railsconf 2013 – ruby-on-rails-conference

[updated]

Here are two place you can get the videos for the talks

There is nowhere to learn Ruby or Ruby on Rails in Vancouver, BC, unless it is a book or online. I like to learn with others. I even pushed it at BCIT and asked at every level..

So I decided I would kickstart my journey with railsconf.  This was my first Ruby on Rails conference. I was honoured enough to win a scholarship, (I am a student at BCIT )to attend the conference (which paid for my ticket).  The rest is my pocket and vacation days. I just view it as a vacation 🙂 And I need to buy jeans.. My level of Ruby on Rails knowledge is really low in fact up to chapter 6 of Learn web development with ruby on rails pre-confrence.

Badge

Sunday

I took a AMTRAK train down from Vancouver, BC to Portland, WA. It made sense train, rails.. Its a seven to eight hour journey. My theory here was I would be able to do some more study on the way down. There I bumped into about 8 others travelling down from various companies to railsconf. I got very little extra work done.

Scholarship meeting up

Sherpas

This was fun and warm meeting of other scholarship winners and sherpas.  My sherpa is Sam @geeksam . I got to meet some of the other ‘scholars’ a real mix of backgrounds and personalities .  It was good to have some friendly faces (Chuck and Miles were really helpful) in a crowd of  1500 people.  We agreed on a hashtag #rcguides.  Lots of passionate conversation was started, about how people got into rails… but we finished early. So my first night I went on a beer crawl with the hostel… I know where I went from my credit card payments..

Day 1 -Monday

There was a lot of talks to choose from, and this will be my journey through the schedule.

I need sugar

The opening Keynote was by David from 37 Signals (Rails was created out of Base Camp, which is built by 37 Signals).  His vision was that Rails should concentrate on the document driven web apps not the “GUI” e.g. Google maps. Rails 4 is about speed.  His talk led into some good explanations on how the caching is working in Rails 4. Some cool stuff.

Rails Confrence

How a Request Becomes a Response

This was part of the intro track, designed to educate newbies about the Rails framework and the community. A quick and easy introduction starting from the browser through to the database and back. It was really basic but very well presented.  There are a number of sessions on the intro track that can be found here http://www.railsconftutorials.com The wifi did not work but a smart person had a USB stick with the needed code.

Nobody will Train You but You

This was a funny and helpful talk by Zach Briggs @theotherzach, for those wanting to step up their game.  His talk showed how he managed his first year of learning ruby on rails.  His suggestions including writing down solutions he found on a piece of card.  Build up some katas and practice them, until you can do them without any reference to anything out. He suggested visiting a couple sites including Sucks rocks, Destroy all software by Gary Bernhardt.

Monitoring the Health of Your App

Presentation by Carl Lerche and Yehuda Katz stating that the average web response time is a stupid way to measure your app by.  The real world is not distributed normally. Web response are long tail, not standard bell curve. They have being working on a product to solve this problem and help rails app creators to track down the issues.  The product they are working on is at https://www.skylight.io

Rails’ Insecure Defaults

A most excellent presentation by Bryan Helmkamp @brynary (founder of Code Climate). Here are the problems and and here are the solutions and here is what rails should change. Bryan is pulling together a free ebook you can signup here http://railssecurity.com

Issues discussed:

  1. Verbose server header
  2. Binds 0.0.0.0
  3. Logging SQL values
  4. Versioned secret tokens
  5. offsite_redirect
  6. #link_to_javascript
  7. SQL injection
  8. YAML serialisation

Sherpaing

Taking a break for sessions I decided to get to know some of my fellow attendees and spend some time working through a problem with Sam (my shepra @geeksam).  I wanted to see how he broke down a problem and how he also read other peoples code. I learnt a lot.

Closing keynote

Michael Loop @rands was funny, insightful and argued the need for the Stables and Volatiles (personality types) if an organisation is to survive and flourish, his thoughts that were the meat of his talk are laid out here – http://www.randsinrepose.com/archives/2012/11/14/stables_and_volatiles.html.  What bookend or overarched, his talk with however, was a very important point – that we as a community have to be progressive, and that occasionally means leaving old stuff behind.

Space

Reflection on the day

Awesome day. The conference food was good. I love how friendly the people are. How they will take so much time to listen and suggest. Kind of reminds of the early days of Apple that friendly community that is comfortable in taking on the world but is also open minded to listen. It surprises me how many Mac Book Pros I see everywhere, the only people who seem to have PCs are government employees! The venue is awesome there is space for everything, and I mean space to code, to chat. The WIFI is awful, really awful… The conference food was good. In the end I think I met about 50 people and introduced a bunch of people to each other.  All the nights events were fully booked and a bunch turned you away. To note for next conference book all the evening stuff ASAP..

I learned about the rails community and rails itself today and I liked it all 🙂

Day 2 – Tuesday

Breakfast at Mothers @MothersBistro 

breakfast at mothers

Keynote – Yehuda Katz

Spoke of the importance of including Javascript in your architecture rather then using it as a “necessary evil” patch on. Good sassy talk.

