Blurbs... About The Interwebs

This is a marathon, not a sprint

Posted on May 25, 2013

As noted in my last post, learning Rails has not been as easy as I initially thought. I went through various resources available ranging from blogs to books, from paid sites to free sites. With my current knowledge, I was able to go through each tutorial and article and actually understand the concepts. However, there was a problem.

I realized that I am very far from being comfortable with this new framework by browsing through open source projects. I believe part of it is due to excessive refactoring by more experienced users which definitely makes coding concise but very hard for newbies like me to understand. Also, I wish open source projects had more “in-line” documentation and that’s hardly the case.

I took a whole week off from work and decided to dedicate myself into Rails. And I had an epiphany: Most advice online  is actually wrong. Sites suggest that you learn Rails and its MVC infrastructure and only give you a quick view into the Ruby language. I realized that if I really want to understand code that others write and actually implement ideas into an app, I need to know Ruby inside and out FIRST and not vice versa.

I started from the basics and definitely learned a lot about the world of Ruby. Ruby is truly a very intuitive language but sometimes it is too intuitive for its own detriment. A lot of the ‘syntactic sugar’ actually makes coding more complicated but this is something that I realize you learn with time.

After going through Ruby for a few days, I felt much more comfortable with Rails. I actually stumbled upon the best resource for learning Rails out there. Trust me, I have tried many resources but this is absolutely the best.

It is called Reddit on Rails. It is created by Richard Schneeman as part of a class he taught for University of Reddit. The reason why I loved this tutorial is that it actually makes you think, make mistakes and research on your own while giving you just enough guidance so you don’t get lost. This is definitely how I learn the best and I really wish there were more resources like this for Rails.

Anyway, after grinding through the tutorial for 2 days, here is my WIP site: I have a lot of ideas on how to make this better and I hope to make this a foundation for my future learning.

Rails is not as easy as advertised

Posted on April 4, 2013

So.. I just completed the Rails Tutorial by Michael Hartl. I will be the first one to tell you that this is an amazing resource for learning how production level websites are made via Rails. It is worth every penny and it goes through various topics external to rails such as Twitter Bootstrap, apis and testing.

One lesson learned from going through the course was that Rails is not as easy as I thought it would be. It is obviously a Framework, so Rails is there to help you go through various tasks that in the old ways of programming, would take days to develop. The problem is that there seems to be a misconception that Rails is a framework you can learn from being a complete beginner.

Here are some of the must haves skills that you must possess before diving into rails:

  • HTML
  • CSS
  • Database queries
  • Javascript
  • Knowledge of any scripting language (preferably Ruby)

I truly believe that the learning curve is much higher without prior knowledge of these technologies. I am glad that I knew enough of it to be able to at least understand what was going on, but I still have long ways to go, and dozen of sites to build before I feel comfortable with it.

Anyway… Here are some of the resources I used during my first weeks of learning Rails:


Curating Content

Posted on March 5, 2013
The future of the web will be all about curating content

A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of attending a few sessions of the 2013′s Social Media Week in NY.  The topics ranged from new marketing strategies to discussion about up and coming startups.

One topic that was brought up over and over was one of curating content on the web. It definitely makes sense that we are in the need of organized content. Google, Reddit, Twitter all do a great job in laying down the foundation; these services provide relevant information that can be easily navigated through. Now it is time for all others to make sense of this data and organize it in a meaningful way to the end users.

In a way, the biggest blogs out there do a great job in curating content. Boing Boing,  TheVerge and Mashable are great examples. However, there is a greater need for curating content other than news. One of the reasons why I love Reddit is that I can visit its Subreddits and get information about a very specific topic where everybody speaks the same language. The problem is that there is too much “metatalk” within the subreddits and it sometimes can be a bit frightening for “noobs” on the subject. Also… try searching for something on Reddit.

I find highly frustrating having to dig through various links to find resources on different topics, specially when I am trying to learn a new skill. We need in a way to go back to the old search engine model where all links were categorized in groups. We need sites that curate content about hobbies, skills, cars  … everything.

Let’s say I am researching about a new camera I want to buy. Here is what I have to do:
  1. Go to Google and type in the model of the camera
  2. Visit the manufacturers website to get technical information about the product
  3. Look at all the different reviews available
  4. Search to see if there is an active online community
  5. Go to youtube and look a personal reviews and raw footage taken from the camera
  6. Search through various online retails to get the best price

This would give me about 30 minutes to an hour given that all resources are readily available.


Hello World

Posted on March 4, 2013

The web is a completely different world from when I created my first website in 1996. Back in the day, learning web design and programming was very hard and frustrating. Notepad was your best friend and if lucky, you could get frontpage to help you with some sort of WYSIWYG editor.

Fast forward a few years and the internet is now all about MAKE ALL THINGS FLASH. I still remember how stunning was the experience when I first browsed through EYE4U and realized what were the capabilities of the web.

Where before the web was all about having a presence online, today it is all about connecting with people. Thankfully all the manual tasks from the past are now automated through web frameworks and design bootstraps. I just started getting involved in this new world of web development and I hope to blog about my journey.

This should be a fun one!