After six hours in the Las Vegas airport, five on the flight to Atlanta, seven driving back home to Durham, and one and a half spent mowing our lawn (which had grown to wildflower-meadow heights over the past week — sorry, HOA!), I’m finally able to relax a bit and reflect on this past week’s Railsconf.
For this year’s conference, I adopted a different strategy than my normal one — I tried to meet and talk with as many people as I could, and as a result I think I enjoyed this year more than I have the past two. An incomplete list of the people I talked with, including old friends and new: akitaonrails, bdainton, bigfleet, bitsweat, blowmage, bphogan, bryanl, cdwarren, chacon, chadfowler, compay, cpytel, cselmer, danabrit, dastels, david_a_black, davidcjames, ddollar, desi, dpickett, egspoony, evanphx, fkchang2000, greggpollack, jamesgolick, jasonrudolph, jedschneider, jeffrafter, jimweirich, joefiorini, jondahl, jseifer, karnowski, kblake, keavy, kellyjeanne, maddox, maraby, matthewcarriere, mbleigh, mhartl, moonshark, msshushu, noelrap, nzkoz, obie, qrush, rbates, reinh, rich_kilmer, robertdempsey, sarahmei, seanhussey, seebq, solaredge, stevesanderson, subelsky, therealadam, tobi, wbruce, wifelette, xymbol, zapnap. (If we chatted and you’re not on the list, feel free to leave a comment! I didn’t get twitter names for everyone I talked to)
I talked with a number of people about Developer Day, and found a few more cities to add to the list of potential future Days, so be sure to keep an eye out for one near you.
Sessions and Keynotes
Most of the sessions I attended went very well. Disappointingly, however, some of those that I was most excited for (the one on mountable apps in Rails 3, for instance) just weren’t what I’d hoped. As for the keynotes:
- I’ll have a post in the next few days on the Tim Ferriss debacle.
- Chris Wanstrath’s essay was my favorite presentation of the conference.
- I really enjoyed Uncle Bob (though to be honest that was entirely due to his energetic presentation style, which overwhelmed the message for me).
- The core panel went fine, but didn’t bear many insights or surprises.
As I mentioned in my last post, I was responsible for or a participant in three sessions this year. The first, the Teaching Rails Birds-of-a-Feather session, went very well — we had somewhere around thirty attendees (I’m terrible at estimation), and a lot of great ideas and experiences were discussed. It sounds like people are independently hitting on the same ideas, and the BoF was a good chance to meet up and discuss them. (By the way, attendees — don’t forget to the #teachingrails tag on things you do going forward!)
I originally thought the Rails Rumble panel went well, but it’s not doing so well in the attendee evaluations. From my experience watching panels, I think it’s probably the most difficult format to get a lot out of, as there are just too many variables to track. I had a lot of fun in the various talks we did to prepare for it, though.
Finally, my last session on Rack support (why am I always scheduled for the last day?!?) was extremely well-received. I’m pretty sure that I made more last-minute changes to this than to anything I’ve done before, since Rack in Rails is still changing — I was able to implement an example middleware on Tuesday or Wednesday that I just couldn’t on the previous Thursday, for instance — but by the time Thursday morning rolled around I was good to go, and the audience responded very positively. Plus, I got to draw attention to Doug Avery’s design talent by including the Bowling Thunder logo on one of my slides (and check out the Reddit item that the slide spawned!).
Oh, and if you attended one of these sessions, I’d love it if you could rate me over at SpeakerRate. Thanks!
I never really understood the outrage over the move from Portland to Las Vegas, and after attending I’m even more mystified. Like most of the attendees, I go to Railsconf for the conference, not for the city. I left the conference hotel to see Penn & Teller on Sunday, dinner at an Ethiopian restaurant on Wednesday, and Star Trek on Thursday, and I didn’t gamble at all. I’m guessing the conference will be elsewhere next year, but if the quality is the same I don’t know that I’ll particularly care about the city.
If you followed the Railsconf Twitter stream at all, you know that Billy Mays was often seen at the blackjack tables in the Hilton, and as far as I could tell, completely hammered. I saw him all the freaking time, and the one time I turned on the TV in my room, his show on the Discovery Channel was on. It was a little surreal.
I’m also 99.5% sure that I saw Leslie Segrete (formely on the TLC show While You Were Out) heading to the pool on Monday, and I wish I’d said hello and found out for sure. Looks like the National Hardware Show has more TV star power than the Rails community — who knew?
One of the main benefits I get from attending a conference is inspiration, and this was no exception. Those six hours in the airport? A lot of that time was spent hacking, as was part of the flight to Atlanta. I’m extremely motivated to work on several projects now, and I can’t wait to see everything else that was spurred on by the conference. Between that and all the great connections I was able to make, I’m happy to call Railsconf 2009 a huge success.