OSCON Day 3: Now the Fun Begins

Tim O'ReillyMy hat is certainly off to those for whom blogging is either a way of life or a profession. I feel as though I was dragged through the day yesterday, barely able to keep up with moving from one part of the day to the next and having things register, let alone finding the time to write about it. Part of that was the convention center: having one session in an “A” room, followed by another in a “J” room meant a walk of several minutes, usually to find that the second talk had already started, and you had to catch up. The other part was the traditional OSCON “problem” of the sheer volume of things going on simultaneously, and trying to figure out where to divert one’s attention, desperately hoping that you’re going to remember enough of everything you’ve seen to be able to look it up later. Cameras, browser bookmarks, wikis and other bits of technology help, but I definitely felt, more so than previous years, that the pace yesterday seemed to be the most frenetic I’ve encountered.

The day started with the traditional welcome and keynotes, which were given by good speakers, but speaker or group agendas seemed to be in the forefront. Tim O’Reilly, who I always like to hear speak, introduced “Open Source for America”, a group wanting to raise awareness of open source in the U.S. federal government, and Dirk Hohndel from Intel spoke about netbooks in the context of Moblin becoming the OS of choice. This was interesting to me, because I first heard of Moblin last year at OSCON, but haven’t seen much about it in the intervening year, but just have this gut feeling that when ChromeOS is released, it will be everywhere. Why is that?

The highlight of the keynotes was Michael Lopp opening a sealed box of Borland’s Paradox for Windows that he’s had for 15+ years as part of his “A Brief History of Software” talk. Fun Stuff.

The day’s sessions were punctuated with the Expo Hall, which is where the break was after the keynotes. Although it feels like there’s more here this year, things seemed very crowded and close-quartered, and after the completion of the “Passport Contest” (an annual event where you get stickers from all the major booths, completing a card that you hand in for a drawing for some good prizes – I won a secondary prize last year: a stack of 15 or so O’Reilly books – so worth doing!), you were left with the feeling that you hadn’t really seen much. I hope to make the rounds again and prove that wrong (oh, and don’t get me wrong, I talked to some people about some cool-sounding things I’m going to try out!).

The sessions I chose for the day included 2 on web design aspects (interesting, but hard to have absorbed everything – hopefully the speakers post the slides), 2 on the open source stats package “R”, and a couple on the future of storage and “The Genius Programmer Myth”, a fun talk given by a couple of Google guys on team programming and the mechanics of that.

Lunch, provided by Google, was a combination of an excellent selection of seafood and other things, and some light conversation with people we didn’t know, which can be interesting.

The day concluded with an Expo Hall reception (does all convention center catering offer the same menu? Good though!), and a couple of parties thrown by Sun and LinuxFund.

In all, the consensus seems to be that we miss Portland, the conference center, while adequate, seems spread out and a little run-down, and in the end, there doesn’t seem to be as many people here (perhaps a result of the economy), and a large group of those that are seem to be locals and first-timers. On the positive side, the people here are always interesting, there’s always gems of things you find, at random most of the time, in the speakers, the talks, the expo hall and overheard conversations, that make OSCON enjoyable and worth coming out for.