May 06, 2004

Ongoing work: presentations, wikis and undertime

I haven't posted for a while, mostly just recharging. I'm not as young as I used to be and when I work a ton for a week or two to get a release out the door I need another week or two to start giving a shit about programming again. Peopleware refers to this as "undertime" -- a reaction to overtime -- and while a natural reaction may be "you're just a lazy bastard" it's hard to argue when you're in the middle of it. (Plus it's allergy season, which seems to sap all excess energy for a few weeks.)

Enough navel gazing. What I'm working on now is:

  • the OpenInteract2 presentation/tutorial I'm giving at YAPC in 39 days (and counting),
  • getting OI2 2.0 out the door before then (or at least beta 4)
  • building a wiki for requirements management using CGI::Wiki (more on this later) </ul>

    For the first item I'm experimenting with a new presentation software. Previously I've used a homegrown HTML slide generator -- like object-relational mappers and templating systems, I think this is something that every Perl hacker creates at least once a career. (All of my presentations from 2003 and 2004 use some form of this.)

    The problem is that HTML slides are tough to disseminate for offline viewing, and they aren't very pretty. So I asked Tom how he made his presentations to the Pittsburgh Perlmongers so beautiful. (Here's a sample presentation about the linux-based Asterisk PBX system, with additional info if you're interested in the system itself.)

    His short answer: LaTeX. His long answer: a system that takes a text file in emacs outline mode runs it through a Haskell program that generates the appropriate LaTeX markup and then formats it using Beamer for PDF output. (There are a few other steps along the way.) Tom took a lot of time to walk me through his system and I now have everything setup and working to generate my own. So now I just need to write it...

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