I went to a day of sessions last Wednesday at OSCON. Here are the session I went to:


First, I went to talk by Anthony Baxter about shtoom, a SIP stack written in Python. As he explained multiple times, VOIP and SIP are complicated. Which makes writing a complete stack by himself even more amazing. It also shows that Python and other interpreted languages are good enough (and much easier) to write demanding applications.

I definitely agree with his goal of having open source, interoperable VOIP so we can talk to anyone and do what we want. On one hand, we have Skype which is free but proprietary. On the other, we have the hardware phones which use SIP but can be locked down to certain providers and have proprietary extensions.

I saw Guido van Rossum, the creator of Python, at the talk.

Big Databases

The next session I went to was by Josh Berkus and Joe Conway talking about large data warehouses in PostgreSQL. This is exactly what we do at work so the casen studies were quite useful.

The main thing I learned is that we should upgrade to Linux 2.6 and PostgreSQL 8.0 for x86_64. It sounds like there is a big performance advantage.

I am really looking forward to PostgreSQL 8.1 which is going to have advances in table partitioning.

I was hoping for more useful stuff out of the talks I went to after lunch. Especially since I learned later that there were other more interesting talks going on at the same time.


I went to “From CVS to SVN” by Brian Fitzpatrick. He mainly talked about the general issues of managing the migration. He talked about the experiences of some projects, open source and commercial, in doing the migration. I was hoping for more details about the technical aspects. It did inspire me to move forward on getting my workplace to do the migration. And what political issues to work on.

Perl & Unicode

The next talk was Dan Kogai talking about Perl 5.8 and Unicode. Unfortunately, it was a pretty boring talk. It covered material which I had already gleaned from the documentation. He did show some examples including actual code. At work, we have been suffering doing Unicode with Perl 5.6. Moving to Perl 5.8 sounds like the right solution.


Then I went to a talk by Doug Cutting talking about doing Scalable Computing with MapReduce. The Nutch project, is a search engine based on Lucene, written in Java. They swiped the Gogogle File System and Map Reduce processing ideas to experiment with scalable indexing. I originally though the presentation was going to be by someone from Google. Seeing that an open source project had implemented Google’s ideas was just as interesting. I was hoping to see more info on MapReduce but I guess I will have to read the Google papers.

Rails History

Finally, I went to a talk by the creator of Ruby on Rails talking about Extracting Rails from Basecamp. It was mostly about the history of Rails and lessons learned about promoting and growing a project. I was hoping for more technical details and a little humility about his limited experience. Rails is exploding right now and it was useful to hear how he developed it as his first Ruby and open source project.


I went to two days of OSCON last week. My company finally decided to send me on Monday. The first day, August 2, I went to the Slony-I Replication Tutorial. Slony is a replication system for PostgreSQL. We use it at work to replicate a master database to two slave databases. This is done so the slave databases can be used for generating reports and the master database just does importing.

Most of the material was stuff I had learned before. There were a few nuggets of information I hadn’t known before. And I got some of my important questions answered.

It was also nice to learn that other people are using Slony in large deployments like we are and that it performs well.

Uncle Ian

Last Monday, I became an uncle. My brother and his wife had a baby girl, Rose Athena Martinsen-Burrell. Lara went into labor on Saturday evening. Rose was born by C-section 42 hours later.

He sent out a picture:

Hopefully, they will post more pictures at his blog or the baby’s website.