Infrequently Noted

Alex Russell on browsers, standards, and the process of progress. in SF, tomorrow!

As noted on the main project blog, there's a get-together tomorrow night (March 5th) at Le Trappe, one of the very best bars for beer in the bay area. We're expecting a great cross-section of the Dojo community, so if you like Dojo and you like beer, RSVP online so we can avoid totally overwhelming the bar staff.

Some OSCON Proposal Tips

For the last several years I've been lucky to serve on the OSCON program committee. What that means, basically, is that for a couple of weekends a year I sit down with all the talks that have come in through the "call for participation" process for my track (web stuff) and try to sort out good from bad.

Once that's done, we try to identify any holes in the program and fill them to ensure that OSCON really does benefit attendees and that speakers and talks represent the diversity in views and interests of the Open Source world. My personal perspective is that it's the Program Committee's job to zealously guard the quality of the talks since the PC doesn't represent that business side of OSCON, but rather the attendees. I've always been impressed with how hands-off ORA is about this part of the process, ensuring that everyone gets a fair shake (as far as the PC is concerned).

Part of that responsibility is to make sure that when you go you're not marketed to outside of the clearly labeled exhibitor booths. Content is content. Marketing is marketing. They both have a place, but that place is clearly marked and that's one of the ways that we try to keep OSCON good.

As it happens, this weekend is one of those sift-through-hundreds-of-talks weekends for me. The advice I'm about to give is therefore top of mind. Other PC members do things differently and have a different perspective, but generally the list of "do's" and "don'ts" that are listed on the talk submission page are a good guide.

I do regret not having done this after last year's grading, but better late than never. I'll try to link back to this post next year (if I'm still lucky enough to serve on the PC) to give fair warning. Lastly, before I get into it, be assured that these guidelines don't talk about any single proposal. They're from persistent patterns I've seen over the years. Here goes:

In some sense, I hope that the truly bogus corporate-drone-submitted proposals don't get much better. They're easy to spot now, and their horrible quality makes them simple to filter out. Instead, I hope that folks who might otherwise be on the line find this list useful as a way to push them over the threshold.

My personal thanks go out to everyone who reads this blog and submitted talks this year. The quality in the web track is great, and many important topics are represented in the submissions that reflect how important the web is to Open Source (and vice versa).

...and the waiting starts

In Venezuela.

You might want to watch this Frontline episode for background.


After trying nearly a zillion different shells on Windows, I'm back to Cygterm, in part because it makes cygwin happy and because I've just come to accept that some stuff will always require cmd.exe. Windows just sucks like that. On the upside, the Wombat VIM theme rocks my world.

Mark Thoma: "Tax Cuts Won't Build Schools"

Pro-cyclical arguments (the same ones that got us into this mess) are saying that we shouldn't begin public works projects because they might take a while. Mark Thoma shreds these them to little tiny bits.

I particularly enjoy how he notes that we've run a test of the "tax cuts solve everything" theory and how it's pretty clear that it failed. Miserably. While ballooning the deficit with nothing to show for it.

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