Building a different kind of extension

For the past year I’ve been rather distracted, with little time to devote to Open Source projects. I’ve been working on a different kind of project, adding an extension to our home. It’s been quite a journey.

After much planning (the plumbing Statement of Works, for example, covers four pages), and our fair share of trials and tribulations, the builders broke ground two weeks ago. Now, after days of digging and rock-breaking, the foundations trenches are all dug out and the concrete will be poured tomorrow morning. Finally, we’ll be “out of the ground”.

Digging foundations

Naturally I want to be around to handle issues as they arise, so this year I won’t be going to OSCON or YAPC::EU. If all goes well we should be completed in time for me to attend the London Perl Workshop in November.

Meanwhile I hope to find a little time for catching up on outstanding issues with DBI and NYTProf and perhaps a little more blogging.

The Voyage

We saw Johnny Duhan in a very small, intimate, concert in Ennis last year. Last weekend we saw Christy Moore in concert in Limerick. This song, written by Johnny Duhan and sung by Christy Moore, has always struck a cord with me.

I am a sailor, you’re my first mate
We signed on together, we coupled our fate
Hauled up our anchor, determined not to fail
For the hearts treasure, together we set sail

With no maps to guide us we steered our own course
Rode out the storms when the winds were gale force
Sat out the doldrums in patience and hope
Working together we learned how to cope

Chorus:
Life is an ocean and love is a boat
In troubled water that keeps us afloat
When we started the voyage, there was just me and you
Now gathered round us, we have our own crew

Together we’re in this relationship
We built it with care to last the whole trip
Our true destination’s not marked on any charts
We’re navigating to the shores of the heart

Chorus 2x

– Johnny Duhan

Here’s a video of Christy Moore and Johnny Duhan talking about the song and singing it together.

Perl Myths and Mongers in Dublin

Last weekend I went up to Dublin to speak at OSSBarcamp. I took the train from Limerick on Friday so I’d already be in Dublin the following morning, without having to get up at the crack of dawn.

Dublin.pm

Aidan Kehoe and I had a very small but interesting Dublin.pm meeting that night. Their first since 2004! Our wide-ranging discussions that night included me trying to understand what led Dublin.pm to flounder instead of flourish. I think a key factor was the (implicit?) expectation that members should make technical presentations.

Living in the west of Ireland there aren’t enough local Perl users (that I’ve found so far) to have a viable Perl Mongers group. So I setup the Limerick Open Source meetup instead.

Here’s what worked for us: We sit around in a quiet comfy hotel bar and chat. Naturally the chat tends towards the technical, and laptops are produced and turned around to illustrate a point or show results of a search, a chunk of video etc. There’s no set agenda, no declared topics, and no presentations. And yet, I think it’s fair to say, that everyone who’s come along has learnt interesting (albeit random) stuff.

I’d like to hear from perl mongers, in groups of all sizes, what kinds of balance between the social and technical aspects of Perl Mongers meetings works (or doesn’t work) for you.

OSSBarcamp

At OSSBarcamp I gave a ~15 minute ‘lightning talk’ on Devel::NYTProf in the morning, and a ~50 minute talk on Perl Myths in the afternoon.

The Perl Myths talk was a major update to my previous version, now over 18 months old, incorporating lots of updated graphs and other fresh information.

There is so much happy vibrant productive life in the Perl community that updating the presentation has been lovely experience. I keep having to revise the numbers on the slides upwards. There are lots of great graphs and they’re all going upwards too! (Many thanks to Barbie for the great new graphs of CPAN stats.)

I’ve put a PDF of the slides, with notes, on slideshare. Best viewed full-screen or downloaded.

I made a screencast but I think I’ll hang on to that until after I give the same talk, updated again, at the Italian Perl Workshop (IPW09) in Pisa in October — I’m really looking forward to that! I’ll make another screencast there and decide then which to upload.

After OSSBarcamp last week, and before IPW09 in late October, I’ll be flying to Moscow, visa permitting, to give a talk at the HighLoad++ (translated) conference. I’ve never been to Russia before so that’s going to be an amazing experience!

Is your Perl community visible?

As I mentioned recently, I’m working on an update to my Perl Myths talk. (Which is really a review of the state of the art, state of the community, resources, and best practices. You could even call it marketing.)

In recent months, and especially while researching for this update, it’s become clear to me that the Perl community is both functioning well and growing more conscious of its own role and value.

But are the various components of “the community” sufficiently visible? Continue reading

Retreat

I usually get a cold around January. Nothing major, gone in a week or so. This year I excelled myself by succumbing to the ’flu and following it up with assorted complications. January was mostly a write-off, February was better but still a struggle (what with jet lag and unexpected surprises). Fortunately my Functional Biochemistry practitioner has pinpointed the underlying cause for the slow recovery and I’m fast returning to my usual good health.

My wife suggested I take some time-out for myself. After the rough few weeks I needed a boost, so I did…

I’m just back from a wonderful two day retreat organized by Timothy and Eva from the Kalyana Centre for Mindfulness in Co. Kerry.

The retreat was held in silence, practising Kum Nye, a Tibetan Buddhist movement practice. It was lead by Matthias Steurich — a rare opportunity to practice with him in Ireland. It was wonderful. Just what I needed.

The location was beautiful. A large house overlooking Inch Strand in County Kerry in the West of Ireland. I took this photo on my iPhone on one of my walks along the beach:

IMG_0303.JPG

Crouching Tiger

After almost exactly two years working for Shopzilla I’ve moved on.

I’ve enjoyed my time with Shopzilla, met some great people, and worked on some challenging problems. I’m especially grateful to them for giving me the opportunity to develop and release some very useful Open Source software: Gofer, DashProfiler, and especially NYTProf v2.

When I started with ValueClick back in 1999 it was a small company. Over the years I was with them it grew rapidly, both from within and via mergers. When I left in 2006 it had become a very large company. For me Shopzilla was always a very large company.

I really like to make a significant positive impact where I work. I believe I did that at ValueClick and Shopzilla, but it’s always easier at a smaller company. There’s far less inertia to overcome.

So I’m delighted to be working now at a small company with a great team, product, technology, approach, and growth: TigerLead.com

I’m not keen on job titles, but I needed to put something on my LinkedIn profile. After exploring some options I settled on “Entropy Minimizer”!

I’m also delighted to be working with the PostgreSQL database, at last, as I’ve not had a chance to work with it before. (Although I used to be good at tuning Ingres, the distant forerunner of PostgreSQL, back in the days when RDBMS were novel and we thought a 50MHz cpu was fast.)