My experience at Lone Star Ruby Conference

I finally made it to LSRC  !! After some initial registration hiccups I was finally on the way (All thanks to Jim  Freeze and Satish Talim).

Talks ranged from casual ruby talks to code examples, coding on stage to herding tigers, Avionics to Japan !! It was great to see totally different styles of presentations – some very carefully prepared and perfected like that of Joseph Wilk to those with about 420 slides by Correy Donahoe. The pace of talks and the varied ideas ensured that there was always some excitement in the air. The atmosphere was casual, refreshments were frequent and tasty, people were very approachable and almost anybody got talking to anybody – exactly like how a ruby community should meet. Being the first conference I attended, not only did I gain in knowledge but also got to meet different people from different walks of life, from different states and countries.

Meeting Matz was a pleasure – he is a modest individual who finds it embarrassing to be called a ruby rock-star :). He is a very cool guy and calls himself a simple programmer. It was particularly interesting to see how much he was interested in helping spread ruby awareness in India and was keen to even come down to India to meet the community here. James Edward Grey II is a maverick who gave us a taste of Japan (Tokyokiagi) along with a technical dose of module mixins. Dave Thomas spoke of the messiness in Ruby and various nuances of the imperfect language which makes the language human!  Glenn Vanderburg showed the harmony between programming and music, which I could relate to (even though knowledge of music is rock bottom). He was able to give a rational reasoning about why programmers lose track of time (a must read for my wife, who keep complaining about my time management skills) and how programming is an art – something that we can smell, taste and feel. Evan Light was great at showing how TDD works and with his flair is probably the only one who can run through a live demo with ideas from the audience at run time! Joseph Wilk had probably the perfect presentation – but it was the way he prepared it. As a core team member of Cucumber, apart from being called the Cucumber Man, his British-styled humor, meticulous planning for this presentation and his delivery made it one of the best technical sessions I have ever attended. Chat Pytel of Thought Works gave a talk of ‘succeeding in rails’ and this was the one I could connect to the most. At Josh Software, it felt we are at exactly the same stage they were 3 years ago – I had a frank talk with him after the presentation and that was when the humility and the passion for ruby was evident. He is very emphatic in his endeavor to ‘give back to the ruby community’ and its one of the things I intend to incorporate in my company. Jeremy Hinegardner was very enterprising and forthcoming in tools that help between language integration. I had one of those intellectual discussions with him about data analysis and the energy in him about looking into something challenging was soon evident. Larry Diehl of Engine Yard gave a technical session on Dataflow,which left me thinking whether I was living in the past – imagine poping elements from a queue which does exist yet ! Danny Blitz was unbelievable – he came as a war tiger, explained what it was to have a military style software core commando team and what it takes to succeed in the software industry as a leader – its his book that I do plan on purchasing soon! Bruce Tate and Wynn Netherland gave talks on SEO in rails and Compass – the simple ‘take for granted’ things which can make or break your rails application. I am not much in css and html (its high time I did something about it) but with haml and sass, it seems the progression to them may indeed be painless! Did Correy Donohoe gave a presentation?, I wonder! It was 421 slides in 45 minutes, which amounts to about 10 slides per minute! It was one of the most entertaining presentations – a mix of right practices – XP, pair programming, testing and what he does at Engine Yard. Rich Kilmer delivered the keynote and took us through a tour of the defence industry and Ruby. Encoding domains was something I had never heard earlier which I will never forget now ! Among the lightenting talks Eleanor McHugh spoke on how to manage a segmentation violation in ruby and Jared Ning touched everyones heart with his experience in Tanzania building a rails app for the community (wow!). Yahuda Katz gave a great talk on bundling gems which is going to be extremely useful.

Meeting other people like Dallas PoolCoby Randquist, Gerald Bailey, Dan Mayer, Tim Harper was awesome – they are experts in their own field and gave me plenty to think about! My apologies to some people I met but did not mention.

2 days of intense technical discussions, learning and fun IS what I had hoped for and its exactly what I got. I got a warm welcome from people who were surprised pleasantly that I had flown in only for this conference — well, to be honest, it was totally worth it and I would do this again every year !!

Cheers to Austin!

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