Tag Archives: open source

OSCON 2008

Another OSCON has come and gone, and as usual, I am exhausted in the aftermath. I’ve developed a love-hate relationship with OSCON over the years. The diversity of the OSCON community is one of the huge pluses of the conference. I got involved in open source via Apache, and OSCON was where I really started to get more of a sense of the open source community as a whole. That’s led to friendships with people doing all sorts of open source stuff, which makes the conference a natural place to reconnect with many of those folks. Which leads to the primary downside of OSCON, which is that there is just no way to keep up with, never mind see all the people that you’d like to see. Combine that with the sheer scale of the event, and you have recipe for burnout. This year is no exception, which is why this post is delayed by a few days.


It’s fitting to start a review of OSCON with programming languages, since OSCON began as a Perl conference. There are still lots of Perl hackers running around, and by the distribution of the program (the Python track was 1 day shorter than the Perl, PHP, and Ruby tracks), it seems that Perl is not going anywhere anytime soon. I think that we are going to need to drum up some more Python talks for OSCON next year. Then again, with PyCon topping 1000 people this year, maybe all the Python folks are going there. It certainly is cheaper than going to OSCON. Despite all of this, I saw lots of people that I knew from the Python community, as well as plenty of people who had affixed a yellow Python ribbon to their badge. The ribbons are a nice way of helping people find their tribe at a big show like OSCON – a lower tech version of what the Pathable folks are doing.

I spent a lot of time nosing around various concurrency oriented sessions. I attended Steven Parkes’ tutorial on Actors, which was pretty well attended. Steven has implemented a version of Actors as a set of Ruby and Python libraries. During the tutorial I was able to meet Debasish Ghosh, who has a great blog and Twitterstream on high-level languages, and concurrency topics in general. I also took in a BOF on Actors, which had some really interesting conversation. There were a lot of Erlang folks in the room for that one, which made the discussion pretty interesting.


OSCON 2008

There was lots of non-traditional database stuff happening at OSCON this year. I am one of the mentors for the CouchDB project at Apache, and I was finally able to meet my first CouchDB commiter, Jan Lehnardt, at the show. Jan gave a nice high level overview talk on CouchDB, which was well attended, and I was interested to see Brian Aker of MySQL/Drizzle in the audience and among the throng of questioners after the talk.

OSCON 2008

I also went to a talk on Prophet, which is a peer to peer database that is being done by some of the folks that brought us SVK. I’m not sure that I quite recovered from my initial reaction to that revelation, but Jan was sitting next to me during the entire talk, and was saying something about stealing some ideas from the Prophet guys. In open source we call that standing on the shoulders of giants, or something like that.


The XMPP folks had a three day summit during the conference, which I gather was well attended. There was a decent amount of XMPP buzz floating around in the hallways, so I expect the blogosphere to be full of XMPPness during the next week or so. I’ve done a bunch of blogging on XMPP in the past, and while things have improved, they haven’t improved to the point where XMPP is taking over the world. Things like Twitter are definitely helping, but there is still a long way to go before XMPP achieves world domination. But we can hope. And at least XMPP makes a great advertisement for Erlang.

Along with XMPP, we had the microblogging meme. I made heavy use of Twitter throughout the week, and it definitely played a useful part in making connections with people. Well, except for the times when it was down. I was able to spend a little time with Leah Culver, the founder of Pownce, which has the virtue of being written in Python, and of having a very nice API for dealing with the service. It’s interesting to get additional perspectives on a problem, and since I had already talked some with the Twitter guys, it definitely helped to hear Leah describe Powce’s take on the problem(s) and solutions. O’Reilly was not to be outdone, and did some very active boostering for identi.ca. I’ve got very mixed feelings on identi.ca. One the one hand, I should love identi.ca, because it’s open source. On the other hand, it’s written in PHP, which means I won’t be touching the code, and more importantly, my network is not there. Actually, it was kind of annoying to have to explain to lots of identi.ca zealots that it’s the network that’s the value, not the software, or ironically, the quality of the service. Still if another microblogging service can convince my network to move, and remain up, and even deliver some new functionality, I would definitely switch. I think I could probably write another post about “microblogging”, but I’ll refrain for now.

