Comment on today's poll and more questions

It's interesting to see all of the 'a' answers to the first question of
the poll today (meaning that they are using Ruby all the time in their
work). This seems to be a marked change in the Ruby community since a
year ago when the 'a' answer would have been much rarer.

Can some of the folks who use Ruby 'all the time' at work offer advice on
how to find Ruby work/contracts? I suspect 'Learn Rails' would top the
list - but what about other areas besides web programming - is Ruby making
more inroads in those areas as well?

How about those of us who have not done any web programming in the past,
but know Ruby - do we have an edge for the web programming (Rails) jobs
as well, or is it better to have done web programming and no Ruby than
the other way around? Just curious. I'm considering learning SQL and
Rails and trying to get into web programming field so I can get paid to
do Ruby programming again, but I've never done any web programming
before (one of the last holdouts, I guess).

Phil

Hi Phil,

I'm an atypical employer, but I'm an employer nonetheless: A few weeks back I posted on Craigslist for a Ruby consulting gig in NYC. This is the second time I've done this, and what strikes me is that the vast majority of emails I got were entirely worthless.

Beyond the spam resumes--literally, I got some emails from people claiming to be the perfect candidate for my investment bank, even though I actually work at an arts-non-profit--I got a lot of half-hearted, cover-your-ass type resumes that didn't give me any passion at all about the job.

If you want to get paid to write Ruby, you should understand that Ruby is not now, and it may never be, the mainstream. That's okay, statistically speaking, because there are millions of jobs in computing, and you only need one of them. But because of that minority position, you will be aiming for minority hirers.

People looking to hire in Ruby are much more likely to be risk-takers themselves. Where some managers are only trying to not get fired, the people hiring for Ruby jobs are more likely to be playing to win. And they are likely to respect and trust other people with similar attitudes. This is what I've looked for when I've scanned the applicants I've received, and it's served me well so far.

So, specifically: Don't be afraid to be passionate in your opinions, as long as you don't go so far as to be dogmatic about them. The middle manager hiring the 120th Java employee at his investment bank probably doesn't care about your opinions, but the founder of a four-person firm which uses Ruby does. He understands that if you use Ruby you enter an area where lots of change is happening all the time, and he will not care as much about your certifications as your sensibilities--because as the landscape changes in six months, it's your sensibilities that will help make decisions.

Of course, opinions should be founded on experience, and if you don't have a Ruby job, it's hard to get Ruby experience. So you should go out and get it on your own. User groups are one way to do this, free software projects are, too. Pick a pet project--by yourself or with others--and start building. If that's a web programming project, fine, but it doesn't have to be. It should be something you are excited about, though. So that when you get a job interview for a Ruby job, and your prospective employer asks you about your Ruby experience, you can say "Well we don't use Ruby at my current job, but in my spare time I've been doing such-and-such-a-program with Ruby, and trying out such-and-such-a-framework and it mostly helps, though it lacks such-and-such-a-feature but maybe that'll be taken care of when the next version comes out, which is supposed to be in about three months." That answer will come quite naturally if you've been engaged in a project you care about, as opposed to something you simply treat as homework.

Basically: Ruby employers want somebody who is not just experienced, but passionate as well. So figure out what exactly about Ruby makes you passionate, find a concrete way to turn that passion into experience, and go out and sell that passion and experience to somebody. Eventually, some employer will give you a chance.

Good luck!

···

On Mar 25, 2005, at 8:54 PM, Phil Tomson wrote:

It's interesting to see all of the 'a' answers to the first question of
the poll today (meaning that they are using Ruby all the time in their
work). This seems to be a marked change in the Ruby community since a
year ago when the 'a' answer would have been much rarer.

Can some of the folks who use Ruby 'all the time' at work offer advice on
how to find Ruby work/contracts? I suspect 'Learn Rails' would top the
list - but what about other areas besides web programming - is Ruby making
more inroads in those areas as well?

How about those of us who have not done any web programming in the past,
but know Ruby - do we have an edge for the web programming (Rails) jobs
as well, or is it better to have done web programming and no Ruby than
the other way around? Just curious. I'm considering learning SQL and
Rails and trying to get into web programming field so I can get paid to
do Ruby programming again, but I've never done any web programming
before (one of the last holdouts, I guess).

Phil

Francis Hwang
http://fhwang.net/

I work on web programming. My clients (Cisco Systems Argentina and
Reed Exhibitions among them) always trust my judgement to choose the
right technology, so my advice would be to be prepared to explain why
Ruby is better and to be confident. There's no way they can beat you
on this topic.

Michel.

···

On Sat, 26 Mar 2005 10:54:49 +0900, Phil Tomson <ptkwt@aracnet.com> wrote:

It's interesting to see all of the 'a' answers to the first question of
the poll today (meaning that they are using Ruby all the time in their
work). This seems to be a marked change in the Ruby community since a
year ago when the 'a' answer would have been much rarer.

Can some of the folks who use Ruby 'all the time' at work offer advice on
how to find Ruby work/contracts? I suspect 'Learn Rails' would top the
list - but what about other areas besides web programming - is Ruby making
more inroads in those areas as well?

At first it seems a tricky question, but then the answer seems
somewhat obvious. If you're going to do Ruby on the Web, it pays to
have experience with one, the other, or both. You certainly have the
edge over those who have neither :slight_smile:

Having done tons of web apps (since 1996~), but little Ruby, I'd say
your odds are about as good as mine. Of course, I'm the exception as
little of my web programming was object oriented. Competition between
you and a Java web programmer may give the edge to the Java
programmer. Even then, I doubt it's much of an edge (ie: knowledge of
the community and existing libraries offsets much of that).

Web programming is certainly a different mindset, but getting the
basics of it ("screens", hiding variables for continuity, etc.)
probably only takes a weekend or so. Of course, that assumes you know
HTML. Mastering all of the details, as with anything, can take a
lifetime.

···

On Sat, 26 Mar 2005 10:54:49 +0900, Phil Tomson <ptkwt@aracnet.com> wrote:

It's interesting to see all of the 'a' answers to the first question of
the poll today (meaning that they are using Ruby all the time in their
work). This seems to be a marked change in the Ruby community since a
year ago when the 'a' answer would have been much rarer.

Can some of the folks who use Ruby 'all the time' at work offer advice on
how to find Ruby work/contracts? I suspect 'Learn Rails' would top the
list - but what about other areas besides web programming - is Ruby making
more inroads in those areas as well?

How about those of us who have not done any web programming in the past,
but know Ruby - do we have an edge for the web programming (Rails) jobs
as well, or is it better to have done web programming and no Ruby than
the other way around? Just curious. I'm considering learning SQL and
Rails and trying to get into web programming field so I can get paid to
do Ruby programming again, but I've never done any web programming
before (one of the last holdouts, I guess).

--
Bill Guindon (aka aGorilla)

Phil Tomson wrote:

It's interesting to see all of the 'a' answers to the first question of
the poll today (meaning that they are using Ruby all the time in their
work). This seems to be a marked change in the Ruby community since a
year ago when the 'a' answer would have been much rarer.

Can some of the folks who use Ruby 'all the time' at work offer advice on
how to find Ruby work/contracts? I suspect 'Learn Rails' would top the
list - but what about other areas besides web programming - is Ruby making
more inroads in those areas as well?

I have been writing web and non-web software with Ruby for a living for
about three years, now. Learning Rails may or may not be relevant to the
task of getting jobs writing web software. It's just a tool, a means to an
end, and doesn't take the place of the knowledge and skills needed to
produce a good web based application. So, on that front, my advice would
be to just learn _something_, whether it be Rails or something else, and to
learn by doing. Create something. Create a few somethings. It's in the
act of creating the software that you will start to better understand the
tasks involved in writing good web based applications.

Keep an eye out for opportunities. They don't have to be Ruby specific
opportunities, necessarily, in order for you to use Ruby. Work hard to
build a portfolio of successes. Even if they start small, eventually the
chain of successes will make it easier for returning customers as well as
future clients to accept the use of Ruby on larger and larger projects. I
do a great deal of work for banking and mutual fund sectors, and from where
I sit, they could not care less what programming language their
applications are written in, so long as they deliver the features desired
in the timeframe desired.

And be patient. It can be slow, hard work to find good contracts and to
build the portfolio of work that, in turn, helps you find more work. Good
luck.

Kirk Haines

Phil,

Several years back I read somewhere that industry leaders (speaking of corporate technology firms) are those that create the tools that others will eventually have to learn to use in order to succeed in their own businesses. This seemed to be to be sound not only on the corporate level--but also in terms of my value as an employee and it has served me well as a guiding principle in the last few years.

So to answer your question more directly. Instead of looking for a Ruby job my approach would be to find an area in your own company where you can deliver value by creating facilities that will become widely adopted. Leverage previous successes to do more of the same. Eventually you will own a technology area and will be able to make your own decisions about what technologies are most appropriate for your work.

John-Mason Shackelford

Software Developer
Pearson Educational Measurement

2510 North Dodge St.
Iowa City, IA 52245
ph. 319-354-9200x6214
john-mason.shackelford@pearson.com

  Tomson wrote:

···

It's interesting to see all of the 'a' answers to the first question of the poll today (meaning that they are using Ruby all the time in their work). This seems to be a marked change in the Ruby community since a year ago when the 'a' answer would have been much rarer.

Can some of the folks who use Ruby 'all the time' at work offer advice on how to find Ruby work/contracts? I suspect 'Learn Rails' would top the list - but what about other areas besides web programming - is Ruby making more inroads in those areas as well?

How about those of us who have not done any web programming in the past, but know Ruby - do we have an edge for the web programming (Rails) jobs as well, or is it better to have done web programming and no Ruby than the other way around? Just curious. I'm considering learning SQL and Rails and trying to get into web programming field so I can get paid to do Ruby programming again, but I've never done any web programming before (one of the last holdouts, I guess).

Phil

Phil Tomson wrote:
  > Can some of the folks who use Ruby 'all the time' at work offer advice on

how to find Ruby work/contracts? I suspect 'Learn Rails' would top the list - but what about other areas besides web programming - is Ruby making more inroads in those areas as well?

First of all, in contrast to the jobs as an employee I had before, these days I don't have a boss to prevent me form using Ruby (or strongly recommending Perl or whatever). Second of all, I offer a service to my customers, not a language or a hype. In one case it's testing a dynamic library in another case it's a prototype (or demonstration system if you like).

In both cases the development time is more critical than execution speed. And both projects are newly developed systems, so there's (essentially) no legacy code, which of course makes it relatively easy to choose Ruby.

If these projects were older than they are, I would very likely have to use languages like C, C++, Java, Perl. But luckily they're not, and I really do enjoy that.

I think starting to use a new language in whatever kind of project or product development is not too easy because of the existing legacy code and the "conservation of momentum". Many people don't like changes, except changes they introduce themselves.

How about those of us who have not done any web programming in the past, but know Ruby - do we have an edge for the web programming (Rails) jobs as well, or is it better to have done web programming and no Ruby than the other way around? Just curious. I'm considering learning SQL and Rails and trying to get into web programming field so I can get paid to do Ruby programming again, but I've never done any web programming before (one of the last holdouts, I guess).

You're not alone... :slight_smile:

Happy Easter and happy rubying

Stephan

I'm an atypical employer, but I'm an employer nonetheless: A few weeks back I posted on Craigslist for a Ruby consulting gig in NYC. This is the second time I've done this, and what strikes me is that the vast majority of emails I got were entirely worthless.

Well, I'm not in the New York area, so I wouldn't eve try.

Besides that, I don't think I'm anywhere your caliber of Ruby programmer.

Basically: Ruby employers want somebody who is not just experienced, but passionate as well. So figure out what exactly about Ruby makes you passionate, find a concrete way to turn that passion into experience, and go out and sell that passion and experience to somebody. Eventually, some employer will give you a chance.

Ok, I want to learn a _lot_ more about programming in Ruby. I have broadband at the house, plenty of static IP addresses and a willingness to learn. Has anyone tried long distance pair programming? Other ideas? Do some of the Austin locals want to get together?

-- Matt
Nothing great was ever accomplished without _passion_

···

On Sat, 26 Mar 2005, Francis Hwang wrote:

In article <cae1c428ad4058f303e959b986154943@fhwang.net>,

Hi Phil,

I'm an atypical employer, but I'm an employer nonetheless: A few weeks
back I posted on Craigslist for a Ruby consulting gig in NYC. This is
the second time I've done this, and what strikes me is that the vast
majority of emails I got were entirely worthless.

Beyond the spam resumes--literally, I got some emails from people
claiming to be the perfect candidate for my investment bank, even
though I actually work at an arts-non-profit--I got a lot of
half-hearted, cover-your-ass type resumes that didn't give me any
passion at all about the job.

If you want to get paid to write Ruby, you should understand that Ruby
is not now, and it may never be, the mainstream. That's okay,
statistically speaking, because there are millions of jobs in
computing, and you only need one of them. But because of that minority
position, you will be aiming for minority hirers.

People looking to hire in Ruby are much more likely to be risk-takers
themselves. Where some managers are only trying to not get fired, the
people hiring for Ruby jobs are more likely to be playing to win. And
they are likely to respect and trust other people with similar
attitudes. This is what I've looked for when I've scanned the
applicants I've received, and it's served me well so far.

So, specifically: Don't be afraid to be passionate in your opinions, as
long as you don't go so far as to be dogmatic about them. The middle
manager hiring the 120th Java employee at his investment bank probably
doesn't care about your opinions, but the founder of a four-person firm
which uses Ruby does. He understands that if you use Ruby you enter an
area where lots of change is happening all the time, and he will not
care as much about your certifications as your sensibilities--because
as the landscape changes in six months, it's your sensibilities that
will help make decisions.

Of course, opinions should be founded on experience, and if you don't
have a Ruby job, it's hard to get Ruby experience. So you should go out
and get it on your own. User groups are one way to do this, free
software projects are, too. Pick a pet project--by yourself or with
others--and start building. If that's a web programming project, fine,
but it doesn't have to be. It should be something you are excited
about, though. So that when you get a job interview for a Ruby job, and
your prospective employer asks you about your Ruby experience, you can
say "Well we don't use Ruby at my current job, but in my spare time
I've been doing such-and-such-a-program with Ruby, and trying out
such-and-such-a-framework and it mostly helps, though it lacks
such-and-such-a-feature but maybe that'll be taken care of when the
next version comes out, which is supposed to be in about three months."
That answer will come quite naturally if you've been engaged in a
project you care about, as opposed to something you simply treat as
homework.

Basically: Ruby employers want somebody who is not just experienced,
but passionate as well. So figure out what exactly about Ruby makes you
passionate, find a concrete way to turn that passion into experience,
and go out and sell that passion and experience to somebody.
Eventually, some employer will give you a chance.

Good advice.

Actually I have quite a bit of Ruby experience (including some paid
gigs - but currenly I'm between gigs). I was once nearly fired for using
Ruby on a project even (wow, that's almost exactly four years ago now
;-). I ended up leaving before they could do that because I realized I
needed be be with a more forward-thinking organization. Now,
interestingly enough, Ruby has managed to infiltrate that same organization
from other directions - so I was just a bit ahead of my time. Ruby
definately seems more mainstream than it was 4 years ago and perhaps even
a bit less 'risky'.

My question was more related to web programming: I have no web
programming experience, but I do have Ruby experience.

Phil

···

Francis Hwang <sera@fhwang.net> wrote:

I don't hire others, but I did read an excellent article[1] about it by Joel Spolsky. His basic premise is that you only really need to be looking for two characteristics "Smart" and "Get's Things Done", because everything else can be learned. If you read one though, you'll see that he eventually starts talking about looking for "passion".

