Ted Leung on the air: Open Source, Java, Python, and ...
Of all the conferences that I attend, ApacheCon is different, because I am an "insider". As with all conferences, the technical program is a piece of superstructure that facilitates the human part of the program. Since ApacheCon is one of the few times for Apache folks to gather in person, I find that the human track is much more important than the technical track. It's a time to have those high bandwidth conversations that don't happen over e-mail, to catch up with old friends, and to find some perspective on what is happening all around the Apache Software Foundation.
This year in the "official technical track", I worked with David Recordon, Paul Querna, and Justin Erenkrantz (thanks!) to get all of the Heraldry committer accounts created and Jira accounts setup. That process has been dragging out and it was one of my big goals to get that unstuck so that we can get going. That work paid off handsomely, because a bunch of code showed up in SVN on Wednesday. So now we can get on to the business of getting the community going.
I also talked about Heraldry in the Incubator Fast Track, a set of lightning talks focused on projects that are currently in the ASF Incubator. This is the first time that I've attended / participated -- I'm not sure if this was done at ApacheCon Europe this year or not. It's the kind of thing that just obviously makes sense, and you wonder afterwards why it took so long. The session took up two session lengths, and there still wasn't room for everyone who wanted to participate. I heard the best quote of the conference during this track. It was during one of the web services talks, and the presented described the WS-* stack of web services protocols as the "WS Death Star".
I attended Sally Khudairi's media training tutorial for an afternoon. I've been interested in getting some kind of media training for a while now, so I jumped at the chance to get in on this one. This was really "basic" media training, which focused on speaking to people, understanding how much information that you (as a technical person) are throwing at a journalist or analyst, and a bit about the world of a journalist or analyst. Sally kept it very interactive and experiential, which I really appreciated. She was able to get Michael Cote from the Redmonk analyst firm to come and do mock press briefings with us, which was great. I've been a follower of the Redmonk blogs for quite some time, and it was great to meet Cote. He and I had several good conversations during the course of the Con.
Brian Moseley from OSAF did a great job talking about Cosmo. When we submitted the presentation earlier in the year, it was directly applicable to Apache since we were using Jackrabbit as our storage engine for Cosmo. Unfortunately, since then we've had to replace Jackrabbit with a Hibernate based storage layer, so the relationship to Apache projects was not as obvious. Nonetheless, there was a decent turnout (especially for the first talk on the last day), and people asked engaging questions.
On the human/social track, I participated (as usual) in the PGP key signing (don't worry folks, cabot will be filling up your mailboxes soon). This was a little depressing for me. Before my laptop was stolen this year, I had one of the most highly cross-signed keys in the foundation, including signatures with/from people who only attended a single ApacheCon. Having to revoke that key and start over was one of the most bitter pills to swallow on the laptop scene.
The photography walkabout/BOF never happened -- the biggest cause for this was that sunset was around 7pm, and this year the social scene at ApacheCon was really active. During the conference proper there was at least one event (sometimes two) every night. Wednesday night was the keysigning, which I couldn't miss, and Thursday there was the Lightning Lottery Talks, which are a must see. So we ended up with nothing. That doesn't mean that there wasn't a lot of shooting going on. I saw a good number of SLR's and lots of point and shoots. The active social scene provided lots of photo opportunities as well. In fact, this year, most of my shots are from the social activities and not the conference. There are only so many photos that you can take of people sitting in a room listening to someone talk -- same goes for the exhibit halls. In addition, I wanted to do a mini photography project showing various ASF folks in a more human setting. So as we made our way up and down Sixth Street each night, there were plenty of opportunities to shoot, and to interact with other shooters. Torsten Curdt took a bunch of really nice photos and Andrew Savory was around a lot with his Rebel XT. I met Debbie Moynihan of IONA when I noticed a camera strap with "EOS Digital" hanging out of her handbag - another Rebel XT.
Several people have asked me about my shooting at the show, so this next bit is for them. I shot a total of 733(!) frames and posted 159 of those. That includes test shots that I took to figure out the exposure for some of the club/party shots. The whole set of photos is here (Leo, I remembered to change the license this time). Thanks to Ken Coar for annotating the shots of his amazing lightning talk.
