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Bath Ruby 2016 Review

Mar 16, 2016

We’re just back from the Bath Ruby Conference and thought we should summarize our impressions now while they’re fresh. In case you’re not familiar with it, the one-day, single-track conference took place in Bath, England, on March 11, and around 500 Rubyists attended.

Bath Conference Venue

If you don’t know Bath, the city is a beautiful spa destination well known for its Roman-built, hot-spring baths. In fact, in 1987 it was selected as a UNESCO World Heritage site in recognition of its international cultural importance. It’s definitely worth visiting if you’re looking for a short break from everyday life.

Unfortunately, we didn’t visit the spa this time, but, hey, we had to leave something for the next year.

Location

The conference venue at the National Trust’s Assembly Rooms made up for this, though. It is an elegant and fashionable meeting place and imparted a sense of nobility to the entire conference.

Conference Agenda

Bathy Ruby featured six talks of around 30 minutes each that provided a good mix of technical and non-technical information on a wide range of topics. The conference also included three lightning talk sessions made up of four or five short presentations each.

While the lightning talks were fun and important, we’ll focus here on summarizing the ones on Bath Ruby’s main agenda.

Talks

The Main Presentations

Xavier Riley - Rocking out in Ruby: a playful introduction to Sonic Pi

Following our warm welcome by our hosts, Xavier gave a truly amazing talk about Sonic Pi. It’s a tool designed to teach programming concepts through the process of creating new sounds, and it’s available for Raspberry Pi, Mac OS X, and Windows.

It was quite interesting to hear Xavier’s live coding on stage be transformed into multi-threaded music. This talk was definitely a great way to start the conference.

Coraline Ada Ehmke - How Neo4j Saved My Relationship

Coraline explained the basic concepts of graph databases using one of the most popular ones—Neo4j—as an example. It comes in three editions, has a cool admin panel, and offers plentiful use cases that demonstrate why it’s better choice than relational databases.

Neo4j.rb is an Active Model compliant Ruby wrapper, which makes switching to Neo4j easy if you’re already used to Active Record.

Courteney Ervin - Open Source for Your Benefit

In this interactive talk, Courtney explained different ways and reasons for contributing to open source. In particular, she asked us to think of personal reasons for doing this, and, at the end, we all received permission to do so. She also let us know that, if we didn’t feel excited about contributing to open source, that’s also okay. :)

Janet Crawford - The Surprising Neuro-science of Gender Inequality

As the only female student in a real physics department, Janet experienced gender inequality in a professional surrounding early on. With regard to this topic, she explained how our brain tries to put terms and concepts into groups and why we consider some professions and activities more appropriate for females or males.

Even if we consciously strive for gender equality, she pointed out, unconsciously our brain is struggling because it’s wired with stereotypes that have been stuck in our heads since early ages.

Zach Holman - Firing People

Zach talked about his personal experience of being fired from GitHub and what he went through afterwards. He gave good advice on how to behave in those situations whether you’re the one fired, the one doing the firing, or a coworker of the one fired.

Aaron Patterson - How are method calls formed?

Aaron’s humor broke the ice before his deep technical talk about how to form method calls. Although he focused on “nasty” things like caching method calls, he started his presentation by tackling broad ideas and issues that everyone could understand before getting into the nitty-gritty. It was a great, engaging way to discuss technical concepts for people of all skill levels.

Between talks

Probably the busiest places during breaks were the Job and Open Source boards. It seems everyone is looking for developers, and these boards were a cool way to reach out to them.

Breaks

Another great thing about conferences like Bath Ruby is the socializing. We had many breaks for tea, coffee, and snacks where we could make contacts and talk to each other. Even after the closing words, the conference went on as everyone hung out and enjoyed food and drink at the informal after-party.

Final words

Everything at Bath Ruby seemed to go smoothly. The talks happened on time. Technical glitches were absent (except, maybe, for Aaron’s pinky presentation), and the organizers were incredibly helpful.

A big thank you from us to all the organizers and sponsors who made this conference happen. We send special thanks to guys who helped us print our leaflet and then put it up on the board while we were on lunch break. :)

Long story short, it was awesome! See you next year!