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Ich bin ein RailsConfer - My Thoughts Today
An ill-used association of words and pictures
Ich bin ein RailsConfer
Well here's my second attempt at blogging the second RailsConf Europe, iJournal having eaten my previous attempt.

What can I say about Berlin? Well it seems like a really nice city and it has some amazing architecture. We (that's spikyblackcat and I) arrived on the overnight sleeper from Brussels at 08:11 on Sunday morning and spent the day exploring the city/looking for food/getting our bearings. I should have been fixing some code at that point, but with the sun shining and the prospect of several days buried in conference it was good to act like tourists for a few hours. We saw the Brandenburg Gate, took a detour into the former Eastern Zone and did our best to avoid the party attitude around Potsdammerplatz. But that's not really what I want to talk about this morning, just like I don't want to discuss the hotel and its fun-loving staff who give it a bit more human a touch than many 5-star corporate venues.

I don't even want to dwell on the tutorials we missed by diligently fixing our sample code, or the missed DHH keynote that coincided with my morning shower. No, for me the real eye-openers were Dave Thomas's presentation, which focused on accepting the art that lurks beneath the surface of our developer talents. We are artists afterall, regardless of the insecurities of a prevailing DIlbetian culture that values specifications over working code. I'm not one of these wild-eyed Agile Developers who suggests we should ditch every other existing technique and design principle in order to embrage Agile. Way to go Dave for getting to the heart of our scene's Mac fetish >8D

The other keynote that grabbed my attention and held it for considerably longer than one would expect, was Roy T. Fielding's discussion of the REST architectural style. I suspect that at some point in his life Roy has been to that very special place where the whole network spreads unclouded by human intervention, and whilst I doubt he'd approve of our ideas I consider him a fellow-traveller. Whilst his presentation technique is very typical of academic conferences, don't let that and his self-effacing tone get in the way of seeing his ideas for what they really are, the classical physics of the hypertext environment. David Black introduced him as the inventor of REST, but I think it's more accurate to describe him as the discoverer of these principles as they are a natural consequence of the network usage encourage by using hyperlinks to marshal data.

Of the conference sessions today, shouts go out to: Jens Krämer for his informative presentation on Ferret, plagued by technical difficulties he still soldiered on; Sergio Espaja and Santiago Bel for an informative presentation on Bayesian Networks and Genetic Algorithms; and of course Charlies O. Nutter and Thomas Enebo who are the driving force behind the JRuby project.

Our own sessions went surprisingly well, with double last year's audience and a very successful BoF session in the evening. I'm always a bit reticent to talk about our work, partly because it's difficult to sum up in brief blog entries, and partly because we've been biding our time over announcing it to the world at large, but for those who want a quick peak take a look at our latest slideset for a brief intro to some of our obsessions. This conference is the first step in a more general move to get our ideas to a wider audience so I'll probably soon be spinning off a separate technical blog for that purpose, and judging from the positive reaction we'll have a few regular readers. Better yet, we now have several invitation to talk at smaller events and present the same material again, justifying the effort we put into our 45 minutes of RailsConf fame!

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8 opinions or participate
vorpal_t From: vorpal_t Date: September 19th, 2007 07:49 am (UTC) (permanent link)
Delighted to hear its going so weel - if you are still there, take a walk along the Unbter Den Linden, pick up a KGB General's hat (a RAIL conductor cannot have too big a hat) and take in the Pergamon museum, with that fabulous temple and the Blue Gate of Babylon

feyeleanor From: feyeleanor Date: September 25th, 2007 10:23 pm (UTC) (permanent link)
As it seems next year's conference will also be in Berlin I'm hoping to have much more time to properly explore the city and winkle out all kinds of cool souvenirs. I also recall passing a Helmoholtz museum during my drunken late-night ramblings so I must take that in as well.
goth_twiglet From: goth_twiglet Date: September 19th, 2007 10:38 am (UTC) (permanent link)
Du bist ein donut?
Mmmmmmmmmm, come here and let me nibble you!
feyeleanor From: feyeleanor Date: September 20th, 2007 11:28 pm (UTC) (permanent link)
Maybe tomorrow sweetness, when my body's recovered from today's travel debacles!!
vorpal_t From: vorpal_t Date: September 26th, 2007 08:28 am (UTC) (permanent link)
I think the Helmholz Institute is involved in Supercomputing research, so if they are showing anything should be high in wow factor.

Berlin is full of clubs that cater to all sorts of tastes. A night at the Opera is decadent in this city, a nice prelude to other more fundementasl decadence in the company of like spirits

feyeleanor From: feyeleanor Date: September 26th, 2007 09:06 pm (UTC) (permanent link)
Well as you know dear, I'm not at all decadent. But as my next visit will hopefully be in company with goth_twiglet I'm certain we'll find some enjoyable diversions to fill our evenings lol
vorpal_t From: vorpal_t Date: September 26th, 2007 09:29 pm (UTC) (permanent link)
You 'have' to do the Isherwood thing.

Incidentally, I think what you saw, as you walked along the Unter Den Linden was the statue of Helmholz outside the Humboldt University, you were close to the Pergamon.

You could always spend the day in the reading room at the library, that wouldn't be too decadent, unless you wore shades.

feyeleanor From: feyeleanor Date: September 26th, 2007 11:50 pm (UTC) (permanent link)
Damn! You've seen straight through my veneer of bourgeois respectability lol
Of course my shades have prescription lenses so I'm not sure they really count unless I'm wearing the cute rubber crop-top in my LJ icon - and I'm sure I'd never do that in a library >;p

I recall a street sign for Unter Den Linden so you're most likely right about the statue of Helmholtz. I recall the building behind it having an attractive Baroque edifice that I'd love to investigate further when I'm slightly soberer...

So how much of Isherwood's Berlin is still lurking?
8 opinions or participate