RailsConf Europe 2008 - Day 3: Versions, Class, and a Catfish in a Sweater

Posted on 08 September 2008 by Johannes Fahrenkrug. Tags: Ruby rails Conferences RailsConf
Ok, I know this is pretty late. It's already Monday evening and RailsConf Europe 2008 has been over for a couple of days. It's been great. And I've spent a wonderful weekend in Berlin with my wife and some great friends. That's why I haven't posted earlier. So here's what happened on Thursday:
  • Ruby and Rails Symposium (or Symposimi): Versions, Implementations, and the Future by David A. Black

    An open discussion about the different Ruby versions out there and who uses what and what the future will bring. Not too exciting, and alternative Ruby implementations were hardly mentioned. The bottom line was that most people use 1.8.6.

  • Developing Ruby and Rails Applications with the NetBeans IDE by Erno Mononen from Sun

    Boring. Netbeans seems to be a nice IDE with a couple of helpful features, but I'm happy with TextMate. Both the demo and the presentation seemed poorly prepared.

  • Starling + Workling: Simple Distributed Background Jobs with Twitter's Queuing System by Rany Keddo

    A good overview of different options to run background tasks in Rails. Starling is used by Twitter and was recommended, as well as spawn for very simple background tasks. BackgrounDRb was not mentioned at all, but a guy in the audience said that since the complete rewrite it's really good and stable. Good session with good demos.

  • Small Things, Loosely Joined and Written Fast by Justin Gehtland

    A conference highlight. A very good and entertaining session about building multiple small applications to build one big one: The rebel fleet vs. the Death Star approach. Justin was very funny and entertaining. He cracked me up when he said that the Death Star was destroyed by Luke Skywalker and a catfish in a sweater. Please comment if you know the name of that Star Wars character!

  • Treading the Rails with Ruby Shoes by Eleanor McHugh and Romek Szczesniak

    This was by far the worst session of the whole conference. To sum it up: horrible jokes (we are so funny), 30 minutes of Arpanet and HTML history (give me a break!), and slide after slide of source code in what seemed like 6 point font. Unreadable. I had to interrupt and said "I don't want to heckle you, but this is pointless, no one can read this!" The answer: "You can read it in the slides later, online". What?! That's like saying "You can watch it on DVD later" when you paid 12 bucks to see a movie at the theater and they show it on a screen the size of a TV. I got up and left, as did many others. Unbearable.

  • Extending Ruby with Class by Tammo Freese

    A very good session by my developer friend Tammo Freese about how to safely extend Ruby with Class (pun intended). A lot of examples showed common and not so common pitfalls and caveats. Very interesting!

  • I Heart Complexity by Adam Keys

    Seemed like a "how to talk to your customer" and "how to come up with a good data model" kind of talk. Meh.

That was it for me. A truly great conference. I still spend a long time talking to another freelancer from Munich who was also my age and then the only German Engine Yard employee asked me if I wanted to join him and a couple of the Engine Yard guys for dinner. I did. It was a very fun evening and the food was great. Thanks again, everyone at Engine Yard, it was great to meet you and thanks for dinner. I'll definitely be back next year.


Ellie said...

Without honest criticism none of us would ever improve our technique lol

September 14, 2008 08:30 PM

Johannes Fahrenkrug said...


Thank you for your feedback. I'm sure you've put a lot of effort into creating the presentation and I know that presenting is a hard job.
Thank you for your efforts, and I'm sorry that - for me - it didn't quite come across the way you intended it to.

- Johannes

September 14, 2008 04:08 PM

Ellie said...

We worked very hard to craft a presentation that we thought would be interesting to people and I'm sorry that it fell flat for you.

Our goal is mainly to spark the imagination of developers who may only have worked in a web environment, and not being commercial Rails developers means we're not always in sync with what people are expecting.

As for the bad jokes, well that's just who we are as those who know us off-line can attest - although finding ourselves with an audience of close to two hundred when we usually only speak to about fifty probably didn't help!

September 14, 2008 11:52 AM


Please keep it clean, everybody. Comments with profanity will be deleted.

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