- Get my new PGP key cross signed
- Make some good progress on Heraldry stuff
- Hook up with some Abdera folks
- Talk to David about mod_sparql
- Add my FOAF to the committers info
- Go to sk's media training tutorial
- Do a photography walkabout - the austin bat bridge is on my list
This year's ApacheCon US starts in less than a week in Austin, Texas. In addition to the regular ApacheCon activities, I'm interested in organizing a photo walkabout, similar to the ones that James Duncan Davidson has started doing at the conferences that he's attending. So if you're interested, or you know good spots to shoot in Austin, leave a comment or send me mail -- please say whether you are around for the tutorial days.
Well, not really, but maybe I had Scoble and Podtech worried for a nanosecond.
Rich Bowen and David Reid have started up the "Feathercast", an unofficial podcast featuring interviews with people from around the Apache Software Foundation.
Guys, a request -- better filenames!
I just uploaded the last of my pictures of ApacheCon US 2005. If I promised to e-mail you a picture, you are next...
Here's what's left of my thoughts on this year's con.
I like San Diego better than Las Vegas. There aren't as many things to do, but I never did any of those things anyway, and I did spent a lot more time (if that was possible) talking to people this year. The new production company, Full Circle Productions, did a great job. As far as I was concerned all the logistics were handled very efficiently.
I chaired a number of sessions, mostly of friends or people who were talking about something that interested me: Lenya+Jackrabbit, CalDAV, Web Services, and Ruby on Rails. It's hard for me to get excited about going to conference sessions on technical topics, because quite frequently I can visit the website, read the docs, and achieve the same level of understanding in approximately the same amount of time. Every once in a while, someone does stuff in a session that is hard to figure out from the docs, and these sessions are more worthwhile for me. I really liked Brian McCallister's Ruby on Rails talk. He used quicktime moves to playback executions of the various Ruby on Rails scripts, while he narrated what happened. Great style.
This year ApacheCon had a mini business track that ran through Monday. Monday ended up being a bad day for me because I set, but failed to turn on the alarm clock, thereby missing Cory Doctorow's keynote, which I was actually interested in seeing. I walked in a bit late to Simon Phipps' The Zen of Free, but I liked what I heard. I agree that open source governance is going to become a bigger issue in the future, and that lots of people who don't currently see the value of this will do so in the coming year. I need to get Simon's slides and have a good look at them to see what I missed. Jim Driscoll did a presentation called Open Source for Business and Profit. There were a couple of really good suggestions that Jim had for companies trying to climb the open source learning curve. I need to get a hold of his slides as well.
That leaves the keynotes. I missed Cory Doctorow's. I already blogged a bit about Tim Bray's, but here are a few more tidbits:. Good quote "I'm going to ssh into your internal Tivo". Tim was sitting in the back of my presentation - I was wondering what he was doing there, since my presentation is absolutely at the novice level. Apparently he was gathering fodder for his keynote, because he related several things about what happened during the session (two FOP committers met each other in real life during the Q&A). Tim commented that we (the Apache community) are a very polite community and that perhaps we were too polite and that we needed to wade into some of the various controversies roiling the web. I guess I need to make the web services barbs in my talk a bit sharper. His keynote was wide ranging, from an announcement, to serious talk about multithreaded hardware (he brought a Niagra for show and tell). He suggested Erlang as a language to look at for how to deal with concurrency problems, and suggested that Apache is going to run headlong into all of the problems related to highly concurrent hardware. He also ventured briefly into Beyond Java territory, but alas my notes say no more than that. He concluded his keynote with a "thanks" (he was one of the users of the stream of patches that became Apache httpd), and an admonition: "Don't screw up". Indeed.
There was an Oracle "keynote" before the lightning talks. It was pretty bad. It was basically a product pitch, along with an announcement of a future donation of Oracle's ADF to the MyFaces project. If you are coming to ApacheCon to get the Apache community on your side and interested in your proposed project, this is not the way to do it.
