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April 12, 2021, Online, USA
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Self-Care on Rails - Ben Greenberg
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About the talk

This past year has been one of the most challenging years in recent memory. The pandemic has taken a toll, including on children.

Adults used their professional skills to help make the year a little better for the kids in our lives: Therapists counseled, entertainers delighted, teachers educated... and Rails developers developed!

In this talk, I'll share the apps I built on Rails that helped my kids and me cope, celebrate and persevere through the year.

In 2020, tech was pivotal in keeping us going, and for my kids, Rails made the year a little more manageable.

About speaker

Ben Greenberg
Developer Advocate at Vonage

I am a full stack developer who is passionate about code and about achieving excellence in all aspects of the work. I bring nearly a decade of experience in organizational leadership with me to the work adding depth and perspective to any team. I work in backend development with Ruby on Rails, PHP, Node.js, APIs, identity access management and SQL (PostgreSQL, MySQL, etc.) and I work in frontend development with Javascript, React and Redux, HTML and CSS. I also have experience with SQL Server Reporting Services, Power BI reporting and business intelligence analysis. I learn new languages and frameworks quickly and I am committed to using the tech stack that is most ideal for the project.

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Hello. Today, we're going to talk about something that is really close to my heart and comes from my own personal experience of this past year 2020. And I call this talk Healthcare on Rails. But before we get started, I just want to share a little bit who is speaking to you right now. My name is Ben Greenberg and I'm a developer Advocate at orbit orbit is a company that helps you automate and to really gain insight into the community engagement of your developer community and helps you to build a Richard data models and understand and help you

facilitate more impactful. Closer and more meaningful developer communities. I live here in Israel outside Tel Aviv, and this is pertaining to our topic. Today. I have children which you will see why that's important as we move a little further on into the talk. So what are we going to do together? I miss time. First. We're going to take a bit of a meta a moment and we're going to talk about what this talk is actually about. And then we're going to spend some time discussing the sort of obligation to do good with code. And in the

midst of that too. Also not forget yourself and lastly but certainly not least. I'm going to leave you with a couple of examples of how that manifested for me in my life and in my family's life in this past year of 2020. So let's get started by talking about what we're actually talking about. In this talk. We're really less focused on code. We're going to talk about some code. Don't get me wrong, but we're not, that's not a primary aim in this town are actual talks, focused is actually on you and it's on me. It's about us as

rails developers and his people. So while we will discuss code the prime. The focus of our time together is actually on you and I wanted to get in that conversation of you of me and of us by sharing this text from the Babylonian talmud, which is an ancient wisdom texts from a couple thousand years ago. Mostly, I compiled in what is now, modern-day Iraq. And in the Babylonian talmud, it discusses, how one should think about some strategies for lowering ones anxiety, and I don't know about you, but still need from me. This past year, was one of a bit of anxiety. And

so the Thomas suggested to help you lower the temperature to help you restore some semblance of Cam. You should think about sharing your concerns with others. The more you share with others, the higher chance. You have helped lower the things. I see that you are currently experiencing and that is what this talk is about. It's about sharing the concerns that I had. In this past year, the challenges that surfaced for me and my Family in the midst of covid and my strategies for dealing with them. Because not only do I help to lower my own anxiety by sharing and by

creating this opportunity of learning together, but hopefully can help those. If you struggle with some sense of Despair, or some sense of challenging this past year to share and build a community to gather that can help each other in this time because this talk, as I said and I'm going to say it again is about you about me and what we can do as Ruby and rails developers to help ourselves and to share with others. You know, we as Ruby, Dave's as rails, devs. Our community is blessed with a lot of good initiative, to help both our particular lipstick language community, and

our framework Community to help the larger one step further up the larger developer Community, but also to help Society at large either. So many wonderful initiatives out there, things. Like Ruby for good rails, girls will be together and of course review Central which puts together rubyconf and rails, and also host ruby gems, which none of this be possible. All barcode, all the gems without ruby gems is a lot. We do in the world to help others by the up-and-coming new developers into the industry or people and nonprofit organizations that need some technical support, some Creative

Solutions to the problems. They're facing. And you might be able to argue that there is a special ethical obligation to do that. Kind of good. Work Sandy Mets in her talking. 2019 lucky, you, she quotes this political scientist Muir To Chicago, argues that the burden to help people in society, most heavily falls upon those who are most amply, rewarded and software developers in every society, or some of the most highly rewarded on highly compensated, members of the community. So perhaps there is actually an ethical obligation to do that. Kind of good work.

