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
, 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 ="yourapikeyfrom43things")
        chad = connection.get_person("chadfowler")
        chad.goals.each do |goal|
                puts "Chad wants to #{goal}"

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
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
. 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.