2012 – Day 1 (Monday)

This week I’m at, the southern hemisphere’s premier open-source conference. This year it is being held in Ballarat, about an hour’s travel from Melbourne. I’ll be documenting the trip and conference as much as I can given the limits of my enthusiasm and awakeness.

Monday 16th January:

Chris Neugebauer
Chris Neugebauer waiting for the conference to begin...

Monday is the real start of the conference. First thing to do was register and pick up the conference badge and bag. While eating breakfast (a lovely cooked breakfast of bacon and eggs for me!) I looked over the provided schwag to see what free goodies had been obtained. For most of the delegates (including me) the item of interest this year was a Freetronics Leostick, an Arduino development board in an absolutely tiny form factor. Then it was time for the conference proper to begin!

First of all was a welcome before morning tea. The sponsors and volunteers were thanked, and the conference rule #1 was revealed: Be Excellent To Each Other. So much awesome. After morning tea (where I filled up on caffeine like a camel on an all-nighter) it was talk time. Some highlights from the first day:

  • I particularly enjoyed Adam Harvey’s talk on migrating to PHP 5.4. His style of speech is very fun to listen to, and you always feel like you’re learning some kind of juicy gossip of how the PHP team makes decisions (which, of course, you are). I know now not to use the PHP functions that I didn’t use anyway, because it seems about half the language is being deprecated. Luckily it is the right half, including the much-hated magic quotes feature.
  • My Little Ponies
    Yes, those really are My Little Ponies.
  • Rob Thomas gave two talks. The first was on building a redundant PBX system using Asterisk and a heap of BASH scripts. It seems pretty cool, though unfortunately I have no use for such a thing. Michael does though, and he almost immediately tried to get a quote off Rob to install the system at his work. The second of Rob’s talks was on common mistakes made when trying to create a highly-available Linux cluster. This tied in with his other talk, still including the same PBX system as demo material, but was a bit more geneal. Both were highly entertaining and hilariously hilarious (yet, that hilarious!) and only involved me getting rickrolled once. Oh, and those talks were where the picture of the My Little Ponies came from.
  • Peter Serwylo gave a talk on performing static code analysis on PHP code. He showed us a cool program written by a german bloke to do this (both names I have forgotten however :(). This really piqued my interest; I’ve heard a lot about static code analysis but really failed to see it progress any further than trying to correct variable names or tell me when I have the wrong class member. This trawled the entire function call tree and tried to find security flaws (most of which end up from being non-escaped characters passed to database queries). Very informative. That talk, along with a few of the lightning talks from the open programming miniconf, really want me to do more investigation into what programming languages and compilers can do.
Guinness Pie
The Guiness Pie I had for dinner. Yum.

After the day’s talks it was time for dinner. But what to do for dinner? An Irish pub is never a bad idea. Ballarat’s is Irish Murphy’s, and they do a very good guinness pie. It was amazing. After that, back to the dorms for some blog post writing and some much-needed sleep.

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