Friday, June 28, 2013

Surprise Announcement!

I promised a surprise in the last blog post, well here it is: SURPRISE! Go on, be brave and click on the link, you'll be happy you did :-)

A couple weeks ago +Guille Carlos asked me if I wanted to help teach an absolute beginners Ruby class. I was of course thrilled to be asked in the first place, in the second I would love the chance to get to pick Guille's brain on my own coding issues, and thirdly I've always heard that you really get to know a subject better when you start teaching it :-)

The website link (in case you are afraid to click on the random unknown link above) is: a site Guille made to allow people to sign up for the class, or if they just want to be kept in the loop with how it goes. The class should be starting in the next couple weeks, covering such topics as:

1. Command Line
2. Text Editor
3. Basics of Programming
4. Ruby Script Time

In my experience and in talking to a lot of new people learning to code. Beginners need the VERY basics down before even worrying about how to run a local 'rails s' server and how to push to Github. 

Brand new beginner programmers need to know: how to open, modify, rename, and save a file in the editor and smallish other tasks like that, things that most developers take for granted, but new people don't know. Once new developers do know the basics: navigating through their computer and doing the basic things in Ruby, the terminal, and the text editor, their confidence levels will soar :-)

The class is going to be free for now, not sure about the future. The class for now is just going to be for the Northern Va area, but that may change who knows, to being something online as well. Sign up if want to be kept in the loop with what goes on with the

In other news I gave my second Lightning talk at ArlingtonRuby this past Wednesday. I haven't done ANY public speaking since I was 18 and won an art contest at the local library. When I won the art contest, I had to speak for a minute or two. I remember feeling like I was going to faint and people feeling sorry for the poor little home-schooled kid who was scared out of his mind and being nice to me afterwards.

I was nervous last Wednesday, 10 years later at 28 giving a talk, but to be honest I really enjoyed the rush I got getting up and giving the talk, so who knows maybe I'll do more down the road.

Lastly to encourage others who accuse me of being super human and always studying so much every night. Let me show you otherwise. Last night I didn't study at all.

Yesterday I had to shoe a TON of horses and I ran out of water at my last stop, and the humidity was over 70%. By 7:30pm I stopped sweating and started getting light headed. I finished shoeing right at dark and got home just after 10pm. All I could do last night was to lay on the couch, watch a show with my wife, and drink fluids.

You can't win everyday, just make sure you hit your weekly hourly studying goals. Mine is 21 hours, which I'll catch up on this week. Going to an interview today, wish me luck :-) Josh

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Learning RoR, 8 months later.

Wow, what a journey. It's been 8 months since I started learning RoR hard core with no excuses, a lot has happened, and I thought I'd give an overview/update.

It's been 1 month after my resume website launch, still not hired as of yet. The day is coming soon though, so no need to freak :-) I've had the oppurtunity to interview over 10 times, with several job offers and contigency offers. If you are worried that you won't be able to get a job as a self taught RoR developer don't be.

This blog is now getting just shy of 1,000 unique visitors per month, over 1,500 visits per month and well over 3,000 page views per month. All I can say is wow!  If you are learning to code regardless of the language I can't recommend enough the need to start a blog today!

I just got an invite to Ruby DCamp which is just the icing on the cake to this whole learning RoR. Only 77 people get to go to Ruby DCamp and yours truly thanks to +David Bock and +Evan Light got in! I am SOOO excited to be going, I've heard so many good things about Ruby DCamp :-)

Every week I receive 5 - 8 emails asking for advice on how to learn to code, I feel slightly like an imposter as I am definitely just a junior developer, but I give what help I can. 8 months ago, I never would have thought that a redneck horseshoer would be giving ANY coding advice, again all I can say is WoW!

Last but not least, the surprise I promised from a while back: I have written an article for which I was told yesterday is going to be published VERY soon, totally excited about that! was started by +Dale J. Stephens  the author of  "Hacking Your Education" which was very inspiring to me,  I highly recommend it!

Please note, I don't receive any royalties from the book, and was not told or asked to mention the book, I just REALLY love what Dale's done :-)

Time to code, can't wait for Arlington Ruby tonight! I can't say now (because I've been sworn to secrecy, but cool stuff is going to be announced tonight. Go +Guille Carlos ! -Josh

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Day 242 Learning Ruby on Rails = 751 hours

I promised to keep you updated about the new company: "BFK" formed with +David Bock and +Carl Fyffe. We are meeting this Sunday at Panera to have a huge study session and work on our super cool super secrect product :-) I can't wait!

I've been scatter brained lately, hopping from learning one thing to another because everything is so new and cool to learn. Right now though I am focusing on learning Ruby more, and trying not to get distracting by anything else.

