July 24th, 2007

Monday was the first day of the OSCon tutorials. The first question was: how to get there? OSCon is being held in the Oregon Convention Center, about half a mile from the conference “headquarters” hotel, the Portland DoubleTree at Lloyd Center.

MAX light rail is free in this area. It’s about a block to the Lloyd Center station, and a block from the Convention Center station to the Convention Center. The trains run every few minutes and are very friendly to people that aren’t from Portland. On-board announcements point out bus and rail connections in advance, and each station has a system map, city map, and digital display listing the time until the next arrival. Even bus and streetcar stations have that display.

In fact, everyone here is. The personnel at the Amtrak station were great. Our cab driver from the station to the hotel told us about all the things he loves about Portland and why he’ll never move anywhere else. And the DoubleTree hotel has probably the friendliest hotel staff I’ve ever seen, even when we reported water dripping from the ceiling in our room. The concierge desk gladly showed Terah how to get to a nearby Safeway for groceries, and explained — correctly — to me how to use trains and buses to get to the Japenese Gardens in Washington Park.

Anyhow, back to OSCon. The first two days are tutorials. These are extended talks. You can go to 2 per day, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. I attended Advanced Vim Scripting and Linux Performance Monitoring. Neither was quite as advanced as I’d like, but I got useful information out of them both — especially out of Linux Performance Monitoring. I finally learned the exact difference between buffers and cache and what the IOwait state in top really means, among other things. I heard from others in IRC that Simon Peyton-Jones was a fantastic speaker and his tutorial on Haskell met rave reviews. I’m looking forward to his keynote and talk on Wednesday.

I also went to the keysigning BoF in the evening. Signed a ton of keys, and met some interesting people. I met a couple of folks from an independent telephone company in Michigan that were interested in my Asterisk experience, and spoke to an Earthlink employee from Georgia that was involved on the ISP side of things.

In all, a good first day. This is a great conference in a great city, with lots of variety in its programming and lots of opportunity to network (the old-fashioned way).

The venue is also very nice, and aside from not being right next to the venue, so it the hotel.

The day’s main mystery: everybody has noticed, and nobody has figured out why, the hotel elevators all stop on the 2nd floor on the way down, even if nobody requested it.

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