Last week I attended RubyFuza: Africa’s Premier Ruby Conference. Since I’m still very new to Ruby, and only really work with it in the content of Rails, some of the talks went over my head in terms of technical content. The conference as a whole as great, though: it was well-organised and had a diverse range of topics.
Something mentioned several times was the amazing community around Ruby. I’ve been to a bit of a range of conferences recently, and this theme has come up at each one (I find this slightly odd since another theme that usually also crops up is the bashing of a parallel community.) I’m interested in finding out what it is that brings this out. Is it that because these communities are web related so the sharing and community aspects are more easily facilitated? Is it because most of these are around open source technologies?
Jess Newlands’s talk ChatOps at GitHub was the talk that gave me the most food for thought. It was about how central chat is to daily workflow at github (using the very nice hubot, in Campfire): for deploys; for communication of everything to everyone; for teaching by doing; for silly gifs (of course).
One of the ideas he emphasised that was especially interesting was:
By placing tools directly in the middle of the conversation, everyone is pairing all of the time.
I’ll be digging through the scripts available and thinking about what we could write ourselves (and share) that will make work easier, better, happier, or all three.
At the end of last year I was running one session of the lab a week, at various locations around town: Bandwidth Barn in Woodstock; Information Logistics in Century City; Unboxed Consulting in Constantia; Flow in Claremont. The testing and fixing was great fun, and it was good to be moving around town and meeting new people. However, all the driving around made things quite difficult for me, especially after taking a full-time job.
This year the lab has a permanent home at Unboxed Cape Town, where I’m working. Anyone is welcome to come and test on the devices: please drop me a line to firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange an appointment. I hope to still do some travelling sessions, but with a slightly different twist. Something that interests me is taking the lab to a conference or meetup, to get the word out about the lab and to do some quick and dirty testing.
In related news, The lab is featured on the newly launched Open Device Lab.com: a central resource for Open Device Labs across the world.
The recent rise of responsive design has highlighted the need for a refocusing on performance. Sites in general have definitely seen an increase in weight, but I don’t think that Responsive sites are inherently heavier: at least, they don’t have to be. Here are a couple of recent articles looking at performance as it relates to Responsive design.
- Responsive Design on a Budget on the Clearleft blog has an excellent idea: set a budget for page size. Doing so forces you to consider the cost / benefit of each addition and think about the relative importance of assets in/on the page.
- Brad Frost has a great article, Performance As Design, on his blog. In it, he suggests that performance should be considered as part of the design: good performance is good design.
- Tim Kadlec follows up with Setting a Performance Budget, and talks more about setting a performance budget.
This idea of more integrated areas, where each phase of development has little bits of everything, is becoming more widespread. Another good example is security: it should ideally be part of the project specification. Security should be built-in, not bolted on. I think this ties in well with the move to more iterative, short cycle, development processes.
My work life has really kicked off lately. I’m getting involved in doing more things and I’m feeling very happy about it all. The only downside is the physical tiredness I’m feeling from having a “9 to 5″ office job: spending all day in an office, mostly learning new stuff is apparently really hard work!
- The Nomad Device Lab is up and running at full speed, with weekly sessions, listed on Meetup.com. At this week’s session, I took the time to set up a short URL: dvc.la. This uses Viljami Salminen’s Remote Preview (v0.35) to easily push the same site to all the devices in the lab. I can set an URL in a text file and that automatically pushes it to all any device connected to dvc.la.
- I’ve been getting more deeply involved with SPIN and helping organise some great speakers for next year. I fell into being the facilitator for this year’s SPINJam (Photos from the event) as the planned facilitator was away ill. I found it surprisingly fun: standing up and being social in front of a crowd is apparently something I enjoy and do reasonably well. This is news to me, but something my friends tell me is not news to them!
- I like reading about the web, tech, and web-related things, and I’ve been sharing some of the juiciest links with the newsletter author of the week on the Unboxed blog. Check out this week’s and last week’s for some techy links, including a decent sized wodge from me.