Sadly, the Intel keynote wasn't much better. The speaker seemed to be in awe that he was speaking at ApacheCon. I expect a keynote on Open Source from the world leader in microprocessors to be a bit better than "wow, I am so impressed" and "please don't me mad at me if I got it wrong". If you want to become part of the community, take some time to understand what the community is about, and find a way to show us how your issues are our issues. More multithreaded/multi-cored hardware, some open source BIOS, and contributions of security code for Harmony.
I fell asleep for the middle section of Jaron Lanier's keynote. But it wasn't the content that put me to sleep, it was just 5 days of full steam ahead catching up with a guy who was sitting on the floor with his back against a wall. Lanier started out on his disagreement with RMS on building a free operating system. Lanier didn't think that cloning Unix was that interesting -- I think that he was right. From there he launched into a discussion about the Singularity. Lanier doubts that such a thing will actually occur, and points out that the bigger software projects get, the more they fail. He went on to talk about how software is brittle -- it can't improve incrementally, and it accumulates in layers. The problem with this is that ideas, critical ideas, get lock in along with the software design. And because it is hard to go down into the layers and get them out, those ideas get locked into our ideas of how computers ought to be. He cited the example of how there used to be a debate about whether the notion of a file was a good thing or a bad thing. He felt that hope for the future of software was going to come from "the other side of computer science" - robotics, simulation, etc. In order to interact with reality, you can't use protocols. Then there was an interlude where I fell asleep. When I woke up, he was just starting into a section on "What might a server of the future look like?". Lanier believes that computer interfaces will become more intimate (he is the VR guy after all), and that this will drastically impact existing servers. All of a sudden, timing becomes primary, because the server must be able to keep up to maintain the intimacy of the interface. He believes that the architecture of the net itself will have to change in order to accomodate the impact speed of light realities on these interfaces and the servers that provide them. He (third time's the charm) also brought up the problem of programming multicore processors, and mentioned partitioning applications across cores as a possible solution (one core for the AI, one core for the rendering, etc). The last section of his talk was about the style of the open source community. He said that the open source community naturally gravitates towards an additive style (here's a patch that adds x) versus a subtractive style. It's easy to keep adding stuff (ease is relative), but when you are dealing with a user interface, you sometimes need to subtract in order to get to a good interface. Lanier suggested that we need a more vigorous form of subtractive culture in open source. He hearkened back to the earlier portion of his talk where he talked about brittle software vs natural selection/evolution, and said that the key thing in evolution is selection. Selection subtracts, and it works by death or broken hearts (someone didn't get chosen as a mate). He would up with some jokes and stuff. It wasn't the most organized keynote that I've ever heard, but it was definitely the most thought provoking of the whole conference. I hope I get the chance to hear him again when I'm not bushwhacked by 5 days of ApacheCon.
Yesterday I was wandering the halls at ApacheCon, and I passed Tim Bray in the hall. He commented to me that I looked "jaded", which is pretty true. I've been coming to ApacheCon for a bunch of years, and I've seen a lot of the talks by now. This morning was Tim's keynote, which I'll describe in detail in a later post. I had been looking forward to the keynote because I was pretty sure we weren't going to get a heavily vendor oriented keynote, which has happened before.
So I was disappointed when Tim said that he was going to make a product announcement (his first time ever in a speech), and I was unenthusiastic when the announcement turned out to be about a Sun version of Derby. That all changed about a minute into Francois Orsini's demo. Francois is working on Derby at Sun and is a long time Cloudscape engineer (Derby is derived from Cloudscape). So what kind of demo could change my mind? Francois showed how you could use Derby as a local store for Firefox by talking to a copy of Derby via Firefox's ability to talk to Java. His application was a simple tax app and he showed how you could fill in a form, quit (or crash) the browser and have that data returned to you when you restarted the web app.
Adam Bosworth has previously written about the need for local synchronizable storage for the web browser, and I know that the Mozilla folks have been investigating embedding SQLite, for just these sort of reasons. That effort is slated for Mozilla 1.5 or later. It seems to me that what Francois has done is to make that capability available today. I spent some time talking with Francois over lunch, and it turns out that he also has some code that wraps Derby in a way that is AJAX friendly, which means that AJAX applications can do similar tricks without needing the use the embedded Java support.
