Remember when Paypal first came out, all those years ago? People used it to settle up their lunch-money borrowings on handhelds. It was a brilliant thing that really put them on the map in a crowded market.

Now Dan “Danda” Libby has revived and perfected that idea with JiffyBill. One of his genius touches is that you enter the whole bill — just grab it from the table and input it when you get home. It makes the whole thing much less like “you owe me five bucks” and much more like “you had the burger and coffee, I had the tuna melt and iced tea”. It’s also good for groups — so if you go out for dinner with 4 friends and pay with your credit card, now you can settle up precisely later.

Danda was, by the way, an unsung but huge influence on my career. He wrote the original RSS 0.9 spec way back in the day. He introduced me to RDF (painfully), and wrote the original PHP XML-RPC/SOAP extension. He was the first person who made me truly understand that the Web was going to be about a lot more than a request and a response to the browser.

Back from OSCON

When I first started doing Open Source, the average community member looked like a member of a third-rate ZZ-Top cover band on a bad Saturday night — and every conversation turned to Microsoft-bashing within 10 minutes. My, how times have changed. If OSCON is any indication, the average Open Source user is now a suburban dad in an XL logowear T-shirt who doesn’t give a crap about anything but finding the most practical and cheapest way to get the job done. Every gain is also a loss, so I imagine there is far less of a single-digit-Communist-Party-card ambiance than there used to be.

The highlight of the conference for me, and I suspect a lot of other people, was the buzz around Parrot. Sterling and Thies gave their Pharrot talk, which was attended by Dan Sugalski, Larry Wall, and Jim Hugunin of IronPython. It gives me a nice warm feeling to think that the Perl, Python, and PHP communities are converging and cooperating to this extent.

I got interviewed for a documentary on Open Source — laughably, as the diversity candidate. I’m not sure what exactly I’m supposed to be representing, but I suspect I’m doing a piss-poor job.

OSCON 2004

I will be at OSCON 2004 in Portland all this week. Ping me — the easiest way is probably via Friendster message, my user id is 6678 — and we’ll meet up for a drink.