2010 OSCON – Day One

My trip to OSCON was pretty uneventful, with the exception of getting hassled at airport security. Well, hassled is too strong a word – the TSA folks were friendly and professional – but I did hit a snag with my new contact lens solution.

I am extremely nearsighted (about -7 for those keeping score at home), but I manage by wearing contacts. However, as I have gotten older I’ve run into problems wearing them, so my doctor has me on some strange no preservative contact solutions which includes a cleaning product called “One Step” by Sauflon.

First off, One Step only comes in large bottles (you use about a half ounce a night so the TSA approved size won’t last a week) and second, it contains hydrogen peroxide.

Of course, the highly diluted hydrogen peroxide solution for my contacts is perfect bomb making material (sarcasm mine) so there is no way I could take it on the plane. I ended up having to work my way back out of security to check my bag. It made it to Portland with no issue (it was the third bag off the plane) so no harm, no foul.

Plus, it is delightfully cool and unusually dry in Portland which is a welcome change from the 100F+ days back home.

Note: While I haven’t used Twitter in a long time, I do ‘dent occasionally if you are in to that sort of thing.

Monday morning I set off for the Convention Center. Along the way I saw a guy who just struck me as a computer geek: jeans, dark t-shirt and walking with a backpack, and then I realized it was Eric Evans (OGP), an old friend from Rackspace. He is giving a tutorial on Tuesday on Cassandra, and it was nice to see him again.

My morning tutorial was on git. Considering that OpenNMS has a large number of developers spread out around the world, managing all of the code and merging it into a common repo can be difficult. We used to use subversion but switched to git last year, and I have to be honest that it is still a little bit like black magic to me.

At the tutorial I ran into Ken Eshelby, a long time OpenNMS user who manages about 100,000 interfaces with the application. It turns out that of the four tutorials I am attending, he is in three of them.

I wish I could say I got a lot out of the tutorial, but while it was obvious that Scott Chacon knew his stuff, he went through it so fast that it was almost impossible for me to keep up.

For example, I remember at one time he asked if people knew what “rebasing” was, and he followed it up by asking how many people used it. He then laughed and said more people used it than knew what it was, but the fact was that we couldn’t get our hands up fast enough in response to his first question before he asked the second.

The second tutorial, at least for me, was better. Josh Berkus gave a talk on keeping databases healthy (with a focus on PostgreSQL). I know Josh from SCaLE and he, too, really knows his stuff. Since OpenNMS currently runs only on Postgres, we often have to maintain our client’s database instances to insure that OpenNMS is optimally responsive. We are moving toward database independence by using Object/Relational Mapping (ORM) in the form of Hibernate, and of course Josh was against this from a performance standpoint, but I argued that since OpenNMS is a network management application platform versus a plain application we want to offer as many options to our users as possible, including choice of database. This allows for them to leverage in-house expertise to build truly custom solutions, and that flexibility is worth the performance trade off.

That evening Ken took Eric and me to a place called the Kennedy School. This is an old schoolhouse that has been turned into a rather unique collection of bars, a restaurant and a movie theatre (among other things). We sampled some of the local brew and then saw Iron Man 2, which was okay for $3 (not being familiar with the “Avengers” mythology I have the same neutral feeling about both it and the first movie) and my only complaint was I wanted more screen time for Scarlett Johansson.

It was cool that part of the movie took place in Monaco, where I managed to visit back in May.

If you’re at OSCON and want to meet up, let me know.