Conference Talks

I love speaking! I’ve given talks at 26 events in 12 countries. Invite me to your next conference maybe? richard [at]

SLOMO (2016)

No one wants to be stuck in the slow lane, especially Rubyists. In this talk we’ll look at the slow process of writing fast code. We’ll look at several real world performance optimizations that may surprise you. We’ll then rewind to see how these slow spots were found and fixed. Come to this talk and we will “C” how fast your Ruby can “Go”.

Saving Sprockets (2016)

What do you do when a maintainer leaves a project with over 44 million downloads? That is what we had to consider this year when Sprockets lost the developer responsible for more than 70% of the commits. In this talk we will look at recent efforts to revive Sprockets, and make it more maintainable. We will look into how your projects can be structured to avoid burnout and survive a change of maintainers. Let’s save Sprockets.

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Speed Science [Debugging Ruby Memory] (2015)

Run your app faster, with less RAM and a quicker boot time today. How? With science! In this talk we’ll focus on the process of turning performance problems into reproducible bugs we can understand and squash. We’ll look at real world use cases where small changes resulted in huge real world performance gains. You’ll walk away with concrete and actionable advice to improve the speed of your app, and with the tools to equip your app for a lifetime of speed. Live life in the fast lane, with science!

Going the Distance (2014)

If you’ve ever misspelled a word while searching on Google, you’ve benefitted from decades of distance algorithm development. In this talk we’ll break down some popular distance measurements and see how they can be implemented in Ruby. We’ll look at real world applications with some live demos. It won’t matter if you get your kicks “Hamming” it up, if you drink your coffee in a “Levenshtein”, or if you’re new to Ruby: this talk is Rated R, for “all Rubyists”. You’ll be guaranteed to walk away with O(n^n) expectations met.

The Good Rubyist Challenge (2014)

Level up your programming game, and change the world. In this talk we will look at specific and actionable goals for all skill levels to hone your programmings skills and master your craft. We will cover what it takes to go from no-grammer to a senior level programmer and everything in between. Don’t come to this talk if you don’t want to be motivated, you don’t want to succeed, and certainly if you don’t want a good swift kick in your Ruby programming pants.

Testing the Untestable (2014)

Good tests are isolated, they’re repeatable, they’re deterministic. Good tests don’t touch the network and are flexible when it comes to change. Bad tests are all of the above and more. Bad tests are no tests at all: which is where I found myself with a 5 year legacy codebase running in production and touching millions of customers with minimal use-case documentation. We’ll cover this experience and several like it while digging into how to go from zero to total test coverage as painlessly as possible. You will learn how to stay sane in the face of insane testing conditions, and how to use these tests to deconstruct a monolith app. When life gives you a big ball of mud, write a big ball of tests

Way of the Herokai (2013)

At Heroku we’re obsessed with doing things the right way. The “Heroku Way” is a set of principles, workflows, and guiding canons we all subscribe to live and work by. Learn how a small company grew from a startup to power over two million apps, while keeping its culture and its soul. See how we craft code, ship products, and stay productive with remote teams. Meditate on what it means to build a culture, and practice the way of the Herokai.

Dissecting Ruby with Ruby (2013)

Underneath the beautiful veneer of our Ruby libraries lies a twisted tangle of writhing guts. Maybe you’re curious how the pieces fit together or maybe you’re tracking down a bug, either way it’s easy to get lost in the blood and bile that ties our code together. In this talk you’ll learn how to use simple and sharp Ruby tools to slice into large libraries with surgical precision. Turn your impossible bugs into pull requests, and level up your programming skills by Dissecting Ruby with Ruby.

Millions of Apps - What we learned (2013)

Heroku has deployed millions of web apps. When you’ve run that many applications, it’s hard not to notice when frameworks and developers do things wrong, and when they do them right. We’ve taken a look at the most common patterns and boiled down the best of our advice in to 12 simple factors that can help you build your next app to be stable, successful, and scaleable. After this talk you’ll walk away with in depth knowledge of web framework design patterns and practical examples of how to improve your application code.