PrizCon 2013 Comes Further Into Focus

I was talking to the JavaGuys last night, and they’re planning to split PrizCon 2013 into two tracks: one heavily software-oriented track, and one oriented toward what they call digital arts–that is, computers as applied to things like music, video, 2D and 3D modeling and animation, and so on.

Right now, it looks like the presenters on the digital-arts side of things will be mostly prisoners, and the presenters on the software side of things will be mostly outsiders.

We’ve got three ideas hammered out pretty well on the software side.

One of the things we definitely want to put together is a panel discussion with three or more people about How I Came To Agile.  I get the idea that this is intended to be an interactive version of what in church they call “testimonies.”  What were you like before?  How did Agile change that?  What are you like now?

Another thing we want to concentrate on this time is Perlis languages–specifically, Perlis languages for Java programmers.

Alan Perlis was one of the inventors of ALGOL and the originator of a number of pithy quotes about programming, the most relevant of which, in this context, is: “A language that doesn’t affect the way you think about programming, is not worth knowing.” A Perlis language, for you, is one that makes you look at software development in a different way.  So…for a Java programmer, the DEC PDP-8 instruction set would be a Perlis language; J would be a Perlis language; C could be, depending on how it was presented; but C# would not be.

So we’re looking for a series of presentations about far-from-Java programming languages that are intended not to teach people how to write in them, but to demonstrate new ways of thinking about software.  So far we’ve got Nilanjan Raychaudhuri presenting Scala, and it looks like I might get stuck with Clojure if we can’t find anybody better.  Bob Allen has pointed up a PDP-8 emulator that we could use if folks really really want to see a presentation on that instruction set.

I don’t know how long these talks will be, but a good starting estimate would be “short.”

The third thing they want to know about is mobile development, with primary emphasis on Android and secondary emphasis on iOS.  My guess is that the mobile talks that were really hot two years ago, appropriately updated, would be similarly hot now at PrizCon.  Mobile devices are fascinating to the guys inside because in general they don’t get to come anywhere near them.  Things with cell radios are in general unwelcome in prison; it’ll be interesting to see if and how we can get some tablets or cell phones in there for the conference presentations.

Speaking of getting things into the prison, my thoughts at the moment are that we probably won’t get permission to take in a dozen or so laptops.  Instead, I’m going to see if I can get permission to take in USB flash drives.  As a presenter, you’d put all the stuff you need on a thumb drive–including Eclipse, Grails, Sublime Text, whatever–and plug it into the communal laptop when it was time for you to present.  I’m pretty sure we can make Windows 7 and Ubuntu 12 available; MacOS might be an issue if we can’t put it in a VirtualBox VM.

Again, if you’d like to present, get in touch with me at @dnwiebe on Twitter or (without the underscore) and let’s talk.  If you don’t, I’ll probably get in touch with you.

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