July 29, 2003

Live from Ann Arbor

I'm here in Ann Arbor at the 10th Tcl/Tk Conference, held at the Best Western Executive Plaza on Jackson Road, which is, by coincidence, just across the street from the nicest hotel in town. Or so Ian Hamet tells me. Ian and I had a fine time yesterday evening; not only did he buy me a nice Italian dinner, he gave me an inscribed copy of Nevil Shute's book "Pied Piper" for my birthday. (Inscribed by Ian, that is, not by Nevil Shute.) There was much discussion of books and movies on into the night. He's a gentleman and a scholar, and I hope to buy him a drink this evening.

I'm sitting in the atrium of the hotel as I write. We've cobbled together a rather hit-or-miss wireless network; when the conference organizers lined up this hotel, there were plans to install high-speed internet through out. The hotel's top management subsequently decided that no such thing was necessary, and so we're making do with a net connection that's too bizarre for words. Consequently, blogging and (especially) e-mail might be much lighter than I'd hoped over this week.


They've come up with a different bizarre network solution which I'll try tomorrow; with luck it will work better.

Today was the first day of the Tcl/Tk conference, and as usual consisted of "tutorials", that is, half-day classes on topics of interest. I attended two: "Enough Expect to be Dangerous", and "Advanced Tcl". The former, taught by Ken Jones, was quite good. Expect is a tool that you can use to automate terminal dialogues, and it's much more interesting than it sounds. For example, I'll be able to use it to download data to my website automatically--very, very cool.

The second tutorial was taught by Clif Flynt, the conference organizer, and was also good, except that it wasn't as advanced as I had hoped. Or I'm more advanced than I'd realized, which I'm beginning to think might actually be the case. At least, Clif was very pleased when he managed to come up with a small fact I wasn't already aware of: variables initialized in a namespace at file scope are in fact standard global variables rather than namespace variables unless previously declared using the variable command. I had not known that. As my friend Pat Olguin says, I can go from Zero to Geek in five seconds.

After the second tutorial, a large group of us walked down the road to a shopping center, where we found sustenance at a Tex-Mex place called Rio Bravo. It's a chain here in Michigan, and one I'd never heard of before. As we approached, though, I saw the slogan "Fresh Mex" painted on the wall by the door, and a certain suspicion arose in my mind. Yup--it's just Chevy's with a different name--and somewhat less heat. I ended up sitting with Michael Cleverly and Steve Landers, two folks I'd met at the last conference, and a good time was had by all.

Tomorrow there are two more tutorials, one on MetaKit database programming and one on the Starkit application packaging solution, which are also more interesting than they sound. I'm particularly looking forward to the Metakit class; the principle Tcl interface to MetaKit these days is called "oomk" for "object-oriented MetaKit"--and it's written using my own Snit object framework. I'm agog--these guys have taken Snit places I'd never imagined.

Anyway, that's enough for tonight.

Posted by Will Duquette at July 29, 2003 06:09 PM