USA, Google IO and RailsConf '08

This is a brain dump, knowing that if I don't write this now, I probably won't ever.

They say the weather in San Francisco is perfect, but I think I'd prefer 8 degrees (celsius) warmer.. then it'll be really perfect. (And for my friends complaining their MacBook Pro runs hot… its a geographical/design problem, you see the CPU fans will never kick in here ;-)

A "quarter" is a really unproportionately valuable coin. Its a popular choice everywhere and you'll never have enough of it. I'm not sure if I can keep up, collecting 12 of them for my weekly laundry.

On the street, there is no "green man" for pedestrians. Its a myth. The man is white. Lines across a junction means nothing, but a double-yellow in the middle of the road means it is 2-way. Turn right on red light is the default.

Google is much more valuable in the States. The level of integration (and ease of use!!) they provide with real-world services is certainly something drool-worthy for Singaporeans. For example, look at this map. Something a lot of ppl I talked to didn't realise is the information on the left pane: Public Transit. It has price, train schedules (go to options & choose when you wanna arrive). A tourist like me can really survive on Google. Just add free wifi.

The night before driving to Big Sur, we went Google Earth surfing to recce the place. After been there for real, I think Google Earth redefines WYSIWYG.

Google IO
2 things impressed me: Android demo and the food.

For the 2 of you who haven't read, the Android demo in the first keynote was really impressive. Clearly iPhone inspired, but not as sheek.

A "home" screen where you use swipe gesture to scroll. Favorite apps anchored at bottom. Press and hold to drag icons around. A Webkit browser means all their previous iPhone mods for google search, mail, etc now works the same in Android.. such coincidence. I bet screen dimensions will match as well.

Best of all, a Google Maps "Street view" was demoed. It was really, really smooth. Holding it up and pointing your device north or south will actually swivel the street view to match your direction - how cool is that! Come to think of it, a compass is for street view might be a bit gimmicky. But if the compass works for google maps itself (where the maps rotate appropriately) now THAT will be cool.
[Update: This is do-able indeed on Webkit!]

RailsConf 08
My favourite part of the conference is the first lightning talk where I signed up and demo SharedCopy. This is the response in the IRC channel (roughly the same from the floor)

Response to SharedCopy Demo [RailsConf 2008]

[screenshot donated by Chu Yeow - thanks!]

It is hard to do SharedCopy justice by describing it in words. It needs a demo. I'm glad I had the chance to do a quick one in RailsConf. My only regret is that I forgot to show the read-later feature.

Now Maglev is really interesting. Avi's showmanship definitely helped (he was putting and pulling rabbits out of the hat across different Ruby VMs). But Maglev is interesting in a different way JRuby / Rubinius is. The latter 2 effectively replaces MRI. Maglev however brings the Smalltalk way of doing things with it - if you have object persistence, why use a database? i.e. A regular joe Rails app may choose to run on MRI, JRuby or Rubinius. I don't see Maglev having much incentive (and interest) to run a regular Joe Rails app other than marketing purpose. Their vision is to run Ruby/Rails apps architected in an entirely different way. Hence, their paths don't really meet.

There are gripes about the conference though. Some keynotes were really uninspiring (compared to RailsConf '06) the upside is I got my mod_rails working during one of the keynotes! And as if finding (cheap) hotels for a conference wasn't hard enough, it had to coincide with Portland's Rose Festival. Doh!