An Oslo.pm retrospective

2012 is the year Oslo Perl Mongers turns 10 years, and as any other anniversary, it’s a good time for taking a look at the road that got us here.

One thing worth keeping in mind is that Oslo.pm has always been a small group of die-hards, impervious to the changing trends of programming languages. Stubborn geeks that insist there’s a future within the Perl community, and try to “make stuff happen” despite countless reasons to do something cooler, more important or more fun. This has shaped much of what we’ve managed to do and what we haven’t done.

In the last nine-and-a-half years, we managed to meet up the first Wednesday (or Tuesday) of almost every month. Usually this has involved beer, often there’s been discussions about computer nerdy stuff, and sometimes there’s been a presentation or a conference or a trip to YAPC (Yet Another Perl Conference). I think it’s safe to claim that we’ve managed to build a good community for everyone who enjoys learning new stuff in a social setting.

But looking back at this, I have to admit there must have been some kind of brain damage or madness that must have kept those Oslo.pm die-hards going. Either that, or some hidden unknown secret that no-one knew about kept them going despite dwindling usage stats, despite quips from the kids that decided Python or Ruby was “TEH BEST EVAR!!1!”, and despite the unwholesome baggage from the 90′s and early 00′s (Matt’s Script Archive being the dirty example worth mentioning first.) Add “real life” to this, and it becomes obvious that Making Stuff Happen often can be very difficult. So, what kept those old crooks going? Was there a hidden unknown secret that no-one knew about, or had they just lost their marbles?

Before getting into that, it may be useful to take a closer look at what happened in Oslo.pm last year. 2011 was a year that brought many good things.

2011 highlights

In March, we took part in the Communities in Action event in Oslo. The event concept was simple – Gather a bunch of meetup groups, and let them organize their regular meeting at the same venue. More than 500 people dropped by to check out the different meetings, and I’m quite happy to say that Oslo.pm got to be part of one of the cooler ones – a Code Kata where we got to see four people implement Minesweeper in Ruby, Java, Javascript and Perl 6. Carl Mäsak had come to help us with it, and it was truly an enjoyment to see him show off the cool stuff Rakudo could do. And when Carl started saying “I think we can make this code a bit shorter” and then time and time again show off idiomatic Perl 6… I loved it, and so did the rest of the crowd. :)

We

In June, Karl Rune, Karl and Salve went on a Perl cruise. We sailed from Oslo to the Nordic Perl Workshop in Malmö, Sweden. In three days we experienced most of the things that make sailing fun – quiet night time sailing; several hours of high-speed sailing with a strong breeze from the side; relaxing in the sunshine while sailing through the Swedish skärgård; rough puke-inducing seas between Malmö and Copenhagen. We had a great time, with great food, great sailing and great discussions. Also thanks to Copenhagen Perl Mongers for setting up an emergency social meetup just for us! :D

In August we got a visit from Damian Conway. We’ve tried to get him to visit Norway for many years, but when he suddenly found time we jumped right into action. He gave his wonderful talk about Fun with Dead Languages, exposing a whole new crowd of students and hackers to the “Mad Professor” of Perl.

Damian also held two of his courses for people in the Oslo Perl community. He told us about Modern Perls and of Perl Best Practices, and we managed to sell more than 40 seats to the two courses. Out of this, Oslo.pm got wonderful feedback, a bunch of new Perl programmers in the community, and 25% of the profits. I think we can comfortably claim the event was a success.

If you

Right afterwards, several of us went to YAPC::EU in Riga, and were blown away by the venue, the tracks and the smooth organization. In Riga, we also managed to reach a huge milestone in the life of Oslo Perl Mongers – for the first time, Oslo.pm could donate a significant sum of money, and this time we gave €1000 to the Perl Foundation. That’s a pretty hefty sum for a tiny outfit like Oslo.pm. :)

Oslo.pm social meetup, after JavaZone

In September, Oslo Perl Mongers had a stand at the CommunityZone booth at JavaZone 2011. We gave away some of the marketing material that Mark Keating made (he even updated it in a hurry just for us!), and just hanged out talking with the Java crowd about the merits of Perl, Ruby, Scala, Clojure and much else. We also got some good exposure to the other socio-topical (meetup) groups in Oslo, and showed that even if we’re one of the smaller ones we can get things done. After JavaZone, we had our regular monthly meeting.

In October, we visited Opera Software and got a good discussion about the merits of and difficulties with Mojolicious, a look at Bron Gondwana’s cunning module for streaming tar files. Afterwards, we started brainstorming Oslo.pm’s main event for 2012. More on this in a later blogpost. :)

In November, we visited Startsiden, where Andreas Marienborg gave us a nice introduction to their (quite impressive) application build system. They have something really cool going on there, and I hope they manage to release it under an Open Source license sometime soon.

In December, we got the oslo.pm domain, when the .pm top-level domain was opened by AFNIC. Currently the domain just redirects to our main site. Maybe we’ll do something more later. We also had a very enjoyable Christmas dinner together with the Oslo Linux User Group – something definitely worth repeating next year.

Other activities in 2011

In June, we had an extraordinary yearly meeting, were Martin Tostrup Setek came in to replace Kirill Miazine, and Karl Rune Nilsen stepped up to join the board again.

Otherwise, we spent a lot of time at the Schouskjelleren microbrewery, enjoying their wonderful beers. Good times! :)

What secret?

I’m quite pleased with the stuff we did in 2011. But there was quite a bit of work behind it all; and when this happened during off hours and on a volunteer basis, then motivation (or brain damage, or hidden unknown secrets that no-one knows about, as the case may be) becomes an issue. How we got this far is still difficult for me to grok, but if you really want to know, I think we can figure this out over a couple of beers. You’re buying! ;-)

But if you’re reading this while you’re organizing your own Perl Mongers group, or want to organize something completely different, then I hope you can make use of Oslo.pm’s current “secret plan”:

  1. Do something cool
  2. Tell about it

And that’s it. That’s what we tried to do in 2011, and that’s what  we’ll aim for in 2012. Stick around for my next post about Oslo Perl Monger’s plans for our 10th year alive – and I think it will be the best one ever! :D