Theo Schlossnagle gave an amazing presentation called “Full-stack introspection crash course”, which is code for “let me show you some amazing stuff that you’ll only be able to do with DTrace”. This was a brilliant choice of title on Theo’s part, because it didn’t scare away all of those people whose preconceptions about DTrace or Sun would prevent them from coming to such a talk. Instead, Theo played to a very full room, and I would say that about one-third of the audience actually uttered the phrase “Oh My God” out loud at some point during the presentation. This was certainly true for thetwo gentlemen sitting directly to my right and directly behind me. I later heard from people at the Sun booth, that a bunch of people came to the booth having heard about DTrace (I assume at Theo’s talk), asking for whatever CD’s they needed in order to be able to use it. Theo clearly understands how to communicate about DTrace. We at Sun need to learn that lesson.

Open Source

Of course, you can’t have a conference on open source without meta stuff about open source itself. I was fortunate to attend the morning session of Microsoft’s Participate08 event, which was an interesting case study led by Karim Lakhani from the Harvard Business School. The case was on threadless.com and involved a lot of issues which are very relevant to injecting corporate involvement into an existing community based organization. I’ve been following Karim’s work over the years (he studied under Eric von Hippel, whose work I am also fond of), so I was happy for the chance to meet him and participate in an activity with him. I also met Siobhan O’Mahony, who is also doing great work studying open source communities. I’m not sure what direct value Microsoft got out of sponsoring Participate, other than being able to say that they did an event around OSCON, but I know that I definitely appreciated the chance to interact with a bunch of people.

OSCON 2008

Microsoft was all over the news by the end of OSCON, having announced that they would become a Platinum sponsor of the Apache Software Foundation. This was not a complete surprise to me: Justin Erenkrantz, the current ASF president told me what was happening the night before at a party. I think that this is an interesting step for Microsoft, an it’s definitely a step in the right direction. However, as one questioner pointed out, Microsoft has a long history of incendiary rhetoric towards the open source community, and that’s going to mean that just about everything happens in steps. I do find it interesting that one of the reasons that the ASF has taken donations is to build up a legal defense fund against what we regarded as inevitable legal attacks. It’s somehow ironic to think of Microsoft’s $100,000 going into that pool. I think that the next interesting milestone in Microsoft’s relationship with the ASF will be when the first Microsoft sponsored project shows up at the front door of the Apache Incubator.

I also contributed to the metaness with a talk titled “Open Source Community Antipatterns” (slides are now available on the O’Reilly slide page). The talk was decently attended, but I suspect that the all-star antipatterns panel immediately following my talk drew off some of the audience that might have come to my talk. The people track expanded a great deal this year, which I think is a good thing.


I always have photographic memories associated with OSCON. I got my first digital SLR, right before OSCON 2005, and I’ve shot a bit a each OSCON, and even won the OSCON photo contest one year. This year I found myself shooting less. There were too many other things that I needed to do, and between knowing that Duncan is making is covering stuff and some artistic blockage, I lacked both time and motivation to crank out the shots.

Duncan has been a great friend and photographic mentor, and I always look forward to catching up with him during OSCON. This time was no exception. We did a bunch of stuff together, ranging from hanging out, having a wide angle shootout (well he was wide) to Duncan putting one of his cards into my D3 and giving the pixels a once over. Probably the most fun thing that we did was an impromptu photoshoot. Duncan was shooting headshots of the OSCON staff for a thank you slide for the closing keynotes. Only problem was that he needed one of himself, so he drafted me. With the safe shot in hand, we spent a few more minutes doing something a little edgier and fun.

OSCON 2008


That’s it for another OSCON. I hope we’ll be back in Portland again next year.

OSCON 2008 is next week

OSCON starts in Portland next week. This year there are a bunch of technical sessions that I am looking forward to including:

I’ll be giving a talk on Open Source Community Antipatterns. The content of this talk is based on my experiences with Apache, the Chandler project at OSAF, as well as general observation of open source projects in general. There’s a great panel on the same topic immediately after that talk, so you’ll be able to go two full rounds on this stuff if you like.

