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Frederick Cheung
Frederick Cheung

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My first RubyConf

It's been a week of firsts:

  • my first visit to RubyConf
  • my first talk at RubyConf
  • my first time being a guide at a conference
  • and now, my first post on

I've been a member of the ruby community for a long time now, back when 1.8.4 was all the rage, threads were still green and deploying rails applications involved mod_fastcgi / mod_fcgi and large amounts of hopes and prayers. Somehow I'd never made it to RubyConf, although I've had my share of RailsConfs and some of the european ruby conferences.

I don't have a reference point, but RubyConf 2019 was an all-round excellent experience.

Speaking at RubyConf

I was the usual mixture of nerves and excitement - I knew I had prepared to the best of my ability, but like many, public speaking is definitely pushing myself outside of my comfort zone. The speakers' reception was a really nice way to chat to many of my fellow speakers & pick up a few tips (@molly_struve is a font of wisdom, on top of being a great runner!). There's always some comfort too in seeing that everyone else is nervous too!

After some AV shenanigans involving USB-C to HDMI dongles that were only just fixed in time, the talk itself went pretty smoothly. At the speakers' reception one speaker mentioned they'd stopped using speaker notes ever since an unfortunate setup incident meant they had to do without. Like many others, I was horrified at the thought but I genuinely think that I didn't actually use mine - more of an emotional crutch than anything else (I probably would have freaked out if I didn't have them though!).

Everyone I spoke to afterwards was really nice about the talk and @annarankin even made some lovely sketch notes, so I'm chalking that up as success.

Guiding at RubyConf

Every year a certain number of opportunity scholars (I'm told 20 is typical) get a free ticket + travel expenses to go to RubyConf. They're all paired with a guide, who's a friendly face & direct point of contact during the conference. It's a really well run program, with about the right balance of structure vs freedom.

Although 20 scholars + 20 guides + some organisers adds up to a lot of people, we were split up into cohorts that were much more manageable. We had some great discussions on jobs, speaking and more ( I definitely picked up a few tips!).

I later realised that fellow speaker Ben Greenberg was an opportunity scholar just 2 years ago (see his writeup from back then) - so cool to see the leaps people make! I loved the way that after just a short while my scholar was striding up to speakers for questions & stickers.

Talks at RubyConf

Picking which talk to go was a struggle - most slots I was torn between at least 2-3 options! There was an amazing range, from Sandi Metz's incredible "Lucky you" on social mobility and the unfairness that is just baked into the system, to life deep in the ocean sediment or livecoding in ruby on an apple ][.

I went to quite a few mruby talks, more out of curiosity than anything else and have ended up buying a small microcontroller (the m5stickC that featured in talk on mruby's init sequence) to play with!

All in all the lineup was really strong, and I feel honoured to have been part of it.

People at RubyConf

I wasn't on top form, between jetlag, a cold/headache that I never really shook and pre talk nerves followed by post talk crash, but I still enjoyed hanging out with some fun people, walking around East Nashville \u0026 chatting about all sorts of topics.

Ruby is an amazing community to be a part of and I love seeing the positive impact it has had on so many others too. I'll be back for sure!

Discussion (4)

annarankin profile image
Anna Rankin

I'm so glad you had a good RubyConf (and thanks again for your talk 😁)! I met a few of the scholars and they seemed like really cool folks/were super happy with their guides. Sounds like an awesome experience; will have to give it a try!

fcheung profile image
Frederick Cheung Author

I totally recommend it!

dkassen profile image
Daniel Kassen

I was there too! I dunno if you remember me but we met at Stitch Fix's booth. Liked your talk. Glad to see you're here too.

fcheung profile image
Frederick Cheung Author

Yes, I do! Just dipping my toe in the water here.