Archive | Ruby

Notes from NH Ruby/Rails group, 15-Feb-2010, Brian Turnbull and Object Oriented Programming

Despite being President’s Day, February 15th’s meeting of the NH Ruby group got 14 attendees. Held as usual at RMC Research in Portsmouth and hosted by Tim, a good time was had by all.

There was a round of introductions so everyone got to know each other. Announcements including Leslie Poston’s NHTweetup calendar, and the Rails Camp NE. Rails Camp is only a month away and down to a few last seats – don’t miss it!

Brian presented “Object Oriented Programming” — you can find the slides here. The presentation was a good high-level overview of OOP, as seen from the Ruby perspective. Brian noted ways in which Ruby differed from C++ and Java. There was some very good discussion and some teasers of future presentations: Mixins were thought too complex to try to squeeze into this presentation, and Brian is developing another talk, “The Complete Class,” which will include a discussion of all of the methods, properties and attributes a class should have to encapsulate best practices. I’m looking forward to both of those discussions.

Brian finished with two puzzles. Having covered the principles of OOP, Brian handed us an interesting problem to code: a 3×3 sliding tile puzzle. It’s great to see actual code being developed at the meetings, and it was a good challenge in that we all understood the problem domain. We broke into small groups and started modeling the problem. At the end of the evening Brian presented his model and code.

The bonus  challenge involved taking Brian’s model and solving a particular puzzle in the fewest steps possible. I worked with a team that took this one on, repeating the classic steps of invoking recursion, discovering the limits of Ruby on the Mac for stack overflows 😉 and failing to properly store and retrieve states and scopes diving in and out of the recursion. While we didn’t finish the solution, we had some great discussions on the various ways to solve the problem and all learned more about working with Ruby, which after all is the point. Brian also posted his solution to finding the shortest steps to solving this problem.

Thanks to Tim and RMC Research for hosting us in their fine facilities, to Brian for organizing, pizza and the presentation, and to all for attending and participating!

NHRuby, 17 September: Games in Ruby

The New Hampshire Ruby / Rails Group announces the topic of their September meeting: Games. It sounds like the games are just an excuse for us to have problems to solve by actually writing code in Ruby. Not a bad idea — trick us into coding by having fun? Radical.

More links from’s August dinner meeting

I was finally able to decode some of the scrawling notes I took at the August dinner meeting, and found a couple more resources worth looking at. With our theme of “Where’d you learn that?” I’d recommend you check out these resources:

Dave Thomas, co-author of the original Pragmatic Programmer and proprietor of the same-named shop, has a series of videos called “The Ruby Object Model and Metaprogramming” that one attendee thought was well worth watching.

Another recommendation was to check out Topher Cyll’s book, “Practical Ruby Projects: Ideas for the Eclectic Programmer” for some interesting insights into Ruby.

Notes from NH Ruby group, 20-Aug-2009, “Where’d you learn that?”

Eight folks enjoyed an excellent dinner at The Rosa Restaurant. We had a private room upstairs where we could woot and yell over each other and tell geek jokes without inhibitions, not that that has ever stopped us before.

Nick Plante mentioned Rails Rumble coming up this weekend. Watch for some incredible apps coming from the Rumble. Can’t wait to see the winners.

Adam Bair brought along two books, Kent Beck’s “Smalltalk Best Practice Patterns” (ISBN 978-0134769042) and Martin Fowler’s “Refactoring” (978-0201485677). Adam credit both books as being very helpful for his practice in the past several years where he has had to refactor a lot of code in rescuing lower-quality Rails projects.

Adam also mentioned an inspirational presentation by Marcel Molina, Jr. at Ruby Hoedown 2007 called “Beautiful Code” ( – Adam recommends the higher quality videos as they include video/slides side by side – and also browsing much of the site for some great videos.

Russ talked about Peepcode videos (, which he really appreciates. In particular, he mentioned the most recent, Advanced Command Line, helped him debug an unusual problem he was having with one remote client whose shell behaved incorrectly. He’s used inspiration from that video to reconfigure the way he uses his shell. Russ also mentioned Ryan Bates “RailsCasts” ( as very useful, and in particular, thought that the three part series on forms (link updated; thanks, Russ!) changed the way he developed Ruby apps.

I talked a little bit about “The Well Grounded Rubyist” (ISBN 979-1933988658) by David Black, which has helped me fill in some of the background of how and why Ruby behaves the way it does. I also passed around Jason Clinton’s “Ruby Phrasebook” which is a handy book of recipes on how an experienced Rubyist is likely to solve common problems like parsing config files or processing XML.

Nick mentioned that he’s using the unix screen command to do screen-sharing for remote pair-programming and you could see the lightbulbs go off over people’s heads (“That’s my payoff for tonight!” one attendee exclaimed.) He’s also working with EC2 instances and is fired up over how simple and powerful they are. Nick promised a followup, perhaps a demo at a future NHRuby meeting, and Casey mentioned that there’s someone local who’s been doing demos on the Amazon Web Services offerings – we hope to come up with some contact info and see if we can schedule a presentation.

The group also talked about how, as a group, we might contribute to one particular open source project. A couple of ideas were batted around. I look forward to hearing more about this idea.

The night’s theme was “How do you know that?” and I asked about how people are keeping up on all the news about what’s happening. We didn’t really come up with a list of links or blogs or news sites, so if you think of any now (or have your bookmarks handy for sharing), I’d appreciate you passing them on and I’ll include them in the meeting notes.

Thanks all, for a fun dinner amongst friends and some inspiring ideas!

