Since I have to do a trip report anyway...

YAPC::NA was well worth the cash and opportunity cost.

It was cheap, I increased my knowledge, people were friendly and helpful, I got to observe a celeb or three. The imperfections in the conference and my approach to it were mostly minor.

It was really cheap. $85 for three days of seminars with lunch, coffee and afternoon cookies. The hotel was $65 per night with a little fridge, a microwave, a swimming pool, a hot tub, free breakfast, free wireless access (bring your own NIC) and as many people as we could fit in the room. (we did 4)

A clever co-worker raises the possibility that I might have learned more by locking myself in a room for 4 days with the camel. However, it is nice to be able to ask questions of a person. I've read through the camel a few times. I did not know there was a difference between \1 and $1 inside a regular expression, before dropping in on Abigail's excellent session.

The conference organizers did a good job picking people to to speak about their modules. I might not otherwise have heard of Regexp::Common or Mail::Box or CGI::Kwiki

I also learned a few tricks about conferences in general. I didn't miss a goodie bag or even pre-printed notes for the presentations. The listserv had some useful info, did a good job of getting people friendly before the conference started and (once I started diverting it to its own folder) wasn't too distracting. The lightning talks were great and a great novelty. Many people got a lot of useful info into 6 minutes.

Probably the most useful thing I learned was that it takes merlyn about 35 hours of instruction to cover the material in Learning Perl about 24 hours to cover the material in Learning Perl Objects, References & Modules and that it takes him about a day to prepare an hour of instruction. I won't be doing a free course for our volunteers this summer, but at least I have an idea of how long it takes to get people a little proficient with Perl

I was surprised at how friendly folks were. The whole thing felt a lot more like a fan con than Comdex There wasn't a breakfast where I didn't have a decent conversation with a new person. I've been to less friendly conferences run by organizations with the word community in their name.

My big beef was that many of the presenters had bad unreadable slides with huge indigestible chunks of info. Your average bat has better vision than me but if I have 20/70 vision and can't see stuff when I'm sitting on the floor 4 feet away from the screen the odds are good that folks with normal vision won't see the slides in the back of a the room, You'd think if somebody had been presenting for decades, they might take a trip to the back of the room to check if their slides were readable.

My personal regret was that I didn't spend any time on the Kwiki before tonight.

email: mandog

Replies are listed 'Best First'.
Re: YAPC::NA::2003::mandog
by grantm (Parson) on Jun 23, 2003 at 10:12 UTC
    I did not know there was a difference between \1 and $1 inside a regular expression

    OK, I'll bite :-) I know that \1 can appear in the match (left) part of a substitution (s///) but $1 can only appear in the replacement. Are there other differences?

      $1 is what was matched by the first set of parenthesis of the last succesful regular expression. It will therefore never refer to (parts of) the current match in progress (ignoring (?{ }) and (??{ }) issues). $1 is a variable - it interpolates just like any other variable; it doesn't have a special meaning inside a regular expression.

      \1 does have a special meaning inside a regular expression: it matches exactly the same (sub)string as was matched by the first set of parenthesis in the current regular expression. It's not a variable, it's a special construct. In other interpolative contexts, it means something else: \NNN means the character with octal value NNN. It's a construct, just like \xNN or \n.

      There's one exception, inside the replacement part of a substitution, \1 .. \9 (so, that's only 9 exceptions, it doesn't work for higher numbers) are equivalent to $1 .. $9, but their use does trigger a warning.


by dtfan579 (Sexton) on Jun 24, 2003 at 20:04 UTC

    YAPC::NA 2003 Trip Report

    Overall I would have to say the trip was worth $500 and three days of downtime, due to hearing from a number of interesting presenters and increasing my overall knowledge of perl as a language. It gave me much insight as to how the perl community works as a group. It was certainly a more creative use of the $500 than I would have come up with on my own. On a more selfish note, having a few days out of town was very useful for clearing some annoyances out of my mind.

    10 Things I Learned at YAPC::NA 2003

    1. The regular expressions tutorial was very beneficial, as it helped for me tohear the material presented. It will help me as I prepare to use this powerfulfeature of perl much more.
    2. I learned a lot about how a small subset of perl could be a more powerful replacement for commonly used shell tools (grep, sed, awk). This will be very helpful as I prepare to use perl more than shell scripting in system administration.
    3. I learned a lot of useful extreme (agile) programming tips from a programmer who had programmed with the creators of the style (Ward Cunningham and Kent Beck).
    4. CGI::Kwiki is a powerful and easy tool, that could help the CSL if there are no really nasty security issues. It also makes a great tool for agile development.
    5. An application should respond to the users/maintenance programmers in certain ways when it fails (there is an "honorable" way for something to fail). This requires giving Appropriate Feedback (failing loudly, failing as quickly as possible, and concisely answering user's/maintenance prgrammer's questions).
    6. Learned precisely how die, warn, and exit from core perl behave, as well as croak, carp, and confess from the carp module.
    7. A lot of information can be crammed into five minute talks.
    8. Bricolage is a very nice Content Management System and it uses a lot of tools that we already use (Postgres and perl).
    9. Damian Conway can produce nine perl modules and a two-hour presentation in less than one day.
    10. It is not really possible to properly apply sunscreen to my own back and shoulders (the only place I really got burned).

    What worked well?

    1. The material presented and the resources provided at the conference and the hotel were amazing for the price paid. The knowledge gained from this could be beneficial in the future.
    2. The quality of the presenters was outstanding, and I heard from some that at $85 YAPC was a better overall experience than the much more expensive The perl Conference.
    3. The auction (for people who could afford the items) was a very fun way to raise funds for the foundation that provided for a lot of the speakers at the conference.
    4. The YAPC Kwiki turned out to be a better organizing tool than the conference website and the mailing list. Astute attendees were able to correct information on the fly without having to jump through hoops. It was also a lot of fun to put up a personal page on it.

    Improvements for next time:

    1. Hopefully the registration process could be made a bit more smooth, and the camera won't break so we can all get picture badges.
    2. Hopefully Larry Wall won't be stuck in the hospital.
    3. The talks could perhaps be placed on a track system (for different levels of perl experience), and a few minutes could be given for moving between talks in different rooms.

    Other Benefits:

    1. A solitary walk on the beach was a very good way to clear my mind and relax.
    2. It was great to meet a bunch of prominent perl and UNIX/Linux developers, and hear some of their life experiences.
    3. Sharing the experience of lowering our Ward numbers to 2 (by peering on some code with a person who had peered with Ward Cunningham -- the Extreme Programming guy).