November 13th, 2009
I am very pleased and excited to announce that I have accepted a Senior Developer position with Cyrus Innovation, Inc. Cyrus is based in New York City. I will be, at least for the foreseeable future, assigned to a team working on-site at a New Jersey client. It’s a work-place I’ve been in before (I’ve done training for them), and I know some of the other members of the Cyrus team who work there. So while it’s definitely a big change for me and a new adventure, it’s also a familiar and collegial environment that I already know I like working in.
And it really is a big change! The last full-time job I had was my professorship at Seton Hall University (1992-2005).
The question is (drumroll…) why now?
Throughout the years that I’ve been doing freelance and independent consulting and training, I’ve regarded the prospect of a fulltime job with ambivalence. On the one hand, it’s less independent. And much of the brainstorming I’ve done this year about whether or not to seek a fulltime job has been kind of depressing, because it’s been motivated largely by the fact that my freelance business has dropped off a great deal (and I have no marketing skills, which means that when the market gets tight, I tend not to remain competitive). I’ve also been conflicted about fulltime jobs because I am very settled where I live and do not want to move.
On the other hand, I’ve always understood that a fulltime job would provide a measure of continuity and security that I’m increasingly feeling the lack of in my independent work. And, even more importantly, there’s the sense of belonging to a team of colleagues. I’ve always looked with a pang of envy at friends who are part of a development team, and whenever I’ve spent even a couple of weeks on a team helping out, it’s been incredibly stimulating. I always go through a big learning spurt when I work directly with other developers, and I don’t do nearly enough of it.
So I’d reached the point where I was interested in a full-time job but, fussy customer that I am, it had to be one that didn’t require me to sell my house and move, and that I had very, very good reason to believe would provide me with the kind of collegial environment that had been, for four years, the thing I had pined for the most as an independent. (I also didn’t want to telecommute, because sitting alone in my house literally all the time is not the right formula for me.)
Well, fast forward a bit and here I am, having found what I was hoping to find! That’s the story. I start December 7. (And all the “date that will live in infamy” jokes have already been made :-) Wish me luck!
October 17th, 2009
First things first:
In case you haven’t heard about it, I’m very excited to report that I am teaming up with two other Ruby programmer-authors, namely:
to present The Compleat Rubyist, a two-day Ruby training event in Tampa, Florida, January 22-23 2010.
The idea behind the event
It all started with the books.
We got the idea of doing some kind of joint project because our books (including the two above, plus my book, The Well-Grounded Rubyist) complement each other really nicely. My book is a language tutorial. Jeremy’s book (to which both Greg and I contributed) contains advice about using Ruby in a series of application contexts. Greg’s book makes a different kind of pass through the language, with an eye to idiomatic, productive techniques.
A training event seemed like the perfect collaborative effort. We’ve designed an unusual format, optimized for in-depth learning and for a workshop/hands-on style.
Who’s it for?
I’ve been training Ruby programmers for years, and I can tell you that it’s very common to become quite good at Ruby but still have room for getting deeper into how things work, what the best practices are, and other areas.
I’d say that’s the “sweet spot” for our attendees: people who have been using Ruby, and want to go further in their understanding and skills.
Does that mean intermediate? advanced? talented beginner?
Hard to say. I’d like to think that almost any Ruby programmer can get something out of spending two days with us. (And we’re hoping to get a lot out of it too.) We’re not that concerned with pinpointing a level. Have a look at the event description, and decide whether it sounds good for you.
See you there, we hope!
We’re happy to field questions, if you have any. There’s a contact link on the event website, as well as links for registering and for more info about the venue.
July 16th, 2009
I’ve watched no more of the Sotomayor hearings than has happened to be on while I’ve waited for the guy behind the counter to toast my bagel, and things like that. I don’t see much point in watching them, since it’s pretty easy to predict what her critics are going to ask her and say about her, and not terribly interesting to hear her answers.
But I do want to say something about this “wise Latina” thing, if I can do so without boring myself as well as you to death.
With very few exceptions, all Supreme Court justices, ever, have been white men. So have most other judges in the U.S. That means that someone, somewhere along the line, felt that white men make wiser decisions than people who are not white men. Maybe closer to “everyone” than “someone”, in fact.
