In the summer of 2022 some of our engineering team attended the Brighton Ruby conference. About a month after the conference we got together to reflect on our experience attending and share thoughts on the talks we saw. Now that the videos have been published, we’re sharing our write-up of that discussion so that you can watch the talks we’ve written about.
Favourite Talk and why?
Cassie: Pattern matching. Fucking loved it! It was so cool I've wanted to do stuff like that for yonks to do things like sanitise params and do validation, and I never knew you could do it. I discovered afterwards that you can do it in lots of other languages, but I think it's really cool.
Allan: My favourite was the one by Emma Barnes; the one we weren't allowed to record, or tweet about, or take any pictures or anything. I just loved this story. I loved the drama. It also made me think a lot about the code we write, and how important it is to tell a story with the code, and also not to judge your old code too harshly.
Magda: I really liked the sidekiq one because it was a nice case study. It was very technical with a lot of examples. A detailed approach of how they attempted to fix their problem and improve the system and save some money. Also I learned a bit about sidekiq as well. It was something I didn't know before, and it was a good learning. Instead of reading a blog post, I could just sit and listen.
That was a good technical one. The other one I liked was Emma’s more personal one; not really focused on the code and technical aspects, but everything around the code. It was interesting to listen to as well.
Murray: The one that I can imagine myself recommending to people is the one about debugging, because it was just like “Okay, here's ten steps. Do these things, and you will get better at debugging. These are the steps you can go through”. I “Big Head Murray” don't think I learned anything but there's good insight here and rather than me trying to struggle through explaining how I would debug a problem, I can recommend that talk and say “there's some steps here that you can go through”.
Cassie: My favourite moment was getting to stand up and do my whole spiel and then seeing how everyone went and got T-shirts after I told them to get T-shirts. That made me feel very valid.
Allan: My favourite moment was saying, “fuck the Supreme Court” in unison after they had overturned Roe v. Wade because fuck the Supreme Court.
Magda: Maybe when Cassie got up from the stage and said “Cleo is awesome!” and everyone said “yay!”
Murray: My favourite moment, I think, would be the audacity of Emma Barnes coming on stage and saying “You can't talk about this talk” and us being like, “Whoa! What the hell is going to happen?” – it's completely understandable if you were privileged enough to see the talk, why that happened, but it made it feel sort of special – for just us in the room. I really enjoyed that.
Magda: It was the meetup with WNB.rb. It was super nice. It was super awkward at first, it looked like a bunch of nerds, and I've never been surrounded by a bunch of nerds while being one of the nerds. But it was super nice. It was lovely to meet all the people from Taiwan, from Spain and from the US. It was lovely to see them in person, and then catch up with them the next day, and connect with them on LinkedIn. I think that was super nice. And I wish there were more meetups in London.
Allan: A couple of things. Two of them are like physical concrete things. The first one was that book we all got, printed for the occasion. That was quite cool and exclusive. I think that was Emma Barnes’ publishing company, and she printed us a copy of Why’s Poignant Guide to Ruby. I started reading it, I haven’t finished it. It's interesting. It's a very interesting read, I must say, but I think it's full of non-sequiturs.
The second thing was some swag from other companies. I got a fidget spinner from FreeAgent that I still use to this day. I have it on my desk, and it's amazing. It's so good for my concentration, because it's stopped me reaching for my phone, or something distracting when I'm waiting for a test to pass, now I just spin my fidget spinner.
The third thing is just running into some people that I've known from the industry. I ran into someone I worked with at Parliament. We obviously all ran into George Shepherd, which was nice. He tagged along with us for the day, So that was lovely.
Cassie: It was nice meeting the other nerds there, that was fun - the same as Magda: the WNB.rb meetup beforehand was really nice.
Also vegan pastries because they never fucking have vegan pastries and they had vegan pastries. I had three croissants! Vegan pastries is my unexpected gem because I was expecting the vegan breakfast option to be like, “Would you like an apple?” whilst everyone else has delicious buttery French bread.
