aku-aku: v.. To move a tall, flat bottomed object (such as a bookshelf) by swiveling it alternatively on its corners in a "walking" fashion. [After the book by Thor Heyerdahl theorising the statues of Easter Island were moved in this fashion.] source: LangMaker.com. Aku Aku also has another meaning to the islanders: a spiritual guide.
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ruby on rails unconference
Posted by dav at 2006 November 12 12:15 AM
File under: Geek

On Thursday I went down to IBM Almaden in San Jose to attend the Ruby on Rails Camp held there. This was a one day unconference (Foo Camp style, more generally popularized by Bar Camp, where the participants create the schedule and lead the sessions) . I keep missing out on the official RoR conferences, so it was good to finally get to attend a rails gathering with more oomph than the local Ruby Meetups.

Some highlights:

  • I gave a ride to guy named Caleb who recently spoke at a Ruby Meetup I had missed, so I got a bit of a recap on the state of rails debuggers from him.
  • The very first session on memcached was perhaps the most perfect conference session I'd ever attended. Usually sessions are somewhere on the scale between too simplisitic where I learn nothing or too advanced where I learn little. This one was great. I understood everything presented, it was all new information and it was something It was something in which I was truly interested. Hats off to the presenter. Not only did he provide a good run down on what memcached is and how to optimize it, but he has released a number of great tools to the community: MemCache Client Extensions, Custom Benchmarks, and Extended Fragment Cache.
  • The performance and scaling session which lasted about 5 minutes when no one could advance the high water mark for rails apps past basecamp. The field is still wide open for an impressive and popular rails based site to become the leader. I believe that the team I'm working with at Pivotal Computing is going to produce a high traffic rails site by mid 2007, but I'm still astounded that no one else has.
  • Reg: "a library for pattern matching in ruby data structures. Reg provides Regexp-like match and match-and-replace for all data structures (particularly Arrays, Objects, and Hashes), not just Strings." This was demoed by Caleb (my passenger). Pretty cool concept, although not quite yet up to speed performance-wise.
  • Running into a couple of friends at a limited attendance conference where I didn't expect to know anyone. Nym drove up from L.A. and Kaliya was actually the conference facilitator!
  • AWS Console by Thorsten von Eicken which was my first exposure to this new EC2 offering from Amazon. His app is a front end to manage servers on the service. It should be released in the next few weeks. EC2 is an on demand virtual server web service that allows you to create a server image and then almost instantly replicate it to as many virtual servers as you want. Each virtual server "predictably provides the equivalent of a system with a 1.7Ghz x86 processor, 1.75GB of RAM, 160GB of local disk, and 250Mb/s of network bandwidth." Wow.
  • Unexpectedly being one of the main "presenters" at a Test Driven Development session. It was actually quite a bit of fun although I wish I had been more prepared with examples and such. I think the next time there's an rails based unconference I'll plan ahead and purposefully lead a session. Ideally I'll have more experience with RSpec and BDD by then and could lead two sessions.

The conference organizers put up a decent summary about the general conclusions.


Hey - glad you had a good time. And, thanks for contributing.

Posted by: Wido Menhardt on November 17, 2006 09:34 AM

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