White male jurists never have to say anything public to the effect that white males as wiser, as jurists, than people who aren’t white males, because it’s been said for them. It’s been said by virtually every President who has made judicial appointments and nominations, every Senator on whom the strangely homogenous pattern has not weighed heavily, and every citizen who never considered withholding a vote from the perpetrators of this centuries-long exercise in exclusion.
In short, the entire history of the Supreme Court and much of the rest of the judiciary amounts to a sustained assertion that white men make wiser decisions than anyone else.
So along came Sotomayor, and expressed a different opinion. She expressed an opinion that was not the opinion on which the entire history of the Supreme Court has been predicated. She espoused the belief that white men do not, in every imaginable case, make wiser judges.
How dare she?!
Doesn’t she realize that The Universal Opinion on this subject has already been established?
Of course it’s the same old thing. The belief that white males are wiser is so widespread, so ingrained, so taken for granted, that it seems natural. You don’t have to think about it; your thinking has been done for you. And you don’t have to be so gauche as to say that you believe it, because as long as you don’t saying anything, it will be assumed that that’s what you think.
All Sotomayor did was to respond. She was responding to history. History was saying—loudly, repeatedly, in chorus echoing down the centuries—that white men make wiser jurists. Sotomayor said: maybe not, under some circumstances.
Think of it this way. Sotomayor walks down the street every day, her whole life, and every couple of blocks, somebody says to her: White male jurists make wiser decisions than anyone else. Senators say it; Supreme Court justices say it. Citizens say it; Presidents say it.
After a lifetime of that, Sotomayor says: well, not necessarily.
And everyone gets mad at her.
The every-couple-of-blocks thing represents about one millionth of one percent of what Sotomayor, and the rest of us, have actually had communicated to us over our lifetimes. So why the hell shouldn’t she respond? And why are people treating her like Oliver Twist asking for more gruel?
June 10th, 2009
I’m realizing that the new book isn’t getting enough buzz, so here’s some buzz!
My new book, The Well-Grounded Rubyist, is now out and available from the publisher as well as Amazon and other retailers and stores.
If you’re learning Ruby, or want to learn Ruby, or want to refresh your Ruby knowledge and get more deeply into it…read this book! I talk more about the book in my recent interviews for InfoQ, On Ruby, and RubyLearning.
Some reviews and comments
Here are some review quotations, from various sources:
I think this book is a definite read and should be in every Ruby developer’s library....
Excellent. Easy to read, but not dumbed down. I came away with a much deeper understanding of WHY oop is used, and how to use it in ruby....
If you are looking to understand ruby, look no further.
David does an excellent job going beyond the language and hitting those concepts in the built-in classes and modules that you need to know and will experience in the real-world.
(And don’t get confused if some sites have a different-looking cover. There were two cover designs. The new one is the one you see here.)
April 21st, 2009
TWGR is an expanded, updated, Ruby-only reworking of my 2006 book “Ruby for Rails”. It targets Ruby 1.9.1, and includes a great deal of new material (enough that it took me almost a year longer than I thought it would to write :-) The book is entirely about the Ruby language, not Rails. Lots of readers of R4R encouraged me to write a “just-Ruby” book, and here it is!
I’m looking forward to the release of the paper version on May 1, too. Not sure yet whether there are Kindle and/or Sony e-reader versions coming, but I’ll keep you posted.
March 14th, 2009
The answer is…yes! I did mention it. But I’ll mention it again.
Want to learn Ruby, and learn it right?
Come to Atlanta for three days and learn Ruby from:
- me (author of Ruby for Rails, The Well-Grounded Rubyist, and other stuff; long-time Ruby programmer; one of the most experienced Ruby trainers on the planet)
- Jeremy McAnally (“mrneighborly”, author of Ruby in Practice, creator of the Ruby Hoedown (annual conference))
- Rick Olson (“technoweenie”, member of the Rails core team; plugin writer extraordinaire)
You gotta better way to learn Ruby?
I doubt it. Just read that list of instructors again… and you get training materials, a book (“Ruby in Practice”), and lunches.
Hope to see you there!