In Ruby I had no problems when I learned about loops: while, for, until... but when it came to .each I had a much harder time with it for some reason. Apparently .each is like the ultimate way to iterate over things, so I'm trying not to cheat and use loops and make myself use .each.

I know this is weird, but I love being able to use REGEX in Ruby like: .gsub!(/s/, "th") now that's simple, and I don't know much of REGEX at all, BUT I feel like using regular expressions is almost like another level of programmer, almost like a super power. With just a few characters you can save yourself from writing several lines of code.

I would love to quit my job, rent a cabin somewhere in the blue ridge mountains, take my wife and kids with me and not return to civilization until I have mastered REGEX. Unfortunately, my wife and kids like eating and me paying the bills, so I will just keep on learning 21+ hours per week while keeping my full time job :-)

When I first started learning RoR I loved Rails and was like: "Oh I don't like Ruby, there's not enough magic." but actually as I'm learning Ruby a little more and more I see that I was the one mistaken. We have a black magic like power in our friend Ruby, and we should dive in deeper to learn more and understand more. +Zander z has been a great encourager in regards to Ruby.

I am studying Ruby in my truck on the way down to Fredericksburg to help my Dad fix his refrigerator. I love my wife for driving so I can sneak in some study time! Love my awesome wife :-)

Monday, June 17, 2013

Learning Ruby on Rails End of Week 34 = 738 total hours studying!

Smell that?... that's fresh code being made! You have to love learning RoR, I mean what an awesome, easy to read and understandable Ruby language teaming up with the magical Rails framework. Some times I'm afraid I'm an imposter to a REAL PURE programmer, it's so cool to be able to have something up and running in a matter of minutes!

Anyhow enough with that, what am I doing? I'm learning more about Ruby for the time being, trying to understand Ruby itself more without Rails, for right now.

I wanted to right a blog post and just say "Everything's GREAT!" but that would be kind of short and weird. I don't know what your supposed to say when life is good and everyday code is making more and more sense, when you start having dreams about coding better than DHH only to wake up and realize you are still a junior dev. :-)

If you ever go sledding, than you know where I am. I'm walking back up the hill and occasionally slipping in the slushy mud of code but all in all getting closer to the top of the hill. When I reach the top, I'll jump on the "coding sled" enjoy the new progress and then climb back up.

See? We learned everything we needed to know about life when we were kids sledding. :-) Josh

Friday, June 14, 2013

How to stay motivated to learn Ruby on Rails

I'm am writing this post while sitting in my black 2003 Tundra. I'm waiting to go to my next stop and thought I'd write between shoeing appointments. I just got kicked 20 minutes ago, the horse missed my knee and got my upper thigh.

I was instantly angry, but then after a few minutes I thought to myself, I should blame myself for picking this career and also be thankful for such a great motivator. I haven't been slacking off on learning/studying but that kick re-motivated me and put the fear of the Lord into me for learning RoR!

I love helping new people learning RoR and get emails that say: "How do you stay so motivated?" and such. Today I have found a full proof plan to energize and motivate anyone who would like to be more motivated to study and learn programming.

                             "Josh Kemp's Secret Technique To Learn RoR!"

Step 1: Make a goal of how many hours you would like to study each week.

Step 2: Shoot me an email with that number.

Step 3: I will email you at the end of the week and ask you how many hours you studied.

Step 4: If you missed your hourly study goal, you must come ride with me shoeing horses for a day
and I will make you trim one of my most dangerous horses.

Step 5: You will never miss your hourly study goals again :-)

I am now accepting applications to my free " Coding Accountability" program :-)

Seriously if you are lacking motivation to study/learn programming, tell someone your goal and keep yourself accountable to hit you hourly study goals, you will learn faster than you ever thought possible! - Josh

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

I need stickers!!!

Okay so here's the deal, I only have 2 stickers on my Mac, and I'm not cool with that, I have a Github and CodeSherpas sticker. I would like a Firefox sticker or something cool like that, heck any sticker is a good sticker at this point in the game.

If you send me a sticker I will mention you or your company in my blog, so get on it peeps, my Mac is feeling kinda' naked at the moment. Remember that old Ruby equation:

@more_stickers_on_mac == "Awesome Developer!"

So of course I need them!

I finished the first attempt at the user stories for our product last night, so that's cool. I know I promised another cartoon, I have one, just need to ink it in :-)

5 hours down so far for this week Monday, so we're off to a good start! -Josh

email me for my address: or DM me on Twitter @joshuakemp01

Monday, June 10, 2013

End of week 33 = 716.75 hours spent learning RoR!!!