This is the first year I have been at OSCON as the employee of a sponsor, so I suspect that’s going to make the experience a little different this year. We are going do something a little different with the Sun booth this year. Instead of the usual booth stuff, we are going to host a two day unconference and a lounge with coffee, cookies and electrical outlets, so come by, chat or crash. Also, Sun, MySQL, and Zend are co-sponsoring a party on Wednesday night, July 23rd. If you were at OSCON last year, this is a bigger version of the party in the garage at the DoubleTree. Same venue, 8pm. I’m going to be at the Actors BOF right before that, so I’ll be fashionably late. I hope to see some of you in Portland!

Jython 2.5 Alpha 1

The Jython development team has released the first alpha of Jython 2.5. The guys were hoping to have this done in time for EuroPython, but it wasn’t to be. Still, they are ahead of where they planned to be, so this is good news. If you are interested in an up to date version of Python on the JVM, go kick the tires and report bugs. Getting more testing done should help speed the process of shaking out all the bugs.

My first EuroPython

I’ve been doing Python stuff since 2003, and my first PyCon was back in 2004, but this was the first time that I’ve been able to attend EuroPython. The conference reminded me very much of the first PyCon that I went to back in 2004. It was around 250 people, and it had a much smaller and more intimate feeling to it. That made it much easier to find and sit down with people and really dig in to what they are doing.

EuroPython 2008

There weren’t really any tracks per se, but I spent almost the entire time in a single room which was occupied either by a Jython talk or a PyPy talk. I somehow missed the PyPy talks at PyCon this year, so it was good to see the people and reconnect with what they are doing. We had a fun discussion about ways that the two projects could collaborate in the future. I really hope that we’ll be able to establish a good collaboration there.

EuroPython 2008

During one of the meals I got to spend some time with Raymond Hettinger, one of the Python core developers, who is also a professional photographer. It is always good to find people in the same tribe, even better to find multiple tribal overlaps. Thank you also to several of you who read this blog and stopped by to say hi. I completely appreciate the encouragement.

EuroPython 2008

The most riveting presentation of the conference was Hans Rosling’s presentation on the data visualization tools at GapMinder, which was really an excuse for him to present all sorts of interesting slicings of international health and economic development data. Despite being very sleepy and hungry, this talk had my undivided attention – I didn’t even really notice the passage of time. Professor Rosling gave a talk at TED earlier this year, and I expect that this is part of the content which we saw in the keynote.

EuroPython 2008

Python conferences seem to be taking off. In addition to EuroPython, there was PyCon Italia earlier this year, which was well attended, from what I was told. Also, in September, I will be speaking at PyCon UK in Birmingham, and I was able to meet John Pinner, one of the organizers, and nail down a bit more of that.

Thus far, I haven’t had any major travel hiccups. I made all my flights (2 from Seattle to Vilnius, and another 2 from Vilnius to Prague) and no bags were lost or anything else. I am writing this from a flexible office at Sun’s Prague development office, which is home to much of the NetBeans engineering team. I’ll save Prague for a posting when I make my way home.

EuroPython 2008


Live or semi liveblogging conferences has been getting more and more difficult for me to do. The combination of meetings, networking/parties, and photographs means that it takes longer to assemble the requisite material. Here’s a bit on CommunityOne, which took place on Monday.

Many people (mostly Sun folks) have been asking me if this is my first JavaOne. My answer is, “it’s not, but it is my first one in ten years”. It’s been quite some time since I’ve been to a conference run by a big company like Sun (as opposed to an O’Reilly or open-source community conference). Even though the basics are the same, I definitely feel a kind of culture shock. I was asked to be on a panel during the general session, first thing in the morning, in order to get miked up and to run though the flow. Production values are much higher than I am used to. I keep thinking of CommunityOne as a small event, but in reality it is huge. I am told that registration was around 5000 people, which is twice the size of OSCON, which is the largest conference that I’ve been to in the last 4 or 5 years. Some pictures might help with the scale and production values:

CommunityOne 2008

CommunityOne 2008

The panel was on community models, although the content was closer to the edge where companies and open source communities meet/collaborate/fight. I think that I had two or three chances to speak, including the final set of remarks before the close of the panel. I have some more thoughts on that topic, but they are deserving of their own post, so that will be showing up after JavaOne is over.