P.S. If you’re a Ruby expert but have friends or co-workers or employees who could use an accelerated intro/intermediate course, send them along!
February 16th, 2009
Want to learn Ruby, or improve what you already know? Come to Atlanta!
Training will be by me and Ruby developer/author Jeremy McAnally (“mrneighborly”). And Rick Olson (“technoweenie”) will be there too, helping with the training and sagely dispensing Ruby wisdom and advice. (Seriously!) It will be at the Georgia Tech Hotel & Conference Center.
Please email me if you have any questions. Otherwise, see you there!
January 23rd, 2009
Registration is now open for RailsConf 2009 (May 4-7). You can get more details, and register, at the RailsConf 2009 website.
RailsConf is taking place in Las Vegas, one of my favorite cities. Yes, I know what a weird and ironic place it is. But for whatever reason, I’ve always found it extremely enjoyable. May is a good time to go—hopefully not to hot to step outside!
There’s a lot going on at RailsConf this year, highlighted by its timing in the wake of the Rails/Merb merger decision. There will be lots of merger news and highlights, along with the usual great lineup of talks and, above all, the chance to meet and get to know other Rails developers as well as Rails core team members, authors, bloggers, and pretty much the whole gang!
A hiatus year for RailsConf Europe
Ruby Central and O’Reilly have decided to take a hiatus from producing RailsConf Europe this year, for the simple reason that it didn’t bring in enough revenue last year to justify doing it again, particularly given the tight economy and the need to err on the side of caution. RailsConf Europe has always been a really great event, and people who go to it really love it, but we need a year of retrenchment while we figure out how to get everyone else to realize how great it is! Plans for 2010 are not certain yet; we’re taking it one year at a time.
Meanwhile, the Ruby and Rails communities continue to produce an astonishing number of high-quality, uniquely branded and flavored events. I’m not even going to try to list them all here. Do a search, though, and you may very well find one near you.
December 29th, 2008
Announcing the opening of WishSight!
WishSight is for managing wishlists and gift-giving. It lets you see who’s given (or promised) what to whom, and it lets gift-givers for particular people communicate with each other, via a comment-board, so that they don’t duplicate gifts.
It’s based on a Christmas-list application I wrote in 2005 that my family and friends have been using every year since then. It’s completely merchant-unaffiliated. You can post links for the gifts you want, and they can be links to any merchant.
WishSight helps you cut down on gift duplication, and increases the chances that people will get things they actually want, without the gift-givers having to do a round-robin of email or phone calls to pin down who’s buying what. And chances are they don’t all know each other anyway—which doesn’t matter on WishSight, because you all communicate by leaving comments directly on your mutual friend’s wishlist.
All you have to do is:
- sign up
- list the email addresses of people who you want to be able to see your wishlist
- get those people to sign up and “whitelist” your email address
- list your wishes
- stake “claims” on other people’s wishes
There’s no stealth: the email addresses are only used internally to determine who’s allowed to see whose wishlist. Also, you can list email addresses even if the people haven’t signed up yet. Once they do sign up, they will automatically have permission to see your wishlist and claim your wishes. No two-sided “handshakes” required; you just whitelist people.
Have fun, and let me know if any questions or problems!
October 3rd, 2008
The bailout bill has just passed. I know very little about economics, little enough that I don’t feel entitled to a strong opinion one way or the other on whether the bill should have passed. But I am suspicious of it.
I’m suspicious of it, for one thing, because of the fear-mongering that has surrounded it; it’s very reminiscent of the ongoing “Terrorists will come and kill your family if the executive branch doesn’t get a blank check for waging undeclared war” campaign, and things in that vein.
But I’m even more suspicious of the bill because of all the rhetoric about how it will help “Main Street” as well as “Wall Street”. I don’t know whether it will or not, but what troubles me is the fact that this kind of rhetoric makes it sound like Congress and the Bush administration are desperate to help Main Street. The fact is that, in general, they’re not.
Every microsecond of every day in the history of this country there have been uncountable opportunities for the government to help citizens with financial problems, difficulty paying for a home, lack of job opportunities, inability to get credit, and all the rest of it. The thrust of the behavior of the government for most of the history of the country has been not to bother helping such people to any significant degree.
