After lunch, I attended a Lightning Talks session. These are always interesting, and show the momentum Rails has. Then I went to another vendor presentation, this time on CodeGear‘s 3rd Rail IDE. And it was again a very worthwhile session. RailsConf or O’Reilly (or both) has really figured out to give vendors a platform that adds values for the attendees, and I really appreciate that.
I am not a fan of IDEs, but the talk succeeded in selling me on 3rd Rail, at least to the point of giving it a serious try. They gave away fully licensed copies to all attendees, so I won’t even have a time limit on my use. 3rd Rail is built on top of Eclipse, like so many IDEs today. The last time I tried Eclipse it was just too slow for me to stand, but like any successful open source application, it just keeps getting better with time, so I’m hopeful.
My last session of the day was Metaprogramming and Ruby Internals for Rails Developers, given by Patrick Farley of Thoughtworks. Unfortunately, the talk was a total train wreck, probably the worst I’ve ever seen. Not because of the content or presentation of it, but because of technical problems. A particular slide apparently crashed his PC—twice!—and he took at least 15 minutes getting going again on a colleague’s PC. The subject was too complex to just talk about, so he didn’t really have any other option. But from now on, I’m going to make sure that any presentation I give is on my PC, a USB key, and at least one colleague’s PC before I start.
The day closed with a keynote from Kent Beck of Three Rivers Institute. He told stories about the major things he was a big part of (like Extreme Programming) and how each one took twenty years to really set in. It was dry at first, but when he settled in he loosened up and was very entertaining as well as interesting.
Our group ended the day with a big mistake on our parts: we went to dinner downtown. Oh, the dinner at Huber’s Restaurant was very nice, but what we didn’t know was that last night was the annual Starlight Parade, about two blocks from the restaurant. The Max rail was completely packed, so we took a cab. And when we got near the restaurant, took ten minutes to go a block. We had a reservation for dinner, so we got out and walked on. Good dinner and an interesting historic restaurant:
But then had a big problem getting back. The trains were running very slow, and when they finally did arrive, they were too packed to get on. (Actually, they had room in the middle of each car, but people standing near the doors blocked the way there, so no one could get on.) There were special shuttle buses about a block from the Max stop, which went right to our hotel, and once we found that we were fine.