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RubyC 2011

RubyC is officially over and so I’d like to share my thoughts on the event – what went well and what desired to be better.

Let me start by saying I have a tiny bit of prejudice here. I lived in Australia, and the fact that three of key speakers were from the AU meant a lot to me. I met Pat before and so pairing with him and other mates in the park for two days would be as exciting as hearing them out in the conference room. Having this said, here’s what I liked and didn’t like that much.

What I really loved:

  • Great talks by all foreign guests and few fellow Ukrainians / Russians. These are what I adored:
    • Pat Allan: “Cut and Polish: Crafting Gems”. He wasn’t the last one, but I’ve got goose bumps even on my finger nails and felt the urge to leave the building on the spot just to keep the aftertaste for as long as I could.
    • Darcy Laycock: “Bridging the gap”. Loved his inspirational material. Interesting look at technology intersection and choosing the right tool for the job. Need to mention that it was his second time on the stage (the first one was EOTW in Perth in 2009 I think), and nonetheless he gave a brilliant talk. Perfect tempo, top notch material and no buzz words.
    • Ryan Bigg: “How to be awesome at Rails”. A good talk for Ruby / Rails newbies that should inspire them to take an active position in the community and give back, socialize, contribute, travel. Ruby and Rails are all about this if you do it right. Programming no longer happens in cubicles. So get out!
    • Steve Klabnik: “Literate code”. Thought provoking deck on parallels with natural languages. I always loved “code is poetry” mantra by Wordpress (although not WP itself), and Steve elaborated on it clearly and with great deck of slides.
    • Jonas Nicklas: “Full stack testing of your Ruby and JavaScript applications”. Beautiful workshop (although it wasn’t a real class due to very weak wi-fi in the room) on what’s being tested with which tools. All with examples and tricky parts explained. Loved it.
    • Alexander Dymo: “How to make your Ruby/Rails app 10x faster”. Although I have doubts about rewriting all my ORM code into pure SQL because of clarity, maintainability and (in some cases) portability loss, some insights were insights indeed. Tons of numbers, good judgement and open mind, huge list of tools – all makes this one one of the most helpful talks at the conference. And additional plus for not trying to present in English. I’ll speculate on it a bit later.
  • Wi-fi. Even though it was crappy at times (and very important times I need to say), but the presence of such is paramount and I had a steady connection 95% of the time, so thanks.
  • Coffee breaks in a dinning hall with coffee, tea and treats. Even though I miss all the coffee all the time, it still was a great place to chat, trade opinions an make new friends.
  • Free beer after Day 1. Good chats and many laughs here too. Also loved that many naturally progressed to an Irish pub nearby to a paid beer from here. That’s where I’ve got myself that Leffe Dark with a meat dish that I’ll never forget.
  • Friendly reception and quick registration procedure. Just grab the badge, materials and go. A breeze.
  • Location of the hotel. Right by the metro, 5 stations away form the center of the city.

Not that well:

  • Many local speakers chose English as their language out of courtesy to our foreign guests by mistake. Stick to your best language or at least assess your skills realistically. At least someone will get what you are delivering. In many cases language was a barrier for both parties. Anyone can read slides, but they can’t do that with the eyes closed out of embarrassment.
  • The use of teaching (“you must”, “you should”), and sharing your experience (“I found”, “we did it”) language wasn’t quite right with locals. If it’s something widely adopted that you talk about, you can freely tell us what to do (Pat’s put it in his talk like “you do this” and “you do that” – gems are gems, and the procedure is for everyone). When you deal with something subjective and personal (discoveries, techniques etc), you describe how you did/do it, not how we should do it. See the difference between “you should fight fat models” and “this is how I fought them”? People feel rightfully annoyed. Be modest, offer an insight and see if someone likes it. The “I write bad code” position is always safe.
  • Rows of seats were too close to each other. I had serious difficulties stretching my legs and passing people back and forth.
  • No list of cafes and restaurants in close proximity. Had to spend half an hour of our break time looking for something (we didn’t really like hotel restaurant menu). Yeah, didn’t do my homework, but hey, I was busy with something else. A little help here would have been greatly appreciated.

That’s what I’ve got for you today. The conference went amazingly well and I had great time overall. Will definitely pop up next year.

By the way, they promise to share the footage. Keep an eye on the official website.

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