Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A Random Walk On A Strange Loop: Day 2

Full Discloseth:

All of this may or may not matter to you: "A Longer Post" is an anagram of "Strange Loop". I live in St Louis, MO. Some speakers and the organizer are friends of mine. I work for a sponsor of the recent Strange Loop conference.

This is a continuation of some thoughts on the conference. See many more resources here.

Hamlet D'Arcy: Groovy Compiler Metaprogramming...

(slides here)

Hamlet gave a splendid talk on the power of manipulating Groovy's AST. As a warm-up to Groovy, he showed a quine: absolutely perfect for this conference. Looking back, I'm surprised they weren't all over the place.

Hamlet's main example was to introduce code into the AST during one of Groovy's compilation stages. I was reminded of a comment on Java Posse where someone said that AOP had to be invented in Java to solve a particular problem, and that the problem simply didn't exist in dynamic languages. This talk exemplified this in spades.

As an aside, Hamlet was a real trooper with the microphone. It was an awkward set-up, but he handled it gracefully. (I tend to get rattled under such conditions, so big props...).

Matt Taylor: jQuery, the Javascript Library of the Future

(slides here)

This talk wins the prize for making me want to a buy a book on the subject. If you haven't seen Javascript for awhile, good news: the libraries are fantastic, with jQuery arguably leading the way.

Matt's presentation and slides (featuring a hall-of-fame Twittch comic) were right on target, but the money maker is the demo. Seriously: check it out now.

It may be simple jQuery in a browser, but it is really a clever layout and a testament to jQuery. Matt showed some snazzy selectors and hinted that you can do more if you know CSS. I maintain that if you don't know CSS, you could use something like this to explore and learn more about it. The demo is a bit like an IDE for the browser. Also, if you are using a giant template system (ahem), then jQuery might be useful to introspect pieces of the HTML fractal with which you must deal.

I'm sold. I hate CSS and a lot of web design but this library looks great.

Michael Galpin: Mobile Development 101...

(slides here)

Michael gave a classic, spot-on talk on 2 major platforms: iPhone and Android. I say 'classic' in the sense that the trade-offs were presented in a balanced and honest manner. This is one talk where I wish there was more time for questions. There were many.

After all, there is a big fork in the road for mobile development, and you can't take both paths. Choosing one is a big decision. I'd especially liked to have heard more about development as a potential side-venture, rather than within an enterprise, and the necessary resources (e.g. accountant, attorney, trademark, etc). Not very techie, but mobile is the new gold-rush.

I respected that Michael didn't proselytize which path to choose: he just laid out the options. I have the high respect for people who can present both sides of a topic without tipping their hand (even if they are passionate in one direction).

Alex Payne: Keynote on 'Minimalism in Software'

I've been somewhat scooped by Michael Galpin (above) on this one: I also give Alex high marks and found his keynote to be really thought-provoking, even if it was disagreement. I may write a critique in later a post. However, unlike Michael G, I do like artistic/musical analogies. If anything, I wonder if Alex went far enough with his analogy.

More later, after the web has a chance to see Alex's talk. The nano-gist: after an introduction to Minimalism (versus minimalism), Alex listed some methods to achieve it in technology (see the slides or this recap by Weiqi Gao).

Regrets and 2nd Chances

I saw some other talks but want to focus on regrets -- actually, second chances -- as the content will be online. I'm looking forward to the Strange Passion sessions, talks by the senseis Jeff Brown and Ken Sipe, and definitely James Williams' talk on Griffon.

The Upshot

Yes, yes, Alex Miller likes nachos. But I once read that he also likes building things, including events, and bringing people together. Strange Loop really was a dandy, and we are all better for it. Congrats! And thanks...

Full Discloseth:

I work for a sponsor of the recent Strange Loop conference. Some speakers and the organizer are friends of mine. I live in St Louis, MO. "Lagoon Strep" is an anagram of "Strange Loop". All of this may or may not matter to you.

Go Steal Porn.


Alex Miller said...

Thanks, Mike! By the way, Jeff Brown requested not to be filmed (and he had no slides), so unfortunately those performances were one-shot opportunities. Based on the feedback, they were very good.

Hamlet D'Arcy said...

Jeff Brown's talk was really fun.

My only regret is not being there on Thursday!