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Four interviews and a booze up

It's a well-known fact that you need about two hours minimum to do a good interview with someone. You need time to meet up, find a good spot, sit and chat for a short time so that everyone was relaxed, enough time for the interview itself, and of course enough time for the photographer to work their magic.

Today we did four interviews in one day, along with shooting from place to place to get extra shots. Poor Joby has lots of work to get all the pictures converted from Nikon NEF format to TIF (and JPEG for this blog), so you'll need to wait until tomorrow to see his pictures.

I was supposed to meet Joby at 8:15, but ended up being late as usual. Still, being late meant that I was on the same Max line train as Larry Wall and his family, so I asked him again when would be a good time to be interviewed. His answer was that I should speak to his executive secretary - his wife, Gloria. She took out a large timesheet, and said "Larry isn't very good with times and dates, as you'll see notice by Perl 6." She pencilled us in for lunch tomorrow, and says she knows a nice Chinese place near the hotel. Guess we'll see!

At 9:30am we met Kim Polese and Murugan Pal, the CEO and CTO respectively of SpikeSource. For this photo shoot Joby asked one of the Oregon Convention Center employees to give us access to the VIP Skyview Terrace at the top of the building. He took us up there, and indeed it's a great view - lots of steel and glass, with a great view over the city. He searched our bags, and seemed OK with the idea of me bringing up a couple of other people from SpikeSource for the shoot.

Anyway, I meet Kim and Murugan, and they invite about 12 other SpikeSource employees along. The OCC guy (called Mike - thanks Mike!) didn't bat an eyelid, and let us straight up there. As a result, we got some great shots, and a first-class interview with one of the rising stars of the open source movement. Like a lot of people I find (or at least found) SpikeSource very reminiscent of the dot.com boom: venture capitalists, a Who's Who advisory board (r0ml, Tim O'Reilly, Dave Stutz, Marten Mickos, and more), and buzz words like "productize". Still, they claim it's different this because they're actually going to bring benefit to customers. Right, well I'm glad we got *that* sorted out then!

One thing did stand out, though: I put my laptop in front of them on Joby's request, to act as a prop, but they weren't impressed - they wanted Joby's PowerBook instead, because "it's more politically correct" says Kim. Is the SUSE 9.3 on my laptop not politically correct enough for a company that claims to be a proponent of open source?

We finished at 10:30 sharp, having had only an hour to work. This gave Joby and I just enough time for a root beer before meeting Jim Hugunin from Microsoft at 11:00. Jim's the wizard who made Jython and IronPython - Python implementations in Java and C#/.NET - and he talked about the problems he has with Microsoft's GotDotNet system, how he doesn't much like the Zend engine behind PHP, and how long it'll take for IronPython to get to 2.4 compatibility.

After about 90 minutes with Jim we dashed back to our hotel for a 1pm meeting with Edd Dumbill and Niel Bornstein, the two Mono hackers behind O'Reilly's Mono book. They were 15 minutes early, which means we had no time to close our eyes and switch off - it was straight back to work. These guys are really on the cutting edge of development, and seem to like it that way. Most interesting of all is Edd's opinion that while Red Hat wants to see Java as the high-level language for Gnome, Ubuntu wants to see Python, and Novell wants to see C#, he wants to see all three and let the best language win.

It was about 100F outside today, so it was no surprise that Joby wanted to shoot Edd and Niel outside in the blazing sunshine, and almost as if he were letting his frustrations creep through he took even more photographs than usual. As Edd said, "I had more photographs taken at my wedding!" Still, they were lucky: we had to dash off for interview #4 back at the conference centre.

This last interview was with Jim Jagielski, one of the key members of the Apache Software Foundation, who is now working for Covalent. He's worked on so much it was hard to know where to start, but we only had forty minutes to do the lot - I ended up skipping questions, and Joby ended rather unhappy with the photographs he took. Still, on the bright side we got back in touch with Covalent later (thanks, Charlie!) and Joby went to Jim's hotel to get lots more pictures. Rescued!

Jim Jagielski in the limelight

With the last interview done we snuck off to Jeff Waugh's talk, Running with Scissors - it was largely a promotion piece talking about what's coming up in new versions of Ubuntu, GStreamer, and the like, but Jeff always puts his own brand of enthusiasm into everything so it was a great talk. Even better was the fact that we managed to get Jeff and r0ml posed for some great pictures outside.

In the evening, when you might think we'd be relaxing, we went to a MySQL gathering to celebrate the defeat of software patents in the EU. I was an hour or two late to meet Zack Urlocker, who's a really great guy to have around if you need things to get done quickly and properly, but Brian Aker, Marten Mickos, David Axmark, and Monty Widenius were all there, and were all happy to pose for pictures too. While I waited, I chatted to Rasmus Lerdorf - he has the same camera model as I do (Canon 20D), but says he gets quite disappointing results. Rasmus, if you're reading this: get the 70-200 f/2.8 IS. It'll change everything you do!

By 8pm it had gotten cool enough outside that we could go for a walk, so we headed to Powell's technical book store to have a look around. It being the OSCon open night, it was packed with geeks, so we went on to the main store to have a look around. Lo and behold, $80 flew their way out of my pocket and in to the Powell's kitty in exchange for some dead tree produce. Still, I've been wanting to read "Reading Lolita in Tehran" for a while, and now I can.

Tomorrow is looking quite relaxed compard to today. Hopefully Joby will have lots of fresh pictures converted so I can update this site!


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