YAPC::Europe 2009

Today I travelled home from YAPC::Europe 2009 which was held in Lisbon. Readers of my other blog will know that I almost didn’t get there at all. The return journey was far less stressful.

On the weekend before the conference I gave a two-day “Introduction to Perl” course. We had six people on the course. I’m pretty happy with that as I think it’s a brave decision to have a beginners’ course at a Perl conference. I’m also happy to report that a third of the attendees were women.

There were four tracks of conference talks. This, of course, is guaranteed to lead to situations where you want to watch more than one talk at the same time. I think that at one point I really wanted to watch three of the four talks. Of course, there’s also the “hallway track” which is the best part of any good conference. This week there were two or three occasions when I found that I’d missed talks that I wanted to see because I had been so engrossed in an interesting conversation. All in all, I’m really glad that some of the talks were being recorded.

One highlight for me was meeting Paul Fenwick and Jacinta Richardson. I’ve been talking online to Paul and Jacinta for something like seven or eight years but we had never met face to face before because we spend most of out lives on opposite sides of the Earth. It was great to finally meet them. They’re as lovely in real life as they are online and they’re also both great speakers with interesting things to say.

Another highlight was the Marketing BOF that we held on Tuesday evening. There’s a growing concern in the Perl community that people outside of the community have an out of date and rather uncomplimentary view of Perl. The conference was full of people who had many ideas for fixing this. Ovid has a good description of this BOF over on use.perl so I won’t repeat the details here. I’ll just point out that some of us tried to have a similar meeting at EuroOSCON in 2005. At that time we had four people turn up. This week there were more than fifty.

The quiz show on Tuesday night was fun too. Greg and I were a last minute substitution as one of the teams failed to appear. We won our qualifying round, but came third (out of four) in the final. I was particularly embarrassed to have been beaten to the answer to the Buffy question.

And it seems that I owe the Perl community an apology. In his closing keynote, José Castro gave some examples of bad Perl advocacy. Number one on his list was my Why Corporates Hate Perl article. José pointed out that many people only read the title of an article and that my title was, perhaps, badly chosen. I’m sorry if I’ve caused any damage.

All in all, a great conference. Many thanks to the organisers for all of their hard work.

Hope to see you all in Pisa next year.

Perl Monks Passwords

It seems that the Perl Monks database has been compromised through some kind of security hole on the server that hosts it. That would, of course, be bad enough. But it seems that the user passwords in that database were stored in plain text. So whoever got the database, got access to the passwords of every user. Some of those passwords (those belonging to the saints and the janitors) have been shared publically. And changing your password might not help as the original vulnerability hasn’t been plugged yet so the same people could grab any password that you change it to.

More details will probably appear on Perl Monks once they’ve worked out what they are going to say. But there is some discussion starting up here.

I’m astonished that I still have to repeat this, but please take this advice:

  • If you’re running a site, do not store passwords in plain text
  • If you’re using a site, do not use the same password as you use on other sites

Marketing Perl

People seem to be coming round to the idea that Perl needs better marketing. Both Ovid and Gabor have written some interesting blog posts recently.

I’m glad to see this idea getting traction. It’s something that I mentioned in 2006. So whilst people are talking about it, let’s see if we can get something done. A large number of Perl programmers will be getting together in Lisbon next week, so I’m trying to arrange a session where we can talk this through and make some kind of plan. If you’re interested in marketing Perl and you’ll be in Lisbon, then please sign up and and come along.

White Camels 2009

At OSCON last night the winners of this year’s White Camel awards were announced. Unless you were involved in the discussions to choose the winners or were at OSCON, you won’t have known that as there has been no announcement on any of the usual Perl news sites. And TPF wonder why people complain that they don’t communicate 🙂

Oh, I’m wrong. There’s an obscure page deep within perl.org. You knew to look there, right?

Anyway, the White Camel winners for this year are Tim Bunce, Michael Schwern and Philippe (BooK) Bruhat. Three extremely deserving winners, all of whom have done a lot of useful work for the Perl community.

Congratulations to them all.

Send-a-Newbie

The Send-a-Newbie project is the Perl community at its best. People with a bit of spare money have donated to a fund to send people to YAPC::Europe. Edmund von der Burg and a team of trusted helpers have counted the money and closely examined the applications that they received. Edmund writes:

First, a quick recap: the Send-a-Newbie program is meant to help people go to YAPC who have never been to a YAPC before, are unable to do so by their own means and already involved in some way in the Perl community.

Applications were submitted, questions were asked, answers were given, difficult choices made and we now have our lucky YAPC Newbies.

We’re delighted to announce that we will be sending the following three to YAPC in Lisbon:

Alan: Based in India, started using Perl about a year and a half ago. Since then, he’s contributed to several CPAN modules, released WWW::Rapidshare::Free and is currently working on the TPF grant “Fixing Bugs in the Archive::Zip Perl Module”. He’s never been to any meetings of the Perl community.

Alistair: Based in Scotland, has just finished university, started using Perl for creating his websites and performing several small tasks. When choosing a placement (for his degree) he chose a Perl shop in London, and became part of London.pm

Rosellyne: Based in England, self-funded university student. Also a grant manager for TPF (past four years), member of London.pm and active on PerlMonks. Keen to meet people she’s worked with for years.

There were other great applications that we will not be able to send. Hopefully they’ll be able to attend a future YAPC.

All of this is possible due to the lovely people who have donated and helped. It’s been a great demonstration of the community that has formed around Perl. Thanks also to the YAPC::EU organizers who have been supportive of this project right from the start.

Thank you to all involved and see you all at YAPC::EU::2009!

The three lucky participants will have their travel, hotel and conference fees paid. They’ll have to pay for their own beer.