RailsCamp Australia 2015: Highlights and Insights

Patrick Davey
Jun 16, 2015

I headed off to RailsCamp Australia this weekend. Like the New Zealand camps, it's a conference held in a remoteish part of the world - or at least out of cellphone coverage. Once at the camp, the agenda is created by the participants. If you have something you want to present, you present. If you have something you'd like to hear about, you write it up and hope that someone will run a workshop.

The kiwi contingent was six of us in total. It was great getting to travel across with Phil Arndt and Amanda Wagener from Christchurch. Once in Sydney we met up with three more Rubyists, Juri Hahn, Nahum Wild and James Harton, good people all. I discovered that Nahum is a fellow Raspberry Pi enthusiast - his cat door tweets every time they come in and out of the house. The Internet of Things (IoT); it's coming folks. I must get around to setting up my timelapse setup to tweet too!

After a taxi into town we met up with the rest of the crowd of 170 odd people who were going to the camp, and got a train and then a boat to the Broken Bay Sport and Recreation Centre. I had opted to take the tent again - no kea this time to chew holes in my tent, just snakes, leeches and killer spiders to contend with (honestly, Australia has it in for the population!). I kid, snakes at least pretty much hibernate during winter I'm told, though we did see leeches!

Rails Camp Tents
Rails Camp Boats

The rest of the time was spent eating great food, drinking limitless beer, wine and even mulled wine, playing games of werewolves, and of course, giving presentations. It was great to see so many new developers joining the community. I'd hazard a guess that it was about 20% or so. Encouraging.

I did a presentation on Vim (my editor of choice) and Tmux. It was pretty off the cuff as I'd not prepared, but one of the rubyists wrote that they'd like to hear about it, and so I volunteered. As expected, there were plenty of experienced vim enthusiasts who came along and I definitely learned as much from the crowd as I managed to present - just what you want! :)

I enjoyed the introduction to React which I've not yet had the opportunity to experiment with. Looking around at the weekend, there were certainly a lot of people talking about and using other technologies, Elixir, Ember and React not least.

I thoroughly enjoyed the lightning talks on the Sonic Pi, connecting multiple databases to continuous integration, sublime text packages, and Interactor Pattern / Gourmet Service Objects. I also did a quick talk on one of my favourite books called "Crucial Conversations". It's about how to stay in dialog when things get difficult. Here is a picture of a crucial conversation:

Crucial Conversation

While the Australians were having their AGM, a few of us went for a short bush walk. That was where we came across the leeches. Good times. Last time I saw those was in Tasmania, and I haven't become any more fond of them since then I can assure you!

All too soon it was time for the wrap up and final presentations of what people had done over the weekend. I enjoyed them all, especially the newest developers showing off what they were working on - very impressive and just great that they had the confidence and felt the real support in the room for wishing them well on their onward journey into the Ruby and Rails communities.

I did a very quick presentation to show off the Raspberry Pi which I'd brought along and made a timelapse of the weekend. I really think they're such excellent learning tools and also just fun to play with. Another developer, Paul Fioravanti had brought along his "Retro" Pi, which he had setup for playing old Nintendo, Sega, Commodore 64 etc. games on. There was much Bubble Bobble and Bomber Man played. Now, to get some controllers for the office - I've been dying to play MarioKart for the longest time!

Patrick Davey Speaking about Raspberry Pis

Finally, here's a video of a quick timelapse I had the pi take. 20 second intervals between the pictures... contact me if you want to know more.

So yes, a great conference, many thanks to Len, James and Keith & all the rest of the numerous helpers for making it such a success.

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