The London Perl Workshop 2018

LPW Sun 25 November 2018

I went to the London Perl Workshop yesterday, and had the usual good time. I.e. catching up with friends, meeting some new people, giving a couple of talks, and attending talks. And as a bonus, I got two t-shirts this year.

Talks I attended

Léon Brocard gave an interesting talk on the past, present, and future of HTTP. I wasn't aware of HTTP/3, but now I know that it's quite a bit more complex, and binary, and it will be a while before it's out there.

Martin Berends gave a talk about Cucumber and BDD. It's not really relevant for me, but it's always good to broaden my testing knowledge.

Paul Evans compared and contrasted software development with the electronics work he does. I liked seeing how he extends his toolset, creating new tools to help testing what he's making, and then testing the test tools. In software and electronics you can use your core skills to build tools to help yourself, something you can't do in a lot of jobs. Thinking about Paul's talk prompted me to buy myself a proper food mixer :-)

Peter Allan's talk was on Perl Critic, and how you can check for security issues as well as coding style, and extend it yourself to perform additional checks. Sadly the company where he wrote a module won't let him release it. This was his first talk at LPW.

Tom Hukins' talk, Contrarian Perl, was based around the central thesis that industry best practice isn't usually the best you can do — to do the best you sometimes don't follow the herd. I like this kind of talk: ideas that aren't finished, but that are thought-provoking.

Recently I've spent a lot of time working on ISO 27001, so I enjoyed Colin Newell's talk on ways to educate developers about security (video of what looks like the same talk given a month ago). One good point Colin made is that really experiencing an exploit is a good way to hammer home the changes in practices needed to avoid it.

London Leaders

In place of a plenary there was a panel session with past leaders of the London Perl Mongers, led by Katherine Spice. This was unexpectedly (to me) entertaining and interesting.

I was surprised to learn that the social get togethers typically only get a handful of people, but the tech talk sessions generally get 40 or so.

I'm not sure how ILMARI has managed to avoid being a leader thus far, but I think we all heard Julien Fiegehenn volunteer to take over from Rick.

Lightning Talks

I gave a talk about the Pull Request Challenge (PRC), giving stats so far, encouraging people to sign up for the last month (December 2018), and letting people know about Pull Request Club, Kivanç's successor challenge.

Mohammad Anwar talked about his experience in the PRC, and that he's happy about Kivanç's new challenge.

Running lightning talks takes a special person, and Léon Brocard has done a great job for many years. Mohammad had just started his talk, and told us that it was his first LT, and he was scared. Léon then gave the 1-minute warning, which got a classic reaction from Mohammad, and a big laugh from the audience. That could have back-fired on Léon, but he read the moment right.

I missed at least one talk dealing with laptop issues.

Kenichi Ishigaki came to LPW from Tokyo, and gave a talk about his new CPAN Grep tool. Give it a try!

JJ Atria gave one of my favourite talks: 10 lessons learned from his first year as a professional programmer (coming to it from academia). Lots of truth here, humbly given; things for all of us to remember, like remembering to say thank you. I look forward to a 20-minute talk from JJ next year.

Ilya Chesnokov did something that doesn't happen often: he stood up without slides and used a flipchart to present thoughts prompted by Tom's talk. He main point was that when thinking about using new or different technology you need to think about how to sell it to IT. New often means "not battle tested" to IT, so he said the way to think about it is managing risk. Which was a great set-up for my second lightning talk ...

I had submitted a 20-minute talk on ISO 27001, but gave up that slot so Peter could give his talk on Perl Critic. As a result I gave a 20-minute talk in 5 minutes, by talking quickly and skipping a bunch of things I planned to say. I was pretty happy that I completed both of my LTs within the allotted 5 minutes, something I've not managed before.

Final words

All attendees got a free t-shirt this year, and Mohammad also gave me a Pull Request t-shirt he'd made to celebrate four years of the challenge. Thank you Mohammad!

There is no entry fee for LPW, and that's only possible with the help of the generous sponsors. So thanks to Eligo, CV Library, Perl Careers, Adestra, Broadbean, Oleeo, Opus VL, Adzuna, Geek University, Perl 6 Developers, and the University of Westminster.

I'd also like to thank the organisers and volunteers.

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