Paul Graham’s talk was excellent, save for the audio set-up. Randal and I, both wannabee sound wannabees, bet that the awesome AV guys were gouging their own eyes out in the back. Besides that, Paul played the audience well. He speaks the geek language without sounding like it. Now I feel guilty about not hacking on anything this week. I have to track him down to get him to write “What Perlers Should Know About Lisp” for The Perl Review.
Most people don’t realize what it takes to make the AV portion of a big show work. I’ve done a lot of big shows, including COMDEX, and the people who do the O’Reilly shows are the absolute best. I don’t know the crew this year, but David Hooper is still around. I think I’ve seen him at almost every O’Reilly conference.
If you hang out in a room early in the morning, you may get to hear the AV crew talk about what they have to do, which is a lot more than you probably think it is. They are a lot more than just cable pullers. Take a look around at the conference tomorrow. You’ll probably see AV guys moving quickly and with a purpose. Hang out within earshot and you’ll hear them swapping stories about users just like system administrators. If they look calm and collected, it’s because their good, not because nothing is happening. My wife is a big shot opera singer, but when I talk to people about what I’ve seen backstage, I tell them about the union and trade people who make everything look effortless backstage. They are doing a good job when you don’t think about them.
However, there are some things these supermen of AV aren’t going to be able to fix. For instance, don’t walk on stage with a laptop they have never seen before and that you have never tested with their projection setup. They will try to fix things in real time, but then your audience has to see them. They end up looking bad if they can’t get your goofy computer patched in instanteously. If you are a speaker, sign up for an AV rehearsal slot, or show up really early in the morning when they aren’t fighting fires.
Here’s something that will freak them out: I challenge everyone at the conference to go up to one of the AV guys tomorrow and just say “thank you, you guys are awesome”. You don’t have to buy them beer unless you want extra credit. I bet if enough people do that, someone is going to ask Gina what the hotel put in the muffins.
Anyway, I ducked out before Damian’s talk (which is excellent: I saw it in zero time). He stepped into the slot of the Internet Quiz Show since Jon Orwant couldn’t attend (I hope everyone is sending him “Get Well” messages). I had to meet up with Randal after he setup a bunch of access points and NoCat for Bar 71. I still don’t know everything that is going to go on there, but I think there is going to be some live webcasts, and maybe something to do with The Perl Foundation. Bill is still being really secretive about the party: not even Randal knows the whole plan, and he’s paying for it. Bill did let me hold the check made out to the bar, and all the ink on it made it really heavy. It’s free drinks and food, and that costs a lot. Randal flew in some heavy-hitting musical help tonight. I can’t say who it is, but she’s not Prince, Michael Jackson, or Madonna.
I got back to Randal’s place to find my audio equipment had shown up. Apparently Bill stopped by Stonehenge today, saw the packages for me and took them back to Randal’s house. That’s good news for me and saves me a trip beyond the wireless range of the hotel. I should be walking around the hotel with a big microphone tomorrow (a Beyer M58 for you audio weenies). Find me if you want to be part of my new project “Talk About Perl”. I’d like to get people to simply tell me “What is Perl?” for an audio collage, but I’ll take unsolicited statements and rants and raves too. I want to create an oral history of Perl over the next couple of years.
My moblog seems to be working pretty well. The camera doesn’t take the greatest pictures, but I love the fact that I can email as many as I like from my phone for only $5/month. I just skip one Starbucks coffee a month and I’m all set. I can’t send photos from the lower level of the hotel, but I discovered that if I get on the escalator and hit send at the bottom, about half way up I get enough GPRS goodness to connect, and by the time I hit the top, the image is mostly sent. By the time I turn the corner to hit the down escalator, the outbox is empty and the image is one the way to my server in New York. Sadly, I can’t figure out how to make server side includes use a different time zone, so I need to add a hack tonight to set the file mod times to three hours earlier. I really don’t each lunch at 3pm.
Remember: freak out the AV guys by saying “Thank you”.