Ruby in the Twin Cities in 2006

Posted by Nick Sieger Fri, 22 Dec 2006 05:17:30 GMT

Mirroring the wider global trend, Ruby has seen a big uptick of growth in my hometown of Minneapolis over the past year.

A little over one year ago, the very first meeting of the Ruby Users of Minnesota (affectionately known as “Java Programmers Anonymous”) was held. I was not in attendance (until the second meeting in late December), but by the January/February timeframe we had a surprisingly good showing of 15-20 people. We’ve sustained or exceeded that number since, packing our group in the back of a Dunn Brothers Coffee on Loring Park the last Tuesday of every month.

More interesting a metric is how the number of people doing Ruby full-time has progressed. Somewhere around spring-time, guys were starting to itch for work. By summer time, Slantwise Design, formerly a mostly-web-design shop had been hired to do its first Rails contract, for what would turn out to be Sayswap. Slantwise is a Rails-exclusive shop now.

Rails Day had an entry from Bruno Bornsztein and Ben Moore, Sneakology. This prolific duo would go on to contract on YFly, and play around with a local one-page news aggregator at Almost two months ago, they went live with their new startup, Curbly, a social-networking DIY design community.

We’re also happy to lay claim to RUM regulars Charles Oliver Nutter and Thomas Enebo, the two lead JRuby developers, who tirelessly give monthly updates on the lightning progress that JRuby is undergoing.

All in all, there are at least 20 full-time Rubyists in the Twin Cities, and the number is going up week by week.

Yours truly has been doing Ruby mostly-full-time for my current employer Digital River, where I’m proud to have sneaked Ruby into the system. There are at least two other programmers writing Ruby code at DR, and hopefully we’ll be hiring more in 2007. If you’re looking for work or interested in what we’re doing with Ruby, drop me a line!

So what happened this year in other user groups around the world?

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Alley Liberties

Posted by Nick Sieger Thu, 01 Jun 2006 03:54:00 GMT

And now, a break from the tech- and ruby-related tidbits to add some color to a local issue.

Today a news story of seemingly minor consequence passed through the local news outlets on a proposal for a possible new Minneapolis city ordinance:

The proposal would prohibit anyone from walking in an alley who doesn’t live on that block or who isn’t a guest of someone who does. Police, paramedics and firefighters would be exempt, as would garbage haulers, meter readers, code inspectors and others whose jobs take them there.

Before you call your councilperson and complain that your tax dollars will be wasted, or you call the ACLU and complain that your civil liberties will be infringed, consider this.

It strikes me as no small coincidence that my next-door neighbor was shot at point-blank range last night by an assailant who was attempting to car-jack him. He’s doing fine now, fortunately he had his wits about him and the bullet only grazed his midsection before he retreated back into his garage until the authorities arrived.

Would the ordinance have helped my neighbor in this case? Probably not. But what it will do is give the police a legal reason to patrol alleys and question conspicuous behavior. Fast-forward to a time in the future where the ordinance has been in effect for a while and has made Minneapolis neighborhoods safer, and maybe the environment for the crime doesn’t even exist anymore.

One legitimate question is whether an ordinance like this would give police more power to abuse and make it easier to profile and harass people with no other probable cause.

For now, given my personal experience, I’ll gladly give up my right to walk in other alleys in exchange for safety. Why would you want to be back there anyway?

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