Saturday Feb 09, 2008

acts_as_conference 2008 - Day 2 Report

acts_as_conference Day 2 started with breakfast ... yaaay! I had to hunt for breakfast yesterday.

Robert started the day by asking some questions and here are the responses:
  • 100% will come back if organized next year
  • Fri/Sat is good
  • $100 Price is good
  • Got 60-70 submissions so the selection process was difficult
Some of the reasons people came to this conference:
  • Mickey Mouse
  • Speaker lineup
  • Topics
  • Want to hear what other people concerns are
The gems are breeding exponentially but I found out about Bjplugin that allows you to unblock Mongrel before the entire request is processed. We might be able to use it for one of our projects.

Brian showed all the fancy Ruby debugging in NetBeans. 5 lucky winners were awarded Agile Development with Rails - 2nd edition in a sweepstakes by Sun.

Charlie explained some of JRuby success stories in, Oracle Mix and Mingle.

Here are the key points of Why JRuby ?
  • Easier setup - unzip and ready to use
  • Better Performance - Showed live benchmarks
    • JRuby 1.0 was 2x slower than Ruby 1.8.6, JRuby 1.1 Beta1 2x faster, JRuby trunk 2-5x faster and often faster than 1.9
    • Method dispatch (10million invocations)
      • Ruby 1.8.6 ~2.1 secs
      • Ruby 1.9 ~0.95 secs
      • JRuby trunk 1.29 secs for first call and then 0.6 secs (JRuby trunk on Soy Latte)
    • Fibonacci
      • Ruby 1.9 0.4 secs
      • Ruby 1.8.6 ~1.54 secs
      • JRuby ~.77 secs first, 0.4 secs subsequently
    • Hilbert matrx of dimension 2, 4, ... 64 times its inverse
      • Ruby 1.9 ~21secs
      • JRuby ~21secs
  • Easier deployment
  • More libraries
    • Easy wiring in Java libraries such as Java2D
  • Wider database support - via JDBC
  • Platform independence
    • JRuby on Rails on AS/400 calling MS SQL
  • Less political resistance
Key JRuby messages:
  • JRuby is raising the bar for Rails all the time
  • GlassFish is not your daddy's app server (2.3M gem)
  • Looking for users, use cases to support
Here are some of the local Ruby groups:
The last session of the day was keynote by Obie Fernandez on "Simplicity". The actual topic might have been slightly different but that was the essence. Here are some interesting points from his preso:
  • Good software development produces a result that is both functional and beautiful.
  • Played the role of MythBuster. Here are 3 that he busted: 
    • Myth: Practice makes perfect, Busted: Practice makes permanent, perfect practice makes perfect!
    • Myth: In order to play fast, I have to practice fast. Busted: Practice slow first (?)
    • Myth: I dont need to practice reading music. Busted: Start by reading code and develop a better understanding.
  • Rest of his preso drew a great analogy between Sofware Development and Oil painting
    • Like initial oil painters, are you grinding your own paints ? -That requires a lot of labor, needs custom tools and could be expensive. Now the paints are available, use them.
    • Just because you know all the brushes and paints does not mean you can draw a great painting.You need to add aesthetics and creativity to it.
    • The palette is not the point, the application development is the point. You paint the draft, step back and let the painting tell you what needs to be filled.
    • An art degree is not a gurantee to be a success, similarly CS degree does not ensure that you can author a great piece of software.
All in all, I learned a lot, met a lot of folks and a great post-lunch debugging session with a fellow Rubyist on JRuby/OpenSSL!

This is one of the unique conferences I've attended because pretty much everybody stayed till the last session, and that too SRO, that was cool! Here are pictures of the attendees towards the end of Obie's keynote:

As earlier, the complete album is available at:

Technorati: conf jruby ruby actsasconf rubyonrails glassfish netbeans

Friday Feb 08, 2008

acts_as_conference 2008 - Day 1 Report

acts_as_conference started earlier today (now yesterday) in Orlando, Florida with Charity Session.  Completely sold out with 165 attendees!

Ezra Zybmuntowicz (Merb core developer) talked about Merb.

What is Merb ?
  • Started after tried to make Rails thread-safe and memory foot print lower.
  • All (everything?) you need, none you don't.
  • Key features of Merb are: Thread-safe, ORM-agnostic, JavaScript-library agnostic, and Template language agnostic.
  • Replacement for ActionPack.
  • Similar to Rails, fixes a bunch of problems like performance, memory collection.
  • 2000 requests/second
  • merb-core, merb-more, merb-plugins are some of the key components.
Read more about Why Merb ? (Speed, Lighweight, Powerful). In later discussions, Ezra told me that somebody on #merb IRC channel has already tried Merb on GlassFish. I'm certainly waiting for him to provide me more information on that. Unfortunately I could not find the chat archives :(

Then Evan Phonix (started Rubinius) talked about the "Ruby kernel written in Ruby". He talked about how Rubinius is a community-driven implementation (90 committers in last 365 days) and building a rich and high-performance environment for running Ruby code.

In the welcome session, Robert Dempsey explained the two goals for the conference - "wide & deep on variety of topics" and "technologies that integrate with Ruby". Here are some statistics presented:
  • 30-70 people for every Rails meetup
  • Orlando #16, Tampa #17 for Rails jobs
And some more gathered during another session:
  • 90% using Rails as part of job
  • 50% first time visitors to any Rails conf
  • 50% local to Orlando
The last session of the day was a nice talk by Dan Benjamin on "Simplicity". I enjoyed his metaphors for emphasizing how simplicity in user interface is important to meet customer's requirement and keep him happy. Here are the two quotes he used: "Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler" by Einstein and "Simplicity is the key to happiness in the modern world" by Dalai Lama.

The party at Orlando Ale House was a good blast. Here are some pictures:

And finally the day ended with dinner @ GOL! The Taste of Brazil - highly recommended with a great variety of salads and meat. I particularly enjoyed Lime & Strawberry Caipirinha.

In next few hours, stay tuned for Charlie's session on JRuby and Brian's talk on NetBeans/Ruby tomorrow. You can always come and talk to me about GlassFish/JRuby - an "eco friendly" alternative to WEBrick and Mongrel at Sun booth. If not there, I'm sitting in back of the room :)

And we are also giving away 5 copies of Agile Web Development with Rails: 2nd Edition in sweepstakes tomorrow, right after Brian's talk.

The complete album is available at:

Follow the conference at twitter - acts_as_conf or IRC - #actsasconf.

Technorati: conf jruby ruby actsasconf rubyonrails glassfish netbeans

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Arun Gupta is a technology enthusiast, a passionate runner, author, and a community guy who works for Oracle Corp.

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