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Always interested in offers/projects/new ideas. Eclectic experience in fields like: numerical computing; Python web; Java enterprise; functional languages; GPGPU; SQL databases; etc. Based in Santiago, Chile; telecommute worldwide. CV; email.

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StarTechConf

From: andrew cooke <andrew@...>

Date: Sat, 12 Nov 2011 03:16:57 -0300

First, it's awesome to have a conference like this here in Chile.  Kudos to
the people who arranged this.  Some of what follows is critical of certain
parts, but I don't want that to detract from the fact that this was a huge
milestone for Chile, and a resounding success that reflects well on all those
involved...

The biggest criticsm - why was the WiFi coverage so poor?  Looking at my logs
I had to try many times before I got a DHCP response.  That looks like a
software/configuration issue to me (though I don't kow much about wifi..).
Anyway, I often had a connection, but couldn't get an address.  Not good.

My other major complaint is that the technical talks have been too
introductory and general, with HTML5 and CSS3 being covered multiple times.

Still, there have been some interesting moments.  Below are various notes...

Stephanie Sullivan, on CSS3, was surprisingly good.  I guess she was helped by
being first, but she covered a huge amount of practical info on CSS3.  Many
cute (too cute?) tricks, like using borders as triangles (think mitred
joins).  She mentioned many sites that have been repeated since:

  http://caniuse.com - summary of what browsers support what apis
  http://modernizr.com - css detection of support (defines classes so that you
  can use a declarative approach - neat)
  http://necolas.github.com/normalize.css/ - reather than reset, normalize
  
More at http://w3conversions.com/resources.html

The next interesting talks (for me) were the ones on open data here in Chile.
First was a government type, who sounded, well, like someone from the
government.  They have lots of plans, and they are doing lots of work, and,
well, you can imagine the practical issues, so understandably they haven't
changed the world yet...  The usual.

But then came Felipe Heusser from http://ciudadanointeligente.cl/ who is
gettng out and changing the world whether the want it or not.  I've emailed
him asking for a pointer to his talk, which I will post here if I get a reply.

More disappointing was the talk "Building Languages on JVM", which wasn't
about building languages on JVM (unfortunately) - it was about jRuby.  Which
is fine if you care about jRuby I guess.  One take-away from that was that
Visual JVM is worth using.

Saturday was more HTML5, then a noSQL talk that started off too-introductory,
but improved towards the end.  Despite the lack of technical details it's
useful to absorb general views: MongoDB is becoming the go-to solution for
medium size projects, with (indexed?) keyword search (note - the following
week HN was inundated with storied of Mongo's issues); Casandra is too
complicated and powerful for almost everyone.  One interesting snippet - Mongo
with Python was faster than memcache, because memcache serializes using
pickling; Mongo's JSON is faster.

Fragments:
  https://github.com/davatron5000/deCSS3 - bookmarklet for showing how a page
  looks without CSS3.
  http://www.w3.org/WAI/intro/aria - accessability
  http://www.nvda-project.org/ - good, free screen reader

An interesting talk on Postgres was too short, but the take-away is: if you're
considering learning noSQL it might be worth learning some of the more obscure
parts of PG instead.  See:
  http://wiki.postgresql.org/wiki/PL/Proxy
  http://wiki.postgresql.org/wiki/PgBouncer
  http://wiki.postgresql.org/wiki/SkyTools

Finally, please use informative titles.  I wne to a talk about trees, hoping
to learn about algorithms, and ended up listening to lots of tedious details
about git (how can anyone think source control that complex is a good idea?).

Andrew

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