YAPC::Russia

OK, so let me get the obligatory meme out of the way first: “In Soviet Russia, the YAPC enjoys you!” Well, I hope that my talks were enjoyed anyway. :-)

Despite having been at every Perl Mova event in Ukraine and even having made it to the Vladivostok Perl Workshop, this was the first time I managed to make it to YAPC::Russia. That said, I have been in Moscow before, and it was nice to be back again. It’s a vast city with an almost equally vast metro. The marble stations, with their epic decorations, never fail to impress me. For the first time, I was also impressed by my airport experience: I arrived in a shiny new terminal with efficient immigration (parallel processing for the win). The girl who inspected and stamped my passport almost looked like she was capable of smiling! :-) Getting the visa to go to Russia was the usual hassle, but an hour into my time there – surrounded by the Cyrillic script, grand buildings and the sounds of a Slavic language (my favorite language family) – it all felt worth it. :-)

The first day was a Perl 6 hackathon. Many people had never installed a Perl 6 implementation before, so masak and I helped people through that. Along the way, somebody’s spectest run found a platform-specific unicode related bug and with masak’s help they filed it. It was nice to see the hackathon quickly turning up results. Some people played with Perl 6 and modules; there was some work on Perl 6′s LWP module. We got to the bottom of why Zavolaj broke recently and I was able to write to the Parrot list about the issue. With a little guidance, a performance-boosting patch for NQP, which I’ve now also been able to use in the nom branch of Rakudo, was also developed at the hackathon. I also had chance to write a couple of patches myself.

Days two and three were “normal” conference days. After Andrew Shitov gave the opening, Carl and I took to the stage to talk about what had been done at the previous day’s hackathon. I decided to try and introduce myself in Russian. I’m normally not great at it, and was very nervous about speaking in front of a bunch of people in a language I’m not especially good at. Afterwards I was told that while my pronunciation was quite accented, I spoke pretty much correctly and it was easy to understand. Phew! :-) Some day, I hope to do a lightning talk in Russian…at this rate, it may be a few years yet though…

Later that day I had my first real talk, which was a re-run of “Inside a Compiler”, but with a few updates given that NQP has been tweaked a bit since I gave it in Taiwan (back then, I was still deep in the middle of a bunch of changes). My second talk was on the final day of the conference, and was essentially a Rakudo progress report, very much like the one I gave at the Netherlands Perl Workshop. The difference this time was that I’m actually actively working on a bunch of the optimizations and improvements that the talk discusses, whereas back at NLPW it was more forward-looking. Now I’ve given it in the future and present tense, I look forward to giving it in the past tense, once all of the things it describes are completed. :-) You can find the slides and code here. By the way, masak’s talk – on the value of compiler-ish techniques in everyday programming – was excellent; I’m sure he’ll post slide links in his blog soon.

After YAPC, masak and I headed off to Saint Petersburg for a few days of vacation with a little hacking here and there. Due to Saint Petersburg being full of many wonderful things to look at, along with the discovery of a “Beer Restaurant” (yes, that’s how it actually described itself…even better, it was called “Pivorama”), not a great deal of hacking got done. Well, I don’t get to be in Russia all that often, so I was all for enjoying seeing it. :-)

Anyway, time to get back to the Rakudo “nom” branch hacking. It’s going pretty well, though there’s nothing hugely exciting to report just yet; I’m still busily re-building a bunch of the primitives. It’s feeling good, both in terms of the immediate benefits we’ll have, but also in the number of things it will open up for the future.

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