November Boulder Ruby Group Meetup

The November Boulder Ruby Meetup was a two hour presentation-packed evening. The night’s primary focus was lightning talks, so there were six topics including an extended talk for newcomers, pizza, beer, and a hot tip on how to make a small fortune on Silk Road.*

The evening began in a room mostly full of students and other curious people looking to get their feet wet in the tech community. It ended with more advanced coding demos in Rust and Clojure.

Emily, an instructor at gSchool, gave an extensive talk on how to use Git in your workflow. She covered all the basics for the newcomers, why use Git, how to initialize, and dug a little deeper into rebasing. The pace was quick and full of helpful information. Here is a super useful command to see a list of all your commits, when you last pushed, and check the status of your branching/location of your head:

$ git log —oneline —graph —all —decorate

Before moving on to lightning talks, there was about thirty to forty-five minutes of mingling. The beer selection was on point, including bottles from Uinta Brewing. And before we got to more presentations, our host called out for any guests who are hiring. Three people spoke up — pretty good for a room of probably less than forty people.

The first lightning talk was given by a gSchool student named Evan. He gave us a quick rundown of how to use a Ruby gem called Faker to automate all kinds of filler (or fake) information to fill out forms. The tool is very handy when working in Rails and building databases, after all it’s much easier to fine tune layouts when there is information in your table to display. However, Evan had some fun by framing his presentation in a world where he was using Faker to create information to sell on the Silk Road for big bucks.* It was a very clever premise for demoing a tool like this.

The next speaker was a gentleman named Owen who tackled Mozilla’s Rust as a topic. His presentation was a bit dense, but it had to be. Rust is still in it’s infancy and there was a lot of material to cover. This lightning talk was a little tougher to follow for newcomers as it was a very code-driven presentation. However, it was nice to see someone really jump head first into a new language and be excited for future developments.

Peter, another gSchool student, spoke about using OpenCV in facial recognition. He even took a photo earlier in the evening to run a test on an image of guests at the meetup. It was neat to see little red boxes highlight our very own faces. He made light of how powerful the tool was and how relatively simple it is to implement. Of course the software isn’t flawless. Peter also pulled up some images in which wrinkles in clothing were identified as faces. We could all see the shadows and lines that resembled eyes and noses, but it would seem that humans are better at identifying humans than computers… for now.

A gentleman named Lewis from Holacracy gave a presentation about HolacracyOne, a management system that sounds very effective and is convincing some big businesses into changing the way that they operate. The methods are a little involved, and rather than butchering the content, let’s redirect you to a more reliable source:

Wrapping up the night was a talk from Eno about Clojure. This was another code-heavy presentation that might be difficult for newcomers to follow. The demo was impressive, but left more questions than answers for some. That’s fare. A five minute demo of a programing language should be compelling and leave the audience wanting to know more. And before he closed, Eno recommended visiting ClojureScript Koans for a more thorough walkthrough.

The night was fun, educational, and encouraging. The Boulder Ruby Group Meetup had something for everyone at varying levels. It’s more than just an excuse to get out of the house. It was great opportunity to grab a beer, gain some exposure, and contribute to a supportive community.

*Silk Road is an online black market. The presenter was being playful and not actually recommending we visit the site.

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