A brief look at Eurucamp 2013

Starting a day after jRuby conf and held by the lovely Müggelsee lake in South-East Berlin, this year’s Eurucamp was a well balanced mix of talk and play. Kudos to the lovely organizers team for an extended lunch break that made it possible to enjoy the (probably) last days of summer.

The conference was opened with an inspiring keynote by Joseph Wilk. You can see the slides to “Can Machines Be Creative” here. Wilk showed numerous examples of teaching computers to do things humans would consider creative if they were done by other humans, raising important questions about the role of technology in art, and beyond. Other conference talks quite evenly touched on technical, abstract and community issues. Here’s what I picked:

Michael Grosser encouraged using the airbrake_tools and air_man libraries to debug more effectively. Both of them log, prioritize and trace exceptions. Additionally, air_man allows to run airbrake_tools constantly, sends emails about exceptions and assigns people to them, so nothing gets lost and not taken care of. Michael also showcased his library request_recorder for effective and friendly logging. Request_recorder sits in your application’s stack and stores the full log; it also comes with a Chrome extension. You can see the whole presentation here.

As far as logging is concerned, Matthias Viehweger shared some useful tips. Most important message: never raise your log level globally — you’ll start treating everything as noise faster than you know it.

Arne Brasseur talked about web linguistics and why we should stop using strings to handle structured data. You should check out the slides for valuable insights into web security (and refreshing graphic representations).

If you’re striving to be a better programmer, Eurucamp gave you the opportunity to listen to three inspiring talks. Joanne Cheng, who’s a developer working at Thoughtbot, talked about how Ruby Processing helped her become a better programmer. Her talk is not online yet, but if you’re a beginning or intermediate programmer, always wanted to be an artist, or you just like seeing the effects of your work straight away, you ought to learn about Ruby Processing and go make some art. You should also visit the Processing website.

Ellen König presented most effective learning techniques. We all know that learning is important and that all of us should develop our skills constantly, but picking the right thing we’d like to get better at, setting goals and getting there may not be as easy as we think. Fortunately, Ellen got that covered. Watching Floor Drees‘ talk “What I learned learning Rails” is a good wrap up. You can watch the slides and/or read her talk.

Also worth checking out: Drew Neil‘s “Modelling state machines with Ragel”.

I’d like to finish with linking to a great Eurucamp talk made by Ashe Dryden. Ashe spoke about diversity in our programming community and quoted some powerful statistics. In her talk she goes through some important concepts that we should keep in mind. Did you know that women make up for only 3% of OSS contributors, but at the same time they’re 73% of Bulgaria’s computer science students? Read Ashe’s slides to learn more and find ideas to make your community more diverse.