TDD Workshop: Outward-in Development, Unit Tests, and Fixture Data

I went to this workshop but they had so many problems with setup, lack of internet access that I left. That said the notes were amazing http://www.railsconftutorials.com/sessions/tdd_tools_techniques/02_integration_testing.html

The Magic Tricks of Testing

Sandi Metz once again showed her love for bikes.Very clear presentation on what should you run unit tests on and where you should not. Here is the deck

Booths and T-Shirts

The exhibitors open up and everyone runs for t shits, I managed to get six. The hulu one has the nicest material..

T-Shirts

Designing great APIs: Learning from Jony Ive, Orwell, and the Kano model

Philosophy and principles on how you should create APIs by Jon Dahl. His points were good but he used so many other peoples indicators or thoughts it felt like watching newspaper clippings..

(i) Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.

(ii) Never use a long word where a short one will do.

(iii) If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.

(iv) Never use the passive where you can use the active.

(v) Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.

(vi) Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.

George Orewell, “Politics and the English Language,” 1946

Kano_Model

Happy Hour

Free drink and food, good for networking and deeper conversations.

Reflections

Today felt a bit more abstract with the exception of Sandis talk. The conference food was good. The wifi is terrible.. pinging shows the issue is the ISP is not doing its job or the OCC has reached its limit.. Not great for a tech conference, maybe different venue next year.

All evening events booked up, went for dinner at a Grüner – german restaurant and then to Powells .. Powells I love this place

Books

Day 3 -Wednesday

Breakfast

Back to Mothers for French toast covered in cornflakes

Keynote

A bit disappointing… but nice photos.

Ruby Heroes

This was a presentation of awards to people who have helped grow our open source community or take the time to share great code. Awesome. So many people help our open source community they should be celebrated 🙂

http://rubyheroes.com/#heroes

The big room

Properly Factored MVC

Again the lack of internet kills the effectiveness kills the workshop, but notes look awesome so I will come back to this later

http://www.railsconftutorials.com/sessions/factored_mvc.html

Creating Mountable Engines

By Patrick Peak, really awesome and clear presentation about how to re-use your code and options. It showed us how to setup a simply engine.

Crafting Gems by Pat Allan

A good presentation where he did not assume you knew anything. Good instructor.  http://www.railsconftutorials.com/sessions/crafting_gems.html also learned about https://travis-ci.org and http://rubygems.org

Lightning Talks

http://lightning2013.herokuapp.com

These were awesome either 1 minute or 5 minute talks from anyone.

Here is the first 20 to give you a feel, there was 42 to in all..

  1. Nick Quaranto – OpenHack
  2. Dr Nic Williams – Deploy your own Heroku with Cloud Foundry
  3. Chris Morris – Technical Intimidation
  4. Jon McCartie – Purposeful Code
  5. Bryan Helmkamp – Code Climate
  6. Andrew Harvey – Teaching an old dog new tricks
  7. Senthil Nayagam – Mobile Testing with Robots
  8. Miles Forrest – Cloning the Seattle Ruby Brigade
  9. Benjamin Fleischer – MetricFu is back!
  10. Adam Cuppy – “You’re doing it wrong!”
  11. Hector Bustillos – MagmaConf great things happen in mexico
  12. Hector Busitllos – The unofficial RailsConf schedule App
  13. Mario Chávez – Logic programming
  14. Mike Virata-Stone – Guard your forms with class, or any other selector: guards.js
  15. Ryan Smith – Rails logs to metrics
  16. Dylan Lacey – Giant Hamster Touching – Test Native Mobile Apps with Capybara
  17. rking – Pry Power: Test Speediness Edition
  18. Ivan Storck and Brook Riggio – Remember the n00b
  19. JC Grubbs – Programming Apprentices
  20. Brad Wilkening – Smart User Adoption Analytics
  21. Jeremy Green – Gemlou.pe – Easymarklet and SimpleDB.

Reflection

The conference food was good. Today I looked for some practical after yesterday abstractness and I got it 🙂 Popped out to Macys for a break and to buy some jeans.

Day 4 -Thursday

Last day a little bit sad 🙂 so need something sweet..

pancake breakfast

How to talk to Developers

Ben Orenstein loads of energy and several lightning talks. Taught us all how to sing better, how to communicate better and pitch better.

Happy people

Reflections on the scholarship

We met after lunch to discuss our thoughts and make suggestions for next year.  This was a really excellent opportunity for me and many of the other scholars thought so to.  We all agreed that we really appreciated the efforts of Ruby Central and the mentors/guides who took time out of their conference to make our journey easier and more useful.

Final keynote

Aaron Patterson was funny, sassy and even talked about rails. Lots of insight and advice. Some great stories of past mistakes, the need to consider what you publicize on security issues (tell the rails security committee and give them time to respond), how to avoid burnout, that we should look for happy moments.

The cat

The best keynote.

