OSCON and Mobile Portland Trip Report

Greetings Earthlings!

Today's the first day I haven't been traveling, so I can finally catch my breath and write down some notes. It's been a helluva week. Last week I drove to Portland for OSCON to give several presentations and be involved in general geekery (if you follow me on Twitter, that's why you saw so many posts tagged with #oscon)


Due to a cat emergency (Nori is fine now) I arrived mid-afternoon, missing the tutorial sessions for the day. I spent the rest of the day working on slides and met with some of my new HP co-workers. I have to say the HP guys have been great to work with. They are very enthusiastic about what we can build with webOS.

Tuesday and PJUG

The morning was spent in the Erlang three hour technical session. I love OSCON because I can learn about things completely out of my element. Knowing nothing about Erlang before I can now build a basic multi-threaded program in it. It's got some very interesting concepts. It feels like a mix between Lisp and Prolog. Functional and match based.

Tuesday evening I gave a presentation to the Portland Java User's Group. For the first half of the talk I went over long term trends towards mobile devices, tablets, etc. and the shift away from PCs as the primary computing interface. Then I dove into how the mobile web solves the N-device problem with some technical tips and UI guidelines for mobile devices (use stylesheets, have large click areas, pare functionality down). For the last part I covered Palm's take, covering Ares, our mobile browser, our app ecosystem, and when it's appropriate to do one over the other. (And how webservices are the answer for everything :). I'll have slides for this talk up soon.

Afterwards we went downstairs where the Oracle dev outreach rep bought us all beer, then headed out for some Voodoo Doughnuts. ButterFinger doughnut for the win!


Wednesday morning we showed up to the expo floor early to get everything set up. I brought a bunch of Palm T-Shirts, a box of webOS books, about 80 aluminum water bottles, and 10 phones. The booth was very well attended and Ares was a big hit. I definitely need to get more of these nice water bottles, at least for the pacific northwest. We have so many bikers and hikers here, people use these things constantly.

Wednesday morning HP had a session covering all of the ways HP is involved in open source. I did a 12 minute segment covering webOS architecture, app development options, our catalog, and a 5 minute Ares demo. (yes, only 12 minutes for all of it!) At the end we gave away a couple of phones to people who asked good questions. (This is a lesson to attendees. Always stay till the end!)

Book signing

OSCON is run by O'Reilly. Since I wrote Swing Hacks for them five years ago they asked me to do a book signing at the Powell's booth. As I expected no one wanted me to sign a five year old book on an even older technology, but I did have a nice time chatting with the guys at Powell's (an excellent local Portland bookseller with one store dedicated to technical books).


Thursday I took the day off to spend time with my wife in Portland. Primarily Nordstrom's. We must have priorities.


Friday morning I did my personal session on Marketing Your Open Source Project on a Shoestring Budget Attendance is generally lower on the last day, so I wasn't surprised to see only about 25 people there. I wish O'Reilly had put me into a smaller room though, as it was built for about 250 and felt very empty. The talk was very well received by the audience, though. Several came up to me later telling me how much they liked it. Definitely something to repeat in the future. I'll have the slides up soon.

Next I attended "Repent Repent, the 2038 crisis is almost upon us" a tongue in cheek talk about the Y2038 problem where unix dates will roll over to 1901. Finally I saw the humorous keynote on The World's Worst Inventions. Describing it can't do it justice. Just go watch it.

Friday night my dinner guests bailed on me (or rather, hard crashed after 8 days of conference, poor guys) so Jen and I went out for some excellent Portland Sushi. I tweeted about it and someone showed up to join us. Go Twitter! Saturday morning we packed up, had a breakfast at a local cafe (Milo's Cafe, highly recommended, huevos rancheros & crab cakes were awesome!), then drove home.

Monday: Mobile Portland

The rest of Saturday and Sunday I was pretty much a zombie, but Monday afternoon I drove back up to Portland for yet another event. Jason Grigsby, who has worked on some high profile mobile apps, is the leader of MobilePortland.com, a local mobile developers group. A week ago their July meeting speaker plans fell through so he asked me if I'd talk to them about webOS while I was in town for OSCON (not realizing I live only 2 hours away).

So Monday I drove up to Portland and gave a 1 hour presentation that leaked into about 2 hours followed by Thai food afterwards with some of the crew. I gave them an overview of webOS, the development options, then spent quite a time in Ares showing how easy it is to build for. During a lengthy Q&A session they asked some really good questions and we got to dive into how the developer experience is very important for us. I also met some HP developers from Vancouver, two reporters, and a writer for PreCentral. It's amazing how many mobile related people live in Portland.

UStream recording of my session here

Whew. I think it's time for some coffee or a nap.

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Posted July 27th, 2010

Tagged: palm travel