Hi from Portland again. It's beautiful here, and something about the place makes me wish I had a bike here.
Day 1 Tutorials I attend were Dave Thomas's Intro to Ruby and David Heinemeier Hansson's Ruby on Rails - Enjoying the Riding of Programming.
Intro to Ruby was great. Dave is a great presenter and put on a great talk. It was well paced and did a great job of teaching Ruby from the ground up. It's a beautiful, elegant language and seems to be capable of great things in a very straightforward way.
I have really mixed feelings about David Hansson's Rails talk. He clearly knows his stuff.... heck, he wrote Rails while growing Backpack at 37signals. And there's no denying Rails is a great platform to devleop for. I'm having great fun trying it out and seeing what it can do. David's presentation was very much a whirlwind tech demo, and very much not a tutorial. It was great to see how someone very skilled could do very elegant things with Rails very simply and quickly. Rails just rocks. But the tutorial sucked if evaluated as a tutorial. There was no real structure, there was no way to take notes, next to no way to follow along on my own laptop, and it was difficult to walk out with anything approaching useful skills to get Rails going.
One other thing I learned on my own trying out O'reilly's Rails demo was that the default Ruby install with FC4 is missing something (an exception declaration?) that keeps rails from running completely. It runs enough to sorta work, but not enough to actually run controllers and the like. I pulled down and built Ruby from source and everything was great.