Tag Archives: tutorials

OSCON 08 Tutorial Days Wrap-up

With the two days of tutorials over, I just wanted to do a quick re-cap, with some thoughts on my experience this year, and some observations.

In previous years, I’ve picked tutorials that seemed cool or had things I thought I wanted to learn, even if it was not completely something I was doing.  As is usually the case with conferences, I came away from that all hyped up and enthusiastically looking forward to using it, playing with it, implementing it, etc., and…nothing.  You get back to your job, start catching up from being away, and the day-to-day routine takes over, and all the enthusiasm you had fades until 6 months later, you’re cleaning up your desk, and come across the pile of materials from the conference, and you gaze wistfully at the things that had you fired up 6 months ago, and realize that you’re far too busy to get to *that* any time soon.

OK, that was depressing, right?  Sorry for the reality check, however, I say that because this year, I think I actually came across stuff in my tutorials that I can apply to the day-to-day stuff, and that’s a good feeling.  I prefer the hyped-up enthusiasm, but knowing the results of *that*, I’ll take this.  One exception, I took the “Python in 3 Hours”, and, not being a Python person, I did resolve to try and get into it, but I have more of a pragmatic feeling about that, so I’m going with “not the same this time”.

Anyway, a couple of observations about this year.  First, a lot of tutorials didn’t have printed materials (I had none), and almost all had their presentations online, which was great – I don’t really need the paper, and, as the saying goes “you can’t grep dead trees”.

Second, there was no checking at the door if you had registered for a particular tutorial, meaning you could actually go to different ones, which saw a lot of bailing at the break to check out another one.  This made it more like the sessions, which was great for some people, and the seating problem you’d think this would create largely didn’t seem to occur.

In all, it was more relaxed, and was thoroughly enjoyable.  Congrats, O’Reilly, on a great start this year!

OSCON, Day 2: Tutorials Part the Second

The weather is cooler today (about 10° cooler than the norm, according to the local station), and the walk over from the hotel (about 5-10 minutes) was a great way to start the day.  I actually read the schedule, and went to the right place for breakfast today (almost missed it yesterday!), and got caught up somewhat on blogging and news.

My first tutorial was “PHP: Architecture, Scalability, and Security” by Rasmus Lerdorf.  Rasmus, who created PHP, is always inspiring when he talks about the internals of PHP, and using available tools for getting under the hood of what your code is doing at the system call level, and getting optimizations that you might never have thought of.  The first part of this talk was a refresher for me of what he talked about last year, but I never get tired of listening to him, mostly I think because his philosophy toward writing PHP is very similar to mine (or vise-versa: I don’t mean to sound egotistical; Rasmus could code circles around me).  If nothing else, this talk is entertaining: Rasmus runs a web vulnerabilities scanner of his own making against various websites, starting with the conference site.  This year, the talk got a visit from an O’Reilly organizer and their main web guy, hoping the “attacks” were coming from him!  They were nice about it (an change, Rasmus said, from previous years), and even stayed to hear more of the talk.  Other sites scanned were from audience volunteers (at their own sites), and one shouldn’t have: his site had every vulnerability Rasmus’ scanner had a rule for.  Fun stuff.

The afternoon tutorial was “TCP/IP Troubleshooting for System Administrators“.  The speaker, Darren Hoch, was energetic, engaging and funny, making what could be a dry topic (some other word for entertaining).  Most of it covered tcpdump and netstat (although using using some tools (or variants) that I hadn’t heard of: tethereal and dsniff), and using them in different case studies.  The handout will be a useful reference.  In all, some interesting information that can be used in everyday network issues, and a good refresher.