Archive for the 'Perl' Category

A Time For Change

Tuesday, November 8th, 2016

It was announced yesterday that I have stepped down as president of The Perl Foundation (TPF).

Working for a volunteer organisation is exhilarating and a privilege.  Working with volunteers is amazing.  You get to work with talented, passionate people, who have the creativity to change the world in ways that you never imagined were possible.

Working for a volunteer organisation is tiring and debilitating.  Working with volunteers is difficult. You get to work with talented, passionate people, who will fight vehemently for the things that they believe in, not matter what you think of their beliefs.

In order to run a volunteer organisation you need to have the ability to motivate people.  To have the ability to praise, to treat people with respect, and to help people achieve their goals in the community.  To do that I need to have passion, positivity, and humour.  It’s not possible to feel those things all the time, but I need to feel them more often than I feel drained, negative, and suffering from a distinct lack of humour.

I had noticed that I was starting to feel more negative than positive and I do not want that for the community, or for myself.  Making the decision to leave TPF was painful, but I believe it was the right thing to do.  Working with the Perl community has been an important part of my life.  I am, and will always be, grateful for the opportunities I was given. I am in awe of the people I worked with and I look forward to seeing what they will create in the future.

YAPC::NA 2016, Orlando

Thursday, June 2nd, 2016

I’m on my way to America.  I have planned a few things to do, but my main motivator for going is to attend YAPC::NA.  The conference is running from the 19th to the 24th June in Orlando.  As I’m involved in the organisation of the conference I may not get to hear a lot of the talks.  But I am going to try to hear Ricardo Signes speak on The Ongoing Disaster that is Perl 5. I’m also looking forward to hearing Damian Conway’s keynote and I plan to attend his tutorial on Presentation Aikido.

I really liked that the conference started a New to Perl program this year. This was inspired by the Send-A-Newbie program and offered a number of low-cost ($50) scholarships to the conference covering registration, accommodation, and the Zero to Perl Tutorial.  There is also going to be a beginners’ track again, which was popular last year.

As always I am looking forward to catching up with friends.

Missing Conferences

Friday, September 18th, 2015

I don’t get to attend all the Perl conferences I would like to go to.   I was sad to miss YAPC::EU in Granada, and I’m going to miss the Pittsburgh Perl Workshop, that is taking place in October.  I am actively involved in the Perl community, but not as a programmer.  Conferences are the perfect time for me to meet people and hold meetings.  I love the hallway track as the energy generated by the people attending the conference helps to motivate me.   The community aspect is more important to me than the technical content, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to hear any of the talks.    I’m still not sure what I think about live streaming during these conferences, as I know it’s very expensive, but I am glad when the talk recordings are posted after the event.

I’m watching talks from YAPC::EU.  I’m starting with the keynotes as I enjoy talks with a broader theme and would absolutely have attended these if I had been at the conference.  I’ve already listened to Sawyer’s State of the [Art] Velociraptor‎ and today I’m listening to Ovid’s Turning Point.

I will also miss the London Perl Workshop.  That one is slightly more annoying as I will be flying through London about a week after the conference – so it will be a near miss.  I’m going to try to attend YAPC::EU next year as I would like to meet the members of  I love their cute little vampire logo and the combination of getting to meet the European Perl community and reading Dracula in Transylvania appeals greatly. Facebook Banner

My Favourite Perl Monger Logo


YAPC::Asia 2015

Sunday, August 30th, 2015

Last week I attended YAPC::Asia in Tokyo.  I’m always impressed by how much work the organisers put in to make sure that the conference runs smoothly.  I have been to 10 YAPCs in Tokyo and every year they get bigger.  Back in 2006 there were around 320 people attending and this year there was 2130!  That’s amazing growth and a headache for conference organisers unless you successfully scale every aspect of the conference.  Just thinking about the wifi requirements alone makes me shudder.  There is no doubt that Maki-san and his team should be proud of everything they have achieved.  It was a great conference.

The venue is so important to holding a good conference.  Last year I felt that the venue for YAPC::Asia was too small but this year it was perfect.  It was large enough to be comfortable, but not so large that you felt disconnected from the other attendees.  The main room was beautiful.  It held around 1000 people, but since it seems that only about half the conference at most will attend a plenary session it was a good size. Given how many attendees there were I didn’t get to see everyone I know.  This is always a problem when a conference is large and if I had not been jet lagged I probably would have been more proactive at trying to meet up with people.

I have attended many conference and I dislike how organisers who are intimately involved with the conference forget that the rest of us have not spent months contemplating the venue and the rooms.  I have joked that for some conferences it’s a quest to find the clues to work out where the entrance to the venue will be and how to find the talks.  Thankfully at YAPC::Asia this is never a problem.  There are always beautiful signs, printed material, and even a video showing how to get to the venue from the train station.  It was wonderful that I could feel confident about getting to the venue.  I really don’t want to keep the keynote speaker who is staying with me late for the opening because I can’t find out where to go.