Magda: When Andy started and welcomed everybody, he mentioned how safe this space should be, how we should all respect each other, and so on. That this is super, super important as and if there is anything wrong, and if anyone doesn't feel secure, they should come to him and raise the issue. That it was stressed that it was super important. It’s not just a conference where we do the talks and that’s it - it’s a safe space.
Murray: It was really nice to see people after three years of lockdown, Covid, kind of stuff, and actually be in a room with people. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it, I think, in parts, because I got to see a bunch of people I had worked with before, and knew through the conference or LRUG before: “Oh, yeah, you're here!”, “You're here!”, “Oh! Let's catch up with you!” That was really good! They talk about it as the hallway track at conferences, so it shouldn't have been a surprise, but I guess I surprised myself by how enjoyable I found that.
Hanging out with your friends: it’s good! Who knew?!
Things you'll be doing after Brighton ruby that you wouldn't be doing if you hadn't gone to Brighton Ruby.
Cassie: Pattern Matching! I did some about a week after the conference!
Allan: Based on Emma Barnes' talk I’ll be thinking about the story my code tells. Thinking a lot more about how it reads and thinking a lot about my commit messages. Making them nice to read, easy to read, easy to understand, fun to read. That was one of the things that I've come away with – thinking about the story and the drama behind my code.
The other thing that I really vibed with was the one Magda mentioned earlier, which was the one about sidekiq use by Kelly. I remember listening to the talk and being like, “Oh, wow! This makes so much sense! Why don't we do this?” And I came back and created a JIRA ticket for it in my squad that's in the backlog.
Magda: Being more understanding and less judgemental of code written in the past.
I've never been to a conference before, and I always thought I wouldn't understand anything. But I did! It’s a confidence thing: I went there, and I understood most of the stuff that people were talking about on the stage. It definitely sparked some more curiosity and I’m inspired to learn more about a few things.
That was super nice. I really enjoyed the whole conference, even if I didn’t enjoy one hundred percent every single talk. In general it was very inspiring, and it was nice to see different solutions to problems that we might come across. So another thing I'll be doing is applying to go to more conferences.
Murray: At the start, because one of the speakers wasn't able to attend, Andy gave a little impromptu talk about how, as a community, we could do a better job of bringing juniors in and supporting them and turning them into our peers and seniors in the future. He asked for people to talk to him, so I scheduled a call and had a good chat about his first ruby friend initiative. This is an attempt to put people just starting out in touch with people who have been doing it for a while for half-hour chats. I’d spotted that he had launched it before Brighton Ruby and thought it seemed cool, but I hadn't got off my arse to actually sign up. Now I have signed up and I probably wouldn’t have if I hadn’t been in the room to hear Andy say “this is a thing that I'm doing”.
What do you hope to see next year at Brighton Ruby?
Cassie: I want to see more vegan pastries. And I'd like to see Andy accept my talk this year.
Allan: My first answer was going to be more talks that really relate to my day to day like the sidekiq one – I enjoyed how I can directly apply it to work. But as I'm saying that I don't want just more of that, I want more of everything. I want more of the drama. I want more of Emma Barnes’ drama – I don’t know how many times you can do that before it wears out, but I liked the variety, and that's what I want.
Magda: This was the only ruby conference I've been to, so I don't know what else I could expect from a conference. But yeah, as I said, I like the variety and the balance of the talks between technical talks, and more soft-skilled talks.
I would also love to see some of the people I met this year.
Murray: I've been to all of the Brighton Ruby conferences, I think, and this was a much smaller affair. It was in a much smaller room. It was more intimate, but it was nice when there were a lot more people there. You could see more friends and you had a bigger group for mingling and mixing. Next year let's hope the world is in a better place, and we can have bigger events, and Andy feels confident putting on a bigger event.
That’s a wrap
So, now you know what our engineers thought of BrightRuby 2022. As you’ve just read, we’re excited for this year’s conference. We’re looking forward to learning more, meeting more ruby friends, and having a day out by the seaside.