Lone Star Ruby Conference 2010

DejaVu! You usually say that when you attend the same conference twice 😉 – At Lone Star, its always an new experience. Last year I was an attendee, this year I presented a talk and I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

There were an awesome selection of talks and more importantly, the sequence of talks was thought through in such a way that there was quite a lot of continuity and synergy in subsequent talks.

The “Cells & Apotomo” talk by Nick Sutterer and Kevin Triplett was followed by the talk on Padrino by Joshua Hull. Both are awesome framework — the former for building Rails widgets and the latter for adding more meat to Sinatra apps.

On a similar sequence, the talk on OpenVoice by Zhao Lu was followed by my talk on SPlat and then by Tropo by Jason Goecke. All the talks complimented each other and kept the audience in sync with SMS / Telephony and Cloud services.

Kudos to Jim Freeze and his team for organizing LSRC so well! And if the talks were really good — the food and WiFi connectivity were excellent. There were more than enough routers that there was not a single complaint on twitter regarding wifi connectivity. Of the 216 people who attended LSRC this year, there was an equal mix of first-timers and veterans. It kept the mood of the conference up-beat and exciting.

The opening keynote by Glenn Vanderburg redefined Software Engineering principles. It was particularly impressed by his some of the points he made:

* Practioners and not academia define processes.

* Software enginnering is an elegant mix of science and art, designing and making, elegance and economy!

The talks that followed after that was a good mix of technicals, best practices and improvement in development techniques. The varied sponsorship added an interesting competitive twist to the conference. Twilio and Tropo were both good sponsors and the friendly banter between them was good fun.

“VIM for the modern Rubyist” by Jim Remsik and Les Hill was cool. As I work extensively in VIM for Ruby development it was particularly good to find out new recipes like fugitive.vim and unimpaired.vim. The essence of the talk was about how using VIM properly can improve the development time frame and how unintutive but sexy vim is. You have to know it to understand it! 🙂

Jesse Crouch’s talk on InfoChimp APIs was a good technical talk on how they gathered information about twitter users, ‘weighted’ people and got statistical results for processing. Interesting gems I learnt about were ‘consent’ for API access control.

Zhao’s talk on OpenVoice was pretty cool and I was happy to see that he could get and internation call on his cell phone in Europe at local rates 😉 Now that would be great. Using OpenVoice where Phone coverage is rare like Rescue missions is indeed a novel way to use it.

My talk on SPlat was well received and I tried to keep it as jovial as I could. John from Twilio activated my account for sending SMS during my talk! I was able to give a live demo by sending bulk customized SMS to the people in the audience and that made my talk a success. Adam Kalsey (from Tropo) and John from Twilio have already given me their commitment to help out with SPlat. Perfect!

The first-day’s ending keynote by Tom Preston was AWESOME. His slides were very well thought out and his presentation was very well planned. Tom managed to enthrall the audience with his experiences on exploring the unknown by diving in head-first. From building your own house, rebuilding his jeeps engine to sitting in bed thinking of how he could do something on this own helped me gather a lot of confidence about my own current startup. You have to persevere, innovate and give back to community. Tom put up 10 points for starting up — simple but very important points. Nicholas has put up some of this in his blog.

The second day started off with JEG2’s remote attendence with Ruby in the Wild. He interviewed people like Jeremy Heingardner, Gregory Brown and Jim Weirich among others and it was really inspiring.

Searchability by Luigi Montanez was pretty cool and direct. What we assume about SEO, what is wrong about it and how to do it right. Wynn Netherland spoke about building APIs. His presentation was simple and an excellent reference of tools that can be used to build APIs. — about how to get test cycles crunched from 13 minutes to 18 seconds was amazing – good tweaks and tips there!

I missed Aman Gupta’s talk on perf tools but it was touted as one of the best talks in the conference – Great job Aman!

The afternoon session was mesmerizing with ‘Apotomo & Cells’ talk. The talk was really entertaining with really cool examples about how to go about building widgets. This is definitely something that I am going to play with soon! Padrino by Joshua Hull was pleasantly surprising — all the plugable modules he showed that can be used with Sinatra apps seemed almost impossible — but it was indeed amazing. Its going a long way!

The ending keynote by Blake Merzany showed how he is passionate about lifting weights and working out but I think he digressed a little from his talk 🙂 His initial talk about how he got his first program – a number guessing game was really cool and did remind me of how my first program was similarly perceived as ‘Hmm – what else?’ by my parents too! I had programmed a rocket launch in Turbo C++ with bgi/graphics. I moved a triangle on top of a rectangle from the bottom of the screen to the top. 450 lines of code got the same reaction as Blake got from his parents!

Overall, LSRC was as entertaining, educational and fun as last year if not more. Next year its around 11th August and I am already thinking of booking my flight plans!

Thank you Austin for wonderful experience

2 thoughts on “Lone Star Ruby Conference 2010

  1. Great write up!

    I’m glad you covered the sms and phone stuff, I guess I always chose the other talks, but it sounds like there is a lot of cool stuff going on in that space.

    My minimal write up, and some pictures from the day http://railsperformance.blogspot.com/2010/08/lonestarruby-conference-notes-and.html

    notes on Vim for absolute beginners (like I am )

    Overall it was really a great conference, Austin was beautiful and the people were so nice.

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