Ruby Conference Wrap-Up (Part 3)

Ah, Saturday morning arrives in San Diego. Well, actually I’m writing this after the fact so it’s more of a reminiscence than a real time play-by-play. Say, did I mention that most (or all?) of the rooms at the Lafayette Hotel and Suites are named after movie stars? I stayed in the Bette Davis Lani Suite. I’m pretty sure that I now know where she found the inspiration for her famous line, “What a dump!”.

Ah, but enough griping. The first presentation of the morning was Kevin Baird’s intriguingly titled “Refactoring No Clergy”. No Clergy is (according to the RubyForge project description) a “set of tools to perform Open-Form music pieces, in which the audience is able to give feedback during the performance that influences later sections of the piece.” The software was originally written in Python, then rewritten to Ruby, and subsequently refactored. My take on it was that the software generates music for a small group, in real time, but changes the music as it goes along in response to the audience inputs. For example, an audience member might request that the trumpet parts be a little higher, and the music would start evolving in that direction. It was a very cool presentation, but I was worried that it might go over non-musicians’ heads. Fortunately, as we found out in a post-presentation Q&A, a large portion of the audience had at least some music background.

And as for that title: Kevin explained that “No Clergy” isn’t anti-religious. It’s a metaphor of sorts, in that the “clergy” of conductors and directors aren’t needed.

Next up was Brent Roman, talking about “Embedding Ruby in a Robotic Marine Laboratory”. The first half hour or so of the talk focused on a lot of the technical details involved in the configuration of this marine laboratory and the experiments it’s performing. Parts of it reminded me of the work that we used to do on analyzing DNA microarrays at a former employer. But I’m not going to lie to you: I didn’t follow this presentation very closely and didn’t take any notes at all. Sorry, Brent. I’m told that that IRC chatter about this was a bit brutal.

I didn’t take any notes on Austin Ziegler’s presentation on PDF::Writer either, but it wasn’t due to lack of interest. On the contrary, I was watching and being generally impressed with the work that Austin’s done. As I told Austin a few days later on #ruby-lang, I really need to find some excuse to start playing around with PDF::Writer. Very cool.

Posted October 21st, 2005 in Ruby.

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