There is a relatively new initiative out there called the Hippocratic license Hippocratic license. Aims to be a supplemental and additional open source license. In addition to the popular ones at the MIT and others, which is most concerned, not with attribution of code and who can share the code and how they must attribute. Who originally wrote the code, which is a lot of the open-source licensing is most concerned with its aim. Its objective is he mostly concerned with the ways in which code is used? You put out code in the open-source world. You could you be some code out there.

How is it used in The World At Large? If they use to move the needle Society for the better. Is it move it. Move it more good. Or is it used for the opposite? And you open source license? This license Democratic license says in its introduction, that it had a pivotal realization. That the software we create has a real and lasting impact on the World in which we live and it has a real impact. We have a responsibility to do good and to make sure our code is used to do good in the world. That's all to say about the larger

society. Whether it's the smaller Society Ruby dubs and rails dabs, or it's a large developer Community or even taking a step back. It's the society and the World At Large, we 2:30, perhaps we have an obligation. Perhaps, did you good in that in that context? But in the midst of all of that in the midst of doing good for others, we are not forget ourself. If I am not for myself, who will be for me, you know, speaking for myself and maybe this can resonate, we can often forget ourselves as something that

matters as someone who matters, you know, the idea of oneself and having self-interest can be a bit of a loaded concept. The Midwest Academy manual which of the Seminole Texas, give me organizing. I think actually puts in a bit of perspective when you say that you have self-interest when you say, I think that matter to you. It doesn't have to be a negative connotation. It does not to invoke negative. Emotional reactions, self-interest can ultimately be asserting yourself amongst other selves that in that cacophony of voices in the world of people

in that, in that chorus of voices of Interest competing interest. Your interest is one of those interests and it matters you matter is a person and what year was important to you. What bothers you, what drives you those things are the matter. And this is really important and perhaps even more important in this past year 2020, and also continuing into 2021 the New York Times in February 14th, 2021 published article talking about the sweeping Mental Health crisis across the European continent. And this is

not only in Europe, This is coming Feast around the world that while we're both. Grappling with at the same time a physical health crises that the virus poses to all of us. At the same time. We have a competing Mental Health crisis with that is exasperated, by the very things that are helping fight the physical health crises. So things like in Italy and the Netherlands. Youth Psychiatry were to fill to record capacity and friends, the mental health of children had gotten so bad, that mental health professionals were just throwing his consider reopening schools in the midst of the

lockdowns to fight loneliness. And in Britain, some therapist at counsel patients to break, lockdown guidelines to cope because in that struggle, and that tension between physical health, and mental health, mental health is really suffering and not only on the macro level, but even on the microwavable ones, own family, in one's own context. In May of this year other than article published in the dev blog post, where this person talks about. What's it like to suddenly go with your partner, living a life for you, leave the homie come back to the home.

You work somewhere else. You live somewhere, you live there be work somewhere else. You may have all these other kinds of points on the map and what you spend your day to having that condensed to just your home and the right that sharing the same work space with their partner has put a strain on their relationship and they realize that they have terrible office matters, you realized. But the people closest to you, when you have to live with them in the same confined space 24 hours a day. So not only were there macro issues a mental health of societies throughout Europe and in

the Americas and Asia and Africa, but in addition to that, there was no microwave shoes of your own self and your own families struggling with issues that were wrought Upon Us. By the very things that were helping us. Open the physical concerns of the actual virus. If this sounds familiar to you, you're not alone. This certainly sounds the paint, the picture. I painted sounds familiar to me and it's something that we grappled with as a family that I grapple with as a person. And I want to share with you a few examples, a couple examples for my own life of

how I use the skill set that I have. And it's go to the many of us have as Ruby developers is Ruby on Rails developers to build solutions to help ease this time where I focus a bit in words in order to address the inner concerns of my own family. And by doing so made the life that we live a little bit more manageable in this really unprecedented time. I want to share with you two examples. One is what to do around birthday parties for children and how we addressed in our family, and then also sort of what happens when now, we living in a bit to the pandemic, health

authority authority used in post, all sorts of new bureaucracy upon us. For justifiable reasons, but it's still more bureaucracy, more forms, how we can automate that process? I want to start with what may be an obvious Point. Parenting isn't easy and parenting during a pandemic is fill in the blank. It is immensely challenging now parenting. Their pandemic is immensely challenging when you are locked down, you know, we were confined to within maybe a kilometer of our home from

