July 27, 2004

OSCON under way

Author: Jay Lyman

Most of the 1,500 OSCON 2004 attendees in
Portland managed to shake off the city's abnormally hot weekend and the Oregon Brewer's Festival to show
up for informative training and discussion sessions on an array of open
source languages and software as the event kicked off Monday.

Unfortunately, a case of apparent food poisoning spoiled a presentation
on open source single sign-on by Bryan Field-Elliot, CTO of Ping Identity
Corporation. Not a very good way for the local restaurants to start Rip
City's "geek week." (We all hope you are feeling better, Bryan.)

Still, the city will benefit from the open source
conference, which drew in fewer attendees than last year's 1,800, but got
those who did attend into intense sessions on MySQL and PostgreSQL new
features, lots of Perl, PHP and Python training, Apache Web server
discussions, and more. After all, there should be plenty of beer sold as the
open source ecosystem's many different communities come together, and beer
isn't free.

Martin Stoufer, of Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, said he had come up
from Northern California to OSCON because it was close, but also to get the
chance to mix and mingle with the software authors and developers

"It's a great place for information," Stoufer said. "You get to hear
authors talk about it and understand it. It's good getting to talk to the
authors and really working with the people developing [open source

Larry Staples, of Gentry, Arkansas, came halfway across the country to OSCON to
pick up some new coding tricks. Staples, who programs for a small
manufacturing company, said he is using mainly proprietary software now.

"We're looking at moving to open source where you have more resources and
you can get training," Staples said upon entering a session on Linux
enterprise identity management presented by Christian Lahti, CRCI senior

Other Monday sessions included: "Stop Spamming Me," featuring Matt
Sergeant of Message labs; "Real-world Xforms;" cross-platform, Rendezvous
programming; and a "Presentation Aikido" from Damian Conway of Monash
University. This course covered preparation, content selection, delivery
techniques, handling questions, and also provided an in-depth tutorial on
improving presentations' look and feel.

"In particular, it demonstrates practical techniques for making your
slides not suck," said a session description.

Other kickoff events and demonstrations covered: XSLT; creation of
intranets and extranets; advanced DBI in the Perl track; Version Control
Rethought; getting started with mod_perl 2.0 for Apache; time management
for system admins; and PHP security.

Patrick Riggs and Scott Bearden came to OSCON from Washington D.C. on the
last scraps of their small company's remaining travel budget. The two were
looking forward to getting down and dirty with Perl and MySQL.

"We've got a lot of improving we need to do with ourselves, " Riggs said.
"Hopefully we can bring a lot of this back."

The two were a bit disappointed that some of the materials they were
looking forward to seeing were not yet available Monday and also indicated
they would have liked to see the Mono project highlighted more prominently.

Still, no one seemed to have to look to far to find a useful session.
Waiting on a long escalator, and the split of the conference over three
floors had the potential to frustrate attendees, but open sourcers remained
in good spirits thanks to friendly conference and hotel folks, beautiful
weather, and an atmosphere of learning and networking.


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