Angela Natividad's Live & Uncensored!

22 April 2007

Post 4/20 Chronic Bust, Geek-Style

I'm in San Jose for the Ruby Conference taking place at the Tech Museum. I've never felt so profoundly out of my element. It's an orgy of haxordom, a veritable Anandtech forum blown-up and come to waking life.

One discussion of interest took place when the founder of Chronic showcased his Ruby-based date and time parser. It's fairly new, and dude admitted the product was mildly buggy, but a burn war of /b/ proportions erupted and I felt the urge to duck.

What Chronic does is interpret natural language and parse out the date. So if you put in "This Tuesday 5pm," it'll spit out "4/24/2007 at 17:00" or some such. Potentially useful for reservation-setting, event creation on calendars, that kind of jazz. Google Calendar does something similar for its Quick Add function.

"Can Chronic interpret 'Five o'clock last New Years Eve'?" someone asked.

"No," the founder admitted, and it was on.

Things got worse at live demo time. It would have been too tame to expect a bunch of devs to politely ask him to input "Noon Friday next week" or "Today's date and time." Requests like "Fourscore and seven years ago!" and "Next month of Sundays!" came flying forth, and one guy actually demanded that the parser reflect 12 noon as 00:00 because that's what it's supposed to be, and everyone misuses it.

Dude decided to nix the questions with the exception of one last from a row of young cavalier coding elites: "Can I have a pony?"

"If you're good," our fine speaker replied, not missing a beat. "One day..."

At the conclusion of the presentation he smilingly suggested his audience turn in a patch or two, then stepped down.

Wild. This place is like church camp, except God has been replaced with code, and praise songs have been replaced with hax heckling.

Heading off to dinner with a guy whose team allegedly built the first Ruby-based CMS. This should be promising.


KirinDave said...

Hi. I'm the guy who asked for the pony. I'm glad to see the joke was well-taken. :)

I have to say, that whole presentation was shameful. Normally people have better conference manners than that.

It's really a bit depressing to see that some people just don't have the manners to restrain themselves to after the presentation.

Angela Natividad said...

Yeah, I spent most of that presentation covering my face. At the very least, it looks like Chronic will see a plethora of improvement. Nothing like flame-caliber constructive criticism in a roomful of peers, yeah? He can look back and smile fondly, the way Steve Jobs attributes Apple's success to dropping out of college.

I like that you're personified by a cactus.