Steel City Ruby 2013: my second year and it radically changed my life again (part 1)

This year, I attended the second Steel City Ruby Conference, 2013. The first one, last year (2012), was a life-changing experience for me. To my surprise, this second one also ended up being another radically transformative experience.

This is part 1 of my report, covering the first day (Friday). Part 2, covering the second day (Saturday), is here.

Videos are up!

Videos for all of the presentations of Steel City Ruby 2013 are available on Confreaks. I am embedding them also in my reports.

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Pittsburgh Java User Group: Java EE 7, 8, and beyond; or done?

The Pittsburgh Java User Group has not been meeting regularly for some time now. The last meeting was almost two months ago. I attended this one with the impression that it might well be my last attendance of the group, and even more, that it might be the end of the group altogether.

The meeting did nothing to change my intuition.

Pittsburgh Java User Group, 2013-08-13

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Pittsburgh Data Visualization: D3 and R

Just a week ago, the Pittsburgh Data Visualization Meetup launched with a “meet and greet” that I attended. Today was our first actual presentation-based meeting, with speakers giving introductions to both D3 and R.

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Pittsburgh Ruby/Python social and some observations about our polyglot world

Programming meetups aren’t just about presentations and coding. Abby and I joined others in meeting up for dinner for a joint Pittsburgh Ruby and Pittsburgh Python social and enjoyed relaxing and socializing outdoors in Bakery Square. Although it perpetually looked like it was going to rain, it turned out we weren’t really rained on.

Carol, Andre, and Abby:


It was fitting that there was a joint social for two language communities, because we live in a polyglot world.

Despite my original intention not to engage into any tech-related conversation, I couldn’t help remarking on my current polyglot responsibilities at work at CMU on the METAL project!

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Pittsburgh Node Meetup: Optimizing development workflow with Grunt

I am not a Node developer. I’ve only used Node to play around with JavaScript, not for any real work or personal projects (yet). The last time I used Node was two months ago, for a talk I gave at Pittsburgh TechFest 2013 in which I wrote JavaScript code running on Node, but did not actually talk about it, and only mentioned that I had written it and put it up on my GitHub repository for the talk. Read On →

Pittsburgh Data Visualization Meetup: inaugural meet and greet

There is a new Pittsburgh Data Visualization Meetup and I attended the first meeting, which was a meet and greet at Fuel & Fuddle in Oakland.

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Pittsburgh Ruby lightning talk night: RVM, business logic with Rails, IRC, rspec-given, Vagrant

The Pittsburgh Ruby meetup held a lightning talks session.

Originally, I was not going to present anything, since I did not feel that I had anything exciting to quickly share (I have not been doing much Ruby programming lately at all other than debugging my Octopress-generated blog), and don’t like talking just to talk.

But at the very last minute, just half an hour before the meeting, I noticed some developments in the world of RSpec announced on Twitter by Jim Weirich, and I got excited enough that I decided to talk about his rspec-given, which was just released at version 3.0.0.

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Pittsburgh JavaScript meetup: functional programming

Pittsburgh JavaScript

Because the topic of the featured presentation by Richard Ashkettle was functional programming, I made sure to attend my first meeting of the newly revived Pittsburgh JavaScript meetup. (This was actually the third meeting of the revived Pittsburgh JavaScript group, but I hadn’t been able to make it to the first two.)

I’d met Richard earlier, a month ago at Pittsburgh TechFest. He does not claim to be an expert at functional programming, but is enthusiastic about concepts and techniques that he can and does apply to improving software quality in many dimensions. Since I have been a functional programming enthusiast and practitioner for twenty years, I had these goals in attending his presentations:

  • evaluate what Richard and others have done with, and think is important about, functional programming
  • offer a few corrections, elaborations, suggestions as appropriate for the situation
  • gather information on how I may be able to effectively explain functional programming to those who are new to it

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Why I hate calling myself "pragmatic" but do

I wrote a post on my personal blog about my being a “pragmatist”. I mention it here because few words are as controversial, I think, in the programming community, as “pragmatic”. I wanted to be on record as identifying myself as “pragmatic” despite the negative connotations, because the entire mindset of this new programming blog is pragmatic. For example, I will soon write about the realities of programming language choice, including why I used Java, despite its deficiencies, for a decade, and why it is not going away, and why I currently am an advocate of Scala, one of the most ambitiously pragmatic languages to have come along in my lifetime. Read On →

nil, non-determinism, exceptions: a journey in debugging the software that generates my blog

I mentioned in my initial post for this blog that I have had some problems with the software I use to generate my personal blog, Octopress, and was thinking of migrating to a different platform that might in some ways be more robust to such problems. I ended up not doing so, and I still stand by that decision, but I just yet again ran into a problem with Octopress.

Here I report on how I figured out the problem and begin a conversation about the nature of error handling and API design.

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