Heroku Is Fun

The other day, I had an idea for a simple website. I wanted to find an easier way to deploy side projects than I’ve used in the past. AWS gives me too fine a control over things I don’t care about, so I decided to try out Heroku. It was much easier than I thought it would be. Here is basically what I had to do to get a prototype on the public internet, admittedly at a subdomain of herokuapp.com. Making a Heroku account is the usual “sign up with an email and a password,” to I’m assuming you’ve done that step.

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Shrink Your Search Space

Yesterday at work, a colleague had what I think is a common issue for developers: Code was behaving incorrectly, and he couldn’t see why. We’ve all been there; the trick is not hanging out. Today I’m going to talk about two great developers I follow online, Safia Abdalla and Eric Lippert, and what we can learn from them about not getting stuck in a debug issue. Continue reading “Shrink Your Search Space”

Gosu and Special Cases

I’m always looking for side projects that are the right mix of feasible, fun, relevant to my career, and interesting. Recently I joined Excella’s Ruby Book Club, and started a side project that is just the right mix: A silly retro game in Ruby!

The game is built on the gem gosu. Gosu does the actual C++ calls to deal with I/O and graphics, and gives you nice, pretty Ruby abstractions so you can draw rectangles and ask whether the spacebar is down. I’m having a blast so far.

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Book Recommendation: Ruby Under a Microscope

When I started Ruby, I wanted to learn the language in some real depth. I asked a few coworkers, “What is the C# In Depth of Ruby?” Eventually, someone recommended Ruby Under a Microscope. This book helps me see through some Ruby magic and understand a little bit better. Scott Hanselman recently posted that some people learn from the metal up, wanting to understand CPUs and compilers, and some people learn from the glass back, making something the user can see, then tackling technical details as needed. I am definitely a metal-up learner, and Ruby Under a Microscope is definitely a metal-up book. There are almost as many code samples in Ruby bytecode as in Ruby.

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Hashing Arrays in Ruby vs. C#

I’m in the middle of Ruby Under a Microscope by Pat Shaughnessy. I love the book so far, and I will certainly post a more specific review and recommendation soon, but I just noticed a real semantic difference between Ruby and C# that I wanted to blog about, because it would certainly have tripped me up if I had stumbled across it in production code. From Shaughnessy’s chapter on hash tables:

In the case of strings and arrays, Ruby actually iterates through all the characters in the string or the elements in the array and calculates a cumulative hash value (p. 183)

“That’s weird,” I thought, “I bet that means that it’s not safe to use arrays as hash table keys in Ruby. So I did an experiment:

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Ruby Resources from Retrocession

If you, like me, have recently switched to Ruby from another language, you might be looking for some good Ruby-specific technical resources. I know when I was doing more .NET, I had my go-to podcasts, books, and blogs. I’m trying to find the same resources for Ruby.

At Ruby Retrocession, I had a great chance to ask some much more experienced Rubyists what they would recommend. I asked specifically for resources for someone who was new to Ruby but not new to programming, and who wanted to come up to speed quickly.

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Ruby Culture at Retrocession

When I was at the Ruby Retrocession, I felt very welcome. That was great, obviously, and it’s not like I felt very unwelcome at previous conferences, but I want to talk for a second about why I felt so welcome at this Ruby event. If you organize, or even attend, tech events, making people welcome is pretty important. Making people feel extra welcome is a tool I didn’t know was missing, so I’m reporting it here in case someone else is missing it too. (Also, this post covers the “new concepts and terms” and the “impressions of the Ruby community” that I mentioned last time.)

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