Tuesday, July 17, 2012

OSCON 2012: Tutorials

I'm glad my co-worker is here, currently based in Peoria.  He went on the OSCON 5K run tonight, which was interrupted by a bridge going up, apropos for Bridge City.  The Bartons, me 'n Steve, in the meantime, were at Camp OSCON, this year's fun fest, the night before OSCON proper begins.  We've had the two days of tutorials.

Fortunately, I had a 3 button mouse, the wheel counting as a button.  Blender, the full featured open source 3D / 4D polyhedrons-based rendering program, with a Python console, is pretty useless without such a mouse.  Our teacher is so much the Blenderphile that he'd switched away from Apple, because there's never a number pad (lots of hot keys).  He recommended Logitech's 3-button mouse, which is what I had, supplied by my place of work.

Speaking of which, Tim O'Reilly was there at Camp OSCON.  I was thinking this guy looked a lot like Tim, but he was looking so informal, no name tag, kinda street person, kinda Occupy.  Then I realized this was Tim for real, and he was clearly thinking about following Steve in the dunk tank, raising funds for Free Geek ($10 for three balls).  I tried to sink Steve (courtesy of Patrick), as did Patrick, and came close (I hit the target, but not hard enough).  Steve sunk Tim on his first throw.

My second tutorial was about the Go language, a tightly designed little gem from Google, a new general purpose language akin to C in some ways, but with more emphasis on concurrency through channels.  I got it installed at least, and somewhat followed, but I'm not released from my day job to come here and needed to attend to my queues.  Think of me knitting, multi-tasking.

The Bartons seemed to really enjoy their experience.  Steve had snagged them some passes.  Camp OSCON was a very kid-friendly event, despite the alcohol, like a Fourth of July picnic in many ways.  It had been planned for outdoors, but with the threat of storms, it was moved into the Convention Center, Exhibit Hall A.

Last night we snagged some random attenders and showed them around the hood.  Our friend from Bainbridge Island (near Seattle) quickly tuned in that a bunch of experts on Antarctica are in town, and is now dividing his time.  Jose is from Guatemala, though he's now from Miami, and his never seen snow before.  He hopes to, up close, after OSCON is over.

Our third guest, in addition to Josh, was from Baltimore and joked that his company made "replicants" (sounds science fictiony).  We showed them Backstage, and Greater Trumps (where we met up with Trevor).  We also ducked into the theater itself, where a panel discussion on electric cars was in full swing.  The Revenge of the Electric Car was on the marquee, with several parked around the block, recent models (no Tesla though).

I had my camera going quite a bit.  The guy behind me at the Go workshop at a Raspberry Pi.  I asked him about the cool little case and he said he'd "printed it this morning".  Yes, I'm a bit of a paparazzo, surreptitiously collecting pix of celebrities.  Ah, there's R0ml.  And Alex Martelli.  Selena.  Gabriella. Mark of DemocracyLab.  Lots of beautiful souls here (nice auras), looking forward to keynotes, other talks, such as I am able to attend.

The Expo Hall was only opened briefly, a foretaste.  OSCON is well planned.  We're shown a good time, and people tend to enjoy Portland with its many delights.  The Mayor will address us tomorrow.

Josh was also on duty, with Skype conferences to join.  He might have made it to Puppet Labs tonight, for their party.  Steve and I headed back to the hood, taking Max.  Patrick and family returned home. He's been working with Nike these past several months.

At the lunch (which I hadn't expected), I joined one of the Pythonista tables (they had tables labeled by 'tribe').  My table mate to the right was from the Netherlands, from which Python originally hails.  This was his first OSCON and first trip to Portland.  To my left were some Eventbrite guys, while on around was a Plone developer from New Mexico, who sometimes worked with Sandia (where Patrick used to work).  We talked about Zope quite a bit, a cutting edge product in its hay day, and still maturing.

I read and reviewed quite a few talk proposals as a member of the planning committee this year, so was permitted admission.  The Blender tutorial was one I'd strongly advocated we include.  Having experienced the workshop, I feel vindicated in my advocacy, though Blender cannot be mastered in a few short hours.

Our teacher wisely gave us a lot of big picture overview, about the rendering pipeline in general.  He's an artist and sculptor, not a coder, which is encouraging in terms of community building.  He's also a core member of the Blender power user community and was able to let us in on a lot of insider information about what's happening in that world.