In my professional career, I've never felt prouder than when I was accepted as a speaker at RubyConf India. I've spoken at numerous user groups, helped organize events, and even performed in front of huge crowds, but this was the first time I had been given the opportunity to speak at a conference.
My goal was to put together a quality presentation on debugging that would help the attendees in at least one small way. If each person, from advanced to beginner, were to walk away with at least one new insight or piece of information, then I would be happy.
I found myself achieving that much and more. I met so many friendly people at this conference, had a lot of good conversations and made a number of #rubyfriends—more than at any other conference I've attended. And while the accolades and interest in my talk were wonderful, discussing my work, good code and great co-workers at Big Nerd Ranch was the best part of all.
There were many other excellent talks at the conference and I enjoyed all of the ones I attended, but I found myself most inspired by three talks in particular:
Siddhant Chothet's talk on accessibility and Ruby illustrated how easily the Ruby community could improve accessibility for users and developers. This talk wowed us as Siddhant demonstrated the challenges and impressive capabilities of blind developers. I would be remiss if I didn't note that though Siddhant did have slides, he did not read from them, as he is blind himself. Not only was this his first talk at a conference, Siddhant gave the whole presentation from memory! If you want to support his work, check out the brails project.
Sau Sheong Chang created beautiful music for us using pure Ruby, turning tweets into music. He shared just enough of the basics of music theory and the physics of music to walk us through his newly released muse gem. I love music and have played the piano for many years, and I look forward to creating music with one of my favorite tools, Ruby. Step one? Add a hubot script that makes use of muse in some fashion.
Our own Andy Lindeman gave the closing keynote. In this talk, he revealed how much we all benefit from open-source software, thanks to the many developers who have given freely of their time and effort. I highly recommend that everyone in the Ruby community see the talk. While Andy's talk focused only on the code written in Ruby libraries, I find myself flabbergasted at how much benefit we derive from open source, free technologies when considering the full stack of operating system, database server, web server, web browsers and client-side technologies!
But a summary of a few talks alone doesn't do this conference justice. It's definitely a should not miss, and I'm already planning a talk for next year. I hope to see you there.
Jonathan Wallace and just one of the many friends he made at RubyConf India. Photo courtesy @AkshayKhole.