[pypy-dev] Leysin sprint / Squeak / CCC conference

holger krekel hpk at trillke.net
Tue Jan 4 13:24:49 CET 2005

Hi pypy-dev, 

on the last chaos communication congress (CCC 2004 in Berlin)
i thankfully got to know Markus Denker from the University 
of Bern in Switzerland.  He is involved with Squeak 
(http://www.squeak.org) and gave IMHO one of the most 
interesting "pypy-related" talks at the conference.  He also saw 
my "getting EU funding for a FOSS project" talk and so we stood
together a lot during the conference, talking about PyPy, Squeak, 
higher level languages being faster than C, EU funding and what not. 
(Btw, at http://codespeak.net/~hpk/2004-pypy-eu.pdf you'll find 
my Funding talk). 

However, Markus' talk was not only about Squeak, a smalltalk
implementation written in a subset of smalltalk, but also
about "Croquet" (http://www.opencroquet.org/) which is headed 
by Alan Kay, one of the fathers of object oriented programming. 
(see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_Kay for more info). 

Many of the features of Squeak/Croquet have been discussed
during PyPy development and i am sure both sides can and 
may want to learn from each other.  So i asked Markus 
if he would like to come to the PyPy sprint in Leysin
for an afternoon, as it is pretty close to where he lives 
and works.  He does! 

So what do you (especially sprint attendants) think about inviting 
him and letting him redo the talk about Squeak/Croquet and then we
can then go into some deeper discussion over a beer or so?  

I am sure you will enjoy it as it arguably presents a vision
of programming that is something like 5 years ahead of the
mainstream in some ways.  I'd like to tell you not too much
before the sprint to allow you the same kind of suprises i had
during Markus' talk :-) It would be great though, to be able
to have a beamer at least for that day. 

He would probably also go a bit into explaining "Seaside", 
a continuation based web-framework that received some 
publicity lately (also on c.l.py). 

OK, now i am going to tell a bit more about the CCC-2004 
conference and my impressions, while i am at it.  This
is not directly pypy-related so you may stop reading here :-) 

*** personal impressions from the CCC 2004 conference *** 

This year's conference broke all records: around 300 talks 
plus all kinds of workshops and sessions and 3500 (!) attendants
mostly from security/network/system related areas but also
quite a number of people from FOSS-projects such as MySQL, 
Apache, PHP, Ruby and what not.  (As always, not a lot from
the Python world, though).  Moreover, Wikipedia held 
their annual meeting at the conference and presented some
nice background talks ("Scaling above 1 Million").  Various
BSD and Linux communities gathered in the cellar, around 500
people with laptops, called the "tiger" room :-) 

The schedule. It usually started at 11am and went on to 4am
(AM i say).  Food, Drinks and network was there 24 hours. There 
were no real breaks whatsoever which made sense considering that 
having 3000 people going for lunch would presumably lead to race
conditions.  A central room with lots of video installations 
(done by "Video Jockeys" doing their own track) provided a
nice meeting place.  We also played the game of "Go" there. 

There were tons of interesting talks, here is a selection
of the ones i visited: 

"Practical OSX insecurities", which presented some funny security
holes.  Apple mailed the speaker in the morning to prevent him
to disclose the holes, but it was too late :-)  The guy lastly 
presented the first workable Mail-Worm on OSX, fully equipped
with a scripted SMTP-engine and hiding itself as quite regular
PDF-document attachment.

"Hacking embedded devices" dealt with reverse-engeneering 
a 3COM 3300 switch, which is 68020 based and has it's 
own custom scripting language (!), 4 MB of RAM, a small
operating system and what not.  A nice target for running 
PyPy in it :-) 

"OpenBGP / ntpd", Henning Brauer from OpenBSD-fame 
gave a very quick and thorough talk on how development of 
production-quality software in OpenBSD-land takes place. 

"Bluetooth hacks: full disclosure".  Many of you may know that
since a year or so Adam Laury and his co-hackers found glazing
holes in bluetooth implementations in mobile phones. At the time, 
some 50-70 percent of mobile phones were completly hackable, 
including modifying the address book, making GPRS calls, 
listening to your calls and what not.  At the conference 
Adam provided a full disclosure including source code. 

"Old Skewl Hacking: Infra Red".  Adam Laury gave another talk about
his experiences hacking infra-reds of garage door systems, 
hotel information/minbar/TV systems, cars and what not.  
Very simple, very effective, very funny.  My favorite 
quote of his revealing talk was "presumably it's strange 
hearing the sound of a 100 cars opening at the same time". 

Meanwhile, the german championship in lock-picking took place
and, along with the "physical security" talk, it became obvious 
that even a 2000 Euro lock is far from unbreakable.  A 12 year
old kid managed to visit his first lock-picking workshop 
and be so successfull that he directly participated in 
the championship :-) 

"High-Speed Computing & Co-Processing with FPGAs" dealt 
with how to dynamically program hardware to carry out specialized 
tasks, providing speedups of up to a 100-times of a modern PC. 
You can get simple programmable arrays as a PCMCIA card 
or a full-blown PCI card with multiple parallel engines. 
The talker, David Hulton, actually comes from a company 
that tries to connect OpenSource and FPGAs. Sure interesting
stuff, maybe also as a target for PyPy. 

The chaos conference also saw a number of political talks, 
regarding e.g. biometry, software patents or general 
foreign politics.  It was interesting to see that more 
and more geeks are becoming politically aware and active 
these days. 

Well, that's it for now.  During January, the Chaos Computer 
Club intends to make all talks available as Video/Audio 
as all talks (not workshops, though) were filmed and recorded. 

have fun & a nice new year, 


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