NHRuby, August 20th, The Rosa Restaurant

Some of the best user group meetings I have attended have been those with the most relaxed format, where the group pretty much steers the conversation to whatever is most interesting to them.While the formal presentations by experts are great for getting some deep and rich information across, the wide-ranging discussions of an informal meeting can stretch the breadth of your knowledge.

So it is that the August 20th meeting of the New Hampshire Ruby group will take place at 7PM at The Rosa Restaurant on State Street, Portsmouth, NH. We’ll have a good meal and swap ideas about where to learn more about Ruby. The announcement. more details and directions can be found on the web site. Hope to see you there!

Pro Git

Congratulations to author Scott Chacon and publisher Apress for the newly-released book, “Pro Git,” a book about the professional use of Git, the version control system. Git is the engine beneath the popular site where much of the Ruby on Rails community does their development. Git is also the core of the version control system for the Linux kernel. Kudos to both author and publisher, for releasing the book under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-Share Alike 3.0 license. This is a valuable service to the community so that search engines will find authoritative information on Git, and also serves as great advertising for the book. Apress will be providing a review copy for the GNHLUG members to review; keep an eye out for a review soon! And if you’re using Git as part of your professional work, consider purchasing the book to thank Scott for his efforts and APress for their wisdom in releasing the book on the web.

LESS, HAML, HTML Structure

A quick follow-up on the weekend posting about the Ruby group: there was mention of another package, LESS, that generates CSS as well. This might be worth checking out as well. I appreciate the feature that the CSS is static on the server and only generated when the plugin notes that the source file (with .less extension, of course) has changed. This speeds up serving the file, and speeds the responsiveness on the client, since nothing needs to be parsed, interpreted and applied.

In “It’s the Headings, Stupid!” Jon Udell points out that pretty visually-structured HTML still shouldn’t lose the structural power built into HTML: seven levels of headings, paragraphs, ordered and unordered list, definition lists, anchor tags, captions, titles and alt attributes. A sober reminder that not all the readers of our web sites are “ooh!” and “aah!” over our choice of colors or silly javascript animations, but are searching for content!

In a follow-up on Twitter, Pat Allen points to a SlideShare presentation with excellent audio of the Melbourne Ruby User Group and a presentation by Ben Schwarz “Why HAML Sucks or Why You Should Think Before Choosing HAML for Your Next Project” The long-winded title, Ben explains, is from an initially controversial title that got the conversation going, but was a bit too extreme. He makes some very good points in the presentation. I like the idea of audio synched with the slideshow; that works well. Obviously, hards-on presentations would have other challenges, but for a slide-heavy presentation, this works well.

Notes from New Hampshire Ruby User Group, 25 June 2009: Pat Allen, Thinking Sphinx and Casey Rosenthal SASSiJS

Twelve people attended the June meeting of the New Hampshire Ruby / Rails User Group , held on the 4th Thursday of the month ( we usually meet on the 3rd Thursday) at RMC Research in Portsmouth (Thanks to RMC and to John for hosting the meeting!)

Nick Plante was our master of ceremonies. As is the custom, we made a round of introductions to find out the most of the folks were “from away.”

Pat Allen put on the first presentation, on Thinking Sphinx. Thinking Sphinx is a Ruby library (not just for Rails) that allows Ruby applications to work with the Sphinx full-text search engine. Pat presented a slightly shortened version of the presentation he gave at RailsConf, and the presentation was clear, engaging and interesting. Participants had lots of questions to ask on search technology, word stemming, project status, what it’s like to be a Freelancing God, what being the lead on a popular Open Source project is like, what’s a kilometer, and more, and Pat’s answers were insightful. Check out (pun intended) the source on github, the support on Google Groups and Pat’s guide to using Thinking Sphinx on Peepcode.

Pat also took a moment out to plug his upcoming Rails Camp, a not-going-to-make-a-profit weekend get-together in BarCamp/Unconference format for 30-ish people at Bryant Pond, Maine. It sounds like a great event and a nice location and a price that can’t be beat: $120 for 3-nights, 3-days food, lodging and conference. Get details and consider signing up at

Casey Rosenthal asked us, “What are style sheets for?” a number of times during his presentation, for good reason. Casey talked about SASS, Syntactically Awesome Style Sheets, a part of HAML and his reimplementation of SASS in Javascript, SASSiJS, sounds like “sausages” leading to all kinds of predictable jokes. But the topic was thoughtful, intriguing, interesting, and controversial. SASSiJS actually allows a .sass file to be downloaded as part of the HTML file, with similar syntax to a stylesheet link, and a JavaScript file that interprets the .sass file into CSS and applies it to the HTML document. Discussion was far-ranging and insightful: “What’s this good for?” “Would designers use this to make their CSS DRY?” View the source on GitHub at

Thanks to Pat and Casey for their great presentations, to Nick for organizing, and to John and RMC for the facilities.

LUG Happenings, June 2009

There’s a couple more LUG meetings this month.

The Monadnock Linux User Group, MonadLUG, will be back at their usual location this Thursday, June 11th, and will feature Ed Lawson talking about Scribus, the desktop publishing software. I’ve used Scribus to create newsletters, posters and banners, and recommend it. Ed puts on a good presentation, too! You’ll find directions to the meeting here.

The NH Ruby / Rails group meets on the fourth Thursday of the month, June 25th, and will have two awesome presentations: Pat Allan will talk about Sphinx, and Casey Rosenthal will speak on SASSIJS. Details here. It promises to be a great meeting!

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This work by Ted Roche is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 United States.