Now, all of a sudden, helping Main Street leaps to the front of the congressional and executive agenda. I’m disinclined to buy it. If the common weal were really a government priority, we would have known by now. I find it immensely suspicious that the greatest outpouring of social concern, at least as measured in money, comes tethered to a Wall Street bailout.
If Main Street is going to benefit from the delivery of a de facto blank check to Wall Street, surely it would not benefit any less from having money delivered to it directly. But you don’t hear any talk of, say, the government purchasing houses for the victims of fiscal mismanagement. I suppose it would have taken too long to draft a bill that did that; and as we know, the earth would have left its axis if the bill had not been passed this week….
September 13th, 2008
People have noticed, naturally, that we’ve gone over entirely to a multi-track format (except for keynotes and a couple of other special slots). And they’re surprised; we used to be one-track, and then last year we were multi-track but with a good dose of plenary sessions.
So I thought I’d say something about the multi-trackedness of RubyConf 2008, for anyone who’s interested.
The bottom line is that we’ve scheduled multiple tracks because we got so many really, really good proposals. Of course we can’t accept all of them; we can’t be that multi-track. There will always be a cutoff, and where the cutoff comes always involve a judgment call. This time around the judgment was that the number of talks we’d have to exclude, in order to dilute the multi-trackedness significantly, was too great.
In fact, we started drafting a schedule without explicitly discussing the multi-track issue; it mostly emerged from what we jotted down, and then it continued to make sense to us as we started analyzing the track issue more closely.
People have asked whether it’s about the size of the event. It is, in a couple of ways—subtle ways, perhaps, but important.
For one thing, we know that not every speaker is comfortable getting up in front of 500 people. Lots are, but it’s still a lot to ask. Breakout sessions make for situations in which more speakers are likely to be comfortable.
Of course, if there are only fifteen speakers, we could easily find people who don’t mind a big audience. But what about that “only fifteen speakers” thing?
In a conference with 400-500 people present, it’s definitely more fun if, say, twelve percent of the people prowling the halls and sitting next to you at lunch are speakers, instead of two or three percent. Having fifteen speakers at an event with over 400 people isn’t the same, for anyone, as having fifteen speakers at an event with sixty people. If the ratio is too lop-sided, it gets too much into the “us and them” thing. We’ve never been into that.
Another reason we’re OK with moving toward a multi-track format is the proliferation and success of the Ruby regional conferences, many of which are one-track. Everyone should attend, at some point, a one-track conference. It’s really cool the way everyone at such a conference shares the same experience. My first conference was a one-track academic film conference in 1985, and it was great. And the wonderful flowering of the Ruby regional conference culture means that, even if it isn’t at RubyConf, many Rubyists will get a chance to have that experience.
We started our regional conference grant program in 2006 in the hope that “regional” wasn’t going to mean “provincial”—that regional conferences could be top-notch events—and that hope has been fulfilled beyond what we could possibly have wished for. (And certainly way beyond what we can take credit for. The regional organizers have been amazing!) These high-quality small events can address many needs and desires, including the desire for the experience of a one-track format.
In sum, the RubyConf format for 2008 is a format for its time, its year, its configuration of the Ruby world. We’re nothing but excited about it and hope you’ll come and share the fun!
September 6th, 2008
I got home yesterday from RailsConf Europe 2008 in Berlin, and am very happy to say that the event was a major success.
It was particularly gratifying to hear from many attendees that they found the program content more advanced and more instructive than last year. It’s always hard to fine-tune the level of talks across a big program like this, and I’m really glad to have evidence that people overall felt it had gone in the right direction.
Highlights included keynote addresses by David Heinemeier Hansson and Jeremy Kemper, as well as a Rails core team panel discussion with David, Jeremy, and Michael Koziarski. DHH led us through some very interesting thoughts on the notion of “legacy” code, and how that concept plays out with respect to one’s own development and growth as a programmer. Jeremy talked about performance, and masterfully expanded the horizon beyond the shop-worn “Does Rails scale?” stuff to some very specific and powerful techniques for evaluating and adjusting performance.
