YAPC::NA 2014, Day Two
By Jeff Boes
June 25, 2014
YAPC::NA 2014 (in Orlando, FL) continues after a brief interruption for sleep … see my previous post for the beginning of the story. And now, the exciting middle of our story:
This time I’m giving you a much less chronological treatment; instead, we’re starting with the biggest impression, then moving on to less gripping but still important items. Remember, all talks are available at YouTube.
Charles Stross on the Future of Perl
The second day concluded with a keynote speaker from another Perl celebrity, author Charles Stross. Stross is no stranger to me, as I’ve read a book or two from his published works. (Hearing him speak will prompt me add a few to my Amazon wish list.) Stross has worked as a programmer (or as he put it, “I have been paid to argue with computers”) but nowadays he is entirely a writer of science fiction (or, “I tell lies for money”).
His talk was a futurist’s view of the Internet of Things, computer programming, and Perl. He noted that most technologies (e.g., railroads) go through a kind of sigmoid curve, which in computer technology has been called “Moore’s Law”, but which Stross feels is about to be shown to be no longer in effect, due to physical constraints on the manufacture of integrated circuits. (In a nutshell, we can’t make chips a lot faster than they are now, because we’d have to etch the circuits at a scale below that of a single atom.)
So instead of speed, the immediate breakthroughs are going to be in price. Stross imagined a city where every sidewalk section of concrete had a solar-powered chip embedded in it with Bluetooth technology. That chip could interact with the chips in your child’s clothing and the cars traveling in the street to predict and prevent a tragedy as the child chases a ball. Or it could receive data from the chip in your clothing to determine that your uneven gait indicated you were injured or incapacitated and summon assistance. Of course, it could also determine all sorts of other things about you that are nobody’s business, but that’s a different story.
Stross feels Perl is well-positioned to become (or actually, remain) the glue that holds these millions or billions of Internet-enabled things together. In 10 or 20 years as this world becomes the new normal, Perl will be a seasoned, mature technology with a proven record of doing this same job, just on a smaller scale. His observations were witty, thoughtful, and well received.
RapidApp: Turnkey Ajax-y Web Apps
Henry Van Styn gave an intriguing introduction to RapidApp, which is a Catalyst web application framework and application generator that creates full-featured database applications from nothing more than a database connection. If your database is well-designed, with good naming conventions, types, and foreign keys, you can spin up a CRUD-capable, professional-looking starter app in minutes. In fact, he did so live, during the talk.
Once you have such a starter application, it can be extended and refined at both the front- and back-end. You can even embed bits of it, as it has fully REST-ful URLs, in other applications through the <iframe> tag.
DBIx::Class, the Perl ORM
Arthur Schmidt’s presentation on DBIx::Class gave me an appetite to learn more about this system. It seems to have a much different approach than what I’ve used most, which is Rose::DB. My only disappointment was that the speaker had no great experience with Rose, and could not compare and contrast it, so I guess I’ll have to do that on my own someday.
Game Night at YAPC::NA
I am an inveterate game player. I have hundreds of them around the house, I organize game sessions whenever my friends’ schedules permit, and twice a year I open my home to 30-50 people so we can play games from dawn until dusk. Imagine my joy at learning that my fellow Perl enthusiasts shared my other passion. Game Night took place in the very ballroom where we had been meeting all day. Well-supplied with fajitas and beer, a large majority of the attendees sat down for games of Fluxx, Cards Against Humanity, and Magic: the Gathering.