Dear Elena

My friend Dan Steinberg’s daugher, Elena, died suddenly yesterday of bacterial meningitis. Many of Dan’s friends are devastated today, and of course all of that is nothing beside what Elena’s family are feeling.

Other friends had the idea of a lovely little graphic button we can use to pay tribute, express sympathy, and most of all remember a little girl who meant so much to those who loved her. Click on it to read Dan’s brave, eloquent writing about her, and comments from friends.

And when you see that little graphic on sites around the web, treat it as a reminder to tell your own children that you love them.

More than loyalty

Kathy Sierra blogged recently about the Rails Guidebook, and along the way mentioned the loyalty that customers have toward the Pragmatic Bookshelf:

Let me put it this way, in an effort to support this young publishing company, loyal readers will often go to their site to buy directwhich means paying more for the books than they’d pay on Amazon.

I won’t argue with that; there is a lot of loyalty there. Dave and Andy are good friends of mine, and I certainly want to support their company by buying direct, and I encourage others to do so.

But it’s not just loyalty. I would buy direct from them for a very practical reason, and last night I realized that it goes beyond even thatI found myself wanting to buy a Pragmatic Bookshelf book that hasn’t been written yet (and that, so far as I know, they aren’t even planning) in preference to an existing best-of-class book. That’s right; I prefer the Pragmatic Bookshelf book on a topic to a classic from another publisher, even when the Pragmatic Bookshelf version doesn’t exist yet.

Why?

Because from the Pragmatic Programmers, I can buy a POPEa Plain Old PDF Ebook. Not tied to a special reader, or a single machine, so it’s trouble-free. And it’ll be on my laptop wherever I am, instead of sitting on a shelf at home somewhere.

Rails podcast

Geoffrey Grosenbach invited me to appear on the Ruby on Rails podcast, and the interview was posted yesterday. He heard me speak on Metaprogramming Ruby at FOSCON in August, and wasn’t interested at all … but eventually decided he should be interested in the topic, so we spent a little while talking about metaprogramming, why it’s an important topic for Ruby programmers to understand, and how to get started. I think it turned out really wellcheck it out!

OOPSLA Essay: Extreme Programming Annealed

(Brian Marick blogged a couple days ago about the OOPSLA 2006 essays track, and I remembered that I should’ve blogged about last year’s event a few months ago.)

Last year was the inaugural OOPSLA essays track. I was pleased to see it, because I enjoy the kind of papers that OOPSLA used to be famous for. The essays track (as well as the “Onward!” track that has been featured at OOPSLA the past few years) is intended to provide a forum for research that’s a little less “hard” and empirical than the typical modern OOPSLA farebut no less important.

When I saw the announcement of the essays track last year, I was thrilled, partly because I had done some unpublished work that seemed perfect for the new forum. I wrote up the essay, and was thrilled to have the opportunity to present it at the conference. Brian, the track chair, lined up Kent Beck to respond to my essay during the presentation, which made for a fun discussion.

As it happens, my essay, A Simple Model of Agile Software Processes, -or- Extreme Programming Annealed, was the only essay accepted last year, out of several submissions. I wasn’t privy to the details of the review process, of course, so I don’t know why the other submissions weren’t accepted.

But the track was very well received, and I certainly hope it continues and grows.

I certainly wouldn’t hold my essay up as an exemplar of an OOPSLA essay, but I do hope it might suggest the kind of form that the essays committee is looking for. I hope to see more (and better) examples in this year’s essays track.

RailsConf … and the Rails Guidebook!

RailsConf registration is officially open, and there are all kinds of reasons to believe there’s going to be a rush. Don’t wait to register!

Plus, Mike and Dave—the Rails Studio guyshave announced the coolest pre-conference training event ever: the Rails Guidebook. I’m sure a lot of people coming to RailsConf will be new to Rails, and the guidebook will be a great way to get started: a one-day overview of Ruby and Rails from the leading Rails instructors, complete with an installfest so you’ll be prepared to try out the things you learn at the conference. All for a small charitable donation.

I can’t help gushing; those guys rock. And the Rails Guidebook will rock, too. Almost makes me wish I was a newbie! :-)

See you at RailsConf!

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