ConFonz at EclipseCON: Where the wild things are

It's a twofer today — ConFonz finds the hackers at EclipseCON 2006. Here's the wrap-up, either from ConFonz or from whatever script kiddy took over his laptop.

Silicon Valley is actually not the place to find hackers. Hackers aren't usually wealthy enough to live here, unless they've sold out. And if they have sold out, are they really hackers any more? Or are they crusty old punk detritus, washed up on the shores of integrity, their pirate banners wrapped around their unwashed groins like a loincloth of shame?

In truth, the seedy and often maligned hacker seen in movies and comics is not the real deal. Just because you break into systems uninvited does not alone give one the mantle of "hacker." Hackers are coders, they're the guys who stay up all night making a piece of software do something that it wasn't meant to. They're the folks who can whip up a visual demonstration in 48k of code, or can slap support for a new language into an IDE in 8 coffee-fueled hours.

And this is why I think EclipseCON is the biggest hacker convention we've yet seen in the Bay Area. DefCon, HOPE, CCC, HAL; they're all amateurs. EclipseCON is where the real innovation is taking place, and the folks behind that innovation aren't cool fashion gods, nor are they pierced-up striped-tights-wearing grrrrrrrrrrrrrls. They're the same unshaven, bushy-tailed coders that exist in almost every organization around the world. And they're building the coolest shit imaginable in this open source tools platform.

After the jump, let them eat carrot cake.

Take NASA, for example. They used Eclipse to build the controls for the Mars Spirit rover. They took a tools platform built by IBM for enterprise-type application construction and turned it into a glorified remote control for a robot that takes 8 minutes to respond to commands. Their only limitation is the speed of light. And if that's not hacking, I don't know what is.

The convention was overbooked, no one could get in without pre-registering, the coffee was great, and the lunch was a standard affair. One oddity: dessert was served in the exhibit hall, and the carrot cake tended to arrive a half hour before noon, making it appear as though the convention's controllers were trying to pass off the cake as the whole meal itself. And if there is one thing this crowd did not need, it was more cake.

Photo — hey look, there're women!: EclipseCon 2006 [EclipseCon]