the time. I really couldn't leave the home for weeks at a time and children as this Maze Feel familiar to many of you went from being in school. All the time to being in remote classes, on a myriad of ways. We can have a great internet connection at all. And so a lot of freezing zooms and I was trying to work in my wife is trying to work and it was a really challenging time. Now in top of that is birthday and my kids take their birthdays really seriously, they're both still pretty little and they love their birthdays. They talk about a four-month. They planned their activities, they

get really creative. You know, they really enjoy the act of writing invitations, for their friends to come to their birthday parties. It's really a, it's really a thing for them. Now explain to them that because this pandemic your birthday parties will look very different than this year than it did in years past. Well, they can understand it on some level, but they're still small. They couldn't really grass at the deepest level and really come to terms with the fact of why this had to be taken away from them and is a parent who loves them and cares about them deeply, this impacted me as well,

and I wanted to help them. And so, my wife, and I sat down and said what we do for their birthday party in 2020, while we just came up with the whole list of exes. We couldn't do. Soccer parties, couldn't do the movie theater or go bowling and arcades certainly no games in our apartment and it just kept on going on and on X Factor X Factor X, but thankfully rails came to the rescue. And I sat at my computer, in my office, my home office, and I said to myself. Okay, real fast. For me, so I typed the rails new birthday party. I don't know what this it looks like yet. I don't know what it would

be. But I knew that somehow I can build something that would help. And in this rails, a pie leveraged, an open-source technology called webrtc. You may be familiar with it. Webrtc enables real-time video communication among Spears. So you can build video apps is webrtc. It's open web standard. Actually, you can actually access its functions within your Google say, Google Chrome inspect tool or in Firefox. It's amazing. It's available to open source web RTC. Org is Rican. Find all the documentation and Sample code to get you started and you can start building a video application

with leopard species. I said, that's awesome. So I'm going to build and try and create a remote version of a birthday party that watches a movie. So, you know, you have the birthday parties in there for my kids pretty low-key but still better than than not having a birthday party. Where you invite all your friends and you watch them. TV together and you chat before and then you chat, after you meet me at the birthday cake and you can still like you're you're you still chatting a little bit during the movie itself. So let's do that. But not an altogether in physical space. Anomaly create an

app that can create that experience. But online, let me use webrtc to do it. And what party is he at? The beginning feels pretty simple, you know, JavaScript and so you can access these things from the person's web browser, you get their media devices with a webcam, their audio input, audio output, and you can get those data points than those objects. And you can really just put them into the dump with inside a div and you can eat over there gets a lot of front-end work and designing it right by the CSS, styling. But you get the data points. You get

the the immediate objects and you can just send inject them into the Dom and you build a video of a new experience for that. Sounds pretty great. They started building it and I realized very quickly like a lot of things and Tack that what begins as something is, deceptively simple can become endlessly complicated Arnold Palmer. The Great Golf expert said the same thing, my golf. What's the temperature? Istanbul is endlessly. Complicated. It satisfies the soul and it frustrates the intellect. Why? I think we can say the same thing about coding to and webrtc as open web. Standard is

phenomenal. It's amazing, but I don't have the time to become an expert in web RTC and the needs. I had four. It got more complex in my ability to do it, and I was getting really frustrated. Thankfully there is help. There's a p, i got there. They can help you out of strike, the way a lot of that context together. Several of them, to the big players in the space are truly owe in Vonage. Which what they do is, they create API endpoints for you. And they do all the complex work with webrtc. And they, and they help you Faith experienced by all you need to do is Access VPN points, get back to

data and then injected into your Dom. So in the Vontage example, for example, there is a ruby SDK that you can use on the server side, where you can stand, sheets the video session and the token and the tokens can have a moderator. Access privilege or only a participant access privilege. You can generate all kinds of permissions on a token and then you pass those things to do with the client site side. Let's say whether it's in your webpack assets. Are you as a pipeline bypassing them in with script tag? And you know, what is Javascript On the Trulia side. There

isn't a ruby SDK server SDK, but there is a very versatile client-side SDK. And you do choir that SDK on your ass a pipeline or your webpack assets. And then you could use that in your dumb as well. So why doesn't Hulu offer you those options are others as well, but they offer you the ability to abstract a lot of that complexity around webrtc provide, you with API endpoints and let you get up and running but unfortunately as we know in this world today, we can't escape JavaScript. So yes, there's a ruby SDK on the Nevada side. You can do some of it and Ruby, but you're going to

