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Perl News Special Report: Perl Whirl '03

Jul03: Perl News

Perl News

The Perl Journal July 2003

Special Report: Perl Whirl '03

Geeks at Sea

Perl Whirl-ers at the teppan-yaki grill. From left to right: Mark Bilodeau, Larry Fine, Jeff "japhy" Pinyan, Larry Wall, Gloria Wall, Joshua Hoblitt, and Elyse Grasso.

During Perl's long and storied history, coders from around the world have attended conferences and seminars, getting to know the luminaries of the language. Speakers and contributors have earned reputations and fan followings. In anticipation of this year's Perl Whirl, one question dominated the hearts and minds of coders, admins, and fans: Will Larry Wall's choice of tuxedo stand up to an environment in which people routinely wear "Aloha" shirts? Happily, and to the relief of the attendees, the answer was a resounding "yes." The Great One graced one evening's dinner with a canary yellow tuxedo with matching ruffled shirt, and also appeared in a double-breasted burgundy dinner jacket and black bow tie. (This concludes the Perl Whirl Fashion Report.)

Though the conference was scheduled concurrently with "Mac Mania II," a separate, larger Geek Cruise that took place only a few weeks before YAPC 2003, Perl Whirl '03 never faded into the shadows. A highly motivated group of about 35 conference attendees enjoyed about three days' worth of presentations and seminars over the course of the week aboard ship. Conference organizer "Captain" Neil Bauman carefully scheduled the events so as not to conflict with any of the ports of call.

The first portion of the conference presented attendees with a choice of two tracks: Randal Schwartz taught a three-part "Packages, References, Objects, and Modules" course; while Allison Randal and Damian Conway presented a preview of Perl 6. The Good Doctor (Conway) also delivered a keynote address. The talks later in the week focused more on tips and tricks, culminating in Mark-Jason Dominus's wildly popular "Red Flags" presentation.

As is often the case, the hallway track proved to be among the most popular, useful, and enjoyable. Every conference attendee had the opportunity to eat dinner with the Walls, and Gloria Wall also gave lessons in shuttle tatting, and even provided the supplies. Two "geeks only" shore excursions and several organized dinners allowed speakers and attendees to get to know each other as well. The manageable size of the conference encouraged this sort of interaction.

Perl Whirl was a great opportunity to learn. When you've karaoke'd with Randal Schwartz (a touching rendition of Garth Brooks's "The Dance"), snorked down shrimp cocktails with Damian Conway, or watched the maitre d' tell Allison Randal to go put some pants on, you learn that they're just regular folks. Folks like yourself, only smarter. That, and foreach will be eliminated in Perl 6.

—Lawrence D.P. Miller

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