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RailsConf Reprise - My Thoughts Today
An ill-used association of words and pictures
RailsConf Reprise
I'll admit this post is a bit late, but the week ended somewhat more chaotically than it started and blogging has been the least of my concerns: I'm not going to share the pain in detail, but let's just say that missing the only sleeper train from Berlin to Brussels can put a dent in your sleep, your free time, and your will to live ;)

We last left our intrepid heroes basking in the adoration of the masses thankful that an audience turned out for our shambolic comedy routine. Wednesday morning saw us packing for check-out so we missed the Keynotes. However there were more than enough other highlights to make up for it.

Mike McKay's Africa on Rails was a fantastic antidote to the usual business-oriented tales of market-hungry start-ups. The Baobab Health Partnership is using Rails and wireless networking to help under-resourced Malawi to better manage provision of AIDS medication and treatment, but their technology is clearly applicable to other countries in the developing and third world and to many other endemic diseases. It's also good to see a project like this nurturing local programming talent. I definitely wish them well with their work, and would encourage anyone reading this blog who can afford to to contribute some spare cash to their cause. Tobias Luetke's Outsourcing to Open Source was interesting in content, even if not in delivery, and Rob McKinnon's Parliament on Rails is another brilliant example of ways in which Rails and the Web 2/3.0 technologies are being used to engage online users with offline institutions.

A large chunk of the rest of the afternoon was spent shooting the breeze with the JRuby guys, which gave me some interesting insights into where their project is heading. So shouts to Thomas, Charles and Ola and much respect for the brilliant job you guys have done. Oh, and it looks like spikyblackcat and I may well be taking on the poisoned chalice of Ruby's OpenSSL support with our own pure Ruby implementation: it's going to be slow on MRI but the JRuby team can deliver decent native code performance thanks to their bytecode compiler and I think this is the way to go - plus they could really do with an alternative to Bouncy Castle lol

All in all a very good conference, with more than its fair share of deep geeks. Well done O'Reilly - here's looking forward to next year's outing!

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4 opinions or participate
vorpal_t From: vorpal_t Date: September 24th, 2007 10:14 pm (UTC) (permanent link)
Sounds like the perfect enfd of conference.

By any chance, do you have the BHP presentation, I could really do with it. AND we have a need for some PZ grade SSH advice (browser - EA Server - ASE 15)

feyeleanor From: feyeleanor Date: September 25th, 2007 07:46 am (UTC) (permanent link)
Unfortunately the BHP presentation isn't online yet but when it is it'll be at http://conferences.oreillynet.com/pub/w/61/presentations.html

To be honest the slides themselves weren't that informative so unless O'Reilly put the audio online at some point I think you might be better off contacting BHP directly for more info.
From: (Anonymous) Date: September 26th, 2007 02:47 pm (UTC) (permanent link)

Thanks for the writeup

Hi Eleanor - this is Mike the guy from the Africa on Rails talk. Just wanted to say thanks for coming and for the positive writeup. It was really encouraging to see so many people at the talk. Sometimes it feels like we are all by ourselves down here in Malawi - but your attendance and your post certainly counter that. Thanks - mike@baobabhealth.org
feyeleanor From: feyeleanor Date: September 26th, 2007 11:24 pm (UTC) (permanent link)

Re: Thanks for the writeup

That's okay Mike, I'm happy to do what little I can to help give you guys some extra visibility. The work you're doing is really amazing, and the only complaint I heard about your presentation was that it wasn't long enough! I know the Rails crowd is usually perceived as Web 2.0 focused, but I suspect a second session talking about the challenges you face with rolling out your wireless infrastructure would have also gone down a storm.

Anyway this is just a little thing but I've syndicated your blog feed here on Live Journal (at http://syndicated.livejournal.com/baobab_health/) and added it to my friends page, as well as putting a direct link to your site on my sidebar. I don't know if this will bring any additional traffic your way, but quite a few of my LJ friends are also socially-minded geeks so hopefully some of them will want to further publicise your work.
4 opinions or participate