All of this is pretty cool. Mike Radwin from Yahoo was sitting behind me, and he and his companion were making excited noises while Francois was showing his stuff. I also IM'ed a few ASF people and their reactions were the same. Apparently the conference backchannel lit up as well, but I neglected to sign in to IRC, so I missed that.
It's likely the Francois is going to start up a blog in the near future, and he'll let us know how / where this code will be available.
Update: Francois's blog is up and running now
I've been at ApacheCon since Friday night, and it's been even more non-stop than usual. The ASF hackathon ran the same two days as the conference tutorials. I've been catching up with a bunch of old friends, as well as meeting some people for the very first time. One of the people that I've been happiest to meet is Susan Wu, the ASF's Chief Media Officer, and one of the founders of the feather, a group blog devoted to more business/marketing issues around Apache, and Open Source software in general.
Other people that I've talked to in person for the first time include Leo Simons, Upayavira, and Scott Sanders. Scott is working on a web based RSS aggregator called FeedLounge. FeedLounge has some nice AJAX touches and is written in Python. For reasons that I can't talk about yet, I'm going to be paying attention to what's happening with FeedLounge.
One interesting phenomenon is that I've spent a lot of time talking to people about photography stuff. Maybe I missed it in previous years because I wasn't interested, but there are a lot of photography geeks in the ASF. I've had people offer to let me try lenses and flashes and all sorts of things. We've been swapping tips like mad. There's even been talk of a digital camera BOF one of these evenings. This year, we have an official photographer, Julian Cash, who's been wandering all over taking photos and talking about his Human Creativity project. It's been interesting to watch him at work, to see how he poses people, how he lights them, and so forth. I even got to sub my camera for his. We were going to take a group photo of all the hackathon participants (we are pretty bad about group pictures) when his Nikon locked up. I had grabbed my camera on the way out to the picture, just in case I'd have a chance to shoot while Julian was setting up. He ended up using my camera to do the shoot. That was kind of cool, and watching Julian and Cliff work the photos over in Aperture was pretty cool as well. There are several people here using Aperture, and most of them seem pretty satisfied with it. I've taken some photos which will go up on Flickr as I have time to put them up.
Did that get your attention? Good. ApacheCon US 2005 will be in San Diego, CA from December 10-14. The Super Early Bird Registration price ends this Sunday, October 23. ApacheCon is a great, small, working conference, and it is one of the highlights of my year.
One of the reasons that the OSCON panel on women in open source was very interesting to me was that the Apache Software Foundation was in the middle of a discussion about the best way to increase the participation of women in Apache projects. So I'm very happy to say that those involved in the process have come to consensus and that firstname.lastname@example.org is now available.
Here's the announcement:
The Apache Software Foundation is looking to start a new mailing list for women!
The goal of the email@example.com list is to foster greater participation by women in the ASF community. The list provides a supportive, encouraging forum to help women become more involved in ASF projects. The list is open to all genders - you might be a woman who wants to become more involved or you might be someone who would just like to help create a welcoming environment. Subscriptions are moderated, but public archives are available.
If you are interested in joining, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, with a brief sentence or two describing who you are.
For the first time in several years, the ASF will be having an ApacheCon in Europe this year. The dates are July 18-22 in Stuttgart, Germany. There are early registration incentives available until June 17th, so if you are interested, go register!
Slashdot pointed to this article about the ASF Infrathon, an in person gathering of Apache people for the purpose of keeping the ASF systems running. The issue of project infrastructure is one that I've come across a few time recently. At the PyCon sprints there was a discussion of these topics in the context of the PSF. We need to do a better job of exchanging this kind of information between various parts of the open source community.
I got up to chair Santiago's 8:30AM session (the things you do for friendship) after being up till 3. As we were doing the post session form collecting, etc, Ted Husted came up to me and asked me to sign a copy of my book. This is the first time this has ever happened to me, and I was so stunned that Ted had to tell me what to write. In case you didn't know, Ted is the author of Struts in Action.
