Keep Ruby Weird could easily be called “Remember Ruby’s Fun”. It’s a one day, one track conference in Austin that pays homage to the days of why’s (poignant) Guide to Ruby. Born in Austin, whose slogan is “Keep Austin Weird”, the city and conference didn’t disappoint. After parking my car in the hotel garage, I stepped into the elevator, and met with this disaster:
On my way home the elevator stopped in the lobby with 3 men in it. I waited for someone to exit but they stood fast looking confused. I pressed “-2” to go to my floor in the garage. When the doors opened one tried to step off but the others stopped him. He exclaimed, “Where are we supposed to get off?” I can’t confirm it but in my heart I believe they’re still on that elevator.
My hotel was less than functional but the venue was sublime. The Alamo Drafthouse is, without question, my favorite movie theater. It’s a dine in theater with comfortable seats, great food, and a full bar. Alamo Drafthouse is known for its pre-show entertainment. Old variety show clips, moments from foreign films, and parts of old cartoons are spliced together to create something whimsical, bizarre, and perfectly fit for this conference.
Lunch was provided with a limited menu. If you wanted something else during the conference. No problem. A snack? No problem. Thirsty? No problem. Beer o’clock? No problem. As long as you were picking up the tab the theater staff would bring you anything.
Names burned into wooden tags replaced the typical conference badges. Bubble wrap was provided as a supplement to clapping. Free caricatures were provided because well, why not? Mine presents a generous chisel that makes me look far more superhero-esque than is warrented.
The talks were a mix of serious, odd, and funny. Katrina Owen and Nick Means bookended the conference with more serious talks about learning and ethics. Tom Enebo discussed the esoteric Piet language and his implementation of it. Justin Searls wanted to make Ruby great again. He did so bigly. It was a tremendous talk.
The conference was a serious reminder that Ruby is supposed to be fun. Ruby and its 800 pound gorilla of a friend Rails have matured. They run businesses, employ lots of developers, and piss off plenty in the process. They’re, you know, popular.
Maturing doesn’t mean having to forget the fun of our youth. Ruby was built with happiness in mind. We can and should continue to mature but, like adults on a slip-n-slide, we need to have fun along the way.