Relaxed Perl Myths in Ann Arbor

Speaking of belated screencasts, I also haven’t blogged about my visit to the Ann Arbor Perl Mongers in Michigan.

The Ann Arbor Perl Mongers group was being restarted (after a 10 year gap) by the TigerLead tech team. I’m working for TigerLead and was going to be in Ann Arbor for a meeting so they asked me to give a couple of talks: Devel::NYTProf and Perl Myths.

I like giving talks at events like these because there’s no set time limit and the audience is more relaxed (the free pizza probably helped).

I’ve uploaded a screencast of the Perl Myths talk. As usual it covers the Perl jobs market, CPAN, best practices, power tools, community and perl6. At almost 1 hour 20 minutes it’s significantly longer than my usual, more rushed, 40 minute version given at conferences and includes 15 minutes of Q & A at the end.

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!

Perl in five sentences

I just added a concluding slide to my updated Perl Myths talk. Having comprehensively debunked some myths with hard facts about perl and its ecosystem, I wanted to end with a slide that summarized some truths.

I liked the slide text so much I wanted to share it with you:



Perl:

has a massive library of reusable code
has a culture of best practice and testing
has a happy welcoming growing community
has a great future in Perl 5 and Perl 6
is a great language for getting your job done
    for the last 20 years, and the next 20!

 


It would make more sense after seeing the talk, but I think it stands well on its own as a summary of Perl.

Arithmetic, Population, and Energy

Dr. Albert Bartlett is emeritus Professor of Physics at the University of Colorado at Boulder, USA. He has given this lecture on “Arithmetic, Population, and Energy” over 1,500 times.

“The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function.”

A challenging statement. Having seen the lecture now I can understand why it has been so popular, and is so important. I came across it recently and felt it was worth sharing.

You can watch it on YouTube here as a series of bite-size 9 minute clips.

(After that you might like this unrelated take on applying risk management.)

The Italian Perl Workshop

Pisa Cathedral Wall.jpgI spent a very pleasant few days in Pisa, Italy, last week. I’d been invited to speak at the Fourth Italian Perl Workshop. The workshop was a great success. In fact calling it a “workshop” is selling it short. It’s more of a mini-conference:

“2 days of conference, 2 simultaneous tracks, more than 30 talks, 120 attendees, 20 sponsors and many international guests”

The whole event ran very smoothly thanks to a great team lead by Gianni Ceccarelli, Francesco Nitido, and Enrico Sorcinelli. I’ll echo the compliments of one attendee “Complimenti sinceri agli organizzatori! Bravissimi! Tutto perfetto!

I gave short talk on Gofer on the Thursday, and then two 40 minutes talks on Friday: Perl Myths, and Devel::NYTProf. I hope to upload screencasts and slides next week. The talks were all recorded on video so I imagine they’ll be uploaded at some point. I’ll add links here to them when they are.

The majority of the sessions were in Italian so, since my Italian is practically non-existant, I had plenty of time to work.

Or at least try to. The one disappointment of the trip for me was the apparent poor quality of the Italian internet. Using mtr I’d regularly see over 20% packet loss within telecomitalia.it and interbusiness.it from my hotel room. Occasionally over 50%. It got much better at night, so I’d do more work then. At the conference venue the Italian academic network (garr.net) also regularly had over 20% packet loss at its link to the internet. All this was, of course, outside the control of the organisers.

The “corridoor track” at perl conferences is always good. I had a chance to talk to Rafel Garcia-Suarez (and meet his lovely wife and new baby son), Matt S Trout, Hakim Cassimally, Michel Rodriguez, Marcus Ramberg, and many others.

I had opted to take a very early fight so I’d have a day being a tourist in Pisa before the conference started. The weather was beautiful and I had a lovely time strolling though the streets of this ancient city.

Pisa Knights Square.jpg

I didn’t take my camera with me, but I did take my iPhone so I was able to capture a few snaps as I strolled around and climbed the tower. (Yes, it really does lean in a disconcerting “it must be about to fall down” way. All the more dramatic when you’re up close and can appreciate the massive scale of the tower.)

Pisa View over Cathedral.jpg

Perl Myths

Update: several more recent versions of my Perl Myths talk are available. These have significant updates. Slides can be found on slideshare.net and screencasts can be found on my blip.tv channel.

I’ve uploaded my Perl Myths presentation to slideshare.net and google video:

“Perl has it’s share of myths. This presentation debunks a few popular ones with hard facts. Surprise yourself with the realities.”

While I agree with Andy Lester that Good Perl code is the best form of evangelism, I wanted to put together a presentation that others could refer to when they encounter misinformation about Perl. I cover these myths that I’ve heard recently:

  • Perl is dead
  • Perl is hard to read / test / maintain
  • Perl 6 is killing Perl 5

and pull in a wealth of upto date information, some of it quite surprising even to those familiar with Perl and its community. There are two versions, plus a video. I recommend the one with notes (which have useful extra detail and context for the slides) which is best viewed as a PDF. There’s also one without notes which I’ve embedded here:

I videoed an extended version of this presentation at IWTC in Dublin in February. The first 40 minutes or so correspond with the slides above. In the remaining 30 minutes or so I talk about Parrot and Perl 6. I’ve embedded the video below, but wordpress forces me to use a small size so you’ll probably prefer to view it at video.google.com: