Friday, May 31, 2013

Learning Ruby on Rails Day: 220! Lots of things are happening!!!

Holy Cow! it's amazing to me that 7 months ago I was just starting to learn Ruby on Rails and now, I just got off the phone with Bloomberg! Anyway, lot's of stuff going on, lot's of recruiters calling and I've done several phone interviews. 

 I say all that, not to brag but to encourage you to not wait, if you want to be a developer, go for it! The time is not tomorrow or down the road, the time is now! You CAN get hired as a self taught developer with no degree. I'll tell you more of what's going on June 6th as promised.

By the way, I'll tell you  a secrect: I'm writing an article to be published on a fairly large site soon(I'll tell you where, when it's done)...remember mum's the word ;)

I  just got mentioned on the 48days Podcast!!! Which has over 90,000 downloads per week! Check it out =>  48DaysPodcast I'm at minute -38:04. I love the 48DaysPodcast, and I was just so excited to get mentioned on it, made my week :-)

 Been studying hard as ever, but I'm not going to lie, this whole search engine thing is harder than I thought. I'm not giving up or anything like that, I hope like heck I make my 3 week deadline!!!

There is nothing quite like falling asleep on the couch and having your wife wake you up in the middle of the night and say: "Honey what are you doing? Come to bed." :-)

The cartoon I drew received great feedback, so I have another planned for this weekend or Monday, so stay tuned for another of my corny nerd cartoons!- Josh

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Learning Ruby on Rails Day: 217 "Custom Cartoon" :-)

Lots going on here, I have had several different things trying to steal my time this week, from my kids getting my glasses and breaking them to getting called to do speciality shoeing for a Vet.
In my head I'm always thinking: "Okay, I'll do this to make some money, but I need to get home and get coding or else I'm going to fall behind".

I don't want to be a spammy kind of person and always be asking people for retweets and stuff, so this Thursday Is the last time I'm going to be asking to retweet "Please hire me". I hate when all people say is "Look at me! Look at me!" If you want to retweet on other days I'd love it, but I won't be pushy and asking you all the time.

This week in Virginia it's going to be 90 degrees or hotter, when I got home today from shoeing I kept saying to my wife: "What's that smell...oh wow that's me" :-) 

Totally excited to be working on making my own web crawler/search engine. I want to know Ruby better and not just as a "copy and paste" type of thing, I want to know it like a comfy pair of socks, something I look forward toward versus dread.

Thank you for your continued support and encouragement,  I have been shocked by all the kindness! I've included a cartoon I just made below, I used to be a caricature artist at a large theme park and I used to draw cartoons for a local newspaper as a teenager. If the cartoon sucks just let me know and I won't bore you with anymore of my corny nerd cartoons :-)

Monday, May 27, 2013

End of Week 31 = 665.75 hours learning RoR!!!

For the next 2 weeks I'll be featuring my Launch Website:
Check it out!!

What a week, learned a lot. Studied 25 hours this past week, accomplished quite a bit. I'm starting my next project, I'm making a Ruby search engine, I'm not saying it's going to beat Google, but a search engine just the same. The reason for this is I need to know Ruby better and I feel like this will put a little pressure on me.

My deadline to have it done is 3 weeks from my website launch date May 23rd, so at the latest, it must be done by June 13th, I'm hoping to have it done sooner, but I'm not sure how complicated it's going to be.

There are 3 basic things I need to do: (1) Extract links, (2) Crawl the web, and (3) Rank the search results. Then just put those steps together into a homemade search engine. Easy right? We'll see :-)

I think I'm going to make it into a RoR project, so I can have a slick interface to use, maybe even a log in, just so it's "exclusive". I was thinking that maybe I could make it into a Gem but I don't know who would want to use it, or how it would benefit a project. I want to make my own Gem down the road, I think it would be cool. Heck, everything in RoR is cool :-)  -Josh

Friday, May 24, 2013

Day 213 = WoW!

