One of the things that I like a lot about San Francisco is that you cannot swing an umbrella or a computer bag within three feet of you without hitting a Meet-Up, it seems. Due to other commitments, I’ve been away from the fun the past few months, but it feels good to be back out and seeing what’s going on again. 
That, and Sidereel’s hiring Rails developers, too :). So with cards and Sidereel branded bottle openers in hand, I’ve made my way over to The Climate Corporation, the group giving us their space to host tonight’s meet up. What’s really cool is that this meet up is just a short hop from where I work. One diagonal block! I can see my building from where I’m sitting.
7:00 Pizza/Beer/Networking
We’re early into the program at the moment, hanging out, eating pizza, and talking shop. I’m having a good conversation with someone who is actually already talking with my company (or has been chatting with our hiring person). I also saw that a few other friends were expected to be here tonight a well. One of the great things about these events is that it doesn’t matter if you have years, weeks or just days of experience, everyone here is really cool, very chill, and like talking about what they are up to and sharing their ideas, no matter how half baked or crazy.
Stay tuned as I update this space, and I’ll be happy to share what I pick up this evening. For a really quick cheat sheet of what will be covered, see below (right now, this is just a repeat of the meetup blurb. I’ll be updating with my take on these topics shortly):
7:45 First Talk

GemJars: Bringing Ruby Gems to Java with Andrew Kellor (ThoughtWorks)
The first talk out the gate is from Andrew Kellor, and he’s here to talk about how to bring RubyGems into Java projects. While I don’t particularly use JRuby for anything, I know there are people who do (HotSpot VM as an example). the ability to have native threads, and the ability to reach into Java libraries and the JVM. the opening question to the audience… who has worked in a polyglot code base? If you have, then you can understand the frustration with trying to get the left hand and the right hand to know what each other is doing. When dealing with multiple languages, you have tooling challenges, you have interoperability issues, plus compromises that have to be made to be effective in your production code. 
So what’s a GemJar? It’s what it sounds like. It’s Ruby Gems inside of a Java jar file. this way, all of your dependencies are in one place, and you can call them if you need them. It helped in many ways, but it also had challenges (everything in the same place means that the possibility of conflict is high). is doing it differently. In their world view, only the gems appropriate or a particular area (say, RSpec) in included in the jar file. I have to admit, this is outside of my everyday work, but I can see the benefit for those who do find themselves working within Java and wanting to have some of the cool tools and ease of doing some things that Ruby allows. 
8:15 Second Talk
Maintainable CSS with Sass and Bourbon with Jonathan Mumm (TokBox)
This talk covered a number of tools and techniques so that the developer could make sure that they were doing as much as they could to keep CSS from becoming cluttered, repetitive and difficult to maintain. By demonstrating practices (good one in context 😉 ) using SASS and a Ruby gem called Bourbon), the programmer can make sure that they are taking advantage of the options that both SASS and Bourbon provide so that code is uncluttered and not repetitive. 
Since I lost the network for a bit, i wasn’t able to jot down these details, but there’s some cool resources to get to know how to tweak these options, including the SASS Rails gem and the Bourbon Gem documentation options. The ultimate goal is to make it so that you can make your code clean, orthogonal, with minimal duplication (yes, I know that’s part of what orthogonal means 😉 ).
All in all, a pretty good night. A little bit of enterprise level stuff mixed in with some rudimentary details, so there was truly something for everyone. Also, the pizza was great and the company, as alwayys, was terrific. Thanks for a great night everyone. Til next time!