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EuRuKo 2013 – a few days after

2013/07/09

A bit more of a week has passed, so let’s put my notes in order before memory and other notes hide them away.

Euruko →

Euruko →

From the very beginning this seemed it was going to be a good conference. And why not since by entering the venue I bumped into a close friend from the 1990s whom I had not seen for a few years due to unusual circumstances.

The day began with Matz giving a keynote. And a keynote it was. It contained memories from his first Sharp computer to switching to Pascal and then to Lisp and explaining why Ruby was influenced by it. Sapir-Worf hypothesis was also included since Matz as a person who loves programming languages tried to make us all design our own domain specific language. He made the (to the point) remark that every program that we create is in fact its own programming language with which we communicate with the system and direct it to do anything we want within its abilities. Matz urged us to become language designers (remember that every interface to a program is a language) by starting with a limited domain, locate patterns, solve problems in this domain and then expand. Perfection is the enemy of the designer he said, so he also found room to squeeze the Pareto principle in his keynote, just to make sure that one is not lost in details instead of delivering a result.

Picking from the keynote and the Lisp legacy Pat Shaughnessy continued with functional aspects in Ruby and his adventures of learning Haskell in order to make a comparison and learn something new in the process. Best lines for the talk were that “memoization is just another name for caching” and that in Ruby lazy evaluation is in fact lazy enumeration and one has to keep this in mind.

Konstantin Tennhard continued with his work with Ruby and NLP. He covered a lot of aspects of NLP and how it is done and work he did with the help of JRuby and OpenNLP which I had not head of until then. He also described a gem he has built and gave examples of its usage. I guess NLP people will find this work interesting.

One of the best presentations I’ve ever watched that include Mathematics and Programming was done by Xavier Noria. How common is it that you get to hear about a proof that the square root of 2 is irrational, about the continuum hypothesis, about set theory and stuff like cardinality of a set in a Ruby talk? By his sharp remark that “programmers are so used to integers and floats that they forget the use of rationals” he went on and gave a real life example demonstrating this as an application for a betting site. Arbitrary precision and no cent lost. One pointer though. Next time that you have ZF in your slides at such a conference, translate it.

Arguably the best presentation of Euruko 2013 for me was the one by Grzegorz Witek and Simon Kroeger. They came with a real life example that Unicorn could not handle due to high load, need for many deployments per day and requirements for the fastest user experience, showed alternative plans (Puma, Reainbow, ZBattery, Thin) and why these were not follwoed thtough and how they reached to picking the commercial version of Passenger Phusion to do the job and how well it did it. A “We did it and this is how” talk where you can only admire someone with a working production setup that brings money home.

Chris Kelly walked us through parts of the source code (and macros needed to understand how Ruby works) for MRI and how garbage collection works in general and especially in Ruby 2.0. Frequent mentions to “Ruby under a microscope” were made.

Hey did you know that an ISO standard for Ruby exists? It is ISO/IEC 30170:2012 and it is a hybrid between 1.8.x. and 1.9.x. This I learned from Koichi Sasada who proved live that when you have something to say, not knowing English well is not a barrier because the audience is willing to hear.

Rubinius was the subject of Dirkjan Bussink. He explained the design behind it and that it is a good choice when number crunching is in order. Rubinius people aim for concurrency, multicore and optimization for the common case so that the programmer does not have to deal with much outside the environment of his program. He closed his presentation with a few programming mantras that are always worth mentioning like “Be nice; write type stable code”, “Write small and simple methods” and “Always benchmark your code”.

Benjamin Smith talked about rails engines and how locating patterns in the codebase and implementing them as engines helped refactoring the code for a client with a small team while the main team was working on the product. If you are into locating patterns (and you should be) when the video is put online you must watch this. As he put it “In the long term engines work out” as long as you avoid circular dependencies between engines. You can read a lot about this stuff at the rails Archives.

Many times I’ve said that Redis is the kind of software I wish I had written. So when Javier Ramirez talked about it I could not miss it. It was a general introduction for Redis to the audience and I think everyone left the room with a clear understanding of what it can and cannot do (including pubsub).

Unfortunately I missed Steve Klabnik‘s talk on Functional Reactive Ruby but from the sound of clapping it must have been a hit. I did not watch a few more presentations and the lightining talks due to other engagements and am waiting for the videos to upload so as to complete the experience.

All in all the experience of the conference was excellent, the Jazz concert great, the volunteers did a great job and in the chosen Eurovision style of presenting the conference: 12 points guys.

PS: For those interested, EuRuKo 2014 will be held in Kiev.

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