Spolsky is a pretty opinionated guy and we don't always agree on things. I don't even agree with everything in the referenced article, but I do like the qualities he looks for in new hire.

Just thought I would share. Sorry to drift off topic.

[1]: http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/fog0000000073.html

James Edward Gray II

···

On Mar 25, 2005, at 8:35 PM, Francis Hwang wrote:

So, specifically: Don't be afraid to be passionate in your opinions, as long as you don't go so far as to be dogmatic about them.

This is probably too early (in several ways, no broadband, only a newbie to
Ruby), but at some point I'd like to try pair programming--local or long
distance.

Randy Kramer

···

On Friday 25 March 2005 09:55 pm, Matt Lawrence wrote:

Ok, I want to learn a _lot_ more about programming in Ruby. I have
broadband at the house, plenty of static IP addresses and a willingness to
learn. Has anyone tried long distance pair programming? Other ideas? Do
some of the Austin locals want to get together?

* Matt Lawrence <matt@technoronin.com> [2005-03-26 11:55:51 +0900]:

Ok, I want to learn a _lot_ more about programming in Ruby. I have
broadband at the house, plenty of static IP addresses and a willingness to
learn. Has anyone tried long distance pair programming? Other ideas? Do
some of the Austin locals want to get together?

Do you mean Austin, TX? I reckin so.
Email me at jfn _at_ freeze _dot_ org.

···

--
Jim Freeze
Code Red. Code Ruby

In the long term I don't know if you absolutely positively have to be involved in web programming. But I do think that new languages have better chances of taking root in new domain areas, and web programming is one of those newer areas. But it's not the only one. Tim Bray has a convenient list at http://www.tbray.org/ongoing/When/200x/2005/03/15/OneSunYear#p-7 :

"What’s Not Boring? Cellphones aren’t boring (of all the J2*E’s, I like one with ‘M’ the best). Open Source isn’t boring. Dynamic languages aren’t boring. Web services and SOA aren’t boring, but we may have to destroy that village in order to save it. High-level support for CMT/TLP isn’t boring. Extreme Programming and Agile Development and Test-Driven Development aren’t boring. Ajax isn’t boring. Distributed applications based on RSS/Atom syndication aren’t boring. UBL isn’t boring. Health-care informatics reform isn’t boring. Unified multimodal communication (think voice, chat, email, syndication, video, and whatever comes next) isn’t boring. Distributed identity isn’t boring. The intellectual-property wars aren’t boring."

Personally, if I were talking to a smart 18-year-old hacker today, I might tell him to skip web programming altogether and jump into podcasting and/or VOIP, particularly any efforts to enrich these formats with semantic data to make them even superior to conventional audio signals sent over radio or phone networks. I'd be in there myself, if I didn't have my hands full with all my web-related stuff.

But, as always, it's easiest to make a mark in a field that you're excited about.

Francis Hwang
http://fhwang.net/

···

On Mar 25, 2005, at 11:04 PM, Phil Tomson wrote:

My question was more related to web programming: I have no web
programming experience, but I do have Ruby experience.

For long distance, it's tough to beat voice + MoonEdit for Win/Linux.

···

On Sat, 26 Mar 2005 13:09:27 +0900, Randy Kramer <rhkramer@gmail.com> wrote:

On Friday 25 March 2005 09:55 pm, Matt Lawrence wrote:
> Ok, I want to learn a _lot_ more about programming in Ruby. I have
> broadband at the house, plenty of static IP addresses and a willingness to
> learn. Has anyone tried long distance pair programming? Other ideas? Do
> some of the Austin locals want to get together?

This is probably too early (in several ways, no broadband, only a newbie to
Ruby), but at some point I'd like to try pair programming--local or long
distance.

--
Bill Guindon (aka aGorilla)

Very easy to beat: voice + SubEthaEdit for MacOS X. :>

···

Bill Guindon <agorilla@gmail.com> wrote:

For long distance, it's tough to beat voice + MoonEdit for Win/Linux.

--
Luc Heinrich - lucsky@mac.com