FOSCON II: The Ruby Rodeo

Tonight I was able to attend FOSCON II at FreeGeek (I wish they’d hold FOSCON at the OCC so it wasn’t such a hassle to get there and back – but I will say the volunteers who walked us down there and then drove us back did make it easier). Follow the link below for brief summaries of the presentations and links to them. First up was Lucas Carlson who spoke about distributed processing using Rinda and DRb. Lucas showed how to setup a simple DRb server and run a client against it, then he showed how to run a Rinda ring server. Once he got through the basics he setup a server which parceled out ranges of numbers for us to check for primes within – several folks in the audience were able to connect up and process jobs handed out by his prime finder server. Next up was Topher Cyll who gave a talk entitled “A Ruby/DHTML Turn Based Strategy Game… in 20 Minutes� – unfortunately I don’t see the slides online yet, but here’s a link to his TBS gem with some exposition. Topher used his TBS gem to create a simple turn based strategy game in which you control a cowboy by moving and attacking (there is another ‘evil’ cowboy which you must defeat to win the game). Even though the game is very simplistic it shows the potential of Rails, JSON and DHTML/Ajax. Seeing this I was reminded of the talk I went to this morning at OSCON about unroll ( – which I’ll write about later as I’m wiped out and want to finish this FOSCON post before bed. Ryan Davis from seattle.rb spoke about the ruby2c project. The project appears to have many facets (more than my tired brain can grok right now) but two key points I took away from Ryan’s talk were 1) ruby2c is about generating that subset of the Ruby interpreter which needs to be in C, everything else should be written in Ruby so that Ruby can bootstrap itself (like Lisp) and 2) as a result of the work done on ruby2c, it was really easy for the team to create a Ruby Obfuscator (a commercial product they are selling). Geoffrey Grosenbach of the Ruby on Rails podcast spoke next – it was quite eerie watching and listening to him as I pictured him totally differently from hearing his podcasts. Geoffrey discussed several short cuts, scripts, tools and Rake tasks he uses to make his life easier when developing Ruby and Rails. He promised to post the slides on his blog soon. Next Jim Weirich gave an abbreviated version of his OSCON talk, entitled “Test-driven Development Meets Design-by-Contract�. He mentioned the fact that Eiffel has built-in support for design by contract and went through an example of a stack with the contracts for pop and push. This is what makes duck typing work – it’s not just that the method is there but that the contract is the same for those methods. Wrapping up FOSCON II was Amy Hoy with a talk entitled “Community Explosion�. She spoke about the problems that go with massive popularity (not everyone who wants to being able to attend a particular conference) and in particular focused on the problems surrounding newbies. See her earlier write-up on Help Vampires for more detail about the problem. But she was asking for help in setting up materials for newbies so that they could increase their skills and not be such a drain on the community. Ok, I’m wiped, I haven’t been getting much sleep since arriving at OSCON so no more posts until later tomorrow.