Lab Notes

Lone Star Ruby Conference 2011

LoneStar 2011 just wrapped up here in Austin, Texas. I taught a class in VA on Friday so missed that half, but Saturday was great.

I kicked the day off at 8:45 with the latest iteration of Blow Up Your Views (slides here) which I was really happy with. I got some of my favorite feedback ever:

Your talk is going to change my life with Rails.

I was excited to show off more about Draper which I’m really excited about. I finished the presentation with about 8 minutes to go and did a quick code demo. I think the demo was a bit fast for people to understand what was going on, plus it ate up all the time for questions. I need to figure out a better flow before Madison Ruby next week.

After my session I did an interview with Allan Branch from Less Everything and Eric Darnell from Less Films. We talked a bit about the Ruby community and how I got into it. They’re putting together for LSRC that should be out soon.

I then caught the second half of Tim Tyrrell's “Testing Javascript with Jasmine.” Writing Javascript is challenging for most people (who don't put enough energy into learning the language), and testing it is definitely tough. I'm glad to see a lot of new projects and ideas developing in the space.

After lunch Steve Klabnik started with The Return of Shoes, but it quickly turned into more of a keynote-esque talk about the people of our community. Steve posted We Forget that Open Source is Made of People earlier this week and expounded on those ideas in the talk. It really struck a chord with me. I think the drama about RVM this week got blown out of proportion, but as a community of dreamers we too often step on each other’s dreams. We have to find a way to do better.

Following that emotional weight, it was great to dive into Cassandra and scaling tech with Adam Keys' Chronologic. Adam released the project publicly for the first time during the talk. It looks great if you need to deal with activity feed type problems or want an opportunity to play with Cassandra. Later in the Q/A there was discussion about using it to build an “Instagram-in-a-box” whitebox product, which I think has some legs. I wouldn’t be surprised to see someone like RailsKits pull it off.

Later the Lightning Talks started off a bit chaotic, but got into gear and had some great 5-minute presentations. It was the first time I’ve ever seen there be more time than talks, though, and both Avdi and Steve presented twice. I love lightning talks and these didn’t disappoint. I also gave a preview of a charity project I will properly launch in about a week.

The day ended with Chad Fowler's keynote about service. Chad must give about 100 keynotes a year around the world and they never disappoint. I always find myself leaving with the motivation to do better. The quote that particularly stuck with me was this (paraphrased):

I’ve had the opportunity to spend some time with Buddhist monks and they say thank you frequently. Even when someone offends them or does them wrong, they are thankful for the opportunity to exercise forgiveness.

What an idea. I’m currently reading Gary V’s The Thank You Economy, and I can’t help but feel a theme through the book, Chad’s talk, Steve’s concerns, and the personal politics our community have wrestled with lately.

Lone Star was a great conference, kudos to organizer Jim Freeze and his team of volunteers. I look forward to returning next year!

Nashville, SF, Seattle and Las Vegas

The past week has been busy.  On Thursday I presented an updated version of “Fat Model’s Aren’t Enough” to the Nashville Ruby User Group.  There were about 30 developers that came out, a great group!  While in town I was surprised to see my friend Obie Fernandez who, along with partner Eliza Brock, has a new startup named RightBonus.  Look for it to launch this spring.

Then it was on to San Francisco where I taught a free Ruby Primer in the classroom at Blazing Cloud.  They are teaching some awesome classes there, definitely worth checking out if you’re in the area.  

Saturday and Sunday I taught Rails Jumpstart: Level 1 to a small group over at the GitHub office.  It was a great class and we enjoyed hanging out in the space, especially when I (finally) got to play some RockBand.

Monday if was off to Seattle for another Ruby Primer hosted by our friends at Blue Box Group.  The turnout was great; we had trouble fitting everyone in.

Then Wednesday I headed for Las Vegas and presented “Fat Models Aren’t Enough” to the Las Vegas Ruby Users Group.  I’ve been to the LVRUG twice now, and they’re a really small but extremely friendly group.  They meet twice a month, so whenever I’m in town I try to stop by.

The world tour continues!

Presentation at AZ::Ruby

Last night I gave a “preview” of my upcoming “Fat Models Aren’t Enough” talk.  I’m tuning the direction and content, but overall got really positive feedback.

One my my favorite comments was “This is the first example of a presenter that I haven’t hated.”  Hah!

If you’re interested, check out the PDF here.