but any lesson in boundary-setting is applicable to most work situations IMO. “If it’s not documented, it doesn’t exist” is a good rule of thumb to follow.

Paul “not a stalker; just a very nice man, who knows an awful lot about you” Fenwick taught us Practical Facebook Stalking. See the session notes & Paul’s blog for tips on tightening up your FB settings.

The Code-n-Splode BoF that night was basically a meet & greet and discussion of some things from the conference.


Voodoo donut truck! Woohoo! I ate too many donuts.

Went to Lance’s ShowOff presentation. I may try it…Mark Wong keep making me use Beamer for our presentations, which I guess is cool, but the layout gives me fits sometimes. I really like ShowOff’s syntax highlighting.

During the next session & into lunch (before I ran down to my favorite cart, the Whole Bowl), I worked on Maryanne’s Postgres install – got her logged in, and got her up to speed with the basic SQL to create & fill tables.

I’d intended to go home, but a couple of the after lunch sessions were just too juicy: Selena & Bart’s Advanced Trolling, followed by Audrey’s NSFW. You really Had to Be There ™ to fully experience these.

20 June, 2009

OSBridge Recap

by gorthx

This week I attended Open Source Bridge here in Portland.

Typically, I managed to miss the keynotes both days. There is something about conferences which makes me sleep through my alarm.

It was really hard choosing which talks to attend. The results of the coin toss:

Tcl/Tk: Grandpa might be old, but he can still kick your ass! I went to this primarily because I use Expect so much. (Well, I use, but I remember my roots.) Webb gave a good intro to Tcl/Tk (“Tickle-Tea-Kay!”) despite some initial technical difficulties. I finally figured out the brackets vs braces variable expansion.

Then I gave my talk. Thankfully, Impress did not surprise me. I now have my unicorn badge.

Spindle, Mutilate, & Metaprogram: This was really cool, although it seemed similar to things that came out of the Perl community a few years back. I’d like to see a throwdown between Markus Roberts & Damian Conway.

Assholes are killing your project: I only managed about 20 minutes of this talk before I got too depressed & had to leave. Sorry, Donnie! We’ll talk about this later.

I spent some time in the hall track & then hit the yoga session. This was an excellent pick-me-up after a day of talking and brain-filling, and set me up for my BoF and then some time at the pub.

Arrived too late for chromatic’s Intro to Parrot so hung out in the speaker lounge and watched Andy and Irving’s run-through of Virtualize vs Containerize: Fight! I love the mashups.

Next up was Emma McGratten’s Ask Forgiveness not Permission, which had a lot of excellent reasons (financial & otherwise) for using open source, but not many tips on how to subversively bring it into your organization. I’m sure I know someone who could give a talk about that. :cough:

Lunch today was the excellent KOiFusionPDX Food Cart! They came to the conference site & provided excellent korean tacos. (Yeah, I know, sounds weird – but TRUST ME.)

Speaking of trust…Trust the Vote sounds like an excellent project. Unfortunately the question period started devolving into political discussion, and I didn’t want to just dive right in there and ask them why the hell they’re using MySQL instead of PostgreSQL.

Maria Webster got her unicorn badge for Faking it Till I Make It. Check out her blog to see what geeky women are up to.

bzr vs git smackdown with Selena & Emma. I’ve already made up my mind (git all the way!), but it’s good to listen to alternatives.

The Meditiation for Geeks session didn’t go too well for me, because I was so tired that any time I got close to The Zone, I almost fell over onto a fellow PostgreSQL Smurf. Still, the yoga & meditation sessions are a great way to unwind prior to the post-con socializing & I’d like to see more of this.

Pg took over the room & had our PostgreSQL BoF, which replaced the regular PDXPUG meeting.

Josh Berkus was riding a bicycle around town, which made me inordinately happy. I want to see if we can provide more bikes for attendees next year.

