BTV Ruby Conf

Attending the 2013 Burlington Ruby Conference, it occurred to me that I really ought to start a blog. Not a blog entry mind you, but an entire blog. The keynote speaker (@markbates) began the event with a talk on “Getting Better”, both a launching point for Beatles references and for the sort of feel-good, anything’s-possible vibe you really want when leading into a day of watching people speak in a dark room. As developers, we’re not lacking in opportunities to learn and practice our craft. GitHub got the proper mention, as well as participation in conferences and local users groups. Blogging presents another avenue, an excuse to hone your more interesting solutions and solicit feedback from a wider audience.

Hey, that’s a cool idea.

A moment passes; a thought bubbles up from my subconscious… Didn’t I have a blog once?

As far as Vermont is concerned, Burlington is a hot bed of growing tech companies. continues to expand ferociously, with a whole bunch of other smaller software shops hiding in various nooks and corners. Just don’t mistake it for Cambridge, MA or some other major city. The character of Burlington is very much formed by it’s small size (some might say quaint). Prior to hearing about this conference, I wasn’t aware of any sizable user groups besides the local .Net user group (who host an excellent yearly event VT Code Camp). Frankly, I had given up on finding any organized groups of non-Microsoft/Java developers.

So it’s surprising to find that such a group exists and hosted a Ruby conference here, much less got the attendance they did. It’s being held today and tomorrow at the Main Street Landing Performing Arts Center on the Burlington Waterfront, which if you’re a local it’s the Skinny Pancake building. It’s worth noting that this is a Ruby, not Rails, conference. Rails being the most well known, or at least publicized, use of Ruby, it’s not uncommon for the novice to be unable to distinguish the two in his / her mind.

The Ruby community fascinates me, their public face seemingly composed of a very deep bench of extroverts, coming to programming by way of any number of hobbies that are quite specifically NOT computers. Contrary to the the generally accepted (though gradually fading) narrative of programmers as pale basement dwellers suffering myopia from too little exposure to the outdoors, typing away into the night. Between why the lucky stiff’s illustrated guides and @markbates’ background in music, maybe I’m extrapolating a wee bit. Coming from a professional background in Qt / C++, there’s an element of cultural spelunking I feel like I’m engaging in when in their territory. It’s a younger crowd, there’s an enthusiasm about their work and chosen technology stack. There’s always some new gem, or piece of the Rails stack to swap out. It’s a little intimidating, but at the same time quite nice to find sociable, talkative developers not wearing business suits, if that makes any sense.

I’ve scribbled some notes on today’s talks, but I’m thinking I’ll wait until I finish tomorrow’s sessions, pick some of the more interesting topics and riff on them a bit.