15 hours. Thats how long it takes for a direct flight from Melbourne to Los Angeles. You can break it down to 8 movies full length, God knows how many glasses of orange juice and packets of peanuts. Add to that about 15 minutes of waiting in the plane after we landed as the customs hall was overflowing with people. Add to that a personal time of one hour trying to clear customs as this was my first time to the United States. This lengthy delay ensured that I missed my flight but managed to get a connecting one to San Francisco and finally arrived at my hotel at about 3:00pm PST. I had had lunch and therefore decided to take a walkabout downtown San Francisco and garner impressions.

It feels different. People open doors for others but no one says thanks. You achieve eye contact but no one smiles. There are lots of people and many of them are lying on the street. There are street evangelists yelling at about everyone loudly, people with signs saying “Need $1 for weed” and what not. Its very different.

It is expensive as well. The Australian dollar is definitely better at the moment but that does not help you escape the fact that things are definitely expensive here. This is based on the one subway and power socket converter I bought. Prices displayed also do not include the GST at times and you are definitely supposed to tip. It is the unwritten rule.

There is a shopping centre close by called “Westfield” and it reminds me of Highpoint. Replace Myers with Bloomingdales, DickSmith with Radio Shack etc and you get the idea. The accent is not that pronounced but then I have not really stuck up conversation with anybody yet, except the people at the hotel while checking in. Who knows, maybe I might strike one up tomorrow at the first day of the conference.

The US Flags on near the hotel.

Went back to my hotel, and I slept, and slept, and slept. Woke up then in the middle of the night, had a cup of coffee and spent about 6 hours browsing the internet on free wifi. At about noon, headed to the conference centre to register in and currently am sitting there using the free attendee wifi provided by Google to do some Android coding on Blamer

To quote Lawrence of Arabia, “It is going to be fun”.

On the first day of the YOW conference, I was pretty excited about the post lunch session (even after eating a delicious lamb kebab). The two topics that I was very interested in were NoSQL by Justin Sheehy and Strategic Design by Eric Evans.

So off I traipsed into the NoSQL talk, eager about some new news on things like CouchDB, MongoDB and maybe a bit about Mongoid. It certainly was not what I expected. The first half was passionate analysis of what exactly NoSQL is, and more importantly, how we should choose it! The second half of the talk focussed on Riak and I confess uptil today, I had no idea what it was. From there it was a bite more interesting to see actually how Riak worked and how scalability and extensibility were inbuilt into it. Not sure I will be using it anytime soon, but good to know me thinks.

Out I came from this one and went to hear the Strategic Design talk. It was a very well constructed talk on how the best of motives could lead the best of developers astray by setting wrong goals and the drive to never make a compromise. And also metaphors are slightly evil . But the talk was worth listening to, as it demonstrated how refactoring needs to be targeted and how to get business on your side to sponsor the things you think they won’t agree to. Eric demonstrated how models can be extracted in different forms by using a poem, a map and a quote as example domains. It was pretty instructive. Looking back at some of the work I have been doing at personally and some work we have been doing at REA, I would definitely say that we have implemented a fair number of said strategic ideals, especially for the latter body of work.

And that pleases me :)

Tomorrow, is the last day of YOW 2010 and I am excited about a devops session amongst others.

I am currently sitting in the foyer of the Jasper Hotel, sipping a cup of tea, thinking about the two sessions I have just had and the one I am waiting for. The sessions got kicked off by Obie Fernandez about the evolution of Rails 3. My first assumptions on listening were that I do not know why I want to know how Merb and Rails merged and who was involved and what was said to whom. But I was clearly in a minority. I put this down to the fact that I have not been as involved with the rails community as much as the majority of the people in the room.

Towards the latter half of the session, Obie began showing the new features in Rails 3 and I have to say that they do look very promising. I have not yet used Rails 3 myself (I began installing it in a separate gemset during the talk) but things like routing(in routes.rb), deploying(using rack), persistence handling and querying (using ActiveRecord etc have been made very very and easy to understand. I particularly like the lazy execution of DB queries and the subsequent chaining. I am told that upgrading from 2.X to 3 is a bit of a pain, but I guess I will find out.

The second session was delivered by Neal Ford about how he was involved a 3 year (and possibly ongoing) long project using Rails that is very enterprisey[sp?] in nature. It was interesting about the philosophy of tests should do but a lot of talk was bout the tools used. (A lot of them happened to be ThoughtWork tools ;) )

One interesting point that did come up was that they had 15 pairs sometimes having one stand up and that the stand up was still quick! I would have loved to see how that was enforced, as I know that from first hand experience that that is not easy. They created things to make software development easy and they made life of people as easy as possible so that people could concentrate as much as they could on their core task.

But what I liked most of all is that they had 4 work day weeks. :) 10 hours a day, sure, but small price to pay for a 3 day long weekend.

I am currently waiting for the next session, which is titled “Why NoSQL” and I am really looking forward to it considering I am thinking of moving my personal projects over to Mongoid

I am currently sitting in the lounge opposite what is known as the green room at the Jasper Hotel awaiting the start of the YOW Conference for 2010. There are quite a few interesting talks that I want to attend but I am not sure what I am hoping to get out of them.

My idea of a good conference is 50% talking by speakers, whilst showing what they are talking about (preferably in the form of working code) and 50% code hackery based on what they talked about. The DevFest in Sydney was cool like that. I heard about new features and then I got to hack at them. Lets see what this brings.

At the moment, there are lots of companies with lots of stands and even more coffee stands. I have taken a few pictures and will be posting them soon, along with my impressions of the talks.

As a side note, turns out my company is a silver sponsor. :)