What an amazing weekend at Wicked Good Ruby, where does one begin.
Thank You Brian, Johnny, Sean, and others
First things first. Thank you Brian Cardarella, Johnny Boursiquot, Sean Hussey, and all the volunteers for making Wicked Good Ruby happen. I remember being at the Boston Ruby meetup where Brian announced that he was organizing Boston’s inaugural Ruby conference. We all cheered wildly…then we went home, while Brian, Johnny, Sean and others did the hard work.
Kicking Us Off
Liana Leahy got us kicked off in song, reprising the role of Ruby Minstrel. Liana has a great gift both vocally and satirically. And if this Ruby thing doesn’t work out for her, I’m sure she could pursue other avenues
I was really excited when it was announced that Sandi Metz would be giving the opening keynote. She promised to tell our future. Along the way she took us from ancient scrolls on papyrus, to the Roman codex, handwritten manuscripts, the Gutenberg printing press, right up to the linotype machine.
Sandi shared some childhood memories of her dad, who worked for a newspaper in Parkersburg, WV, who started out working with linotype machines but managed to re-invent himself when the printing world changed in 1965 with the advent of photosetting and the sudden death of linotype machines.
She gave us some hard truths about life, we are going to die, but also reminded us that we need to live and love along the way. I can’t do justice to Sandi’s words so look for the talk online later. I was blown away.
I won’t try to go over all the talks, though there were a few that I really liked.
Joanne Cheng taught us how to play and explore with Ruby-Processing, showing some truly amazing ways she has used it to visualize data and just have fun. I liked that she shared unexpected lessons that she learned along the way, becoming a better programmer, gaining confidence.
Mike Nicholaides reminded us about ways of securing our Rails app. Stuff we should all know, but I know I left the talk thinking about some of the tests I am going to write this week to test for holes in my apps.
Neeraj Singh pointed out some of the “good” and “bad” magic of ActiveRecord. His talk made me want to rush home and play around with different “features” of ActiveRecord that we take for granted work a certain way. Understanding how they really work can save you a lot of pain.
Dan McClain had some really awesome ways to let your app take advantage of the advanced datatypes in PostgreSQL. Dan obviously knows a ton about the internals of PostgreSQL, but he made things very clear and easy to use. Another talk that makes me want to experiment and grow as a developer.
Matt Aimonetti talked about “good” code and “bad” code. I was psyched that I got a question in that got kicked around by Matt, Sandy Metz, and Katrina Owen in the round-table discussion.
I wish I had more than 140 characters to ask a fairly nuanced question about what is the right amount of testing for a Rails app. Fortunately I got a chance to catch up with Matt just before the conference ended to explore some ideas. I love how approachable people are in this community.
Things to Consider
There were a lot of local developers at the conference, which was really nice to see. I know a lot of the companies and developers from helping out at Boston Ruby. One disappointing trend I saw was people sticking with their co-workers. Sure it gives us a common understanding that we can take back to the office, and we don’t need to reach outside our comfort bubble and engage people we don’t know. But that’s the best part of a conference. Meet new people, learn what they are passionate about, share your experience.
Along those same lines I wish there was a little bit more time between talks. It’s a balance between getting as much great content as possible but also having a chance to talk to other devs, or dare I say it, approach a speaker and say hello. I really enjoyed talking to Matt Aimonetti, Neeraj Singh, and Mike Desjardin about their talks. The short time between talks also made for some rushed moments when a speaker talk inevitably ran long.
Finishing Where I Started
Thank you Brian, Johnny, and Sean. You guys kept things flowing and from where I was sitting it looked like everything went off smoothly. I am sure there was furious activity behind the scenes, but it looked like a well oiled machine.
And thank you volunteers. Working the registration table, arranging sponsors, sending out emails, and coordinating the speakers and attendees is a mostly thankless job, but let me say this. Thanks 🙂
I was actually really happy I got to roll 6 deep or so in my nerd posse for WGR. At conferences that I typically attend I end up spending 18 hours “on” for a number of days and end up physically and mentally drained from the effort. I have to spread confs around otherwise I end up really burnt out.
At WGR I was able to introduce a lot of my local friends to some of my less local friends that I’ve met attending confs elsewhere. We were able to chat it up and then I’d be back in a very ‘safe’ zone for most of the conf. I’m not nearly drained as I normally am. I only had to be ‘on’ for about 1/2 to 1/3 of the normal amount that I do when at bigger confs.
I think what’s the best part of any conference is entirely subjective. For some people the hallway track is great. For others, the hallway track drains life force.
I wish I had a nerd posse, that would be pretty cool in a geeky sort of way.
I guess the point I was trying to make was one of getting out of your comfort zone and engaging others. You have done a lot of that in your involvement in the Ruby community speaking, going to conferences, and obviously in your role as an organizer for Boston Ruby.
And thanks for the tip at the conference about CopyCopter. You saved me some pain down the line.
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