Rcjp's Weblog

April 27, 2005

Amsterdam European Common Lisp Users Meeting 23rd-26th

Filed under: lisp — rcjp @ 3:32 pm

Just one or two quick notes about the meeting and city…

I stayed at the Wiechmann Hotel which was ok, I was glad I was on the Prinsengracht canal, definitely the best one (I didn’t bring my camera – wanted to travel light as possible)

It was interesting to see Amsterdam’s café culture but so many bikes and vespa’s made walking really quite tiring – having to scan around at the many little canal/road junctions before crossing. The road system also seemed very complex, glad I wasn’t driving. Most surprising though was the number of mums I saw cycling with toddlers peering out from a wooden box mounted on the front; looks like tremendous fun for the kiddie but there is no way you’d see that in Manchester with all its Range Rovers etc. I’d like to try riding one of those bikes with no brake levers – you just pedal backwards apparantly, I think my dad said he had one as a boy; I wonder why they disappeared in the UK, maybe they are illegal here?

Amsterdam as a city attracts some very dodgy characters and quite alot of graffiti; they say 300 bikes a day are pulled from the canals and I suppose, as with any major city, the large number of tourists give rise to the tacky shops etc. and spoil it somewhat. Still pretty though, I love that there are shops below apartments, property developers in the UK never seem to think/care about that.

The talks were at the Felix Meritis – the old communist headquarters many years ago…

Dave Fox of Lispworks presented some debugger stuff, but I was not over impressed that when someone asked what would happen for a recursive function in the profiler tree he presented he said he did not know: perhaps he was just fed up that people had interupting his talk with questions. Jans Aasman also had a fairly rough time presenting AllegroCache from the audience; I sat next to him on the Sat dinner – I didn’t realise he was a director of Franz.

Espen Vestre’s Primetrader stuff was impressive, very polished and encouraging that a commercial company is making gains from Common Lisp’s expressive capabilities and he generously shared some of the techniques he was using.

Luke Gorrie was so chilled out presenting Slime – maybe he’d been smoking something? ;) He sure was lightening fast manoeuvring around emacs and is another lisper that seems to be using CMUCL.

Robert Strandh presented Climacs, but it is built on McClim which seems horribly inefficient to me – like it sends all the changes to the buffer and relies on McClim to sort out what needs to be actually updated on the screen, but I haven’t looked at it deeply: it, and clim, seem too easy to crash to spend any time on it at the moment, maybe it will improve.

Linj seems amazing – roundtripping Lisp to Java development and Antonio Menezes Leitao seemed very honest and open in discussing it, even though he did sigh wearily and repeatedly thoughout his talk – almost as though he despairs at a world full of Java monkeys.

Bruno Haible was interesting to meet, he seems an incredibly focussed person and he showed me his gorgeous Apple Powerbook, though in my opinion, it still does not have a good enough resolution (compared to my dell-8100@1600×1200) for reading pdf’s etc. It is amazing how many people now have mac’s though.

Peter Seibel was funny talking about Lisp, I hope he repeats it at lots of conferences around the world – it should pull in quite a few interested programmers.

Definitely worth attending the conference – if only to put faces to so many familiar names. Many thanks are due to Edi Weitz and Arthur Lemmens who did a grand job organising things.


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