Day One :: Aussie DevCon

New Terminology coined by Bruce Johnson, implemented and brought to life by Jono Woodhouse

WAC :: Wide Area Connection

LAC :: Local Area Connection

WAN’s and LAN’s are a thing of the past. So 20th Century. A new era has arrived, and it’s name is WAC. Phe3r the LAC.

Friday, 28th April, 2006

Our day began quite early for a family guy like myself :). Brett & I were waiting out the front of the pub (naturally) for the taxi at around 5am. Bill arrived just as the taxi pulled up, along with Adam who’d come for an early morning stroll.

John met us at the airport, and we boarded the lovely service that is JetStar. The flight was a generic, white-washed, ordinary flight. Of course, I can probably count more digits on my hands and feet than times I’ve flown in a plane. So that’s all relative.

Ahem.

Anyway, because of fog, smoke, or great maruading dinosaurs, we couldn’t land at the Avalon airport and were redirected to Melbourne. This turned out to be a boon as we were able to feast on some pretty luscious breakfast at one of the many wonderful cafe/eatery’s in Turak. At least I think it was Turak. It’s a cool name for a suburb anyway, so let’s just say it was Turak. Turak.

Turak.

Anyway, driving into the Salvation Army campsite reminded me forcibly of … camp. From the age of around 17 through 22 I attended a huge amount of camps. Week long, fortnight, weekend. And there was definately a feeling of,

Hmmm. Lots of new people. Initial social awkwardness followed by loud laughter. Putting out feelers, seeing how people react to my personality.

It’s funny. By day two, my brain had automatically assumed i had known everyone on camp (I’ll be randomly substituting "DevCon" for "Camp", so be prepared :)) for a long time. I opened up one of the Capesoft booklets and immediately upon reading heard Bruce’s voice in my head. Of course, maybe that’s cause he was standing next to me talking. Heh heh.

Anyway.

First, before going on.

A Big ShoutOut to Tony and David for an AWESOME conference. Seriously. It was fantastic. We (the Sydney Crew) had a blast. You guys put together something special. The homegrown guys giving talks, the Capesoft guys and Andy, not to mention Russ. And most importantly, we had unbelievably great food. I’ve been to a lot of camps, and that was most definately the best.

So thankyou.

Caveat:I may get the order wrong in some places. My memory is like a first-year implementation of a fifo stack, it should return things in order, but for some reason random deviants occur :).

Capesoft Profiler

Of all the sides of development, I have always shied away hard from the debugging, afterwards work.

Sitting in this seminar changed that. A big step towards more complete development.

Profiler is a super piece of work. But what is very cool is that it’s best used in conjunction with a bundle of other stuff, including, Shock, Gasp, Swoon, the Clarion Debugger (more on this later, thanks Russ!).

Profiler basically allows you to dive right into the gooey insides of your code and find out just where you can shove your dross code into the refining fire to emerge silver & gold. Or something like that :). I made that one just for you Jono, heh heh.

The first thing Jono asked me, as soon as the words "Stu Andrews" came out of my mouth, was .. "How do you come up with such imaginative descriptions". Of course, I couldn’t let slip with the truth. That I trained under Mr Shakespeare himself, or that I was experimented on with a super-nerd-writer serum as a teenager, or that my mother forced me to read the Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner again and again .. oh wait on. That last one rings a bell.

Another Ahem.

Of course, the real truth is that I try to let my mind just wander. Free itself from the bonds of reality, from a specific line of thought, and just reach out into all the wonders of imagination to see what comes back. Of course there are bits of experience in memory that warp and straighten the returning thoughts. That’s the crunch. But that’s how it works. Like a subroutine. Sort of. Ha ha.

Anyway, back to the show.

PHP Templates

Next up Dave Griffiths gave us a seminar on PHP Templates.

Now. Dave had lost his notes, or left them behind. Can’t remember. I think he did a pretty good job despite this massive set back.

