A Local’s Guide to Lone Star Ruby Conference

Lone Star Ruby Conference is next week at the Norris Conference Center. If you are new to the area or in from out of town, at first glance the area looks just like a sea of strip malls, but there’s some great stuff right near the conference center. Here are my recommendations.


Near the conference center

LSRC has always provided great food for lunch, but check these places out for dinner or if you need a break from the conference. Austin is very vegetarian friendly and most restaurants will have several vegetarian options. In order of proximity to conference center:

  1. TarkaYelp:
    Good Indian food, fast.

  2. Hopdoddy Burger BarYelp:
    The recently opened 2nd location of the venerable South Congress burger bar. Gourmet burgers and a great selection of local brews. Don’t let the line out the door scare you. It moves quick and really, where else do you have to be?

  3. Madam Mam’sYelp:
    A nice local Thai restaurant in easy walking distance from the conference center.

  4. Trudy’sYelp:
    Good Tex Mex, great margaritas.

  5. Torchy’sYelpYelp:
    Damn good tacos. That’s all you need to know. Oh and get the queso. Two locations close to the conference center.

Close to the Hyatt

  1. Mighty Fine BurgersYelp:
    Solid burgers, fries and shakes.

  2. NXNW Restaurant & BreweryYelp:
    Decent american fare, close to the hotel, beers brewed on site.

  3. Iron CactusYelp:
    Decent Tex Mex, close to the hotel

  4. Chuy’sYelp:
    Started in Austin, now a national chain. If you need your fill of Elvis and Tex Mex, Chuy’s has you covered.

  5. Rudy’sYelp:
    A regional BBQ chain started in San Antonio. Great Texas BBQ and as a side bonus, it’s a gas station too!

Got an expense account or VC funding?

Here are a few higher end options to consider…

  1. UchikoYelp:
    Japanese Fusion/Sushi – One of the top restaurants in Austin is a short drive from the Norris Center. This is an amazing dining experience. They only take a limited number of reservations, so you may have a little wait, but there’s an outdoor waiting area where you can sip some sake and and recap your favorite talks from the conference. Also worth a mention is Paul Qui, the chef, recently won Top Chef: Texas.

  2. Roaring ForkYelp:
    Good higher end place, close to the hotel. Good place to get a nice steak.


Austin has some great local brews. Look for anything from Jester King, Circle, 512, Austin Beer Works, Real Ale. Austin takes DWI very seriously, so designate a driver or take a cab.

  1. Hopdoddy Burger BarYelp:
    Great local beer selection, walking distance from the Norris Conference Center. $9 will get you 4 4oz samplers, a great way to try some local beers.

  2. Pour House PubYelp:
    Great pub with an Austin feel, short drive from the conference center.

  3. Black Star CoopYelp:
    A short drive from the conference center

  4. Draught House Pub & BreweryYelp:
    Great beer selection, mellow neighborhood pub feel, short drive from conference center.

  5. The Ginger ManYelp:
    Beer drinking heaven, but it’s downtown.


  1. Alamo Drafthouse:
    Best movie theater in Austin, quite possibly, the world. They have a full menu and bar with a wait staff to serve you during the show. In addition to first runs, they always have fun stuff going on. There are a few theaters in town, but the Village location is right across Anderson Lane from the conference center.

  2. Ice skating:
    Yes, ice skating. You can ice skate in Central Texas in August without even leaving the conference center.

  3. Pinballz ArcadeYelp:
    Pinball machines and classic arcade games a short drive from the conference center.


Tired of presentations, want to hack? Here are some coffee shops in the area.

  1. HoundstoothYelp:
    Coffee connoisseur? Then this is your place. Several beans to choose from.

  2. Thunderbird Yelp:
    Serves Cuvee coffee, a local roaster. Parking can be a little scarce sometimes. If this is the case, park in the neighborhood behind the coffee shop. Also if you get their logo tattooed on your body, coffee is free. They have a nice logo, but double check me that this offer still stands before you take the plunge.

  3. Genuine Joe’sYelp: Not the best coffee, but not bad. A good place to get some work done and it’s close to the convention center.

There are two 24 hour coffee shops in town that I know of BennuYelp and EpochYelp. Neither is close to the conference center, but if you find yourself inspired to code all night, head to one of these two places.

Move to Austin, it’s not always this hot

Austin is a great place for Ruby, food and beer. Austin also has a fun laid-back culture, an amazing music scene, and great community of developers and entrepreneurs. Hopefully, you’ll get a chance to spend a few days here and check out the rest of the city. So I’ll end with a few of my favorite companies in town that are looking for Ruby talent. Several listed are sponsors of LSRC so you’ll be able to talk to them from the air conditioned comfort of the the conference center.

More Austin companies using Ruby

Austin Ruby Groups

Background Processing in Ruby on Rails

Last Tuesday, I gave a talk at Austin on Rails about background processing options available in Ruby on Rails. The talk was divided into 3 sections.

The first, was ad hoc background processing solutions based on built in Rails tools or simple gems. These strategies tends to be good for background processing that need to run on a fixed schedule. These strategies not persistent and are memory intensive.

The second category I talked about was simple queues. There are several gems and plugins that fit this category. The jobs are primarily persisted in the database. These solutions are relatively simple to set up, typically persist to a database table or an external queue. These are great for user generated jobs that need to run asynchronously from the typical request/response cycle. I covered some of the more popular options: BackgrounDRb, Background Job, Delayed Job, Working/Starling. We have had success with Background Job and Delayed Job where I work, but the other offer unique advantages and are worth investigation. Workling not a complete background solution by itself, but an interface to background job creation and management. In addition to Workling, you also need a runner to handle the actual running/queuing of the jobs. Spawn and Starling are popular options here. Workling allows you to switch out the underlying system that manages the queue as your needs change.

The final section of the talk focused on more advanced queues. These are all external queues completely separate from your Rails application. I mentioned Amazon SQS, RabbitMQ, Kestrel as good options to explore if you are looking for high traffic background processing.

Lessons learned from Mountain Biking

Mountain biking can be a nice analogy for life. Here are few things I’ve learned while riding my bike that are directly applicable to life:

Focus on the task before you – As you approach a hill, it is easy to get overwhelmed if you focus on the size of the entire hill. Only think about the 10 feet directly in front of you. Understand how the 10 feet fits into the larger picture, but only concentrate on the 10 feet directly in front of you.

Learn from your mistakes – When you fall, and you inevitably will, take a moment to analyze what went wrong. Either you picked a bad line, you were leaning the wrong way, whatever. Figure it out, so you don’t make that mistake again. Our shortcomings and failures offer far better opportunities for growth than our successes.

Don’t focus on the obstacles – A strange thing happens when you are riding down a trail and you focus on the big rock ahead. Your bike will veer right towards the rock. Your body instinctively will go towards whatever your eyes are fixated on. Focus on the path around the obstacle, not the obstacle itself.

Stop every so often and take in the view