RubyConf 2013

Published on November 12, 2013

RubyConf 2013

I attended my first RubyConf event this year at Miami Beach, Florida. The venue was Loews Miami Beach Hotel. I'm keeping this post Ruby-oriented and very brief, so I'll minimize on the hotel, food and beach - all of which were great!

The highlights of RubyConf 2013 were:

  • Ruby 2.1 features {release date: 25 December 2013}
  • Controlling physical devices with mruby
  • Artoo - robot framework using Ruby
  • Game Programming
  • KidsRuby talk by 6th grader
  • Meeting with Ruby creator Yukihiro Matsumoto "Matz"
  • RubyConf 2014 will be in San Diego

All the talks and lightning talks I attended were very useful and it was evident a lot had gone into preparation. It was nice running into people (like Michael Hartl) whose websites I bookmarked and use as reference.

COFFEE: There was unlimited Starbucks coffee. Okay, it wasn't exactly unlimited.

The consumption was around 30 gallons on day 1, a little more on day 2, and 59 gallons on day 3!

RANDOM TIP: Don't upgrade your OS {in this case to OS Mavericks} just before your presentation, or you might lose it.

RANDOM NOTE: The default mode of communication between RubyConf members was Twitter. The hashtag was #RubyConf.

Table of Contents

Day 1

10:15am Keynote

The conference began with keynote by Matz, the Ruby creator. It was an interesting introducion and welcome by Matz. I met him later, after the conference and he came across as a very friendly and modest person. We chatted about the Ruby on Rails web apps I built at GWU and other general things.

Arul and Matz

Arul and Yukihiro Matsumoto "Matz"

11:10am Extending Gems

Jason Clark gave this talk, and was detailed in explaining the issues when a gem becomes more popular than was expected and needs to be extended, and how other gems depending on this would be affected.

1:10pm Fault Tolerant Data: Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse

Casey Rosenthal talked about redundancy with NoSQL databases. The focus was on data modeling on a KV database with distributed indexes and geohashes. When you go to certain websites, you expect data to be available. The idea is to have high availability of data. SQL databases are more oriented towards consistency rather than availability.

In the Zombie example, the CDC has two data centers on the east coast, two on the west and one near Texas. If zombies take out the east coast data centers, data is still available. Anyone still remember when the NJ datacenters were shut down due to Hurricane Sandy and many websites that are normally up 24x7 were down.

This slide got everyone's attention!

Ask Obama about high availability

Ask Obama about high availability!

2:05pm Profiling Ruby: Finding 10x Gains In RSpec and CRuby

Xavier Shay talked about debugging using RSpec. He had a lot of examples to show, and used gnuplot and benchmark.

3:00pm Object management on Ruby 2.1

Koichi Sasada aka "ko1" (1="ichi" in Japanese) gave this presentation, starting off with some very hilarious statements. He's one of the three in Matz's team.

He spoke about various new features including the generational garbage collector in Ruby 2.1, which will be released this Christmas 2013.

4:15pm Gem API design for authors

Emily Stolfo gave this great presentation about what to keep in mind while designing and creating Ruby gems. One statement she said that stands out is "Gem design is UX design". How true! I never thought of it that way.

Similar to the previous talk about gems, she talked about changes in gems and handling dependencies.

5:10pm Regular Expressions in Ruby

Nell Shamrell presented the inner workings of regular expressions with finite machine state diagrams, and lots of examples about using quantifiers. I've worked on Perl for about 15 years and love regexes. Nell didn't disappoint the audience with her talk.

She really knows what goes on in the background of regexes, and I loved this session.

She ended with writing a method to convert snake_case to CamelCase using regexes.

Nell Shamrell

Nell Shamrell talking about regular expressions in Ruby

Day 2

10:00am My KidsRuby Journey - Katie Hagerty

The second day began with PJ Hagerty and his 11-year old daughter Katie Hagerty giving a talk. Katie stole the day with her talk. :)

Katie Hagerty

11-year old Katie Hagerty talks about programming

Katie is a sixth grader and a member of KidsRuby. Some of the interesting things she said were:

  • I wanted to be like my dad and be a ruby programmer and work at home in my pajamas.
  • I'm going to change the world with my code.
  • Take your fear out of your back pocket and put it back in you.
  • You can say 'Hello, World' but it only goes to the screen, so it's more like saying hello to yourself.
  • Get up on stage and don't be afraid.
  • I do a lot of extra curricular activities, like dance, and I'm in my schools musical. And oh yeah, I code.
  • Don't put a big sign outside your office saying Kids! Come Code! FREE CANDY!.
  • Go home and put on some pajamas people!

10:55am Arrrr me hearty! Sailing the Seas of DRb in a Shoe

The next talk was the writing and demo of a game written on top DRb and Shoes.

Pirate game

12:55am Rapid Game Prototyping with Ruby

This was an interesting talk by Michael Fairley of Braintree with live coding (actually screen recording) and demo of a game. He used the Gosu library for making 2D games and said it takes about a weekend to learn it.

The base is Gosu::Window. He also used Hasu for hotloading.

Rapid Game Prototyping with Ruby

Rapid Game Prototyping with Ruby

1:50pm The Big Picture

Jim Weirich - the Rake creator - gave this mostly UML-rich presentation. He talked about using UML diagrams for conveying the idea behind a program without having to look at code.

Jim Weirich

Jim Weirich talking about UML design to see the big picture

He also showed his new Ruby library to fly and control an AR Parrot Drone.

2:45pm Controlling physical devices using mruby

Team Yamanekko (Yurie Yamane & Masayoshi Takahashi) presented mruby by lighting up LEDs on STM32F4 Discovery board and Raspberry Pi.

Team Yamanekko

Team Yamanekko with their mruby implementation

mruby is not officially released yet and will be out around next month. For someone who tinkers with home automation using Raspberry Pi and Python, this is great news.

mruby is already being used by some vending machines in Japan.

4:00pm Ruby On Robots Using Artoo

Ron Evans gave this fun-filled presentation by introducing Artoo, a robotics framework for Ruby. You can control spheros, Parrot AR drones, tiny RC helicopters, Arduinos and others.

Also included was the announcement of Gobot, a Go version of Artoo.

The highlight of this presentation was the facial detection of the volunteer who stood near the drone as it flew up. The drone recognized his face and outlined it on the monitor.


AR.Drone detecting a volunteer

Day 3

10:00am That's Not Very Ruby of You

Ernie Miller spoke about importing of usages and coding patterns into Ruby that come from coding experiences in other languages like PHP, Java, etc. Even those who are introduced to Ruby via Rails may inadvertently use Rails-code which is not the best way to do it.

I shuttled between two panels and the sponsor room for coffee/raffle/freebies in between.

4:00pm Matz Question & Answer session

Matz answered various questions asked by the host (forgot his name) and members of the audience.

Matz with the ending Q&A

Matz with the ending Q&A

The conference was great and it was nice to see so many Rubyists converge from all around the world in one building. The estimated number of Rubyists was ~ 750.

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Published on November 12, 2013