Trip reports: Stack Overflow Amsterdam, and Oredev

I spent this week attending and speaking at two different conferences - the Stack Overflow Dev Day in Amsterdam, and Øredev, in Malmö, Sweden.

Stack Overflow was a lot of fun. Talks covered topics such as FogBugz, jQuery, Fog Creek Software, creators of FogBugz, QT (pronounced 'cute'), FogBugz, Python, App Engine (my own talk), Yahoo! developer tools, and, of course, FogBugz.

Particular highlights for me were Simon Willison's talk about Python, and Christian Heilmann's talk on Yahoo! developer tools. Simon works at The Guardian, a UK newspaper that is particularly keen on exposing and consuming data and APIs, and used his hour to introduce Python by demonstrating how he uses it, particularly the interactive interpreter, on a day to day basis to extract and munge statistical data and produce content for news stories, such as infographics. Although I know Python very well, his presentation style was extremely engaging, and I had to restrain myself from going up to him and asking if he was looking for apprentices in the fine art of presenting. He's also a co-author of Django, so he showed off some of Django's features in his talk as well.

Christian's talk was completely without script, notes, or slides: He simply got up on stage and spent an hour with his laptop showing off what you can do with Yahoo!'s developer tools, including in particular YUI, Yahoo's JavaScript UI library, and YQL, Yahoo!'s general-purpose query language. The general crowd sentiment, which I shared, is that Yahoo! has some pretty awesome developer content out there, that Christian did an excellent job showing it off, and that Yahoo! seriously needs to get better about publicizing this.

After returning to Dublin on Monday night, I headed straight back out to Øredev on Tuesday morning. My own talk went reasonably well, although it was marred by demo problems. An impromptu Cloud Computing panel in the afternoon also went well, although it was poorly attended due to the short notice, so very few people attended. In the evening, they ran unconference-style "Birds of a Feather" sessions. I joined one on the subject "Spatial Indexing", and the 15 or so of us that attended spent a fascinating couple of hours discussing spatial indexing techniques and how to apply them. More, in fact, on that in a later post.

Øredev was (I should say 'is', since it continues today) absolutely packed with interesting talks. I didn't get an opportunity to attend many of them, alas, but Ola Bini gave a fascinating talk on Ioke, a language of his own creation. It's implemented on the JRE, so it even runs on App Engine, too. The evening keynote was by Cameron Purdy, who gave an interesting talk comparing and contrasting C++, Java and .NET. It's always interesting to hear from people who are polyglot and comfortable with it: objective assessment was in abundance, while the sort of idealizing you sometimes hear from "Java developers" and ".NET developers" was conspicuously absent.

On Thursday, Andres Almiray gave an engaging introduction to Groovy, including slides with interactively editable, executable code to demonstrate it. The presentation package is, apparrently, of his own creation - implemented in Groovy, naturally.

There were many more talks that looked really interesting but I didn't get a chance to attend, alas. All of the talks were videoed, and will be available online shortly; I'll link to the ones I mentioned above, and others that were of particular interest, when they become available.

For now, I'm spending my time recovering, catching up on email, preparing for .astronomy, and eating some of the Stroopwafel I brought back from the Netherlands. Expect regular posting to resume on Monday. :)


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