Tonight, I had the pleasure of attending my first Ruby Users’ Group
meeting. I’ve, of course, been to RubyConf and OSCON (the Ruby track
will blow you away this year), but Louisville has had a Ruby Users’
Group with population 1 since I created this sad page on the
Wiki several years ago.

So, I’m out in Seattle for work, and Ryan and Eric reminded me that their Seattle.rb meeting was going on. Eric was nice enough to pick me up in his lovely 1978 hoss of a station wagon and take me out to the meeting.

The meeting takes place at The Omni Group, which has probably the most interesting office I’ve ever been to. It looked like a fraternity house for Macintosh programmer geeks. They apparently have someone that cooks lunch and dinner for them every day. I’m probably not supposed to mention that I ate the food there. It turns out that, despite its horrid appearance, split pea soup isn’t bad when served with a biscuit.

We started with introductions. There was a surprisingly large number of Amazonians present. Apparently, there is an internal Amazon Ruby mailing list with more members than there are Rubyists in Louisville.

Topics of discussion were:

  • MetaRuby
  • Seattle.rb’s Ruby CodeFest grant (to improve RubyGems!)
  • Pat Eyler’s new r43 library, which provides access to 43things’ web services API
  • "Advanced Rails" by Eric Hodel (who works on 43Things).

After the MetaRuby presentation, Ryan set me up with access to their Perforce repository. MetaRuby is starting to become "real", with some really great and usable stuff already coming out of the effort. Maybe I can find time to hack up a pure Ruby implementation of the `Hash` class to help out. The overall effort is beyond my depth, but it would be fun to contribute to.

R43 is simple and fun to play with:

        require 'r43'
        connection = R43.new("yourapikeyfrom43things")
        chad = connection.get_person("chadfowler")
        chad.goals.each do |goal|
                puts "Chad wants to #{goal}"
        end

It was the first time I had met long-time Rubyist, Pat Eyler, who seems to be one of the genuinely nicest guys I’ve met in computer land.

Eric’s presentation made me realize that I’ve let many of Rails’s new features slip by, and it’s probably time for a Saturday catch-up session. Maybe after this month’s Building of Basecamp workshop in Chicago, I’ll be inspired to get moving on one of those long-neglected web projects I’ve been putting off.

At some point during the last presentation, Ryan recognized the jet lag kickin’ in and took me down for a white mocha something-or-other that he made using the Omni Group’s espresso machine. Unfortunately, I’m still awake at 12:40AM as a result. It was tasty but ineffective in wiping the zombie-like expression from my face.

Finally, Eric showed me some really cool Povray stuff he has been doing. Maybe I’ll try Povray out again (I’ve tried and failed to learn how to use it at least 3 times in the past several years) now that I have an irc buddy to bounce my ignorance against.

My ulterior motive for writing this post is to match "Louisville" and "Ruby" in Google searches. If you’re in Louisville and interested in doing some Ruby hacking (or even learning about Ruby—I’ll teach!), look me up. The 18-person turn-out at Seattle.rb was inspirational, and it occurred to me more than it has recently that having a local community of like-minded developers is a very important part of the learning process.