Gig City Elixir Highlights

I'm so pleased and honored to be a new member of the team at Bridge Connector. These folks are so incredibly talented and great to work with... And our company has contributed to Gig City Elixir as a Platinum sponsor!

I'm going to share just a couple of my favorite ideas from the conference.

Nerves is an amazing tool for building hardware systems, running Linux and the BEAM. The idea is to create a bootable image which can load an absolutely minimal system with the BEAM virtual machine, and boot right into your application which can then leverage the nimble and serviceable runtime to connect to any type of I/O for all manner of inventive projects. Their open source NervesHub platform is a repository for your compiled images, which allows fancy things like one-click deploys to fleets of devices. NervesKey is a cheap, hardware crypto chip which can verify and authenticate, giving the system some nice hardness.

Justin Schneck spoke about the platform and the motorcycle remote-starting project he built on it. Todd Resudek later spoke, too, about using Nerves to build an air pollution monitor with a nifty LED display. He also spoke at Lonestar ElixirConf some months back about his inexpensive, powerful, DIY smart sprinkler system. I need a new hardware project.

Lumen is an exciting alternative BEAM implementation from some folks at Dockyard, written in Rust. Though it's still early days, this should mean that we can build our Elixir code (with runtime) to a tight binary, targeting the machine directly in WebAssembly, x86, or ARM form. The potential use cases and doors opened here are massive. Ricardo Echavarría spoke about this budding tech.

Dave Thomas's Prolog discussion was a bit of a mind-opener for me. I had never looked closely at this language, and it underscored for me that there are indeed other paradigms out there besides FP and OOP! In Prolog, the programmer inputs statements of fact. Then, given a statement with one or more variables, the tool is able to reduce it to a new statement of fact, with concrete values where it's able. SQL is a common, comparable style! Dave covered some big ideas in his talk outside Prolog, and it was definitely some thought food!

There were so many other great talks, including a number of less technical ones, laying wisdom around such important things as working in a team and remembering to step away to tap into the brain's high-level, "shower-mode" thinking. I also enjoyed the singularness of the track and more intimate venue, hosting 153 of us. Nice job, Bruce Tate & everyone involved!

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