Archive for September, 2011

Back from Strange Loop

I just returned from the Strange Loop conference earlier tonight.  I don’t really have time to get into too much detail of what I saw (I do have to get back on Eastern Standard Time), but let me say it was a great conference.  Some of the standouts were Rich Hickey’s keynote (if you’ve never heard him speak before, watch either Are We There Yet or Hammock Driven Development from last years Clojure Conj while waiting for the Strange Loop recording to be made available), Nathan Marz’s talk on Storm (I’m really going to have to start searching for a problem to use this for), the language panel (even though it was accidentally cut short), Erik Meijer’s keynote on Big Data, and Blake Mizerany’s talk on Doozer.  And the part of Sussman’s speech I was able to understand before my brain started to short out was great too.  Unfortunately there were a lot of talks I missed which I will have to wait for the recordings to come out.  That might have been the biggest problem with the conference (well, other than the elevator fiasco), there arguably were too many tracks with competing talks at the same time (most blocks had 7 talks to choose between).  Of course there were a lot of talks scheduled and only a limited amount of time to give them in, but perhaps it would have been possible to fit in more time slots by varying the times a bit more.  While some talks definitely required the 50 minute slot and in fact often went over, others had less information to present and could had made do with a shorter, maybe 15 minutes to half hour block “lighting” talks.  Then a couple of extra time slots could have been made by splitting a few hours up.  But all in all, it was a great conference (again, except for the elevators).  I’ll post my notes and reactions to the speeches I saw in the days to come…

Also as a note, the Clojure Conj has posted their schedule, and it looks like a great lineup as well (including several speakers I just saw this week).  Its local, so it will be easier to attend, assuming I can manage to take some more time off…

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Odd Circle-like-things Day 0

So today was, lets say Day 0 of Strange Loop.  Aside from some hiccups on the plane to St Louis regarding a very important part of the plane (we were delayed for half an hour while they fixed the flushing mechanism in the lavatory), things have gone well.  The actual conference begins tomorrow, but today were the optional workshops and, of course, was the day most people arrived for the conference proper.  Let me preface this post by stating that the rooftop bar is very nice.  Where else can you drink Scotch while discussing the uptake of Clojure within business software companies with some of the smartest people in the industry?  But as a warning, that might impact the quality of this post…

Anyway, I had signed up for only one workshop, Nathan Marz’s Cascalog workshop.  Cascalog is a Clojure based library for data processing with Hadoop.  Think SQL on steroids.  I have interests in both Clojure and Hadoop, and yet don’t have too much experience with databases, so it was an obvious session for me to sign up for.  It was a three hour workshop, but at the start Nathan warned he was used to giving similar workshops for around 9 hours so this one might be a little rushed.  I had initially laughed, thinking 3 hours sounded like a long time, but it definitely was rushed.  Yet we learned quite a lot.  Cascalog definitely is a powerful library which I will certainly play around with later.  I was very impressed with the quality of the queries that could be made with what seemed very intuitive Clojure code, not the convoluted nonsense many SQL queries end up as.

Tomorrow comes the hard part though, choosing between several very different, yet very interesting talks that are scheduled at the same time.  In fairness to the conference planners, with the number of talks that look interesting it would have been mathematically impossible for them to schedule everything so I could attend everything that I wanted.  But still, as Alan Dipert of Relevance said, the thing I am least looking forward to is having to choose between talks.  I just hope enough will be recorded that I will be able to watch the ones I miss later.

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