Software Developer

RubyConf Mini 2022 Recap

RubyConf Mini 2022 🔗

RubyConf Mini wrapped up last week in Providence, Rhode Island. This post documents the list of talks I saw. It’s not intended as a review of any of the talks, but to highlight the variety of great work from all involved. I hope you’ll seek out the full videos of all the sessions that interest you, once they are available.

Day 1 🔗

The day started with an opening address, which I’m sure was lovely, but I’ll admit I was a bit distracted. The reason being that I got on stage directly after. Thanks to everyone who attended my session; it was great to see you all.

After that, I moved rooms to see Jeremy Smith’s talk, “Solo: Building Successful Web Apps By Your Lonesome”. The perspective of this talk was from a place of working alone. But, no matter your team size, the conclusions in this session are valuable and relevant.

Next I attended Stephanie Minn’s “Empathetic Pair Programming with Nonviolent Communication”. I appreciated how Stephanie showed how to re-word comments in more actionable and helpful ways.

Lindsay Kelly spoke next on “Knowing When To Walk Away”. This talk provided good questions to consider when evaluating your current job satisfaction. Questions to ask whether you’re actively making a plan to leave a role or not.

We next heard from Barbara Tannenbaum in the first keynote on “Persuasive Communication”. The speakers I spoke with after were excitedly applying these tips in their sessions. Even if you’re not public speaking, there’s much to learn here.

The agenda for the day wrapped up with a Podcast Panel. All those voices you hear in your headphones are real people! Brittany Martin, Julie, Drew Bragg, Joël Quenneville and Andy Croll all took part in this conversation. I believe you should expect to hear it soon in your podcast feed, if you follow any of their shows.

Day 2 🔗

I started the second day by throwing something out on social media that I want to highlight here. If you find yourself at a conference, and you see a speaker after a talk you were at, let them know that you were there. If there was something you liked about it (particularly if it’s specific), tell them!

I can be a great conversation starter. It can be super meaningful to speakers. Being able to talk about my talk before and after the talk is my cheat code. It helps me feel more comfortable in social interactions in conferences. I’m not great at going up and talking to people. If you saw my talk, or see my badge that says I’m a speaker, maybe you’ll bring it up. Now we have something in common to talk about.

Speakers put a lot of time and effort into their preparation. Knowing that people were there, and even better that they got something out of it, can make a big difference in their conference experience.

Nadia Odunayo started today’s program with A Ruby Mystery Story keynote. It’s a fun romp told in a delightful manner that’s a very entertaining watch.

I stayed in the ballroom for Aji Slater to introduce “Zen and the Art of Incremental Automation”. Beyond the theory of applying these changes, the fallout of practicing (or not) the tips provided a grounded perspective.

Vladimir Dementyev next took the stage for “Weaving and seaming mocks”. Vladimir is always pushing improved tooling and support in so many different areas. This talk was no different, introducing a different way of verifying mocks in tests.

Kevin Newton discussed “Syntax Tree” and how parsing code can lead to further inspection, debugging, and formatting opportunities.

Ernesto Tagwerker warned us that “Here Be Dragons: The Hidden Gems of Tech Debt”. It provided a fun classification of tools to surface problem areas in your code. After identifying potential issues, it proposed strategies to handle them.

At the Transgender Issues Panel, we listened to their stories. I thank them for sharing.

Julia Evans closed the program for the day with a keynote around DNS. This proposes strategies for long-term learning, providing tangible steps to follow.

Day 3 🔗

Day 3 opened with a sponsor panel discussing how each of the sponsors provides an inclusive workspace, and what that means to them.

We then heard from a variety of speakers in Lightning Talks. We heard about what open source can learn from co-operatives, academic research about Ruby, and much more.

Andrea Fomera and Julie then spoke on “Inclusivity: Hiring is just the beginning”. I aspire to their honesty on stage and at work.

Brittany Martin then came in strong on short notice off the wait list to present “We Need Someone Technical on the Call”. This provided a framework to prepare, execute, and follow up on a meeting.

Joël Quenneville then took the stage and started “Teaching Ruby to Count”. Introducing different iteration mechanisms is great. Joël taking the next step about how to apply that to our own code (and why) was a pleasure to watch.

Jenny Shih explained how to incorporate functional principles in our Ruby code during Functional programming for fun and profit!!. Jenny took great care to present these terms and philosophies in an approachable way that was immediately actionable.

Jared Norman next spoke of “TDD on the Shoulders of Giants”. This explored different TDD styles, leaving us with patterns to apply in our tests.

Budding game show host Drew Bragg next asked, “Who Wants to be a Ruby Engineer?”. Audience participants did their best on stage, battling with confusing and esoteric Ruby syntax. The energy in the room was buzzing.

Rose Wiegley closed the conference with a keynote on “Leading From Where You Are”. No matter your title at work, and whether you see yourself as a leader or not, I expect you’ll learn a lot from this session.

Appreciation 🔗

Thanks to Jemma Issroff, without whom this conference wouldn’t exist. Without whom we wouldn’t have had this time together. After RailsConf, I told myself I was taking a break from speaking for a while. And then this opportunity came along, and it was too compelling to not TRY to be a part of. Thanks for the push.

Thanks to Emily Samp who helped all the speakers learn what they needed to know in preparation for the event.

Thanks to Andy Croll for offering his prior experience running conferences.

I’m not sure what to say to you, ballroom projector. You worked great during the A/V check on Monday, but you weren’t there for me in my time of need. You disappointed me. Thank you for playing nicer with the rest of the speakers.

Thank you to the Confreaks and hotel A/V staff, who professionally and calmly worked to troubleshoot the issue, while I blankly stared at the audience. When I’m practicing, I tell myself I need to prepare enough to give my talk without any slides or notes. I practice on walks, away from my material. I practice looking the other direction (checking occasionally to make sure I’m clicking to the right slide). In those moments on stage, I was wondering if my preparation would become necessary. Would I have to give my full talk without any slides?

Thanks Drew Bragg for unflinchingly handing me his laptop from the front row, letting me git clone the repo that has my slides on it. I ran the presentation from his computer, having never used it before.

Thanks to the conference WiFi. It actually WORKED that morning, allowing me to get my deck onto Drew’s machine.

Thanks to Joël Quenneville for unsurprisingly being the first person to approach me after I finished on stage. He was quick with a reassuring compliment and gave me feedback that’ll stick with me for quite some time.

Thanks to Daniel Magliola, who couldn’t be with us, for leaving a message in my inbox right around the time I wrapped up on stage. Just checking in on how it went. What a treat.

Thanks to my BookBub colleagues who provided feedback on an early version of my talk, and covered for me at work so I could be here this week.

Thanks to my Dockwa friends, some old and some new. It was great to spend time with you.

I’m so happy Konnor Rogers joined us. Thanks for fitting us into your week’s plans, and making time to come along.

Thanks to Brittany Martin for being as great a conversationalist in person as she is in an interview.

Thanks to anyone who scrolled through this whole thing, thinking, “surely Kevin will mention me next.” You’re handling it great! (Also, sorry?)

Thanks to my wife, who tactfully asked, “you’re sure you’re doing this again?” only once when I told her I got accepted. It’s not only the time this week to help with childcare, but all the time leading up to it she afforded me to prepare.

With that, I’m exhausted, and overwhelmed, in a good way. Until next time, #RubyFriends <3.