Monday, July 25, 2011

OSCON 2011 Begins


I did some chauffeur duty around OSCON last night. Chairman Steve directed me to pick up this retired Citibank CIO at DoubleTree. He'd gotten started in the punch card era with Honeywell. His agenda these days is to help Google penetrate the conservative banking world with its email service, which world is currently standardized on Microsoft's. Jumping through a few regulatory hoops is not that hard, is his message, and worth the effort.

We talked about the database back ends used in banking. There's nothing to stop or prohibit a small bank, say Swiss, from using PostgreSQL instead of DB2. It's mostly an ethnicity thing. IBM was the safest choice. To this day, cities such as Birmingham, Alabama, where he lives, have little innovation in terms of open source, as indicated by their minuscule to non-existent Python User Groups.

I bring up PostgreSQL in part because the Gotham Tavern was on our itinerary. The local Postgres chapter, headed by Gabriela and Selena, had booked some space, drinks and food. We managed to crash the party after getting lost. Even though I'm a local, I wasn't sure where to join up with Interstate Avenue after coming over the Fremont from the Pearl, where we'd met up with Michelle Rowley and her entourage at Rogue. Steve got his Android chatting in the back seat, telling us which way to turn.

Rowley leads our Python User Group. She's stepping out from her job at Emma as a Django wrangler to work on a new kind of Yoga site. We went over her business plans at dinner. I plan to nominate her to the PSF, as one of the Python community's MVPs.

Having been on the OSCON organizing committee this year, I was given a pass.

Some "code of conduct" issues came up at the last minute on the organizer list, and I shared some perspective as totem bearer. Sponsors, guilds, companies, come here in part to get their coats of arms, other branding signs, included in a flow of unplanned, unstaged photographs.

Geek circuses generate a lot of publicity for the participants. Any decision to restrict photography must be considered with much thought.

In my view, PyGotham is being boldly experimental in all but prohibiting informal amateur photography by conference-goers, by encumbering it with paperwork and warnings of reprisals against any paparazzi-like activities.

This is a complete break with tradition as part of what conference goers feel they pay for is the right to shoot pictures of various other geeks, possibly with swag and various iconography. The PSF snake, a product placement tool, is all about getting its picture taken.

I'm in the HTML5 / CSS3 tutorial this morning.