We also held a “Symposimi” (the name is based on a misspelling in the program; it should have been “Symposium” but came out “Symposimi,” and I decided that sounded really cool!) on the subject of Ruby versions and implementations—who’s using what, what’s targeting what, the pros and cons of moving to 1.8.7 and/or 1.9. A symposimi is a town-meeting-like gathering of people who want to ask and answer questions about a topic. It’s more audience-based than a symposium, and less hierarchical.
The symposimi was fun for me because I got to do some live code demos, which I usually don’t at the conferences I’m an organizer of!
Lots of people asked about next year. We don’t know yet where RailsConf Europe will be in 2009. Probably not Berlin, just because we’d like to move it around. If you have suggestions (and a rationale other than that you happen to live there :-) by all means let me know.
Now that RCE2008 is over, I’m looking forward to RubyConf. Stay tuned for announcements of the program and registration!
July 20th, 2008
My friend and nearly-neighbor Erik Kastner is going to be joining me to teach the Ruby Power and Light course “Advancing With Rails” in Edison, New Jersey, August 18-21. This will be RPL’s first co-taught course, and I’m really looking forward to it.
See the calendar at Ruby Power and Light for more info!
July 4th, 2008
During the week of July 6-12, I invite and encourage everybody who includes links in their email, blog posts, online chats, and other documents, to link to something other than Wikipedia.
I’m not trying to be a Wikipedia slayer. It wouldn’t matter if I were; that’s not going to happen.
I just want to remind everyone that there are thousands and thousands of interesting, well-informed, thought-provoking, educational websites out there, written by professors, researchers, doctors, artists, scientists, practitioners of every craft and industry—and however you slice it, these websites are getting a raw deal when it comes to links.
It’s not about whether Wikipedia articles are accurate or not. Some are, some aren’t. But that’s true of
The best thing about the Web is that it isn’t an encyclopedia. And Wikipedia is evidence that when Web culture meets encyclopedia culture, encyclopedia culture wins. Sure, Wikipedia is collaborative. Most encyclopedias are. They still give off an aura of total, centralized, complete knowledge and authority. And that’s not very Web-like, is it?
- If you’ve got a point to make about grammar, look for an English (or whatever language it is!) professor’s site. There are some great ones. Point the person you’re arguing with to a couple of those.
- Countries have their own informational websites, some official and some written by people who live there. Many of them are multi-lingual. Are they “balanced”? Probably not, at least not in the network news way. So much the better! Balance on the Web emerges from the quantity and interplay of sites. It’s not supposed to be embodied in every document. How boring!
- Wikipedia is great for technology-related topics. But so are lots of other sites. Are you sure that Wikipedia’s description of the algorithm you’re discussing on that mailing list is really the best? the clearest? the most engaging?
- You get the idea! Strike a blow for the richness of the Web, and for the beauty of discourse that doesn’t try to be poker-faced and non-committal, even about important issues. Rediscover the expertise of the many Web contributors who write about their own specialties and have taken the time to share their thoughts.
There’s a lot to learn at Wikipedia, but it’s time to spread the linkage!
May 4th, 2008
I’ve always vaguely disliked horse races. The anthropomorphizing of the horses, the claims that they know that they’re involved in a race and that they share the goals of their owners, is manifestly silly and self-serving. And the whipping always bothered me. I suppose I made myself believe that horses didn’t really care and that an attack with a whip was, to them, kind of like a verbal exhortation to us. (Not that verbal exhortations can’t be painful, but they’re not physical).
The death of Eight Belles shocked me out of my indifferent, complacent position.
All the crap in the news about how noble she was, how competitive her spirit, how great her self-sacrifice… it’s all smug and disgusting beyond belief, despite the accompanying descriptions of the tears glistening in the eyes of the various stakeholders. What really happened was that this horse was forced to run as fast as she could, for reasons she could not understand and that had nothing to do with her well-being, and as a direct result, her legs fell apart, and then someone killed her.
That’s it; that’s all there is to it.
Why is this allowed to go on? Is it simply because more horses survive races than don’t?
For some reason, we continue to give the benefit of the doubt to this bizarre, nasty, money-drenched “sport”. Except that for me, at this point, there is no doubt, and no further conferral of the benefit.