Doc Searls was up for today's keynote. Last year was the first time that I heard Doc speak (also at ApacheCon), and I really like the way that he tailors his talks by examining the situation that he finds at the conference. In keeping with his musings on DIY IT, Doc talked about the construction industry and the way that modular/standardized materials facilitate a DIY environment. I've neglected to mention that the conference hotel is under serious construction (the pool is empty, there's rebar in a bunch of places, scaffolding and plenty of red/yellow plastic tape. In fact, I had to duck under some plastic tape in order to even be able to get to the room for Santiago's session. Doc used the state of the hotel as example of some of the principles that he was discussion. He showed photo after photo of the state of the hotel, and in many cases, he contrasted photos from the hotel's website with his own photos of the same areas. It was incredibly funny, and a demonstration of Docs' artfulness as a storyteller and speaker. I have some more ponderings that I'll save for another post.
The other session that I went to was the Lightning Talks. This was patterned after the Python Lightning Talks at OSCON. Stefano and Fitz ran this - Stefano found a court jester's hat, and Fitz had a toy that played recordings of Mr. T. The atmosphere was light, and circus like, and for a little while I feared that this was going to be a disastrous session. Fortunately, the community rallied and we had some pretty good 5 minute presentations. I don't remember all of them, but here are the ones that I had notes for. Stefano showed off Agora, William Glass discussed his geek support group's blog, Jeffrey Barnett showed unalog, and Fitz described how he places his entire home directory under svn. While Fitz was talking it occurred to me that it might be interesting to have a session called "Lifehacks of the Apache Community". Maybe next year. All in all, I think that this session went well for it's first year. I hope that word will get around (and perhaps some advance warning/PR), and that this will be a place for the long tail to make itself heard.
After the session I was sitting in the exhibit area and Jeffrey Barnett stopped by to talk more about unalog. We talked about how it was and wasn't like del.icio.us (someone asked this during the talk), the context that unalog is being used in (universities) and the importance of the social rather than technological factors of these sorts of sites. Jeffrey also pointed me to a few interesting projects, which I'll record here: Openurl and Sakai.
I always end up having to leave in the middle of the closing plenary in order to catch my flight -- weeknight flights to Seattle are pretty scarce. Fortunately, the closing plenary is dominated by a raffle, which just doesn't float my boat, I would have liked to hear the feedback on the conference, though. From where I sat it was a fun and productive conference, but I have a totally different set of metrics than the regular attendees.
With Day 2 out of the way, I can fully relax. I did my talk in the morning, and it seemed to go well - people came up afterwards, and during the day. I did feel bad that I missed on the timing -- I still don't quite have the pacing down, which is annoying. I was even using PowerPoint 2004 (no fruit please), which has really nice slideshow mode tools for showing your notes, elapsed time, and upcomings slides. Matt Raible came up to introduce himself, on the basis that we were both married to Julie's and had eldest daughter's named Abigail.
The ConCom managed to rope Miguel de Icaza into giving a keynote. Miguel's talk was mostly a Mono update -- this is a useful talk for the ApacheCon audience, because the Apache community tends to be mostly underinformed about what's going on with the CLR. I always enjoy watching Miguel speak. There's something about his style that I find both entertaining and endearing. After his talk a bunch of us got into an interesting discussion on the merits of Mono/CLR vs Parrot. People who are interested in the details should pester Miguel.
The only talk that I attended was Scott Johnson's talk on the lessons that they learned while building Feedster. I found it interesting that almost all of the problems that he discussed were operational. Problems with hardware in colos, problems with circuit breakers, problems with system software installation, issues related to database administration. As Scott put it -- we are experts at building search software not at operating big web sites. This reinforces the notion that the success of large internet sites is based on two core competencies, one in the application domain, and the second in operational prowess. Google is the most obvious examplar of this idea. He did mention one tool that I was unaware of: Jeremy Zawodny's MyTop for mysql.
The rest of the afternoon was filled with interesting conversations with people. I ended up going to dinner with a bunch of people from Sun: Danese, Bruno, Andy Tucker, Dave Johnson, Flip Russel and few folks whose names I never quite got. By the time we got back from dinner it was midnight. On the way back to my room I ran into Dirk and Stefano, and we ended up going back to the 24 hour lounge, where we stayed up til 3AM with Santiago and Manoj. Late night conversations like these are one of the best parts of ApacheCon.