Probably my favorite thing that happened at CommunityOne was the demonstration of ZFS’s reliability in the face of hardware failures. Sun Fellow Jim Hughes has demonstrated this a few times at Sun Tech days, and I’ve been meaning to write about that. I got to meet Jim before the keynote, and I had a very good seat to observe the hardware failure.

CommunityOne 2008

Jim usually destroys 2 of the drives in the ZFS pool, and it looked like Rich Green (EVP of Software) was going to get to smash the other one, until Jeff Bonwick, the inventor of ZFS, showed up to do the honors himself.

CommunityOne 2008

Smashing things makes for cool demos – you can watch the video replay if you like.. I’ve been paying more attention to ZFS ever since Theo Schlossnagle sat with me and a few other people in a bar at ApacheCon in Atlanta last year. We were talking about the voracious storage needs of photographers, and Theo was really singing the praises of ZFS. There were so important things that happened to ZFS for OpenSolaris 00805 (which was launched at CommunityOne). The most important is that you can now boot off of a ZFS volume. I hope (but don’t know for sure) that the work that made this possible will make it possible for Macs to boot off of a ZFS volume. My photo storage is getting all fragmented, and I could really put ZFS to good use. I suppose that I could build a ZFS storage appliance based on OpenStorage, but at the moment that is more work that I want to do.

I spent much of the rest of CommunityOne at the Redmonk unconference. I was drafted for an impromptu discussion on dynamic and other programming languages, which included a drop in from David Pollak, developer of the very cool lift framework for Scala, and organizer of the Scala liftoff which is happening on Saturday, right after JavaOne. There was also a very active session on Twitter – probably the biggest of the unconference. Jim Jay Evans Edwards from Twitter came along to participate in that one

CommunityOne 2008

I have a bunch more photos from CommunityOne. At the rate that things are going, I will probably just do a single post on JavaOne. There are plenty of other people doing liveblogging, for those who need a bigger information flow.

Update: corrected Jay Edwards’ name. Thanks to @monkchips

Python at CommunityOne

CommunityOne is a free and open developer conference that is run by Sun on the day before JavaOne. This year, there will a space at CommunityOne dedicated to the Python community, complete with whiteboards and wifi. If you are in the Bay Area for JavaOne, or in the Bay Area, or just plain interested in Python, please register for CommunityOne — space is limited.

Registering for CommunityOne gets you a bag of swag, a free lunch the day of CommunityOne, access to all the CommunityOne events and sessions, and a free pass for Day 1 of JavaOne. When you register, put “Python/Jython” in for the referral code.

I will be on a panel on community models during the general session from 9:30AM – 10:45AM, and Frank Wierzbicki and I will be doing a Python/Jython panel. In addition to the usual developer stuff, there will also be a two day Startup Camp, and the folks from RedMonk will be back to do their day long unconference thing.

OSAF 2.0 and Me

On Tuesday, OSAF announced a substantial restructuring of the Chandler project. We’ve accomplished quite a lot on Chandler over the last 12-15 months, and I am particularly proud of what the Chandler Server/Cosmo team has accomplished during that time. The project is entering a new stage, with a much smaller staff. That staff will not include me — I felt that the project would be better served by letting me go and keeping one more engineer on staff. It is likely that I will remain involved with the Chandler community, although I’m not sure what form that will take at the moment.

I am looking for a new opportunity, and am open to lots of possibilities. I have done a wide variety of things in recent history: development work (server side Java, client and server side Python), open source community work, and engineering management. Depending on the opportunity, I’m able to do any of those things, on either a full time or consulting/contracting basis. My contact information is on the about page of my blog, as is my LinkedIn profile, which is a pretty good summary of my credentials.

Prism App for Photophlow

I’ve been using Photophlow a fair amount over the last few days – It’s been pretty fun, although the real value will come if we manage to use it for shoot planning or review, which hasn’t happened yet.

One thing that I’ve noticed is that having Photophlow open in a browser while I’ve got other webapps running tends to make the overall experience a bit less nicer. So taking a page from Travis Vachon, I created a Prism (Webrunner) application for Photophlow. This lets you run Photophlow as a standalone application, in a container which is essentially a custom version of Firefox. You can get the webapp here. You will also need a copy of Prism to make this work.