Professional Development

Why *you* need to learn Ruby on Rails

Editor's Note: For those of you who may have missed it, the Pragmatic Programmers have just launched a new series called "Pragmatic Fridays" and their first book was released last week. As an even more interesting note, the first one entitled "Rapid GUI Development with QtRuby" was written by our own Caleb Tennis.

In the movie "The Shawshank Redemption", after the character Brooks Hatlan got out of prison (after being cooped up for a very long time), he opines that: "...The world went and got itself in a big damn hurry". He wasn't able to cope in the outside world after living in prison for so long. He liked his old lifestyle better.

The same thing exists in software/tech world. In order to survive, you've got to stay afloat with knowing something about the latest and greatest happenings. No doubt you know that Microsoft is releasing a new version of Windows next year called "Vista". I'm sure you're aware of lots of the latest gadgets coming out of Steve Jobs' hands.

Well, if you're a web developer, no doubt you've heard of Ruby on Rails. But, more importantly, have you tried it?

Paul Graham's Startup School

So who hasn't heard of Paul Graham?

For those you who don't know of him, he's a bit of a uber-geek in terms of a geek who made it big during the dot-com times, managed to walk away with a bit of cash, and now has a bit of a philanthropic goal of assisting other startups to give it a try. Whenever he writes, it sends ripples through the online world and generally gets on slashdot.

As the owner of a startup, I applied to his upcoming Startup School as a bit of a lark never thinking I would get an invite. I hit "Submit" and then promptly forgot about it and made plans to go to my other conference called Power your Business with PHP which starts three days later.

So I got an invite last night.... whoa.

Now I need to figure out how to close on a new place just outside Washington, DC on the 14th, make it to Boston on the 15th, and then make it to San Francisco on the 17th.... hmmm.

Edit: I just realized that I forgot to point out that I initially came across the Startup School info over at Dane Carlson's Business Opportunities Weblog. - Thanks Dane!

Guide to Hiring Developers

Editor's Note: This is the second posting in our series of items from guest contributors. Since all of our current CodeSnipers and community have looked for a job, I thought this perspective would be helpful. If you are interested in contributing to CodeSnipers, please check out the previous posting.

This is the first of a three-article series that touch upon the subject of hiring developers. These articles reflect the procedure that I had established when I was working as R & D Manager in LogicDIS, having interviews for new hires as part of my job. Of course I'll be following the same procedures in my newly formed company, called think.BIG.

Off By 1 + Off By 1 = Off By 2

A while back, I was working on a particular project where the load was a magnitude higher than what we expected. It seemed to always be running and only rarely catch up with the backlog. The load on the system shot from nothing to 99% for long durations.

We hoped something was wrong, but the data was coming into the system just as expected. What was our problem? It was an Off By Two Error. Yes, normally they're called "Off By One Errors," but there's a bit more to it than that...

My office needs an ice cream truck!

Ah yes, summer is coming to an end, but those ice cream trucks still come around sometime in the early afternoon. Yeah, I typically notice them on a weekend, at home, just when I am trying to read a good book. They are loud, their music annoying at best and they tend to hang around for too long, waiting for kids to bring their parents' cash in exchange for some over-priced ice cream. The music keeps going while they wait. It's really just about impossible to focus on anything till that truck has moved on.

I want one of those to stop at the office. Every day!

Alright, alright, someone is clearly losing it here. This is obviously a ridiculous idea. We cannot possibly even think about taking this suggestion seriously. The noise is disruptive and loud, nobody will be able to get any work done. Meetings get interrupted, people will goof off taking their ice cream breaks. I just really don't get, why anyone would even think about - Wait, stop right there.

I realize, it sounds crazy.

Personal Brand Matters

Seth Godin mentions personal brand here, but what does it really mean? Martha Stewart, Oprah, and Tiger Woods could tell you all about the subject. Personal brand has long been something for celebrities, sports stars, and high end consultants to cultivate. As developers, should we be worried about personal brand?

Project Post Mortems

Another couple of days and the current cycle comes to an end: We are indeed releasing the next iteration of a product. Of course it doesn't end there, as most software products don't ever really finish. No matter though, it is a nice time to take a step back, pause and evaluate how things went this time around.

It's time for a post mortem of sorts.

Visual C++ 2005 lessons

Its been a while since my last post, but I wanted to kickoff this blog column, of codesnippers, with a project, around C/C++ ... To begin, I'd like to introduce the tools I'll be using, Visual C++ 2005, and leave it up to the readers for a possible project. I have an idea, I'd like to attack at the end of the post.

My last blog was about reviewing my favourite cross-platform C++ UI, wxWidgets. Reading up on my peers on this site, I don't see too much C++ talk. So I figured, I'd start with an intoroduction on Visual Studio 2005 (aka Visual C++ 8.0).

Despite it being an evil Microsoft Empire product, its really not all that bad. If anyone is serious about being a software engineer, C++ knowledge is essential! And great C++ knowledge can take years to master. To start in this journy, I'd like to begin with an introduction:

Hedgehog Concept

Do you feel a little bite of insecurity when reading a post about a new (to you) technology subject?

It seems everyone knows all about Ruby on Rails already, but I only just heard of it after becoming a Codesniper. I am quite curious about this new paradigm, and am woefully behind my peers. Isn't that just typical?

Doesn't Eric Sink say that to improve your career, you need to focus on the first derivative of Cluefulness - Learning? Shouldn't I find the next Ruby on Rails conference and take a long weekend to go learn all about it?

a guy in a room

What's behind that door?
There? That's the office of my star programmer. We can't go in there right now though, I'll have to introduce you later.
Oh? Is he not there?
What? No, he's there alright, but he's been really busy working on an extremely important new feature.

The happy manager might make a joke or two and describe how he likes to slip a pizza under the door every now and then to make sure his star programmer is still eating. Some team members might remark on the fact that they haven't seen their coworker outside his office in a while. It's all good though. The problem is pretty hard and that's why their star programmer gets to focus on it. Just give him time, leave him room and he always delivers.