I wrote this nice blog post right after RailsConf and then forgot about it. Whoops!
RailsConf did a really cool thing this year and offered “Opportunity Scholarships” for new and underrepresented people in the Rails community. I got one of these! I didn’t have to pay for a ticket and I was paired with an established RailsConf-goer who could introduce me to fun people and give me the lay of the land. (We also got to sit in the front at the keynotes and were often given good advice on Twitter using the #rcguides hashtag.)
It was really quite lovely. With Dev Bootcamp looming, I’m a bit crazed trying to get as many RailsBridge things done as possible before my 9-week sabatical. So there were a few times that I took a break from chatting and talk-going to write a blog post or reorder the event on the RailsBridge website. But those things were fun, too :D
And here are some thoughts on some of the talks I went to:
Keynote Sparring FTW
And then, the final keynote was Aaron Patterson, who offered a delightful amount of mocking of everything, followed by a great look into how the Rails security team works, how recent expoits happened and were resolved, and how he loves open source. (When I went to Waza a few months ago, I went to a talk about managing open source projects instead of Aaron’s talk, and now I understand why the adjacent room was completely dying for the first 10 minutes of that time slot.) Aaron’s talk probably had the most stuff that I didn’t understand of all the keynotes, in part because he didn’t define all of his acronyms about security, but I was able to follow along relatively well nonetheless.
(Oh, and @rands gave his Stabiles and Volatiles talk again and it was still annoyingly reductive and excusing of assholes. There are stable assholes, too, and nice volatiles!)
Sessions: often about request routing and testing!
I feel like I have a decent handle on how a request gets routed from the browser to Rails and back, but it turns out I didn’t know quite a few things. Like Rack and middleware. And while I don’t totally understand how Rack works, I have a much better idea of how it connects the Rails app to the webserver. There were actually two talks about routing and how a request travels through an app, and seeing both of them was super great.
The other big theme was testing. I watched a talk I didn’t much get behind about testing that argued that all unit tests are too brittle to have any use, and should be thrown out if they are created in the process of TDD. This was right after a totally brilliant talk by Sandi Metz about how our unit tests are too brittle, and we need to be writing about half as many tests (and she taught us, very clearly, which tests we should be writing). So I understood pretty clearly the need to have selective tests for the right things, but Sandi’s argument seemed far more based in logic and not just being mad at tests. (That presenter was advocating for integration tests only.) Also, Sandi one a Ruby Hero award! I was sad that Sarah Mei didn’t get one, but maybe next year.
I also attended a session on front end testing, and got a nice explanation of a lot of the tests that we have for Bridge Troll. Although I knew on some level that Phantom.js was involved (since it’d been causing trouble with our Travis CI server), I didn’t know really how the various parts (Capybara, Phantom.js, and Poltergeist) fit together. And now I (kind of) do!
No One Will Teach You But You
Zach Brigg’s talk is probably the one that will have the most lasting affect on how I learn programming. It sounds silly, but there was one big lesson that I’m surprised is as surprising as it is.
When you Google something, write it down. Then review it.
Yeah. That makes sense. Otherwise, when you google some syntax that you know you’ve used before, but you just can’t remember, you’ll reread the same Stack Overflow entries and blog posts that you’ve read three times before.
Other Odds & Ends
I learned about DevOps and Puppet. I learned about the strategies of a start up that’s attempting to practice some kind of agile design. I was adopted by the amazing crew at Thoughtbot for an evening of dinner and drinks, and heard about a ton of amazing tech groups / programs / initiatives for women and girls (and also got to see New Relic’s totally gorgeous Portland office). Actual human faces replaced Twitter icon in some cases, and I got to tell people all about RailsBridge and my upcoming Dev Bootcamp adventure.
I only thought about turning 1/3 of the things I heard into RailsBridge workshops!
Oh yeah, that NPR story
I woke up on Monday morning to two emails, both from acquiantances telling me they’d heard me on NPR! I’d been interviewed by Laura Sydell a few weeks prior for a piece she’d be doing about Sarah Allen and women in tech. We’d had a 30 minute in-person chat at VerticalResponse, and I’d only said about 20 things that I was terrified that she would put into the piece. Thankfully nothing she said was a total lie. (Except the part about me getting hired as a programmer after attending a RailsBridge worskhop. That is in no way true.) There were a lot of Facebook and Twitter posts about it, and a few people that I’d met the night before saw me the in the hallway and had to exclaim about my famousness. It was pretty silly. If you haven’t listened to it, it’s a legitimately nice piece of radio about Sarah and tech and RailsBridge.