Had a great week, got in 30 hours of studying my personal best ever! I'm working on writing the User stories and Scenarios for our product, just got to finish them up tonight.

As I told you last time, I'm putting some things on hold for the time being, including the Dream Keeper Farms site. Thought I'd show you what the site looked like after 18 hours of work, here's my Heroku link to the site: Dream Keeper Farms   It's only 80% of the way done, and yes the sign in authorization needs some love, which I will do after this product is released.  Here's the site they are using currently: Original Dream Keeper Farm Site .

Life, shoeing, and coding is all going at 100 mph, so not be rude, or too brief, I need to get back to work :-) Oh, I'm giving one of the "Lightning Talks" at ArlingtonRuby this week, so I'm excited! -Josh

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Did I get hired as a Ruby on Rails Developer???

Oh the question every one's been waiting to hear the answer too, did I get hire?........NO!

                                                             THE END.

What? You want more details? FINE! Geez your snoopy :-)

I am totally excited right now to be on the team with my mentor who you've heard me mention many many times +David Bock, along with +Carl Fyffe. We are making a Software as a Service Product! Totally excited to have this awesome opportunity to work with such great guys.

I can't divulge too much, but what I can say is that it's going to be a "Kick butt-knock-your-socks-off-awesome-product". So cool in fact that I am putting my other side projects on hold for the time being, and will not be actively trying to get hired (for at the least the next month).

On the job front, I was offered 2 jobs on day one of the site launch for 35K-40K, so that wasn't going to happen. I also was offered 2 jobs, contingent on the company landing a contract, for 55k-60k and have also been talking to several companies on jobs in the 70k-75k range.

So if you are going to try what I did and self-teach yourself RoR and want to know what you'll roughly be worth: 55K- 60K seems to be the magic number I hear mentioned the most when talking to recruiters and interviewing.

My plan for the next couple months is to give 100% to this project and be like a sponge sucking up as much knowledge and learning as I can working with 2 very senior developers! I will still be shoeing horses for the time being.

I hope I've encouraged you with my Ruby on Rails learning journey, struggles, and transparency. I am so excited for the opportunity to work with +David Bock and +Carl Fyffe. I will let you know how things go along the way. I will still be posting 3x a week.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013


I have started freelancing doing RoR projects/ sites, and have several lined up. I have decided to keep this blog personal, yet professional so: I am going to be sharing exactly what I make/get for each Gig I get on my own.

If it's a company thing of course I wouldn't talk about that, but any projects I wrangle up on my own, I'm spilling the beans. I always have people ask me questions to things quite frankly I don't know, so I want to be transparent in how I went from zero RoR experience to hopefully one day being in the top 5%. I want to always be open to telling others about what and how I learn.

 I don't want everyone to know, how cheap I'm working, like the fact that I traded the first site I made in exchange for 18 holes of golf. BUT,  I will share private information like that in an email after each project. You just have to send me an email that says "Tell me about your projects!"

When I get finished with a project anyone who has sent me an email, will receive an email with things like: "how many hours it took, what I struggled with, and what I get for the project in the end.

I would share that on the blog, but as I get better and better I don't think I should be putting EVERYTHING like that up, even if I'm a fun loving kind of guy:-)

The reason I'm going to send out an email is I always get quite a few emails, DMs with questions like I just mentioned. So I thought I'd share how I get work and how it goes, to those who want to know.

I hope to encourage others that our starting out to go for it and to keep things light hearted and fun around here. Any takers? - Josh 

P.S. my email is:   I'll put it up on the blog in the next few days :-)

Sunday, June 2, 2013

End of Week 32 = 688.75 hours Learning/Studying RoR!!!

The end to another fine week! First the bad news (Don't hate me) I am putting making the Search engine/Web crawler on hold for the time being for several reasons but the main one being: I am making another site for someone, and man does this site need some love!!!

I have 5 hours into this project so far, the below pictures are before and after, I am in NO way done, I still have to make: The mailer, talk to Paypal,  make a couple drop down lists, and then of course the endless tweaking of Css ritual.




Yes! Yes, I know things aren't perfectly centered but you can feel the Rails love permeating all over this new and improved version :-)

So that's what I'm doing among many other things, If I could have 1 wish, I think I'd pick: More Time! There is so much to learn and do and so few hours in a day to do it, how can people sleep when there is a whole world out there to learn about! I say sleep when your dead :-)

I'm pulling strings and crossing fingers, hoping to have more good news for you up ahead. Either way, I'm loving the journey, if your not by this point, I think it's time to "hang up" the ole' Mac Book.

Remember we only need 3 things in this world: Water, Food, and Code. So if you are doing something else, STOP! no excuses, tell them Josh said "STOP! and CODE!" seriously.- Josh