have to write some JavaScript alas. Now. I don't mean for you to read these things on the slide. So she can't read it. It's okay, but it's just there by way of demonstration that how you might do this. So you would create a publisher and sins. From, let's say this is the vange code examples for the publisher instance, from the Vontage client-side, STK. Tell it what kind of Dom interactions you wanted to have and then you would set up a lot of different event listeners listening for different Diamond Direction. So when a session is created when the session is a scribe to win a session is

asteroid your you dynamically adjusting the Dom accordingly. They removing video elements, adding video elements changing their sizing. It's all happened. Kind of Live. And in the Moment by all these different event handlers. Do you have to create on the client side? And what do you get that up and running? You end up with something like this. And this is what the birthday party app look like for my son. So it's, it was a bit of a stretch for me on the front and side and mostly a back-end developer, but I worked hard on this. And I'm thankful for some of my colleagues and friends who really

lend a hand to help with the front-end work as well. Because that front end is so challenging that she feared back into the lot for this so much work. That happens there. It's amazing. And so, are you coming? Play Intro page it to Heber because we live in Israel. And the entropy says, welcome to my party. What is your name? And what's the password for the party? My son sent the password to his friends in advance. They coming to the party and the top window shows you what it looks like when they come in and becomes a video chat. And as each person joins that the page, I'm actually just the

video windows. So they become boxes. And on the left hand side. Is that semi-transparent text chat. They can text her as well. And on the bottom part is what it looks like when your screen sharing. So my son who be given the moderator privileges, his talking to be for a moderator. He would be able to then switch it to watch party. So going from chat mode to watch party mode and then let's say, he would watch a Netflix movie or Netflix show with his friends and that semi-transparent chat box was still be there, and they could talk to each other the way you wait. Talk. If you're in the living

room, all watching something together and then when the movie is done, he could go back. Did the video chat experience and continue video chatting with his friends? So becomes like a simulated experience of what it's like to have a birthday party watching a movie together, when you're all hanging out in the same living on the scene that a team in room or what have you and he loved this and it helped address a really challenging issue for us and gave him a birthday. Party syrians that was enjoyable and let him feel like he could still celebrate his birthday, despite the pandemic despite the

lockdown, despite all the challenges that works that we were facing. I might have said this already but it keeps coming back to my mind. Parenting is not easy and parenting, we can say that so many times, right? Parenting isn't easy. It's challenging. And in addition to helping to scale me to scale down or skill up. In this case scaled-down, a child's expectations around a time of pandemic. We also have to deal with all the increased parental responsibilities that are manifest Upon Us in this time in particular, increasing Health, responsibilities and health

reporting. So the local, miss your health, here. We live in the state of Israel. When is school, was in session. In between lockdowns, parents had to submit digitally a health declaration everyday to the school. So you can imagine the scenario in addition to all the other things you're doing to, get your children ready for school in the beating of the day and you no matter how much have yourself in the morning. It's never enough time, but Do all those things you need to do getting the school lunch ready? Making sure their backpacks or pack making sure their homework is

in their backpacks. You making sure that they brush their teeth and that they comb their hair and you know, their shoes on the right feet and excavate, you know, if you have to do as a parent to get them ready for school and out the door, you also have to go to your computer and log on to the website, navigate to the health form. Fill out the form and submit it and make sure it's submitted without any errors. So if you were like me and I'm not ashamed to admit it, you may have forgotten this form. Every once in awhile and you forgot the form, you get that call from the school

administrator and you to read that cause embarrassing, you know? Hello. Mr. Greenberg. Yes. I think you forgot to fill out the health form. You really need to do that right now and then you don't want to be that kind of parents. It's it just a lot and when everything is up in the air, when you're dealing with the midst of endemic, even one small new thing like a form can cause it. Case, because you just crash. You're trying to balance everything. It's a lot. So, when I looked at this and I saw a repetitive task, something that had to be the same and do it every single day.

That's what the form look like. Well, to me and maybe to you, as well as a developer this Friday out for automation, someone face the repetitive tasks. I said, let's make a gem for that. So I published a gem called school to Claire. And it lets you said your daily health forms, automates the process for Israeli schools using the platform that they use. And from what I've heard, other parents in the school system have also been used in. Yet. I've made a daily Cron, job action. A daily con job with get have actions. It's really helped our family a lot. But as parents

of the adults who have to do more increase bierocracy, as result of the pandemic and the form itself. The application is relatively not too complex and uses web scraping. So it goes using you know, headless browsing goes to that forms. Paige logs me in navigate Spec's through navigate, to the form, filled out the form for each child. So it goes to the list of children. This case. We have to sew goes list of children, filled out the form for each one, and then validated. The form was filled out that there were no errors present on the page, and if there were no errors