Friday: The Unconference rocked my socks:
1. Emma Jane’s “Playing with yourself” about Open Source documentation teams. I am even sadder that I missed WOSCON. This got me totally excited to contribute to docs. (Especially for certain Perl modules – but that’s a discussion for another post.) Highlights: the conference team is working on a style guide, and a library of personas (which isn’t public yet)

2. I signed up with DayOn, a local volunteer effort. This will be fantastic once we can get people trained in what’s actually reasonable to ask for.

3. I did a Network Management Basics talk (“FCAPS: What the hell?!?”) with Ua and Adam. We talked about the FCAPS model & where various tools we use fit. A very high percentage of them are rrdtool-based, so we talked about that a bit as well. Adam showed us his munin install. I keep trying to find other people in town who are as into Net Management as I am…I sort of feel like I need a 12-step program sometimes. On the way out, Ua proposed a Super-Sekrit project which we’ll start working on in September. (Excitement!)

I saw up-close what it took to put on this conference and I’d like to congratulate the organizers on their success! Great job, and can’t wait until next year!

4 May, 2009

This Week in Geekville: Barcamp!

by gorthx

This was my first Barcamp. I’m sad I couldn’t make it to all of Saturday’s sessions – they looked great!

I only made it to two talks. First, Peter Eschright’s “Rat Salad” talk, which, I admit, I was attracted to by the possibility of gross stories. (I have some, being a former employee of CFSAN myself*.) We had an interesting discussion on what software development industry can learn from food safety initiatives.

Next up, my session on munin. (Which is pronounced “moonin”, like the thing you do on the Barfly bus.) I was hoping to find other users to discuss it, but that seemed to be what everyone came to the session looking for too. Next time I will just do my standard network management intro talk & review of tools. This was too specific for Barcamp, I think.

Igals’ TrainPorn session was next on my list, but I got sucked into Audrey Eschright’s “Creating Awkwardness” on my way through the forum. Lots of discussion about circles of friends vs circles of trust, how to protect your information, and of course some tales from the trenches (my favorite part.)

The beer ran out 30 minutes before my “How to change a flat” session. One should never attempt bike maintenance without beer, but we did anyway. We had a bigger crowd than I expected. Thanks to @robotadam for being a spokesmodel**, and @shawnzyoo for the backup!

I finished up with an intro yo-yo session from @pdxyoyo, and only hit myself in the face once.

It was fun meeting people I’ve only been hearing about. :) Thanks to Cubespace for hosting & providing yummy yummy food.

Coming up next week, apparently I’m participating in the QA talk at I’ll be the one wearing a red shirt.

* My copy of the “Food Defect Action Levels” publication is a big hit at parties.
** Pun intentional.

14 November, 2008

Cisco Syslog Parser – slides

by gorthx

Here are the slides from my talk this week. A link to the accompanying podcast will be along soon.

Other fun things we discussed at the meeting:

Thanks for the lively discussion!

[edit] podcast!

[edit] Clarification of two items from the podcast:
– multiline messages do indeed come in multiple packets. There is a message counter that increments for each message, so you could use the host name + message counter to match up multi-line messages. For what I’m doing, the important part is in that first line, so the payoff isn’t worth the investment.
– re hypens in the mnemonic field of the system message: I went back through and wasn’t able to find any examples of this, so I retract my statement. (I do have examples of system messages with hyphens in the facility field.)

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27 July, 2008

Running a Successful User Group

by gorthx

Gabrielle and Selena presented “Running a Successful User Group” (slides 1.4MB) at OSCON 2008 last Wednesday. Michael Halligan was nice enough to post his notes from the session. We had around 40 people attending, and had great participation from the crowd! Couldn’t have asked for a better audience.

We also created a handout that gets into the nitty-gritty of running a group (PDF 4.2MB). Later, we’ll see what we can do about wiki-fying the content. For now, printing it out double-sided and then stapling it in the middle works pretty well.

We have a stack of index cards from everyone to go through, and looking forward to starting a mailing list for user group leaders. Watch this space for the mailing list announcement!