Panasonic Youth

RubyConf, the Ajax Experience, and Home.

So I went to RubyConf, I went to Ajax Experience, stopped in to Milwaukee on the way back to see a friend, and am finally home and back into the swing of things. It was a long trip with some nasty red-eye flights, and the day before I left I found out I had walking pneumonia, which put a bit of a damper on RubyConf for me. The conferences were both top notch, and it seems the antibiotics kicked in about halfway through the trip as the constant fatigue let up.

This was my first RubyConf, and its in a different format from many typical tech conferences. There was only one track, in one room, and attendance was under 400. I missed some sessions to anti-illness recovery time, but Matz’s keynote and the Takahashi’s session on the history of Ruby were both very good. Seeing their courage in presenting in their non-native language almost makes me want to start doing talks again. Adam Key’s Star Trek Ruby performance was mostly just confusing to me, as I seemed to have missed out on the Trekkie element when my nerd composition was formed. If you ever get a chance to see Key’s present, though, don’t miss it - his talk at RailsConf was one of the best.

Oh, and of course: Hello Mike. Hello Joe.

From Denver I had eight hours of flying to get to Boston, from midnight to 8 am. That is a good time, don’t believe the haters - especially when have the seat right next to the bathrooms. Needless to say, Monday was an interesting experience, but I managed to survive until the afternoon and saw some cool stuff the Dojo guys are doing. On tuesday there were some fun UI sessions from a couple presenters from Adaptive Path and a presentation from Aza Raskin that provided something a lot of typical sessions don’t - some chunky topics to think about for long after the session has ended.

The party Tuesday night was well done - free Samuel Adams all night, what more could you want? I chatted with Dan Webb a bit about the different meanings behind phat pants between the UK and US, and it was good to talk music for awhile to get away from javascript talk for awhile. Also met Nate Koechley from Yahoo, who turned out to be from Madison and we discussed the wonders of scaling dynamic languages and the fun housing market in the bay area.

Wednesday saw more sessions, an uneventful flight back to Milwaukee, out to see some techno with a friend, then back to Madison via bus and back to work. The trip actually provided a good time to clean up some things in our codebase that had been bugging me but I normally didn’t have time to get to Not sure if its a good sign when you willingly do “real work” while away at a programming conference.

What struck me about the two conferences were the differences in community - RubyConf was mostly your stereotypical hacker type, while AjaxExp saw much more variety. At AjaxExp we had web designers, UI folk, enterprise Java guys, and of course the hackers as well. MacBook percentage was at least 90% at RubyConf, while more like 50 or 60 at AjaxExp. RubyConf had maybe three women, while AjaxExp had a substantial minority.

Its obvious to me that the future of Ruby is bright, even with the many implementations coming up. There are just too many great, smart people there. Its also obvious that in a few years web development will be equivalent with Ajax development, and vice versa. I, for one, welcome the convergence of design and programming skills that Ajax demands - and if you aren’t working on both skills you had better start.