Rehovot Perl Mongers meeting report - 17th November, 2009

I am trying to understand again what are the important things one needs to do in order to build an active community.

One of the things is that we should let the general public know about our meetings. Not only what will be in the coming meetings but also what was in the previous ones. So writing about the meetings is time well spent as hopefully that will bring in more people next time.

The first meeting of the Rehovot Perl Mongers took place on 17th November 2009 in the Weizmann Institute. I arrived in the city on time but then made a detour to the local bakery and got lost in the institute so I was at least 20 minutes late. Sorry for that!

As it turns out Shlomi Fish used my absence and injected one of his book reviews.

I hope the pastry I brought could somehow balance the lost time.

We ran a cycle of self introductions that I filmed. In general I think this was good especially on the first meeting. At least 3 of the participants were actually Python programmers. I wonder why did they come to the Perl Mongers meeting? Are they so thirsty for meetings that they could swallow even the fact that this was a Perl meeting or were these the nice Python programmers who accept that Python is not the only way to solve problems? I bet on the second possibility and hope to see them again, maybe in even greater number.

Most of the people who came to the meeting had some background in using Matlab and several of them have even used PDL. Dov Grobgeld even has a few patches in the PDL distribution but he said when he was using it heavily about 5 years ago he could not get many people become excited about it. Nowdays he mostly uses Python. He was not the only one with similar sentiments.

It is sad but I am determined to show them the new light at the end of the tunnel. The recent activity in the Perl community in general and in the PDL community in particular makes me hope that we will see a serious come-back of the excitement around Perl.

After the self introduction first Hadar Levi Aharoni and then Avishalom Shalit talked about Matlab. That was interesting to me. Hadar was showing more code and some features of the Matlab IDE while Avishalom was more focused on sound and visual effects. The former I can somehow map in my head to what we have in Perl and PDL and what we might have in Padre one day but all the sound and visual effects were a bit over my head.

One thing was clear though. The presentation with all the sound and visual effects were very impressive and were "selling" the product very well. So whatever we do with PDL and Padre, we will have to make sure we can have similar easy ways to show the capabilities of the product.

After their talks I tried to show a few things in PDL but I mostly failed. On one hand there were people with no Perl background at all - for them I should have given a short introduction and explanation what is what. On the other hand others had the experience in Perl but the way I was showing PDL was not connected to their previous experience.

I also showed them a little bit of what Padre can do, especially I was trying to show them the context sensitive help we have for Perl 5 and PIR files that can be reused to help people using PDL.

Due the late starting and that we invested about 30 minutes in self introduction the talks were running a lot later than I expected and we ended them at 20:00. A few people left, others have started to play with the installed Perl and PDL, yet others started to talk to each other. I helped some of the people who missed the Perl background. It's a pity I did not think about that earlier as I could have helped them a lot more. Even those who were trying PDL soon joined the conversations and in the end we hardly did any hands-on. That was partially due to the fact that I have not prepared actual tasks for them. Next time this should be changed and even if the tasks are small I should prepare some that can be done within 1-2 hours. Just like in my regular classes, I'll need to prepare exercises.

Anyway, I personally enjoyed myself, I hope other did as well. I have not written down the names and e-mails - another mistake I made as if I was new to the meeting organization - but I have the contact info of most of the people from the RSVP they sent.

The dates of the coming meetings are on the web site of the Rehovot Perl Mongers. We are looking for people to offer presentations on those dates.