Ben Scofield

me. still on a blog.

WindyCityRails Recap

So I spent a lovely 30 or so hours in Chicago over the weekend for WindyCityRails (as I mentioned previously), and despite the short stay, I had a great time. David and I flew out midday on Friday, and quickly established (and met) our food priorities: hot dogs for lunch, deep-dish for dinner. Saturday was the conference, which started off with a talk by Dean Wampler on functional programming. I was really pleased to see the talk, especially once I realized that it played on some of the same themes that I’d be addressing later in the day (polyglottism and high school learning, specifically). Unfortunately, I had to miss John McCaffrey’s talk on Prawn – I enjoy the tool, but I wanted to run through my talk one last time. Speaking of my talk, it went well. I got laughs at the appropriate times, and the Twitter stream and SpeakerRate ratings both implied that people enjoyed it. I’m still trying to find the right balance between talking about problematic domains and about specific database technologies, however, and I think that might be a fundamental issue with the structure of the talk. I’ve got a number of other chances to fix that, though…

Lunch was excellent, and made even better by some great discussion with Noel RappinDavid Chelimsky, and others around the table. After that, we were back to the tables for Ryan Singer’s talk on UI design. I’ve got some mixed feelings about this talk. I was very excited to see it, given that it rated very highly at Railsconf and I missed it there – and the attendees here seemed to enjoy it a lot, too. I, on the other hand, wasn’t particularly impressed. Maybe I’ve just been working with excellent UX and design people for too long, but I disagreed with some of the techniques Ryan discussed, and found his bias against testing design really off-putting. I’m looking forward to the video of this so I can take another look, but so far I’m 0-for-2 on having a good time at design-for-programmers talks. Noel’s session on testing was up next, and I thought he did a good job covering the material. He went through a lot of techniques pretty quickly, and while many were familiar I found some new nuggets in there, too. Next, David was up with the latest iteration of his Optimizing Perceived Performance (and the accompanying DBDB application). He’s really growing as a speaker, and I’m excited to see his continued improvement – he was as hilarious as ever, and had a lot of good material to put forward, so it was a very good talk. I’d love to recap Yehuda’s closing keynote – apparently he threw out quite a few interesting comments (an alpha for Rails 3 within the month??) – but I had to leave to get to the airport for my flight home. All in all, WindyCity was a great conference. The regional events just seem to get better and better every year (heck, every month), and that can only bring good things for the community. Congrats to the organizers on a job well done!