Now that I don’t live in London anymore (I live in Chippenham, which is eighty two miles away) I don’t often get to go to the London Perl Monger Socials, but last night with the meeting happening right by Paddington Station it was too good an chance to miss.
The hot topic of conversation was obviously the impending YAPC::Europe conference. I sadly won’t be attending, since I just got back from my trip to YAPC::NA (which I owe a blog post on,) but I was able to give good advise on what talks to go see having already seen the US versions. There seemed to be a significant amount of problems with clashes in the schedule in Latvia that I can sympathise with. For example, I was recommending Jesse’s talk on 5.16 (which I really enjoyed at YAPC::NA,) but it was pointed out that he’s up against Smylers who I think is also an entertaining and informative speaker.
Jesse’s talk at YAPC::NA on 5.16 generated quite a bit of conversation around the tables. Taking a straw poll of the people present I think that they liked the direction that’s being proposed and those that could would be attending the talk in Latvia to hear more in person. People in general liked the idea of making the language (optionally) more consistent, easier to parse and more consistent without losing the ability to run older more sloppy code. Jesse might have been shocked that in Ashville people clapped rather than booed his suggestion that the indirect object syntax not be allowed under “use 5.16″ but at work we enforce “no indirect;” on all our code anyway. The idea of laying the ground work for possibly re-implementing perl 5 (not Perl, but “perl”, the interpreter) by making cleaner syntax was one thing that Jesse said in his talk that people at the social thought was interesting. Sam Villian pointed out that Git seems to have been re-implemented multiple times and this has been a big advantage for it.
Nicholas Clarke arrived hot and in need of beer after running for the train, being delayed after writing grant proposals. This kicked off a discussion about the TPF core maintenance grant which morphed into a discussion about the availability of talent to work on Perl 5 core issues (We had both Nicholas and Zefram sitting round the table – that’s not a bad chunk of the talent pool in itself.) In short my opinion is that the more work that’s done on the Perl core the more interest we’ll attract, and that’s a good thing.
Problems with hiring in general were discussed; I pointed out that at YAPC::NA lots of companies were hiring and offering telecommute positions so they could get the talent they needed. The outragerous costs charged by not very effective recruiters were mentioned and the real need for high quality technically savvy recruiters (or at least, recruiters with technical experts) was identified as a gap in the market.
For some reason at some point we got into a big discussion about unicode. Ilmari showed us his awesome library card with “Mannsåker” written as “MannsAyker”. “Mannsåker” had obviously gone through some terrible UTF-8 bytecode into Latin-1 conversion resulting in “MannsÃ¥ker” and then someone seems to have re-typed that into it’s ASCII equivalent. It’s not like his donor card was much better either! This morphed in a discussion about failed attempts to get domain name registrars to adopt proper unicode characters (and the various security issues related around that.) I wonder if the IT industry will be dealing with this in twenty years time? Probably.
As is fitting for any modern IT meetup these days we talked a bit about the problems of scale. This progressed into discussion of the problems of disaster recovery preparation; It’s very hard to test without impacting customers (it’s easier if you’ve got completely redundant systems and you’re willing to invest into DR with a zero downtime switchover but that’s rare) and it’s actually quite hard to get a grip on what you have and haven’t got covered (systems change rapidly and delaying rollouts to make sure full DR cover is in place may result in a large lost opportunity cost.)
Of course, London.pm still (in addition to all the Perl and computing talk) ricochets between geek trivia and the usual trappings of good friends. “Why don’t we talk about Buffy and more?”, “Well, what about Ponies?”, “Hey, All the cool kids on the internet like My Little Pony these days”. “Speaking of kids, is your daughter crawling yet?” “She’s sitting up and waving”, “Oh, while I remember, here’s the bib your youngest left at our house last week”
As always, I had fun, and I look forward to attending again another time soon.