Ben Wilson, Author

May 27, 2024

From RailsConf: A Journey of Inspiration

We've all seen the scene. Two skilled combatants square off in a duel, waiting for the other to blink so they can strike. Such as it was with me. I stared at an upcoming month and blinked. It did not.

My attempted habit is to record in a few different places what happens. I have a Finish calendar behind my monitor. I have a 5x8-inch Field Book where I also write what happens. Most days are filled in with something that happened. On 18 March, one of our cats got out and into a fight with a local cat. As with me and time, our cat blinked and the other cat won.

As work heated, my focus on writing and coding at home slowed. No writing. I took my youngest camping with a bunch of other boys his age. I went to the RailsConf 2024 and chased that with a work-related conference.

More thoughtful people have shared their RailsConf experience. I went less for the talks and more for the inspiration, and came away rewarded. One keynote explained how she went from a non-technical person to selling application in a year, then struggled for profitability as she scaled until she hit pay dirt. Another keynote described different start-ups who struggled to get to production until they pivoted to Ruby on Rails from React and the other contemporary JavaScript frameworks. One CTO privately admitted his team's incredulity when he said they could deliver features in weeks instead of months.

Technical talks were no less inspiring. What looked like a simple talk on testing led me to commit to employing automated testing for my application. With a bit of developed code and no experience, this is not a small thing. But one must "move at the speed of trust" when using "testing as a tool for discovering information" and refactoring code "to the truest description of code instead of DRY" One presenter talked about advanced SQLite features that allow thousands of concurrent users in a web application in production. Someone intimated that they earned millions from sites that employed SQLite as the data store.

"Never give up on a dream because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway." Earl Nightengale.

Other talks were more mechanical. One led to an appeal to join the Hotwire community, which would be suitable for a technically inclined retiree. And Ruby has made notable strides in performance with YJIT in Ruby 3.3. Sometimes it outpaces C, which Tenderlove discussed at great length. Unless you are operating at a scale greater than Shopify (who processes ten percent of the Internet in the shopping season), start-ups should use Ruby on Rails.

This is the penultimate RailsConf. I'll go to the next one depending on where it is hosted. The Rails Foundation stood up and launched Rails World as the more appropriate venue. One attendee commented that "Shopify should stand up a Rails World alternative [because of DHH]," unaware that Shopify is a founder of Rails World. I'll be going to Rails World in September. More importantly, I committed to having ScribUnity capable of generating revenue in production by 26 September by promising Chris Oliver. While he barely knows me from Adam, promising someone helps me get into the grit.

The second conference was less inspiring. However, Diana Nyad gave an inspirational speech. Having allegedly been the only person documented to have swum the 110 miles from Havana to Key West without a shark cage...non-stop (disputed). She said "never give up," "never miss the dawn, sleep is over-rated," have someone who can "help you get back into the grit" and "never cut a session short." I like her statement that failure is a "journey of discovery."

Okay, so I went to these conferences and came away fired up, right? This past week I got my Rails testing journey started by cleaning up the Fixtures and getting the model tests working. Now I'm working on the integration tests and adding missing features the tests revealed (User and Account).

What about writing? I'm still jazzed about the fantasy series, but I only finished one scene. I have a soundtrack that inspires the writing. When I listen to it, I can picture entire scenes that I want to write. But my commitment to complete ScribUnity is my focus for the next 120 days. Sill it's still quite a ways out, I've sent 17 August as the tentative launch.

Ben Wilson, Author

About Ben Wilson, Author

By day, I navigate the complexities of information technology. By night, I craft enthralling worlds of Science Fiction that inspire and captivate. But I am a family man all the time.
Author of the Postal Marines series.