Thursday, May 24, 2007

April Blogging Contest Winner

Due to a whole lot of issues, I let the ball drop on picking and announcing an April Blogging Contest winner. Today is the day though. Kevin Clark, Jason Gilmore, and I read through a lot of great entries about making Ruby better, and we finally selected a winner—Charles Nutter.

For his efforts, Charles won 3 Apress books of his choice: *Practical OCaml *The Definitive Guide to Grails *Practical Ruby Gems

Happy reading Charles! Also, if you’re interested in winning some books of your own, you’re running out of time to enter the May Blogging Contest

Ruby By Example (No Starch Press)

Since last summer (at OSCon), I’ve been talking to No Starch Press about Ruby. At that point, they had a promising looking proposal for a book called ‘Wicked Cool Ruby’ from Kevin Baird. I ended up as the tech reviewer for the book, which ended up with the title: Ruby By Example.

I’m obviously a bit biased, but I really like this book. It’s not really a beginners book on Ruby, though a motivated beginner should be able to handle it. It is a nice book to take your Ruby skills to the next level. Kevin covers a lot of functional coding paradigms (including metaprogramming), explaining them quite well. He also touches on Rails, web programming without Rails, and a variety of other important pieces.

If you’re looking for a good book to help build your Ruby muscles, this is a good one to grab.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The Last Month

The last month at work (and at home) has been a killer. We just crossed our big deadline, and things look good for a production release in a month or so. I’ve been involved in a Prom (for my daughter); 3 campouts and two hikes (with the scouts); starting an Erlang group here in Provo; rediscovering my love of soccer (or futbol); and fielding a contact from a TV studio about a possible project. Sadly, the next couple of weeks look pretty full too. This hasn’t left me much time time to blog about some things that really deserve it.

Gregory Brown and company have made a 1.0 release of Ruport. This is a huge step forward for them. They’ve been working really hard, and deserve some huge congratulations.

The XRuby has also cut a new release. It sounds like they’re making some good progress as well. I’m looking forward to seeing what their ANTLR 3.0 project accomplishes during the Summer of Code.

Beginning Google Maps Applications with Rails and Ajax is a nice, new Ruby bookbook from Apress. I’m trying to find enough time to read it and write up a review that will do it justice.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Is Brooks Wrong?

Over on his blog, Peter Seibel questions Fred Brooks oft quoted (well, paraphrased) “nine women can’t have a baby in a month”.

Seibel’s point is that one woman (or, one couple) isn’t too likely to have a baby in 9 months either, as statistically the chances of any given couple conceiving and carrying a baby to term is only 13.6%. That’s not so good if you have a hard deadline. Seibel’s recommendation is to throw bodies at the problem—three couples would have a 35.4% chance of meeting a nine-month deadline, or sixteen couples to get a 90% chance.

The problem here is that sixteen couples trying to make a baby isn’t really one project that might or might not make the nine month deadline, it’s sixteen similar projects, each trying to make the deadline. Chances are one of those projects will succeed.

Sounds like a convincing argument for the value of lots of small projects all trying to do the same thing—and when you’re talking about writing free software you also get the benefits of competition between the groups and of leveraging the work other groups are doing.

So, is it Brooks or Seibel? It looks to me like it’s a little bit of both.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

erubycon Contest

Continuing my happy tradition of letting readers win cool stuff, I have another contest to get started. Before I spill the beans (and tell you what you need to do to win), I’d like to fill in a little bit of background.


Last year, RailsConf and several smaller conferences joined RubyConf on the list of places discriminating rubyists might be found. This year, the regional Ruby conference scene has exploded offering a wealth of opportunities to get together with other ruby-folk and learn about what other people are doing with our favorite language. This summer promises something new though—erubycon. From July 16th until the 18th in Colombus, Ohio attendees will have the opportunity to learn more about using Ruby and Rails in enterprise settings.

Joe O’Brien and graciously put up some erubycon related prizes for a conference contest. All you need to do to enter is write a blog post about how you’re using Ruby or Rails in the enterprise, and post a link to it below. On 1st of June, Joe and I will read through all the entries and pick our favorite three. Our top pick will win free registration to the conference, and the two runners-up will receive erubycon T-Shirts.

Interested? Then get writing!

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

May Blogging Contest

Well, it’s that time again. We’ve got all the entries in for the April Blogging Contest, and another set of books to give away for May. Since this month is the target for the JRuby 1.0 release, I wanted to make sure this month’s contest reflected that. With that in mind, here’s the theme:

How have you used JRuby in integrate Ruby into a Java environment?

Write a blog post about this theme, and put a link to it in the comment section below before June 1st, and Ola Bini, Jason Gilmore, and I will go through the entries to determine a winner. As always, the winning entry will get three Apress books of their choice—Apress will happily ship real books, or provide you with pdfs (when eBooks are available for your selected title).

We’re entering the home stretch on the contest now, with 9 books given away for January, February, and March and 3 more hanging in the ballance for April. I think the contestants so far have produce a lot of great, thought-provoking articles, and I’m looking forward to the next two months. Thanks again to Apress for making this contest possible, and thanks to those of you who’ve participated for all the great articles.

To those of you who are going to enter this month, good luck!