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YAPC Rocks and Perl'rs Roll

Which means Perl is Alive and Well and most certainly Kicking

Fri Aug 14 10:15:35 2009

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There are hackers In utili-kilts, with hair down to their backside, Who will tell you that the future, Is about Enlightened Moose...

There is always a good mood at a YAPC, I am not sure what the exact mix is that creates it but it is there, it pervades the schedule and penetrates the attendees bringing them to an almost pleasant little euphoric state. This is especially true of a YAPC::EU and the conference organisers of this year's event did all that they could to encourage this sensation.

This does not imply that there is no seriousness. That would be insulting. The organisers put a great deal of effort in to ensuring that the event and the surrounding socialisation runs smoothly; the sponsors push out the boat to encourage and promote a community they seem to care so deeply for; the speakers yet again seek to not only enlighten but to entertain and endear, always surpassing expectation with the quality of what they present. All of this contributes toward that sense of worthiness you feel when you attend. You know the effort of attending, of arranging a perhaps busy schedule is paid off by the quality of treatment and experience you are given.

But there is more to it than that...

There are the people, which is you if you attended, or you if you go next time, or you the reader who can imagine the experience we all shared. The people who attend are the element that makes a YAPC special, and they do it in so many ways. I am going to focus on two experiences that are close to my heart and really made my YAPC. The first was a challenge and the second a much-appreciated return...

The Challenge

It is no secret that the Shadowcat Technical Director likes to use profanities to punctuate both his speech and his writing. A long-term devotee to good English he nevertheless uses profanity to add emphasis and direction, also to my mind he uses it to influence people to highpoints or significant issues in his argument almost embolding what follows the profanity. He also uses it, in my interpretation, as a technique to imply derision or reductify position of argument he calls question with. Added to this he is one of the last of the good-time drinkers and is used to colloquial, somewhat laddish, northern-beer-man-swillish behaviour and conversation patterns.

There has been some fun had for a few years by attendees to his talks to either guess what emphatic use he will give to profanities or to count the number of times he gives them. In jest I have produced a t-shirt which has the message, "play the Matt S. Trout drinking game, every time he swears you take a drink. See how many sentences you survive.". Now let us have as an understanding that I have always believed that Matt uses profanity in the manner he uses any other word he utters, writes or presents. It is a tool to convey meaning and his point. Whether it is in a comfortable laid-back manner or with gusto and zest to entertain his audience.

This year though he was presented with a challenge by Jesse of Best Practical, to deliver all three of his talks without profanity. He could still use the original slides, which had some profane words on them and had been used in these presentations previously (the title of the Lightning talk was "Rum, Buggery and the Lash"), but he could not utter profanities.

The winning of the bet was a night of drinking to be paid for by Jesse.

Matt had to control his natural enthusiasm for profanity used as emphasis and watch carefully his use of words as he presented in case he slipped and delivered it in a previous manner. It was an excellent challenge that Matt won (which I had little doubt of as I stated in my understanding of his usage above). But, it also added an extra dimension of fun to the proceedings and I think to the entire conference as was proved by the dedication in the Catalyst book that was auctioned and the first paragraph that was also auctioned to be read out to the gathered masses.

The video of these talks is available on the shadowcat website in the Conference videos section, and if you wish to compare and contrast them, simply load the Pittsburgh versions and match the diffence in words.

The Return

Many people in the Perl community know that Piers Cawley has been away for some time having fun with the Ruby language. Others will know that he has returned to Perl and this year he presented at the YAPC his reasons for returning to Perl.

His talk was one of the best at the conference being not only well delivered and well structured but also had a great introduction by Damien Conway who managed to get a good joke about introductions being "short and boring" as well as playing with the other element of Piers's talk MooseX (moo sex). Piers has graciously allowed me to put his video on the Shadowcat site as Matt and I did a small favour for him for the talk and I think it is worthy of as much promotion as possible.

The other element Piers brought to the YAPC is his great enthusiasm and his ability to accurately tease as was proven in his lightning talk where he sang his 'revised' version of a folk song which played with the notion of profanity and mocked both Perl people and other IT communities in a gentle and yet well-targetted manner, a rather excellent slice of satirical mockery.

Due to issues with recording (and not wishing to breach the authors original copyright and rights) I do not have the video to show, I only wish I had as Piers skilfully managed to tempt a room full of techies to sing along with him, I can however give you some of the words Piers sang (I do have the complete words available and will give them out if asked):

Oh the pirates in their fetid galleons
Daggers in their skivvies(?)
With infested tattoes fingers
Wrapped around a blunderbuss or two
Signs of skurvy in their eyes
And with murder on their minds
It is from them I expect to hear the f-word not from you

We sit down to have a chat
It's f-word this
And f-word that
I can't control how you Perl people talk to one another
But I don't like to hear you use that f-word with your mother

There are Rubyists
whose arrogance make Mister T look humble
Who because they've got a porno slide
Are way more cool than you
With their thirty-seven signals and domain-specific language
It is from them I expect to hear the f-word not from you

We sit down to have a chat
It's f-word this
And f-word that
I can't control how you Perl people talk to one another
But I don't like to hear you use that f-word with your mother

There are hackers in utilikilts
With hair down to their backside
Who will tell you that the future's
All about Enlightened Moose
With their Catalytic Dbix::Class
And tendency to hubris
It is from them I expect to hear that f-word not from you
[Last chance to join in everyone]

We sit down to have a chat
It's f-word this
And f-word that
I can't control how Matt S. Trout will talk to everyone
But I don't like to hear him use that f-word with his mother

The original of this song is "A Chat with Your Mom" by Lou and Peter Berryman

This is the spirit people bring to the YAPC, and there were many more people showing the same spirit, these were just two examples and they had a related theme I used them both. In a future article I will be returning to this issue as I will talk more on the spirit of Perl people, perhaps returning to some of the events in and around this years YAPC::EU.

If anyone has feedback (and until we have a commenting system) please don't hesitate to email me at: m.keating [at], if your comments are useful, fun, or just plain interest to me, or if I think will be useful to others, then I will add them to the end of this post, let me know how you would like to be named (anon, nick etc.).


Mark Keating is: Managing Director of Shadowcat Systems Limited
Director and Secretary of Enlightened Perl Organisation
Co-Founder/Co-Leader of North-West England Perl Mongers
Work Blog: Mark Keating on Shadowcat
Perlesque Blog: Mark Keating on
Public Blog: Mark Keating on Vox
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My Homepage: Mark Keating's Personal site