Ryan Bigg

pre-GoGaRuCo Summary

17 Sep 2010

Tomorrow is the first day of the two day GoGaRuCo conference here (gasp!) in San Francisco. This is mostly for my family / friends interested in what I've been doing in SF. Just a brain dump of what's made an impact so far. It contains boring stuff.

Here's some photos [1] [2] I've been taking whilst I've been in San Francisco. So far it's been a really good town and I could definitely get used to living in a place like this (without the fog though).

In general: everyone is nice. The people who are driving will stop (at stop signs) and wait for you to cross, not run them just as you're crossing. Still getting used to looking over my left shoulder rather than my right for cars that are turning into where I'm crossing though. I'll figure that one out by Sunday next week.

I arrived on Monday and I'm living with two people called Cecilia and Spencer who are really nice and have offered me a comfy couch to sleep on for a reasonable price per night and I'm content with that. The major problem is that it's at the top of this massive hill which I must climb every time I come home, be it sober or not sober. That'd be "Monte Vista Avenue" in the photo sets. I had dinner with a Perth guy who was visiting called Matt at a restaurant called Roxanne on Powell in town. The restaurant people here are almost over nice, but again something I could get used to. Went home at about 9pm and slept like a log.

On Tuesday I caught up with Santiago Pastorino, one of the newest Ruby on Rails core members. He's from Uruguay and professes not to know much English but we can have a conversation just fine. He brought a friend called Gilberto and we hung out for lunch. Later on, I went home to grab my laptop and then back into town to attend the Heroku/PostgreSQL talk which I enjoyed. Met up with somebody who recognised me from my Twitter avatar, Josh Kalderimis, a NZ guy. He thanked me for my efforts in the Ruby & Rails communities and we chat for a while about Ruby / job things. There was also two other guys called Nick and Ken. Ken was about to launch a beta version of his startup and expressed interest in hiring someone with Ruby talent and I got his card. Also met Terence Lee who I know through using Heroku who is an absolute god when it comes to answering support tickets. Went out drinking at a bar that had a multi-page Scotch menu called Nihon and walked out without paying. Remembered 5 minutes later and turned around and paid for my drink + 20% tip for being an idiot. Call it a Stupid Tax. Trained it home and tackled the hill fine, again sleeping like a log.

On Wednesday, I was going to go to Fisherman's Wharf but thought better of it when Cecilia said she hadn't been in a while and wanted to go. I had also planned on meeting a friend that day near Palo Alto (south of the city, by Caltrain) but didn't know if it was for lunch or dinner. I loitered around in town by hanging out in the Apple store and buying a traveller's kit so I could finally charge my phone and then a universal adapter for my laptop from Walgreens so I could also charge that. I went to Borders to steal their WIFI (which is free and a practice I encourage all of Australia to take up) and charge up my phone. Ordered a "Regular" hot chocolate and got something that would pass as a regular-sized softdrink in Australialand. Drunk it all a little too quickly and felt a little sick after from all the sugar, but manned up and recovered.

Still on Wednesday (big day), I bought a "thank you" card for one of the people who got me into Rails, Ryan Ghods. Back when I was still "doing" PHP (I use "doing" loosely because nobody "does" PHP, PHP does you. Don't use it.) Ryan was one of the people who showed me the Rails blog screencast tutorial (the original, with the "whoops!") and suggested I get into it. I did and I have never looked back. I wrote in the card and headed down to Palo Alto where I figured I would meet my friend like I planned and now had a dual purpose of delivering this thank you card to Box.net. I completely underestimated how long the Caltrain would actually take to get there. I honestly thought it was closer to the city, but it felt like a 40 minute journey stopping all stations. During this time I'm trying to keep up Twitter correspondence with Box.net and asked if I could visit Ryan's brother, Sam, who works for Box.net. Unfortunately it wasn't to be and so I just dropped the letter in the letterbox outside. Hopefully it gets to The Other Ryan intact.

I retreated to the Starbucks nearby without a plan of what to do next and wrote a bitchy tweet about people not checking email/twitter because I hadn't heard from my friend who wanted to meet me that whole week. Not 5 minutes later he sends an email to me and he says he'll be at the Nuthouse down the road in 30 minutes. I head there and think that I deserve a cider, so I ask what brands they have. The waitress replies "Apple, Pear and Raspberry". Oh. "Apple, please", I say, sticking to my favourites. Later on I tried the pear one which is just as good, but Raspberry? I don't know about that. So finally Matt (the friend) and I catch up at the Nuthouse and talk shop. He name drops that Mark Zuckerburg and his Facebook comrades drop in to the Nuthouse from time to time. My jaw drops. I am in the same bar that Mark Zuckerburg drinks at and the ciders are $3.75. Holy. Shit.

We end up going back to Matt's place where I meet Walter, the hyper-hyper-hyper-hyper-active Border Collie and step in one of his "presents". Matt gets some "scalding hot water" and I pour it on my shoe to wash it away. After learning my lesson, then I take off the shoe and the steaming sock underneath and scrub the shoe with a broom brush nearby. After that incident get in his car and drive to Stanford's bookstore which is gigantic. I've never seen a bookstore with a cafe AND toilets AND three floors of books. Just massive. Matt casually mentions that Stanford receives "donations" from certain members of society and that a high-profile tech guy may be sending his son there. Stanford may have a new building dedicated to a special someone soon.

We spent the rest of the night at the Nuthouse eating peanuts (hence the name) playing Cricket (the darts version) and 501. Mark didn't show, but there were Facebook people all chugging beer and chanting in a booth as we walked out. Is this the Web 2.0 bubble? I stayed the night at Matt & Kyle's house, sleeping on an air-mattress in their computer room. Slept incredibly well (which seems to be a pattern this entire trip)

Thursday (today), I met up again with Santiago and another guy I know from the Ruby community called Mislav with Cecilia in the San Francisco mall. Santiago wanted to spend the day hacking on the Rails source so we dropped him at the Starbucks nearby and Cecilia, Mislav and I went for a long walk all the way from the mall to Fisherman's Wharf and then on to the Golden Gate Bridge. It was getting pretty evident we weren't going to see anything when the fog started to come in but we went there anyway. We arrived back in town at about 8pm and Cecilia and I grabbed some food from the mall again whilst Mislav went off to drop off his bag. Cecilia left before I did as I planned to stick around and wait for word on pre-GoGaRuCo drinks but then I thought better of it and ended back at home writing this lengthy piece.

So what do I expect over the next few days? I expect to meet a lot of people who I've known for a very long time over the internet (Mum always said "don't talk to strangers" and I may have selective hearing), much like I've already done in the past couple of days but on a much larger conference scale. I plan on listening intently to the talks, but they're re-watchable online (eventually), whereas the social interaction isn't re-playable.

It's going to be great. I cannot wait. I cannot sleep. I am too excited. OK, maybe I can.

Just not right now.

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