Aaron was born and raised on the mean streets of Salt Lake City. His only hope for survival was to join the local gang of undercover street ballet performers known as the Tender Tights. As a Tender Tights member, Aaron learned to perfect the technique of self-defense pirouettes so that nobody, not even the Parkour Posse could catch him. Between vicious street dance-offs, Aaron taught himself to program. He learned to combine the art of street ballet with the craft of software engineering. Using these unique skills, he was able to leave his life on the streets and become a professional software engineer. He is currently Pirouetting through Processes, and Couruing through code for AT&T. Sometimes he thinks back fondly on his life in the Tender Tights, but then he remembers that it is better to have Tender Loved and Lost than to never have Tender Taught at all.

There was an ice cream social.. and ice cream!

Reflections

I am without a doubt tired but the talks I went to did rally my energy, good choice of talks and speakers for the last day.

Evening

Explored The Pearl district. Lots of buzz, posh bars, not so posh bars and restaurants. For those who know Vancouver, BC it is like a more lively version of Yaletown.

MapPizza

Friday

I went home after buying more books from Powells and some DocMartins..

BridgeBlue sky

Thoughts and suggestions for next conference

This was a really good conference, with the exception of wifi access. The venue was really good with lots of space to either hide, code or meet people. The food was good everyday, very impressive for 1500 people .There were lots of amazing talks and a friendly crowd. I am very grateful that I won a scholarship to attend.  I wish to thank Sam, Miles, Chuck and Marty for making this such a great conference experience 🙂

These are just suggestions that may make it even better:

  1. Have a day before the conference start, that is for beginners and newbies a bunch of workshops to get people up and running on rails an understand the basics.  Anyone can attend or not.
  2. Ask every presenter to tag their presentation with Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced and maybe also type e.g. overview, into code, workshop. Allowing the attendees to choose smarter. Even give the option for speakers to give 20 second videos that state what they will talk about.
  3. Have a local server with all the code needed for workshops, assume that the ISP will not provide, have plan B
  4. Have a list of presentation mentors, who can support the building of presentations both for main conference and lightning talks
  5. Have some advanced talks which they are presented on the web pre conference and the actual conference sessions get deeper or have debates..
  6. Make fruit available through out the whole day, better to be fruit powered then fat sugar things
  7. Give the opportunity for people to vote pre-confrence the sorts of talks that people would like to attend.
    This may encourage other speakers who know it really well to step up,  it would also give you trends of types people coming and may encourage others who are starting to get to know rails.. and possibly even deciding if this is the language that we want to use.  It would also allow people to start interacting prior to conference, maybe even setup lunchtime or dinner meet ups to talk about topics that will not be covered on the big stage?
  8. Have some real advanced workshops that maybe take 3 hours to dive deep on something. We need to grow our experts to 🙂
  9. Have a system to rate or vote for best presentation at the conference.

What did I get out of this conference?

Some awesome new people in my life, a bunch of new people to pair program with, a better overview of rails and ruby, a bunch of things not to do with rails. In some ways I have a treasure map of Ruby on Rails now with parts in detail and big gapping holes.. but I am in a far better place then pre-confrence.

Made some friends in Portland and got to know this city a bit better, ate some great food, bought jeans (my last pair had holes worn on the knees, ankles and crotch), bought books and bought some awesome DocMartins. And the need to get some physical exercise!

Holes in knees, ankles and crotch

Holes in knees, ankles and crotch

I am super excited for the future 🙂

Last Thought

Straight from my cookie

Cookie

Other awesome posts for Railsconf 2013

Amazing visual notes  -> https://projeqt.com/jessabean/sketchnotes/4/l

Awesome notes -> https://gist.github.com/jianxioy/5498969

Top 7 learnings -> http://www.hitthebits.com/2013/05/railsconf-2013-highlights.html

Jobs advertised -> https://github.com/blairand/jobs

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About Eric Brooke

I’m deeply curious, love to learn, insightful about people and their psychological makeup, deft at communication, excel at networking, deeply tech-savvy and relish growing others through education and leadership. I am a developer, marketeer, gamer, lover of water slides and ice cream :-)

Posted on 30 April , 2013, in Event, Software Development, Technology and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. ninjapigeon

    Cool! Grats.

    Like

  2. Great post. Love your enthusiasm and your passion for learning. Keep it up!

    Like

  3. Nice write up. It was nice to finally meet you out in Portland. Hope to see you at the monthly Ruby meetup we run in Vancouver.

    Like

  4. Great post and thank you for sharing, Eric. I want to highlight a few things that resonated with me.

    First the food. I was pleasantly surprised how good the food was. In past years it’s been horrible for the most part. What a dramatic improvement.

    Previously they did have a training/workshop day. I’m not sure why that was dropped, but it seemed to be replaced with an “intro” track. Did you find that valuable at all?

    “Ask every presenter to tag their presentation with Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced”. Yes, I was thinking the same. Or alternatively, have 3 different tracks.

    “Have some real advanced workshops that maybe take 3 hours to dive deep on something. We need to grow our experts too.” Again, great suggestion. The Heroku/Jumpstart Lab Performance Workshop was quite good for intermediate folks. It would be nice to have offerings beyond beginner and intermediate.

    Like

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