Working, Working, Working

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Starting with this post I’m going to try a new format for my writing style as recommended by Lynn.  Focus more on bullet points and logical breaks, less on writing what comes to mind.

  • Why I do it?
  • What I do?
  • How do I do it?
  • What I’ve learned?

Why I do it?

Lately, due to an abundance of free time, I’ve driven myself into working almost constantly (I live in a town whose night life ends around 9pm, and isn’t much of a life to begin with).  Over a year ago I moved to St. George, Utah to work for a small internet startup.  You won’t find me talking about my day job much here though because while it’s nice for a day job it’s not where my passion lies.  However, far before I moved up here I fell in love with Ruby on Rails and was working with Powered By Geek and Lynn.  Since my day job can only bring in so much revenue and frankly isn’t as creatively satisfying as my PBG projects, I not only spend 8 hours at work, but come home and spend some time almost nightly writing code.

What do I do?

Both jobs I am the Lead (sometimes the only) Developer.  I specialize in Ruby on Rails (although I’ve been known to dabble in JavaScript and CSS).  Most of my time is spent pondering how to solve problems that push the capabilities of Rails and Web Development in general.  Sometimes I do a great job (Kiobo and Environs) and sometimes I run into major problems (iStalkr) and try to learn what I did wrong and how to improve.  Because Lynn’s somewhat of a leader and thinker in the Web 2.0 revolution (iStalkr was one of the first site that focused on lifestreaming), I tend to specialize in Web 2.0 apps, not to mention social networking and data portability.

How do I do it?

First off, if you’re going to spend 10-16 hours a day working you need a stead supply of caffeine.  It might not be the most health conscious thing, but to maintain higher brain functions, I feel like I need to keep a flow of caffeine.

Second you need to love what you do.  I had been playing with programming since I was 12 years old, however until I ran into Ruby on Rails I was content to specialize in IT Administration.  Once I started learning Rails though I was hooked.  I started to love web development, it became fun and the framework gave me a structured device to create something unique.  Not to mention the gems plugin manager, where I don’t feel like I’m constantly reinventing the wheel.

What I’ve learned?

I’ve learned Ruby on Rails far better than if it was just a hobby or a full time job.  It’s both my hobby and full time job.  I’ve also had the opportunity to see other developer’s code, sit down and ask questions about why they do things a certain way.

Databases and optimization have also been a huge issue to learn.  There is only so far you can take an idea with an unoptimized database (which iStalkr taught me).  Once again I got a chance to work with people who specialize in databases and could give me pointers on how to improve.  Databases, unfortunately, seem like something that you can only learn optimization for after you run into the issue.

Other items I’ve learned are:

  • Site APIs (digg, delicious, flickr, etc.)
  • RSS (both creating them and parsing them)
  • XML (parsing and creating)
  • ATOM
  • oAuth
  • OpenID
  • Facebook (app creation)
  • Lots more!