Geek Cruise - Linux Lunacy 2 - Day 2 - At Sea

We woke early. The ship had throbbed all night. The light streamed through the curtains. We were subdued.

The ship was going to be at sea all day today, heading for Mexico. So it was going to be lectures all day for me, and a day of exploration for Anne. First stop was breakfast. I normally don't eat breakfast. I sure did on this cruise. Everywhere you turned there was food. I had a big breakfast and headed off for a day of talks.

There were two full-day sessions today, Introduction to the Linux Kernel by Theodore Ts'o, and Learning Perl with Randal Schwarz. The kernel session wasn't for me, but maybe one day I would like to dig further down into the kernel. I'm already past learning Perl, and I wanted to get an introduction to stuff that I wasn't already familiar with.

So I did an introduction to PHP with Dirk Elmendorf from Rack Space Hosting. His talk was a bit on the brief side, but gave me a good overview of PHP. I've been nibbling at the edges with PHP, and not seeing why I should use it rather than continuing with Perl. Now that I know more about it, I plan on learning some more and experimenting with it with this website. I already do a chunk of pre-processing on the web site, and doing it with PHP looks like saving a little bit of work. This session was in the Wayang Theatre. The ship had this great little movie theatre. I never got to see any of the films that were showing, even though the films were new and interesting. I just didn't have the time. The theatre also doubled as the chapel for Catholic masses, and other religious ceremonies.

The other morning session was User Interface Programming and Architecture using Embedded Linux presented by Greg Haerr.

After the morning session, we had a special geek lunch in the Queen's Dining Room. We ate and Eric Raymond talked. The title was The Open Source Revolution. He has a series of chapters in his head, and can quickly assemble a talk on any topic. He's a good speaker, an interesting speaker.

After lunch, I did the introduction to Python, presented by the author of Python, Guido van Rossum. Guido is a tall, thin, precise man and gave a tremendously good introduction to his scripting language. He went overtime by half an hour, but no-one wanted to leave. It was the best session I had on the cruise, packing a lot of information into the short time. So now I have a good idea about Python, where before I had no idea about Python. I probably still won't shift from Perl to Python for the scripting I do, but I now have a better view of my options in case I ever do have to shift.

Then there was a late afternoon session with Eric Raymond again - The Zen of Unix. Not only does he write books about the Open Source Movement (Cathedral and the Bazaar, Magic Cauldron), he maintains about 35 Open Source projects, including fetchmail which I use maybe 30 times a day. He's a coder, as well as a documenter of the movement. He's writing a new book about how to code and keep the Unix tradition. He summarises this as KISS - keep it simple stupid. He went through the 10 chapters of the book briefly, and each chapter discusses one aspect of coding Unix applications, like "write programs that can accept the output of other programs as input", and "use text for intermediate data", and he went into detail on why these are good things. There have been other booklets on this in the past, but he's taken all the older ideas, modernised them and expanded them. I'll buy the book when it gets released. One of the things that he mentioned was that one of the worst examples of configuration was sendmail. He's been arguing with the author, Eric Allman, for some time about configuring sendmail. Eric Raymond is working on a new configuration scheme for sendmail, and it might be ready for release early next year. This will mean a new release of the O'Reilly bat book on sendmail, so everyone will be happy.

The last session finished late, after 7:30pm. I had to rush back to the cabin, shower and change into suit. It was going to be a busy night. I found the whole cruise to be really busy. If it was just a cruise, it wouldn't have been so bad, but with the all the geek activities shoe-horned into ship activities, it got busy. So we dressed up and headed off for the captain's champagne reception. This meant we stood in line and were photographed on our own, and then we were introduced to the captain and photographed with him, and then introduced to some other officers and then we were piled into the Rembrandt Lounge and plied with champagne until everyone had been photographed.

[Posing before the Captain's
champagne reception]

Then the captain introduced himself and the crew, and did some formal stuff and then told about life on the cruise. More champagne, and more nibblies that I wasn't able to eat, and then we were herded off to dinner. During dinner, more photographs.

See that tie? That's a hand-painted silk tie. Anne painted that, with a whole bunch of little figures like those interlocking figures in Escher prints. It's great.

[First formal dinner]

The geeks had all been arranged near each other at dinner. It was funny to see all the bearded, long-haired, unkempt geeks wrapped into tuxedos and suits and looking stylishly different. Everyone looked good.

The formal meals were interesting. Four courses, with plenty of choice, and always one vegetarian dish per course so I was fine. The wine looked pretty expensive, so I stuck to beer. The beer selection was pretty poor, but they did have Grolsch, so I stuck to that. And I finished with port, but they didn't have any tawny ports, only vintage and ruby. I prefer tawny port.

After that, we headed for bed. We were arriving in Mexico next morning and it was a very early start.

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