For the next 2 weeks I'll be featuring my Launch Website:
Check it out!!

Sorry I haven't blogged I've been recovering from this whirlwind like experience from the last few days. I ended up staying up on Wednesday the day before my site launched from 7:55p.m. to 4:40a.m. working on it, then got up at 6:45a.m. to go meet with +David Bock for a code review/DNS help session.

I then went and shod horses, went directly from my last stop up to the Arlington Ruby Meetup to hear David Bock speak (which was awesome, learned a ton!). I got home and stayed up till 3:30a.m. fixing 2 errors and checking my DNS issues. Thursday morning I launched the site with only a slight glitch.

Thursday morning my kids got hold of my glasses and broke them, I had to go to an eye appointment, glue my frames together than go and shoe horses all day. Finally got home, responded to some people, tried to watch a show with my wife and crashed. My wife has been SOO awesome, encouraging, and supportive, throughout this entire learning journey, especially this past week.

I really think you need that constant support of a loved one, partner, or mentor to keep going even when you are exhausted or discouraged, and not to allow "Life" to take over and forget about your goal.

I will be giving an update to how job hunting is going for me on June 6th,  2 weeks from the launch date. A lot of people have been asking me how it's going, I think I am the guinea pig of self taught RoR's and I think alot of people want to see if what I'm doing will actually pan out in the end with an actual job offer.......oh the tension you'll just have to wait for June 6th and then I will spill the beans :-)

Thank you so much for every one's ongoing support, I was blown away by the retweets and the amount of traffic my blog got (The highest ever by far). I also got personal feedback on how I my site could be improved from the great @coreyhaines! Totally blown away! This morning David Bock told me to look at Ruby5 and see the latest podcast  and there I am mentioned on Ruby5! How cool is that, 7 months ago I barely knew how to 'cd' into a directory and now this!

I am so grateful, and so blessed to have such an awesome group of people to help and cheer me on, and the ever amazing RoR community!

I hope I don't sound cocky, I have always wanted to pull this off just to show others that are in a similar situation that it can be done....I'm feeling like that dream is getting closer to a reality! -Josh

Thursday, May 23, 2013

7 Month 212 Day Learning Ruby on Rails Journey = 658.75 hours of studying/learning!!!

Drum Roll please.... I'm ready to get hired!

Sorry for the long URL I'm having DNS issues, I will fix shortly but I wanted you to see the finished site! Check it out and let me know what you think!

This is the one time I'm shamelessly begging for shares and retweets!!! :-)  -Josh

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Learning Ruby On Rails: 2 Days Left!!

Getting down to the wire, this is where all the work pays off. I love a good deadline, just the name alone is inspiring, makes me get more creative.

Well a lot of people have been asking me if they think I'll get hired or not and my response is always the same, an enthusiastic "Yes!" ...I wouldn't be pushing as hard as I have if I didn't believe with all my heart I could get hired doing it.

I can't wait for Thursday the 23rd to come, I say bring the future!

I'm meeting with David Bock one of the partners of Code Sherpas tomorrow for an overall code review on how I'm doing as a Junior RoR developer and in what areas I can improve.

I'm excited about meeting David on Wednesday and I'll let you know what kind of feedback I get.

Once I finish my day job in a few hours it's back to coding, gotta' make some magic happen before Thursday :-)

Monday, May 20, 2013

End of Week 30 = 640.75 hours of learning Ruby on Rails!!!

                                                  "We Learn By Doing." - Aristotle

I love that quote, it may not be true for everyone, but it's certainly true for me. I like to read things, but if someone shows me how to do something then I do it, I remember WAY more than just reading an article or tutorial.

Loving my "Secret" site, things are moving right along, the Heroku error I had the other day ended up being an easy fix, I was missing a file on Heroku that apparently I didn't push correctly, that's why the website worked fine using 'rails s' but failed when trying to open with Heroku.

