Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Tuesday Night Extravaganza

Attended the Open Source Awards which was followed by Larry's State of the Onion talk. Larry, as usual, gave an amazingly off the wall speech with all his "slides" consisting of different screen savers. He touched on subjects as diverse as attention deficit disorder, random walks, bilateral symmetry, tumours and many other wierd and wonderful things, managing to relate them all back to the design of Perl 6 (somehow).

Nat Torkington chairing the session

Larry Wall and the State of the Onion

Following with the State of the Onion we had Paul Graham, author of Hackers & Painters, who talked about the number of hackers who would voluntarily use Java over (say) Python, and that he doesn't know any. He also talked about how to get the best out of hackers, and that if you want them to be productive you need to provide what they need: a lack of cubicles, the right tools and the ability to choose their projects freely. Getting good hackers to work on projects they find boring is, in fact, very difficult (unless their families are going to starve).

Damian Conway talking about just about everything...

Finally we had Damian Conway talking about Life, the Universe and Everything, who Nat wheeled in (one day, I will need a favour...) at the last minute to replace Jon Orwant. Damian is always an entertaining speaker, and well worth going out of your way to hear, this time he talked about the Game of Life (and that other Conway).

Amougst (many) other things, he discussed Paul Rendell, who implemented a Turing machine inside a Game of Life, which is pretty scary. On the other hand this inspired Damian to write a quantum superposition version of the game using Perl6 Junctions. He then went on to use this module to prove the 2nd law of thermodynamics (no, seriously!). This is perhaps slightly more scary...

Damian proving the 2nd law of thermodynamics