RubyConf returns to New Orleans bigger and better this weekend

RubyConf, the official annual International Ruby Conference (RubyConf) is returning to New Orleans for the second year in a row this weekend. The conference is taking place at the Astor Crowne Plaza in the French Quarter. Speakers begin today, Thursday, September 29th and officially end on Saturday, October 1st.

RubyConf is highly anticipated by a loyal audience every year and usually sells out within the first day. This year, the local developer community wanted to make the experience even more memorable for visiting attendees.

I sat down with Ben Lavender, a local Ruby developer who goes by the pseudonym “bhuga” (pronounced booga) on the web. Ben, a New Orleans native, moved back to the city in August of 2010 after working abroad for several years. He had high expectations for the conference last year, “I knew that if there was anybody in town I wanted to work with, they would somehow associate themselves with RubyConf.”

Ben hit the jackpot. At a RubyConf happy hour sponsored by Launch Pad, iSeatz, and other local companies, he met Chris Schultz and ended up walking away with Chris’ business card. Ben continued the conversation with Chris and the discussions eventually culminated in his company’s acceptance into the Launch Pad Ignition accelerator program.

Even though things worked out well for him last year, Ben was slightly disappointed in the amount of local involvement in RubyConf. “I think the local developer groups weren’t as organized last year; Ruby Bayou didn’t meet every week, and we didn’t have a hack night. The communities were still a little too tenuous for us to come together and have a big [RubyConf party].”

&Block: A Ruby Block Party

When RubyConf announced it was returning to New Orleans, the developer community had just been hit with a fresh dose of inspiration. “Idea Village threw a block party for [New Orleans] Entrepreneur Week and we thought it was a really good idea. We had good connections to where we thought we could round up some funding- and we did,” said Ben. Brent McCrossen and John Barnette of Audiosocket pulled together resources and announced “ampblock,” a RubyConf block party to be held this evening (Thursday, September 29th, 2011).

The block party will be on Girod Street between Magazine and Camp (next to the IP Building) and is sponsored by local companies such as iSeatz, Launch Pad, and Fogo Data Centers. Brent and John also recruited big name Ruby-related companies to pitch in, including GitHub and EngineYard.  The event promises to be lively with food and drinks catered by Capdeville and entertainment from Lagniappe brass band, My Name is John Michael and a DJ. In true developer style, all of the information is available on a fancy website here. [Tip: if you don’t speak dev-talk, click on the “tl;dr” banner in the upper right corner to get the quick details.]


Another event taking place in association with RubyConf is “KidsRuby,” hosted by The Hybrid Group. KidsRuby is a two hour class for kids to learn how to program in Ruby on October 2nd, 2011. The class is taking place at Launch Pad and is free.

Because Ruby is open source software, it’s free and works on any computer. Attendees must bring a laptop (PC or Mac) and will receive a free KidsRuby USB drive to use for the class and take home.  More information and registration for the event is available here.