Information Technology Dark Side

Struggles of a Self-Taught Coder

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Ruby on Rails: It’s LIKE having a soul again

August 29th, 2008 · 2 Comments

There’s a soul check room when you join IT management – I turned mine in about four years ago. I kept the ticket in my top dresser drawer for a long time, just in case I ever needed the thing again. The other day I checked for it and couldn’t find it. Then I remembered – it must have been lost when we got new furniture. Flippin’ golden handcuffs.

For a few years, I was able to hold onto a little piece of my soul by blogging and writing articles, but lately I’ve fallen behind even on that, and I’m afraid my soul is completely gone. I may never see it again.

I’ve been coding lately, and that’s been a relief. Sure, it’s not incredibly complex stuff – just RSpec tests. But… still, it’s been oddly invigorating. It reminds of the time, not so long ago, when I was an expert at something. When I could code circles around myself, like the time I wrote an XML marshaller/unmarshaller for an obscure OO language, or when I wrote pattern smoothing algorithms for the high-speed cutting of carbon fiber helicopter parts.

Those were the good ole days. Why’d I ever stop doing that? What made me think management would be more fulfilling?

Java. That’s what it was. I don’t like that language. It’s a nice idea – OO with cross-platform portability, but it’s too wordy. It’s perfect for the quadruple abstraction factory guys, but not for me. I don’t want to have to instantiate four different classes just to read a file. No thank you. I prefer to just open the dang thing. Besides, that whole portability thing didn’t really work out in the end, and it never seemed to matter either. And the frameworks, with all that dang XML. Aargh. I just never liked that girl, I just liked the idea of that girl.

For a while there it seemed Java was going to take over the world. It certainly seemed to take the wind out of the proprietary language I was such an expert at. And the prospect of learning Java made me cringe.

So I turned my back on the code, and checked my soul in at my local chapter of PMI.

But that didn’t help either. The bad taste in my mouth is different now, but it still makes me want to double up on Altoids. Few things have made me want to take up drinking more than IT management.

Then along came Ruby. Well, actually she’d been around for a while, I just hadn’t noticed her. Then one day, in the middle of a ginormous crisis, I needed someone to parse a log file as big as our crisis and turn some specific time stamps into a graph. Mike Kelly did it in about five minutes. I couldn’t believe it. When I asked him how, he said “Ruby”. I didn’t start picking up on her right away, but it registered. Ruby was cute, or at least practical.

A year went by and I needed to parse some log files again. I remembered Mike and his cute little friend Ruby, and I googled her. Ten minutes later, I was looking at the graph I needed. I wasn’t quite as impressed with Mike’s ginormous crisis magic trick now, because it was pretty easy with Ruby. Java had made me expect everything to be hard.

Things blossomed from there. I discovered Rails, and I started getting more serious. Then I found some paying work on the side and suddenly critical mass materilized. Now there was money involved.

At any rate, I’m really digging this Ruby on Rails thing. I know I’m not good enough at it yet to say I have my soul back, but I’m getting there. Thanks Ruby.

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Tags: Development

2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Allen // Oct 16, 2008 at 3:55 pm

    I’ve heard good things about Ruby. And I completely agree with your observations about Java. I’ll have to check it out asap =)

    And PS: I am still enjoying coding some high end stuff in that “Obscure OO Language” – alot of self reflective code. It’s on my own time but really helps dig through the pile at work.

  • 2 Bookmarks about Dark // Dec 17, 2008 at 3:30 am

    […] – bookmarked by 1 members originally found by onfocus on 2008-11-13 Coding: It’s LIKE having a soul again http://www.techdarkside.com/coding-its-like-having-a-soul-again – bookmarked by 1 members […]

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