He also gave one of the more concise truths I heard all weekend. That the "Web" movement is similar in size and importance as the Windows thing was back in dos days. In terms of Clarion. And really, in terms of anything. It already is. We have a great deal of movement, momentum, happening already. Just browse the net and you can see it. Turn on the telly, we’ve got ads over here that show it. In the paper. It’s there to see.

I’m not convinced PHP Templates themselves are anything special. Well, no, that’s not true. They serve specific purpose, and do that purpose well. It’s just that purpose doesn’t seem, to me, to be utilising what Clarion does best.

One thing that is useful though, is that it’s often easier to purchase hosting and start developing in php, because the hosting service allows this. Most of them have Apache or IIS running with PHP and MySQL. Now if you’re wanting to get into some experience, this is a great way to go. And pushing a clarion app into PHP would be a pretty cool learning experience, I have no doubt.

A Tale of 3 Drivers

Bruce is a fantastic person to watch and learn about how to present. He has learnt his subject matter well. He has most probably run through the plan of attack a few times, and he believes in what he is saying.

Oh yeah. Not just believes, but dogmatically.

Here’s a (maybe I spruced it up a little) transcript of a conversation that ensued during the Drivers seminar.

Bruce:And so you would like to place these Mickey Mouse figurines in order of size, along with the related Mouse-ke-teers for each of those Mickey’s in size order too. But you just can’t do it with the tools I have in my hands (a fork and a shovel).Donald Duck:Yes you can.Bruce:Ahhh, no I don’t think so.Huey, Duey, & Luey:Yeah, you can.Bruce:I’m going to stick to my guns. You can’t do it.

It turns out that Donald wanted to create a new world order by buying a rope to tie together the hands of the Mickeys with their own Mouse-ke-teers and sorting them that way.

But Bruce was right.

And I’ll tell you why.

Because he’s being a smart, lazy developer. Putting a business mind ahead of an intellect’s mind. This is not disparaging to Bruce in any way. Those of you who have met him know just how much cranial brainiac power rests in that head.

It’s that he can see further than solving the initial problem at hand. Why would you want to create another key for a single report that is only going to printed every so often? Why not use a combination of the drivers (IP, In-Memory, Dynamic) to solve the problem, which then establishes a foundation for any similar ones that come along?

If anyone can actually recall a better version of the events, feel free to let me know. I’m sure I probably missed the actual point. Just going off the memory chip.

So yeah, the seminar was about the three drivers, IP, In-Memory, and Dynamic. Bruce wove a magical story of dragons and knights and a damsel (princess) in distress.

The InMemory and Dynamic were most exciting, probably because I’ve had some exposure to the IP and understood it a little better. They are all 3 pretty cool.

To SQL or not to SQL

Sean then gave us a Seminar on SQL. Here was a subject that my colleages new a lot about. Bill and John especially have been dealing with the joys of SQL for a long time, and could fill a few books with tales of their battles, fighting the goblins, foul fiends and bog men.

Once again, the adage was used, it’s a wonderful tool used in the right place. It’s not going to be the answer to every problem, just like every other tool. It has a purpose.

My own opinionated opinion is that at a conference, I’m not so much interested in a history of a product as what it can do for me. This isn’t a criticism so much as an observation. My interest dropped, although rose again later, in a number of seminars where the history of something was discussed.

Don’t get me wrong, history is very important. It has it’s place. And my opinion isn’t going to change how people demo and give seminars. But I’d like to talk through history later, or read about it in my own time. Give me something that’s gonna blow my socks off :). Heh heh.

——

After some free time, we headed to the Cellar Restaurant in the middle of the beating heart of Geelong.

The food was great, although i would have liked to have partaken of both the fish AND the lamb. Mmmmm. Anyway.

The best thing about the night was chatting to people. Becoming a group of companions, not just a bunch of separate people. It was good.

It’s getting late here, and it was getting late there. Not much more to tell of Friday. If I remember anything, it’ll go in the next few posts.

Also, some photos will be forthcoming, along with the podcasts of the Interview with Capesoft.

‘Nuff Said,