I had the pleasure of attending !!con west last weekend. I met a lot of incredible people and listened to talks that rekindled my joy in programming.
I took out my trusty Stabilo point 88 and started taking notes. The person sitting next to me complimented my choice of pen. I got very excited that someone recognized the pen and shared my interest in stationery. She then proceeded to show me her stationery collection from Japan (tiny scissors, a permanent marker, multicolor highlighter, and a twist top eraser). It was awesome! There is an indescribable joy in finding out that someone else shares your weird and quirky interests.
I met Aaron Wood who gave an engaging and entertaining talk about ancient Greek mathematics. I had a strange feeling that I knew him from somewhere else. Turns out he went to the University of Utah (my alma mater) and we both worked as math tutors in the same department nearly 13 years ago. What a small world.
There were a ton of interesting talks at the conference. Here's a synopsis of the ones I remember.
Wolf, Goat, and Cabbage In Two Styles!!
A brief showcase of two very different languages (!?) to solve the logic puzzle of transporting a Wolf, Goat, and Cabbage across a river.
The Ancient Greeks And Their Restless Cattle
A wonderfully hilarious talk about mathematics during the era of Archimedes and how it was solved with modern techniques before and after computers. Aaron did a great job of explaining the math behind Pell's equation and walked us through the history of various attempts at a solution and finally showed an implementation of the solution in Ruby. I would highly recommend this talk.
Plotty Bird - Making Modern Games on Retro Pen Plotters!
Pen plotters are old school printers that literally used a robotic hand to draw diagrams on paper. Wesley managed to purchase one of them and hacked it to enough to start printing delightful things. They then proceeded to implement flappy bird that could be played by the pen plotter. They had brought with them a real pen plotter for us to play with and it was quite a bit of fun. There was one statement that Wesley made during the talk that resonated with me. We used to do programming because it was fun and pointless. Now that I'm paid to write programs it doesn't seem fun anymore. We should go back to doing more programming for pointless fun.
Packages, but in 3D!
I had no idea that packaging for snacks is an art. There are books written about how to fold paper/cardboard to make a specific style of packaging. Tiffany wanted to try out some of the designs from these books. So she built an image to svg converter which then feeds the SVG to a packaging cutter (sort of like a laser cutter) to try out some of the packaging designs from the book. It is now a standalone program on the web.
All in all, I had a wonderful time at the conference and I can't wait for the next one. :)