This weekend I’m in Nashville at the Ruby Hoedown V conference. This is my first Ruby conference, and I am really enjoying it so far. Mark, Josh and I arrived last night and had drinks and dinner at a local dive bar called Mojo’s. The night cooled down a bit and outdoor seating was very nice. I had a wonderful Stone 15th Anniversary Black IPA which is like the love child of a dark porter and a traditional hoppy IPA — very nom — and perhaps the best beer I’ve ever had. We stayed up way too late talking tech and arguing politics. It was a great start to the conference.
This morning we heard from Lance Ball at RedHat, who talked about their Ruby application server, TorqueBox. It’s pretty badass. It runs on top of JBoss and uses JRuby and the JVM to execute Ruby code. Cluster management happens through mod_cluster running on an Apache proxy server, which can detect when TorqueBox nodes come online, and when they go offline. The configuration is stupid simple. It has a pretty hardcore messaging system, too, for queuing up messages on its internal service bus and delivering them reliably to subscribers. The whole system is open source, including all of their performance tests (which were pretty impressive).
Before lunch Jon Distad gave a unconventional presentation which was only tangentially related to Ruby (well, programming in general). He opened with an interesting description about what scientists believe about the nature of existence–how and why atoms form matter that ends up being awesome things like rocks and dinosaurs and humans and stars. I don’t know about the science involved, but I certainly am interested in doing further research. Anyway, his main point was that the basic nature of the universe is such that, at a certain level it seems to be chaos, but at another level it appears to be order, which he roughly translated into: don’t be afraid to try new things in life, don’t be afraid of failure, because out of the “chaos” of failure you can actually learn and produce something awesome. In general I think he made some good points, and it was inspirational.
Over lunch we were treated to the music of The Farewell Drifters, a pretty kickass bluegrass band from Nashville. They tore it up with a great acoustic set on stage, and all the geeks killed the wifi with downloads from the iTunes music store. Of all the conferences I’ve attended, Hoedown had the best lunch.
Another post will come later…