present on the page, it sent me at the end an SMS message, letting me know that the former sent that Daiso as we're leaving the house. Every morning to send the kids off to school. I could look at my phone. I would get that buzz with my phone and say, look at that. It was sent successfully and I didn't receive any more phone calls from the school administrator saying, hello. Mr. Greenberg, you forgot to fill out that form again. The threaded phone call, it didn't have to happen again. But this is all to say though that this talk, as I said in the beginning

it wasn't really about code. Yes. There was some code. Here we talk about love RTC. We talked about building webrtc apps and rails using different apis. We talked about publishing a gem and web. Scraping help automate health forms, but that's not what we really were talking about. Really talking about it. This time together was at me, the challenges that I as a father and as a partner and is a human being faced in 2020, and still for a 2021 currently in the midst of a global Health, crisis and myths of lockdowns, in the

midst of so much, you know, closing down to society and what I did for a family and for me as a person, but this talk was also about you you as a developer because I learned something as a death and you probably were in this as well. That when you're facing a problem, I see if a bug in your code and you're trying to deal with it and you Google that you've come across a thousand stackoverflow post and nothing address is your problem. And finally, after banging your head against the wall numerous times. You solve that problem. What if you just solve that problem and walk away?

You're not going to help others because what I learned is a developer is if I have that problem, there are others who have that problem, too. So I've come into the habit of when I address a problem and I haven't seen solved before I try and write about, is a blog post or publish it. The code on GitHub at the very least or I raise a PR in the project. Were the problem was a raise if you have a issue or what-have-you because if I have the problem then chances are probably. Someone else has the problem too. And so all this talk about me. It was also about you because maybe you've also

had these problems. Because, as together, this talk was really also primarily about us me and you Yeah, they're making us and how we can solve these things together. Because the more we do to help ourselves and the more we share that the more we can lower our own personal decided, but we can also help lower the collective anxiety. In this past year, I needed to give myself and I invite you to also give yourself permission to make your life just a little bit easier to make your life, you know a little less stressful to make your life a

little,, it's been a tough year and as Ruby on Rails developers, we have a unique skill set that we can control that we can build Solutions and those solutions they can start at home. They can start in your own home and when you build those for you at home and you share them, you help make the world just a little bit better for others. Because as we said before, your self-interest is not a bad term. It is recognizing that you are a unique self with amongst other selves and that your interest is part of the cacophony of of competing

interests out there and that you matter, your family matters the challenges. They faced matter, you do Educators in this Past year and currently still having using their skill-set to really be Innovative in the field of education. And I as a parent to benefit from that with amazing Educators and medical staff. It's there's not nothing. It's a medical staff medical professionals. How much they have done to help so many people and to move us forward in solving this crisis scientists. And what they've done and helping solve this crisis and the incredible speed of publishing and releasing on

ended research that came out to help push forward the new vaccines and everyone in there. Different skill sets have done so much to help others help themselves. We too can do so much as Debs and that can start at home. Do not forget yourself cuz your skill-set just like, Educators, just like others. They can help others. They can also help you and by helping you, and they helping yourself. You can, if you share that can help others, you live and you care about, and the larger community and larger society.

All at once, it's amazing thing. I want to thank you for this time. I just talked, as I said, was a bit personal for me. I shared some of the challenges we face as a family in this past year the solutions we built for it. It came out of a place of really deep concern and I hope it was helpful for you as well. I would love to hear what you think. You can find me on Ben Greenberg. Or you can find me on Twitter at a trapezoid Greenberg and I'll be around after a Trails Con in our Discord server. And I really look forward to talking with you about the ways in which you have address

the challenges this past year and your Creative Solutions. I'm sure there's so many of them. I want to leave you with a few resources. One, if you can find that gem to help the health form, declaration Gemma ruby gems, the birthday video app that I built. I open source that you can find at least reels birthday. Feel free to clone it and make it yours and to use it for your own needs for you, or for other people that you are in your family that are close to you, or Your colleagues. And if you do use that, I would love to hear about the ways in which we use it. And I did a reference that truly

a video of a p.i. In the bondage video API as apis and help abstract and deal with a lot of the complexity is webrtc, are they can be found a trulia.com and vonage.com respectively and webrtc is at webrtc. Org. It has been such a pleasure and I look forward to being with all the ways in which you have dealt with in the challenge. This past year as a Ruby on Rails developer. Enjoy the rest of your lives. Conf.

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