It is almost, but not quite, completely unlike tea.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Marching Bands and Camera Hate

Talks for today:

  • Morning keynote by Tim Bray. Great talk about where "we" ought to be headed with Ruby and Rails. Tim is proof that age and treachery can still beat youth and enthusiasm -- that makes me feel a lot better.
  • Another talk about using helpers in Rails to clean up views, this time by Glenn Vanderburg. I guess I felt like the lesson didn't take the first time -- there wasn't too much overlap between this and the Thursday tutorial of nearly the same name, so no wasted time.
  • Joyent Slingshot -- a super-cool library that allows a Rails app to (with small modifications) run locally on a user's desktop, while still syncing with a remote data source. Wow. Writing a desktop app in Rails sounds like fun, I'll just have to think of a use for it.
  • Xen and the Art of Rails Deployment -- Ezra Z talked about the Xen virtualization framework, which allows you to turn one server into many "virtual servers." To my shame, I haven't played with this stuff at all, so I was glad for the summary. After seeing this and the Amazon EC2 presentation, I'm more convinced than ever that this is the way provisioning will happen in the very near future (<10 years for sure). I don't kill my own chicken for Sunday dinner anymore, why should I provision my own server?
  • Practical Design for Developers -- A bit more high level than I was hoping for, but still plenty useful. David Verba from AdaptivePath (the MeasureMap guys) talked briefly about information architecture, and how to design an application that people will actually use. Isn't that what we all want?

Before lunch, attendees were treated to a short performance from the Extra Action Marching Band. I'm from a somewhat funky town, but seeing a marching band complete with a platinum-wigged co-ed flag line reminded me that funky is a very relative term. On a sad note, I had nearly 10 minutes of video showcasing the marching band but managed to corrupt / delete / burninate it while trying to pull it off my camera. Oh well.


Pictures, Pictures

A few more pictures from yesterday are flying through the internets towards my photo stream as I type. Thrill to the sight of... a dangerous chain of power strips. I wasn't close enough to get a good shot of Ze Frank last night, but you can hit his site and get the general idea. His discourse on graphic design and airplane safety cards was priceless. I'll try to be more photophilic today (you know what I mean).

Friday, May 18, 2007

Rails After Dark

So it's almost 8:30PM on a Friday evening, and I am sitting in a darkened room waiting to see Ze Frank start his keynote. That's my nightlife, baby!

[minutes pass...]

Talk has started.

Ze Frank is better than Leno.

Why did this guy ever quit The Show?

Railsconf 2007, Day 2

No midday update today, as I just didn't find the time to sit down in a quiet place. Bits and pieces:

  • If you're going to put your company's website name on the back of a truck where it will be glanced at by passerby, it should be something easy to read -- i.e. something other than Let's just say I had to read it twice to get it right.
  • When you're the King of Web Frameworks, you can wear whatever the hell you want to. I spotted DHH this afternoon after his keynote, and he was sporting testarossa red shoes.
  • Talk 1 this morning was on "Full-stack Web App Testing with Selenium and Rails." Geek out! This is a testing program that actually drives your web browser automatically, which makes it much better than forcing your kids to test your web app out (it doesn't cry or demand toys as payment).
  • Talk 2 was more of a product pitch, about using Amazon's EC2 service. While it is an incredibly cool service, the "testimonial" did mention a few kinks yet to be worked out. This is probably how we'll do all datacenter stuff in 10 years, and we'll wonder why we ever provisioned our own physical servers.
  • Talk 3 was from Rabble (I have to call him that because I heard another speaker address him that way in casual conversation) about going back and adding tests to your "legacy" Rails apps. Legacy Rails apps. I feel old already! Basically he talked about how to reform your wayward programming practices and move toward proactive testing.
  • Talk 4 was probably my favorite, "Standing on the Shoulders of Giants" by Adam Keys. Adam spoke about the value of reading source code written by others, especially code written by the "cool kids" of the Rails community. This is an area I've meant to look into for awhile, but never got around to. No more procrastination! It looked like too much fun to miss.
  • The last time slot of the day didn't have anything of interest, so I took the MAX into downtown and headed for Mecca, aka Powell's City of Books. I should have set an alarm on my phone or something, but I didn't and so I spent a little over an hour and a half happily browsing the stacks. I almost bought the Bach and Beethoven action figures but couldn't figure out who would want them.

Now tomorrow, you may be in for a real treat: I have been invited to a bout of the local Roller Derby league, the Rose City Rollers. Wait, what? The story of how I got to this point is too long to type, so just hold your breath and wait to see if I actually make it to the derby.

Where are the pictures? Well, I left my USB cable in the hotel room. I'll have to post pix in the morning. You'll just have to let my words paint a picture in your head for now.


Thursday, May 17, 2007

I'm a winner!

If your mom ever tells you you won't accomplish anything sitting on your rear end, tell her you know better.  Tanga (think woot with a less rigid schedule and, generally, more interesting products) offered up a challenge on their blog this afternoon: find TangaJoe and get $25 in credit.  This evening while I was lounging at the OCC, who should sit down across from me but the wanted man himself.  I don't normally go around asking people if they are TangaJoe, so I used the comments section of his blog to see if I had him.  Score!  Thanks to TangaJoe (and Tanga the company) for being such a good sport.  Now I can finally get that Microsoft wireless keyboard and fingerprint reader wait, what?  Oh well, maybe tomorrow they'll have something better.

Railsconf 2007, Day 1: so far

Quick thoughts while I munch:

  • Apparently those symbols on restroom doors aren't as universal as I thought (saw an Asian-looking fellow hurriedly leaving a women's restroom).
  • I have been surprised by the percentage of females here -- it's gotta be above 10%, and I can't remember another tech conference with anywhere near those numbers.
  • Oh yeah, the tutorial: Thomas Fuchs admitted that the documentation for scriptaculous "sucks."  That was worth the price of admission for me.
  • I'm currently eating a "Oregon Chicken Breast Sandwich."  At the risk of getting in trouble back home... I've never seen a breast like this before.
  • Someone is recording a podcast... in the main hall.  During lunch.  They deserve all the background noise they get (and if you hear someone blowing their nose really loudly in the background... yeah, that was me).
  • I had several good lunch conversations, including one with a fellow whose badge said he was with Real Girls Media Networks.  I expected... something else.
  • The weather in the Pacific Northwest is not at all like the weather in Northwest Arkansas.  I probably should have taken this into account when packing.

If you've ever wondered what a sea of nerds might look like... gaze upon the very thing: