Madison Ruby: Day One

Friday 2011-08-19

I woke up early Friday and snuck out of the hostel room. The first place I passed that looked to be serving breakfast was Graze. As I was sitting down, I was immediately met by someone who, recognizing me from the previous night, complimented my good taste – it was his favorite restaurant. I’d come there by chance, but the scrambled eggs (with basil) and greens was pretty good.

Madison Ruby got rolling with an interactive improve session, (on a rather crowded stage) ostensively to aid the lightning talks later on. The organizers also announced their plan to gather people for talks: the conference’s own cowbell.

The conference proper started of with a review of setting up Ruby environments. Rogelio Samour claims that ‘Brew wins’ and pointed to binstubs (the Bundler flag?) and which has complete install instructions.

Travis CI got everyone’s attention. Travis CI is a free continuous integration service for open source Ruby projects (and a growing list of other environments). It’s apparently good enough that people have been asking for a paid version, but they aren’t interested just yet. The project has been getting donated hardware, and so hasn’t run into cost problems yet.

Bryan Liles’ MINSWAN wasn’t what I was expecting – I was only going off the title. Rather than describing the Ruby community, he questioned MINSWAN (Matz is X so we are X??) and talked about his experience as a minority in the Ruby community and elsewhere. It fell in nicely with his suggestion to “Question everything. Loudly. In public.”

For lunch I fell in with a group of familiar faces from Chicago. One of the interesting things they did was send people out into town, which both added some adventure and supported the local economy. Lunch was partially sponsored by some local business vouchers. We passed a group of protesters outside the capital building while crossing the square. We ended up back at Graze, where I’d eaten breakfast, but they certainly serve more than on thing.

Gathering and getting lunch took a little while, so even the hour and a half wasn’t quite enough. The talk on re-imagining rails messaging was already well in progress by the time we returned. The thrust revolved around asynchronous services, including the database. The basic tools are are Delayed Job, queue_classic, and Resque.

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect form Giles Bowkett’s “Life on my Home Planet” but I expected a good show. Apparently Giles wasn’t all that sure himself until just recently, but he still managed to put on a good show. Some of this was regular interludes of animal porn and animal cuteness. He also did a better job of explaining the musical theory behind Archaeopteryx (aside: back in the day I used Arx as an example of how to structure a multi-file Ruby project.) He then went over a collection of tidbits – be remarkable, being remarkable requires research, give yourself permission to screw up, great programmers hate their own code, and do it over and over again.

Chad Pytel ran an overview of jQuery Mobile on Rails. I had already heard a little of the theory – it’s an AJAX-everything framework to avoid re-rendering the entire page. It’s supposed to be unobstrusive, but there are some concessions required – data-role and data-url attributes that have to be maintained. It also has to be the last javascript loaded on the page.

Another local interlude included a local chocaltier and a promoter of the local artisinal cheese movement. Then there were the lightning talks. I saw VCR, which I already use on Siggnal. Local Chicagian Aaron also got up to talk about being nervous, and how he overcame some of it by working in retail for a few years. Despite putting together some notes for a talk, the sign up board was mostly full by the I saw it, and it’s probably better that Aaron got the last slot. There was some talk of having more Saturday, but that didn’t pan out.

Friday was a full day – we went from lightning talks to a 5k run. Facing a lull, I tried to get a sense of how long a 5k was (about 35 minutes), and figured that at worst, I could drop to walking pace. It started out running straight into the blinding evening sun, returned down a shady trail and finished at the end of a pier at the university union. I came in last, but ran (or perhaps jogged) all the way.

I wasn’t actually last if you count the ‘social 5k’ group that walked (and drank). After they arrived, I joined up with a few for dinner. After a sports drink and banana I wasn’t actually that hungry. Which was a shame as the food at Husnu’s look quite good (I had a salad, which though good still had a certain ordinary air to it).

Between the run and dinner, we arrived a little late to the drinkup. I suppose I didn’t mind too much. I talked with a few people but left before too long – with event stacking up on each other after the run, I still wanted to take a shower and get to bed.

Posted Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011 under Conference.

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