RubyConf 2020 — Launch School Retrospective

Chris Lee
Chris Lee
Dec 5, 2020 · 5 min read

Like many things this year, RubyConf was a little bit different than usual. The event still ran virtually as a series of online talks hangouts, and workshops, including a presentation by one of our own Capstone alums, Sunny. We sponsored tickets for a couple of dozen current Launch School students to attend. Here are some of their take-aways from the event (extracted from our Slack chatroom).

Chris: For those who attended RubyConf, I hope you all enjoyed it! Any major reflections or talks that you enjoyed?

Sunny: My favorites were Mach 2.0 at Scale, The Bug that Forced Me to Understand Memory Compaction, and Upgrading GitHub to Ruby 2.7

Nicholas: I’m with Sunny, but I’d add The Humble Hash! Also the Keynote from Kent Beck was very interesting. Also Sunny’s of course, but I consider that one more of a LS Tech Talk special.

Sunny: Oh right The Humble Hash! I knew I was forgetting one.

Marcos: First off thank you the comp. I really enjoyed connecting with other Rubyists, doing zoom challenges and taking part in the raffle challenge; although simple it was great to see how other programmers think and go about their solutions, using Ractor etc. My favorite talks were Upgrading Github to Ruby 2.7 — Eileen U. (her slides, and what that whole process entailed), Ractor Demonstration — Sasada Koichi, Automatic GC Compaction in MRI — Aaron Patterson (great effects), and of course Sunny’s talk (because it had live coding & talked about encryption). Also previewing Ruby 3. Again Chris, thank you!

Wendy: There were a lot of great sessions, but my favorites were Kent Beck’s Keynote and the Parrot Emergency! Planning Reliable, Maintainable Software workshop. The workshop provided a framework for looking at your code structure or your software architecture to identify potential risks (button doesn’t work, text is too small so users fat finger bad inputs, database gets hacked, etc.) and how to prioritize which risks to address first. For Kent Beck’s talk, my biggest takeaway was that if a certain change feels hard, maybe I need to rethink the problem and the code structure so that the change is easier.

Alfonso: Thank you Chris for the incentive to attend! It was a good first experience. I thought a lot of the talks were really good but the The Humble Hash stood out for me. I think having such limited experience made that talk more relatable overall. And there was one called The Minaswan::Interview that provided a contrasting alternative to the standard interview process in the industry, though I’ve yet to experience that process first hand.

The Keynote talk by Aniyia Williams to close out the conference was invigorating. That lady pulled no punches in her search for a more equitable society. She had me at “f*%k the status quo!” which was her first point. I believe it will be up on YouTube in a couple of weeks but if anyone is interested in seeing the slides, here’s a link.

I think overall it was a great experience to meet and network with people that have been doing this a long time, and gave me a good perspective on the Ruby community in general.

The biggest takeaway that I have from this conference, is the motivation to push harder and harder with my studies in order to achieve the skill level and proficiency in programming compared to the people that we were able to see presenting. — Seva

Seva: First of all, I would like to thank Chris for presenting me with an opportunity to attend this event! It was a great experience!

The biggest takeaway that I have from this conference, is the motivation to push harder and harder with my studies in order to achieve the skill level and proficiency in programming compared to the people that we were able to see presenting. Of course, there is a very long journey for me to achieve that, but the final result is worth it.

I enjoyed watching all of the presentations, but due to fact that I am still early on in the curriculum, it was hard for me to follow along with some of the more complex topics. I particularly enjoyed the following talks: Tales of the Autistic Developer — The Expert; The Humble Hash (something I was able to follow along more or less); The Bug that Forced Me to Understand Memory Compaction (interesting to see how people approach solving complex problems); How Prime Numbers Keep the Internet Secure (very tricky concept, masterfully presented in an easy an understandable way).

Jason: I wrote about my conference experience here: https://jd-launch-school.gitlab.io/launch-school/2020/11/20/rubyconf-2020.html

Alfonso: Nice post on the conference Jason.

Iuliu: I loved the Tracking COVID with Ruby — Olivier Lacan talk. It’s an amazing story of emergent collaboration between programmers, epidemiologists and journalists. The presenter got started just with a Github issue and it grew into an intense collaboration. It inspires me to see what a well organized group of people who really care about something can accomplish. And initiative is all it takes to be part of that. I can’t wait to work with others on a project like that!

It was also cool to see how powerful a tool Ruby can be. I’m in the OOP course now and sometimes I feel I lose context of what these fundamentals add up to. Attending the conference and seeing what people a making livened up my spirit.

Thank you again Chris for this wonderful gift!

Will: Thank you for covering the bill Chris, it was my first tech conference, and it was a lot of fun. There were a bunch of great talks (including Sunny’s of course). I thought Upgrading Github to Ruby 2.7 was really interesting — it was great to hear how they tackled such a big upgrade and all the little hiccups that come with it. Also, the talk about automating posting omelette pictures to a blog was a lot of fun and definitely showed how much you can tackle with Just In Time learning when you have a solid grasp on more foundational topics.

This article is extracted from a conversation thread in our student Slack channel.