LinuxWorld 2008 and PHP Meetup

Computer science super genius and Python proselytizer JJ Behrens and I returned to LinuxWorld again this year. We’ve been doing this together for many years with only the pesky birth of a child interrupting my attendence. As JJ says, the conference was disappointing. It does seem like it’s on its last legs. The decline of this conference matches the shrinking posse that I bring with me. Two years ago I brought my entire department with me. It was pretty cool to have six Clear Ink technologist all running around hassling booth people. Last year, my department had shrunk a bit and this year, the one guy I’ve got reporting to me is didn’t come because he’s on vacation. At least I had JJ and Carl to hang out with.

One of the most enjoyable parts of LinuxWorld for me is the spectacle of JJ asking booth people really hard questions. The atrophying conference meant there were fewer people to put on the spot, although we did give the NYT guy and the mobius strip gal some trouble. When we passed the foot massaging shoe booth, I realized what this was–spam! My conference has been spammed! Yuck!

After the conference, I had the pleasure of chaperoning Dmitri Gaskin, Drupal wunderkind, to the PHP Meetup at the CNET building. Dmitri is 12 years old and the son of Igor Gasowski, with whom I’ve worked at Clear Ink for the past five years. JJ and I both had a lot of fun sitting in Starbucks and advising Dmitri on various computer science topics. There was a time when JJ was fresh out of college and I had a few things to teach him. I now find it hard to understand him half of the time. Fortunately, I can still understand the things Dmitri tells me, although when he first explained CCK to me a few months ago, it took me a bit.

One thing JJ and I agree on is that young programmers should read Hackers by Steven Levy. Programming techniques are one thing, but it’s harder to acquire an understanding for history and lore of the craft.

Dmitri and I had dinner with Lee Springer at Chevy’s and then headed over the CNET building for the PHP Meetup. Joe Stump talked about a new system in PEAR for hosting your own repository channels. It’s obvious how this can help keep code straight, especially for a company like Digg that has many production servers. PEAR’s system for installing modules is similar to Apt or RPM. Having been coding in PHP for so long (11 years!), my tendency is to do things the “old way”. So, while I’ve taken sips of the PEAR koolade, I’ve never taken a big gulp. I’m still trying to sort out PEAR versus Zend Framework versus sticking with my FreeEnergy codebase.

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