Here are highlights of the first day of sessions.
Wil Wheaton gave the keynote. The most interesting thing was the real life blog stories including his own. He got great applause when he said that people could record, photograph, etc the performance, as long as it was released under a Creative Commons license.
I'm not attending as many talks this year, but I did go to Matt Raible's talk on Web Frameworks, and learned a bit about frameworks that I haven't had the time to look into, specifically WebWork and Tapestry. Matt's talk is a very working programmer's style talk -- he's giving people the stuff that people need to get work done. I also went to Howard Lewis Ship's HiveMind session. While I get the technical concepts behind IOC containers, I'm still a little mystified by the amount of excitement over these things. The final session that I attended was Torsten Curdt's session on continuations.
I had a number of good conversations over the course of the day, meeting new friends, and catching up with old friends.
The evening's events consisted of the "Star Trek" reception (again), the PGP keysigning party, a BOF on legal issues, and a trip to see the Incredibles.
At the PGP keysigning, Theo de Winter told me (and a bunch of other people) about CA-Bot, a script for batch signing keys. It also implements an e-mail verification mechanism. This sounded really cool. In fact, I got my messages from Theo this morning. The problem is that the GPG plugin for Mail.app couldn't decrypt the messages, which made things very annoying -- I had to respond to them all by hand. If anyone has a better script for handling this stuff let me know. Robyn convinced me that the use of ID for the keysigning doesn't really help security any, so I'm altering my signing policy appropriately.
The Incredibles is an amazing movie. It's clean, and there were lots of really hilarious moments. It turns out that one of the most hilarious moments occurred on our way to the theater. Roy Fielding got a new car that includes a cool navigation system (my first time riding in a car with such a system). So when Roy turned it on and quickly got directions to the theater (like, faster that I could have done it in MapQuest), and the synthesized voice started giving directions, I exclaimed "I'm gonna write this up". Roy then decided that he was going show off a little. "Show parking" he intoned. What ensued could only be described as a live version of the Doonesbury strips that lampooned the handwriting in the original Newton. Let's just say that the car was full of laughter. But I do have to admit that it was pretty cool.
Here are some highlights of the second day of the Hackathon:
I did end up spending some time helping people with PGP keys, and the web of trust now extends to ASF developers from Sri Lanka and Japan, among other places. I was sitting at a table that was a bit preoccupied with PGP. Ben Laurie and Robyn Wagner were engaging in a bit of one upmanship regarding the number of signatures per PGP key. This set Ben Hyde off and we had a discussion about the best way to extend the web of trust. In particular, Ben wanted to find the single person whose key he could sign that would cause the greatest extension of he web of trust. He and Stefano have been collaborating on a bunch of RDF hacks, so (in Dirk's words) Ben got "emacs look" while writing Perl script that turns a PGP keyring into N3 triples. He then passed the N3 to Stefano, who fed it to Welkin, the RDF version of his Agora software.
In the middle there, we joked about the way that we were using open source jujitsu on each other. This of course, s the ability to get someone to do work for you. You've been particularly effective at this if the other person will actually get great enjoyment out of doing that work.
I was also very happy to meet Robyn in person. The ASF has recently decided that we need to retain our own counsel (a necessity of the times). Robyn's background is in patent law, and I learned a bit about patent law as a specialty. We talked a little bit about the various kinds of "soft" infrastructure needed by open source projects, legal, public relations, etc. She also said that I should try to make it to CodeCon in February, which only reinforced my desire to try to get there next year.
Ben Laurie showed me his cool Sony digital camera, which can take photos in the dark via infrared. He's used the camera to take some cool photos of bats inside a bat house. I wonder how long it will take for this to become a standard feature of digital cameras.
I met David Johnson, the author of Roller in an interesting way. Ben H, Dirk, Stefano, Santiago, and I were having a discussion about RDF, N3, and AI. We discussed some of the problems with processing RDF, the aspects of RDF/N3 that are amenable to network effects, and all that AI stuff that was done years ago that is making its resurgence via the Semantic Web efforts. As the discussion wound down, David, who had been sitting at the table turned and introduced himself. Recalling his enthusiastic pre-ApacheCon blog posts, I told him that I hoped we hadn't convinced him that we were all insane.
I talked a bit with Sam about the hacking he's doing on Python for Parrot. I'm looking forward to trying to run Chandler on top of Sam's stuff. One of the things that is a prerequisite for that is the ability to use Python C extensions.
[Yesterday was day 1, but as with all my conference reports, they are delayed by one day.]
I didn't get a lot of sleep the night before flying out, so I took a bit of dramamine (highly unusual) in anticipation of the boat/limo/flight. This turned out to be a smart move, because there was quite a bit of turbulence on the flight, which which totally did not affect me. Due to ferry scheduling, I arrived quite early (in my mind) for the flight. Apparently, this wasn't early enough, because I ended up in the C group of my Southwest flight. I have a love hate relationship with Southwest -- I don't like playing the seating group game (and for this reason I try to fly Southwest when flying with the family, when having a child boosts us to the front of the line). On the other hand, the "food"/snack, and seats are better than lots of other airlines, and the flight attendants generally are pleasant and entertaining. As usual, I got to the Alexis Park too early in the cleaning cycle, so I had to wait to get a room. I headed straight over to the hackathon room, plopped down at a table with Ben and Santiago, and started to make merry.
Not long after that, I went to lunch with Santiago, Ben, the anthropology team from Syracuse (studying FOSS communities, their second year) Sanjiva, and Brian McCallister. One interesting thing from the lunch: Kevin Crowston from Syracuse was surprised to learn that we (the ASF) use CVS to coordinate social activities, etc.
One of the things that the ASF is going to do in the near future is rely much more on PGP signatures and certificates. I spent some time talking with folks from infrastructure about how that's going to happen. Based on that conversation, I'm going to take some time to wander around and get ASF people to get keys and get them signed. We are having a keysigning, but participation isn't as broad as it should be. During the course of these conversations, I got to meet Noel Bergman, who I've wanted to meet in person for a while. Thom and I also spent some time discussing improvements for Planet Apache. I think I was also successful at persuading Ben that we should use krell to generate the config file for PlanetApache. Open source jujitsu at work.
For dinner I went to Gordon Biersch with Stefano, Lars, Dirk, Gregor, Gianugo and a few others. I was the only American at the table. One of the great things about open source is that anybody can play. The geographic distribution of the dinner party was demonstration of that. I did my hardest laughing all day as Stefano (the Italian) was ragging on Dirk (the Dutchman).
The first two days of ApacheCon are for tutorials, or if you are an ASF committer, "the Hackathon", a chance to sit face to face with other committers and engage in high bandwidth communication. For some of us, it meant the chance to help out a bit with the logistics of the show.
We packed 500 conference bags of schwag in an hour. The swag is good this year. The conference bag is nicer than any in recent memory, and there's a USB rechargeable flashlight.
ApacheCon 2004 will start 5 weeks from today, so if you haven't registered yet, procrastination time is coming to an end.
ApacheCon is a relatively small and highly technical conference. I really like the atomsphere, the opportunity to sit down and spend time talking with people. PyCon and ApacheCon are my favorites among the tech conferences that I've actually attended. (I still haven't made it to an O'Reilly Emerging Technology Conference, or a SuperNova, two conferences that I think would end up high on the list if I ever make it to them. The recently concluded Web 2.0 also looks to have been above average.)
If you interested in cornering the people working on Apache projects, then ApacheCon is the place for you. Here are a few posts by people who attended last year:
- Rod Chavez's trip report
- Doug Kaye (of IT Conversations) posted a comparison of COMDEX, cdXpo, and ApacheCon
- Doc Searls liked it (he gave a great keynote)
- Scott Johnson of Feedster.com learned some stuff that helped out on Feedster
I'll be giving my XML Overview talk again this year, and looking forward to talks on Lucene, ReST, continuations in web apps, Scott Johnson's case study on Feedster, and more.