It's been a busy few weeks. A week in Portland for code4libcon 2008. A jaunt up to Baltimore for the OAI-ORE meeting. Most of a week in Chicago (er, well, O'Hare, mostly) for PyCon 2008. Ordinarily I'd write up blurbs about the two 'cons at least as substantial as the one I wrote for the ORE meeting but I'm still pretty tired from it all and my absorption rate has slowed.
Some quick hits, then:
- We managed to not screw up code4libcon yet again. Undeniably it was better in many ways than before: more people, a better gender balance, lots of new voices, more preconferences and an unpreconference that didn't suck, a fun time in a great city, lots of connections made, faces put to names, and by-now-old friends caught up with. We still have to deal with the "yeah well what about next year" decision-making problem, which is bordering on intractable.
- March 12, 2008 marked the 15-year anniversary of the beginning of my year-long treatment for bone cancer. I've long meant to write more about that year, and it feels like now might be a good time to do that. Those of you who know me know most of the story, but I think it's probably worth telling in full. The short of it is that I shouldn't really be here now, quite simply, but here I am, and in the intervening years I've fallen in love and married, met many amazing people (scientists, musicians, clergypeople, scholars, lots of great neighbors and other friends, hackers, and more than my fair share of sexy librarians), travelled to several interesting corners of the world, buried too many people and fortunately seen many more people than that arrive into this crazy world and grow up quite a lot, hung out quite a lot at some of the world's greatest institutions of higher learning and knowledge preservation, started more than my fair share of weblogs, celebrated my teams' hockey, football, and basketball championships, seen my name and my ugly mug in print repeatedly including being indexed in MEDLINE, taught a roomful of 14-year-olds the basics of a language spoken halfway around the world, racked up quite a lot of debt but somehow paid most of it off already, and found a way to make a surprisingly good and rewarding living doing something I honestly love that somehow helps many people more than it hurts them.
- PyCon 2008 was a great event. The Python community is struggling with its size (over 1K people this year!) and the event needs tweaking to stay true to its roots as a community- and volunteer-run event. But on the other hand, for an event with so many people, I got to meet pretty much everybody I'd hoped to, I saw more great talks than crappy ones, and I lucked into many neat connections with different folks I hope to be able to work with or who knew somebody I knew or with whom we could just find lots of fun things to talk about over a beer and a pizza or a laptop and a text editor (and sometimes all four!). And though it'll be difficult because the two events are so close to each other, I think that in the next year I want to devote some time to helping out with planning and running at least some small piece of PyCon and probably do accordingly less of that for code4libcon. My perfectionist streak has less chance to assert itself in a roomful of 1000 people who were there before me and don't know me than it does in a roomful of 200 people where I know most everybody, and they're both pretty important to me professionally and personally.
- I'm reading a terrible book by David Baldacci. Yeah, that one. I would tell you not to bother, because it really is awful, but for some twisted reason I can't stop. Can anyone explain that?
- At both PyCon and code4libcon I was able to give lightning
talks to several hundred people where I showed off the project I've spent the most time on at my new job, the World Digital Library. After several months of down time on that project I'm hoping we might get started on it again soon, mainly because the response to it that I've heard has been overwhelmingly positive. How many people get paid to work on something that is essentially a way to help people all over the world learn more about each other, and has a genuine chance of succeeding?
- Related to that, and now that I know more about the coming python-3.0 release, I think I need to figure out how to handle Unicode Normalization in py3k, and come up with a solution myself soon if the obvious options don't make immediate sense. [Update (3/20): I'm an idiot. Of course this is already easy.]
- My new year's resolution for 2008 is to teach 1000 people how to program. I think I know how that needs to go now, and I'll get started soon. Stay tuned!
- It's really time for me to finally lose that extra weight. It never matters more than during travel. I don't travel so much anymore, but when I do (and I might not again until next year), these extra pounds I'm trucking about just beat me up. Feh!