YAPC::Asia is the only conference I attend that it not in English.  There were a number of foreigners speakers who spoke in  English.  At earlier conferences I did notice that the English talks were not overly well attended but now they are simultaneously translated into Japanese, which really helps.  It would be amazing if the Japanese talks could be translated into English but it’s not cost effective to do that given the number of non-native Japanese speakers in attendance.  My Japanese is not good enough for me to easily enjoy a technical talk given in Japanese so I mostly went to hear people speak in English.

I enjoyed Rik’s talk and would recommend it to anyone who is interested in the current release of Perl 5.

While the conference has its roots in Perl – YAPC stands for Yet Another Perl Conference – there is no doubt that the content of this conference has been expanding for years now making the “P” more polyglot than Perl.  I did hear a number of Perl talks but I heard an equal number of container talks.  I enjoy hearing talks from speakers I don’t know and on new subjects, but I do like more Perl in my YAPC.

I could write more but Maki-san has already written a great post on the conference.  I’m sad that this will be the last one, but I’m hopeful that something new will spring up in its place.


Jet Lag in Salt Lake City

Friday, June 5th, 2015

I’ve arrived in Salt Lake City a couple of days before YAPC::NA in the hope that I can adjust time zones before the conference.  This doesn’t feel like it is working well, but I did manage to stay awake until after 10pm last night even if I started waking at 4:30am this morning.  This would not be so bad if my head didn’t hurt and I was able to concentrate.  I appear to have my body here, but my brain is somewhere over the Pacific.

We held the last weekly YAPC::NA planning meeting last night.  There are some last minute things that need to be sorted out but things do seem to be on schedule.  I’m both apprehensive and excited about the conference.  This was the first time I was involved in the planning of training courses around the conference and I’m pleased to see that the Introduction to Moose course has sold out.

I’m looking forward to catching up with friends and there are a few people, who I have dealt with in email, that I’m looking forward to meeting in person.

Perl in February

Monday, March 9th, 2015

March is, well, marching on and I still haven’t completed this post on my work in February.  I’m just going to post what I have or I will never acquire the discipline to post about Perl every month.  February was hectic and I could not keep up with my workload.  A large part of the problem was caused by me having shingles and not being able to work on Perl Foundation things.  I did try to deal with urgent things, even when ill, but it’s not easy to do and I had to cancel a few meetings.

Every month I work on the Perl 5 Core Maintenance Fund as there routine task that are carried out on a monthly basis. It has been suggested to me that I shouldn’t deal with these tasks but I find that doing them helps me with procrastination.  I imagine that every volunteer suffers from a procrastination problem to some degree and I help overcome mine with routine tasks.  Once those are completed I can usually continue working for the whole time block that I set aside.   At the minute we have two running grants, Tony Cook’s Maintaining Perl 5, and Dave Mitchell’s Maintaining the Perl 5 Core. Every month I read the reports, post the reports, and authorise the payments. This month we also received a new grant request from Ricardo Signes, so that he could travel to the QA Hackathon.

As well as blogging about grants I have also been posting to the TPF Facebook page, the TPF twitter account, writing for the TPF blog, and updating the TPF website.  I’m not alone in doing these tasks as many people in TPF have access to do so including Mark Keating and the marketing committee.  We even have some outside help as this year, in order to improve our communication for YAPC::NA, we are using a PR company to promote the conference.

The preparations for YAPC::NA are well underway and I continue to work on the beginners’ track, the master classes, and the Perl 6 hackathon.  I’m excited about the conference and pleased that we have a capable team of people working on the many things that need done to run a successful 500 person conference.

We are going to be taking part in Outreachy, which is the successor to the Outreach Program for Women.  The winter round is not completed yet and at the minute we have a intern working on Dancer, and another one working on MetaCPAN.  We have funding for one intern in the summer round and I’ll have more to write about it in March as the application deadline falls on the 24th.

Admin work is constant and not something I find I want to write about.  One admin thing of note this month was the calling of a vote of confidence in the Secretary of the Grants Committee. This is part of the rules of operation for that committee and this will be done on an annual basis.  My email situation has worsened since last month but I’m still optimistic that I can catch up on the backlog.

As you can probably tell from this post my role in TPF isn’t a clearly defined thing.  Jesse Vincent stated during his time as the Perl 5 Pumpking that he was the project janitor — and I know exactly what he meant.

My Perly January

Saturday, January 31st, 2015

David Golden recently wrote about the Perl Iron Man Challenge and his goal to regularly blog about Perl.  He plans to blog at least once every 10 days and, much as I would like to manage that, I’m not sure that I can.  So I’m going to set myself a goal of writing about Perl, on this site, at least once a month.

So what have I being doing in the Perl world this January?

The New Year always brings a flood of email.  I am guilty of contributing to this.  I wake up, realise it’s January, and become horrified by all the projects I didn’t get finished last year.  I tell myself that this year I will do better and start sending email to find out that status of everything I’m interested in.  I also have aspirations of getting my inbox to zero, but I can’t find a way to make that work other than filing email to deal with it later.  And I don’t see much point in doing that just so I can pretend to myself that I don’t have email in my inbox.

