…a domain name, a site, a blog, and a Ruby on Rails books Amazon order…
all this since our Friday stratergery session. In some ways, it’s not much, but it required decision-making and leadership to not dawdle over the details for four years. What should the domain name be? Where should we host it? Is the original blog entry too un-professional? What should the blog look like? All things we could easily have spent months haggling over. Yet, done, done, and done.
How are we able to be so marvelously decisive? We just pretend that everything we’re doing is fake, and therefore of no consequence. Hence, we pick the option that makes the most sense at the time. Cross that bridge when we come to it, “do the simplest thing that works”, etcetera.
Can agile development build a consulting business? We aim to find out.
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Right. So Max and I had a strategy session yesterday afternoon about how, precisely, we plan to jointly generate some income for our household. See, for the past few years I’ve been staying home with a very bright kid and having a crappy pregnancy and grinding my own wheat for bread and having another kid, and Max has been going out in the world for as few hours as he can manage to make enough money for us to pay our bills and save for college and all that other stuff. And, well, we thought we’d try something new.
We want to both make the money and raise the kids, together.
Also, we really love to spend time together. It’s hilarious and interesting and educational and inspiring, and being together makes the hard stuff easier and the easy stuff a blast. We like thinking together, working together, and being together.
So why not make money together? Sell ourselves as one person. Harness our competitive advantages to maximize return on our time while enjoying a work hard/play hard atmosphere [Add more boilerplate business-speak here]. Anyway, yesterday I was incredibly tired and did not feel like having a strategy session involving a Max and Amy marketing plan. “We can do it later,” said Max. “Nah,” I said. “Let’s just do it for 15 minutes, and then I’ll have a nap.” 15 minutes is our new all-purpose productivity hack. “You can do ANYTHING for 15 minutes.” we say to each other. This mind hack comes courtesy of flylady, to whom I admit owing the recent cleanliness of our kitchen. So an hour later, we had a plan. We need a domain name, and some business cards, and a blog. We’re going to learn Ruby on Rails, because Max keeps seeing work for people who know it, and he thinks it’s pretty cool. We’ll manage the blog with an Ruby on Rails platform called typo, and we will try to contribute to the typo project as a way of learning Ruby on Rails. It’s all very synergistic. Someday soon we’ll be able to say “yep, we know Ruby on Rails” and we’ll have our fantastic contributions to the open source world to prove it. “Right,” you’ll say, after reading this blog. “We’re looking for someone with five years experience with Ruby on Rails. You have three months.” And we’ll say “That’s the way it goes, suckas. You want to hire people who don’t actually exist. We, on the other hand, exist.” About Ruby. We’d originally decided that Max would pick up Ruby on Rails, and I would freshen up my Java skills with STRUTS, which was just coming out last time I did serious Java coding and which I am, by all rights, long past due for learning. This felt very serious and sensible. Also not fun. Instead, why not learn a new language together, as a team. The mind-melded spousal duo soon to be known as Third Bit, in fact. Anyway, so this morning I started learning about Ruby. The first thing I find out is that ruby has global variables and not-very-strict syntax. “Oh dear!” I think. “Oh dearie dear dear.” One of my first projects as a programmer was the maintenance and upgrading of a perl app that was the exemplar of everything that could go wrong with a program written in a loosely-typed and generally lax language. I had actually never used Perl at the time, which may have contributed to the problem a teeny bit, but whatever. I was happy when I finished re-engineering the whole app in my comfortable Java straightjacket. So right away I had to give myself a pep talk, about how I’m the kind of person who isn’t afraid to try a new thing, expand my horizons, overcome my prejudices, and soldier on in the face of serious doubts about getting deeply involved in some new language that’s not my beloved Java. Actually, I gave myself no such pep-talk. Instead, I found another Amy to give it to me.
As you probably noticed, Ruby (not just Rails) has very lax rules when it comes to syntax. But without an explanation, you might not immediately realize how lax. (Hint: The answer is ‘very lax.’) You don’t have to use semicolons—but you can. You don’t have to use parentheses—but you can. You don’t have to use curly braces on code blocks—although, of course, you can. Variables don’t start with $, either, unless they’re globals—but they do sometimes start with @ as we’ve seen. I used to wrinkle my nose at code with so few constraints, especially the lack of variable signifiers (mmm, I like associating coding with $$$!) in languages like Python and Ruby. But I was wrong, and perhaps just a tiny bit scarred by my PERL experience. But Ruby is gorgeous—spare like a Japanese tea room, as functional as a Zen studio. I want to marry Ruby and have its babies. But I have the feeling that a language like Ruby lives a life that resembles its syntax; I’m sure it’s not looking for that kind of emotional entanglement. Somehow, I soldier on.
And then I found the Ruby guide with freaky wolf cartoons and amusing sidebars so tangential to the rest of the text that you don’t have to bother going off to some other part of the internets to zone out and take a break from all your hard work reading the wolf cartoons. So now I am happily reading the wolf guide, and really excited about Ruby. It seems exciting and exotic, like foiling pickpockets in Budapest, a thing Max and I did once, in days of yore, and will never, ever stop talking about. It seems a little bit alternative, like when I was the first person in high school to wear combat boots with a baby-doll dress. It’s freeing and a little naughty, cheating on Java this way. And if we’re lucky, it might also be renumerative. And here must end the first blog post. Stay tuned for the further adventures of Max and Amy, geek duo.
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