At the minute I have 72 Perl related emails that need a response.  My waiting_on box was cleared out at the start of the year so I’m only waiting on 21 responses.  Even writing about the email makes me think that I shouldn’t be blogging, I should be responding to those.  It’s a priority problem.  There is part of me that thinks that blogging is important but is it really more important than email?  I find it hard to blog about Perl things because I’m so busy doing those things.  Now that I’ve started though I should write about those things.

I’ve been working with the YAPC::NA organizing team on the conference that will be taking place in Salt Lake City, 8-10th June.  There’s a lot being organised but I’ve been focusing on the beginner’s track, master classes, and speakers.  I’ve also been working on a Perl 6 Hackathon that I’m hoping will take place during the conference.  There are tasks that I work on every month – Perl 5 Core grants, trademark requests, and admin. It’s the mid-way point of the Outreach Program for Women and I’ve been following that, though at this stage in the program it’s the mentors and interns that are doing all the heavy lifting.  I’ll have to spend more time on this in February if we are going to take part in the next round of the program.  I’m sure that there are other things I’m working on but for now I’m going to go and try to make a dent in my email and I’ll leave you with the highlights of last year’s YAPC::NA.

YAPC::NA – Getting Ready to Travel

Sunday, June 1st, 2014

YAPC::NA, the largest American Perl conference, is taking place in Orlando from June 23rd to the 25th. I’m going to be speaking on Working with Volunteers, and since the YAPC::NA schedule is now up I am thrilled to discover that I’ll be speaking on the first day. The schedule is not complete yet.  I’ve been looking at it regularly, waiting for the addition of the keynote that is going to be given by Charlie Stross, which I’m really looking forward to hearing.  It’s not listed yet but I have seen both the conference organizers and @cstross tweet about it, so I’m fairly sure it’s going ahead.

I’m pleased to see that there will be a VIP Reception on the Monday evening.  This event was created to welcome first and second time attendees to the conference and create a way for them to be introduced to other people.  After recently being at a conference where I didn’t really know anyone I know how difficult it can be to meet and speak to other attendees.  And I’m not the only one.  Ricardo, the Perl 5 Pumpking, wrote the following in a recent post about attending a conference where he knew only one person:

The most difficult part of the conference, for me, was socializing. Out of the hundred-odd attendees, I knew one — Mark — who was only there on the second day. I found it difficult to strike up conversations with a bunch of complete strangers, although I did try. In fact, I had a number of nice conversations, but it was difficult and uncomfortable to get started. I’m not sure whether there’s anything to be done about that, but it didn’t help that it seemed like half of the conference attendees knew each other already.

This experience really made me think again about YAPC and other conferences that I attend where I already know half the attendees and, even if I don’t, am in a privileged position by virtue of my position within the community. Remember, fellow conference veterans: go talk to the new people and make them feel welcome. It’s important.

I’m leaving for America soon and I need to decide what I’m taking with me. I’m tempted to bring a board game, for the YAPC::NA Game Night, but I’m not sure that I have room in my suitcase.   I also need to finish my talk as I really should take that with me.  I’ve been working on it today, but haven’t quite gotten to where I feel comfortable with it. I still have time, and thankfully, unlike the last conference I attended, I’m not expected to hand in my slides in advance.


YAPC::NA – Training Courses

Saturday, May 31st, 2014

There are training courses taking place before and after YAPC::NA in Orlando that require a separate registration.  For the first time the conference organizers have decided to use Crowdtilt to help them decide which training course should run.  The possible course are:

Introductory Training

Effective Testing – Curtis “Ovid” Poe
Introduction to Moose – Dave Rolsky
Perl for Programmers – John “genehack” Anderson
Zero to Perl – Jay Hannah

Advanced Training

Advanced Moose – Shawn Moore
Agile Companies Go Pop! – Curtis “Ovid” Poe

The introductory training courses will take place on the Saturday and Sunday before the conference and the advanced training will take place on the Thursday and Friday after.

5000 Steps

Tuesday, May 27th, 2014

I spoke at LinuxCon last week on “Understanding Volunteers”.  As always I felt terrible before I was speaking and oddly I still felt rather glum after I finished.  It was difficult speaking in front of a mostly Japanese audience.  I was incredibly worried that no-one would understand anything I was saying and very aware of cultural differences.  Like most of the talks I saw I ended up finishing early which left extra time for questions.  I was asked two questions but one of those was “what questions do you get asked at other conferences?”.

I ended up walking an extra 5,000 steps that day though, just in pacing around in circles before I had to talk.

I did learn some things by giving the talk.  I now have a much better idea of how the research I have read on the motivations of people who work in Open Source can be applied to the community.  And I got to have a couple of conversations regarding the concept that Japanese people are not good at trusting strangers and that they don’t necessarily want to work in an open environment.  (These were not my ideas, but the ideas of some people doing post-graduate research on this area.)

Next month I will be speaking at YAPC::NA on Working with Volunteers.  I’m already nervous about this and I’m really hoping that I don’t have to wait until the last day of the conference to speak.