I love a good 1 -1.5 hour error where you keep looking at an error till your eyes fall out, because then I remember the error codes in my mind and can fix the error much quicker next time. I think any developer worth his salt will need to suffer through about 1 million errors till they are any good, I'm not at a million yet, but I fixed one more on the way to getting good.

My ultimate goal once I get hired is to become in the top 5% of Ruby on Rails developers in the next 5 years. I want to keep track of my hours on this blog and see how long it takes me to get to 10,000 hours and also how good I am at that point, so getting hired as a junior dev is just step 1.

Buying my site's domain name today, and working on some Css issues.

 3 days can you feel that?'s called excitement :-)   Josh

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Day: 209...only 4 days left!!

4 days left till the deadline on May 23rd, 7 months from when I started learning Ruby on Rails.

I had a very productive week got a lot done on the site my 3rd attempt I should add :-)  I'm working on getting the font to look exactly how I want it to right now. 

 Although it's probably not exactly how Css is supposed to be done. I am very proud to be doing it all from scratch on my own and not using something like Twitter Bootstrap.

I put in just over 26 hours this week, I am totally addicted to coding whether  I'm really good or not remains to be decided, either way I really enjoy coding just the same :-)

I have just over 640 hours total so far studying since I started October 23rd. Its funny the more I learn the more things there are still to learn, and the more I want to know more. It feels sort of like an alcoholic who knows he should quit but just can't  :-)

Just finished playing Hungry Hippos with my little guys now they are in bed. Time to get some more coding in. Till tomorrow- Josh

Saturday, May 18, 2013

5 Days Left...Can you feel the pressure :-)

Well 5 days left and I just junked my last app. Why? because it wasn't what I wanted, I swear by the 3rd time or so making an application you start you get more clarity for what you really want.

I'm not worried what's a little pressure right :-) Loving my 21 day Github streak. I've decided with this application to not use the 'Bootstrap' gem and instead to truly do all the CSS/Sass myself.

Our 5th year anniversary was yesterday, we got matching tattoos, went to the Cheesecake Factory, and got a massage. Not a bad day if I do say so :-)

Just bought my little guy Ben the little magnetic fishing game, going to play it with him for a little bit then put him down for a nap and then I'm putting on my coding game face....time to kick some code's butt. - Josh

Friday, May 17, 2013

Start count down : 6 Days left till Deadline!

Things are going well, I'm learning more and more and loving life :-) It's good to feel like you are where you want to be when reaching for a goal.
The site is coming along great, it's amazing how quick it is to whip out a generic site with some basic content and stuff.
Now it's about making the site actually function as a full fledged Web Application versus just a static site.
I think if I only learned 1 thing over the past year is: " Never give up, keep trying and eventually you'll get it". That seems to be true for everything I've learned so far, as long as you keep studying/learning eventually you'll get there.
Just a few more days peeps, just got to keep on keeping on. Since I can't show you what I'm making, I thought I'd show you a picture of the family:-)

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Learning Ruby on Rails: 9 Days left!!

I will make this brief as I need to really keep working right now, but I want to keep giving updates. I'm working on the May 23rd "Top_Secret Surprise". I am on my second attempt after not liking my first attempt 17 commits into it.

Round 2 is going well, more clarity with what I want. I am going to be using Javascript in this site, which will be my first time in a real site instead of tutorials.

Man I love a tough deadline, it makes me super creative! I will not be showing any photos of the site's progress as I don't want to give away what it is I am making, so I decided to show you my other office. My outdoor office, where I go to when I'm not coding:

Watch "Day at the office" on YouTube

I'm currently on a Github high, 19 days of straight commits will make anyone feel good :-) Keep coding peeps, we are almost there :-) - Josh

Monday, May 13, 2013

End of Week 29 = 10 Days Left....600+ hours and counting!!!

Wow what a learning experience it is to get a site built to order, and in a certain amount of time. I swear bugs jump up from no where when you are trying to get something done in a short amount of time.

Here's where I am at:

1)  I need to get the site looking better on mobile devices.

2) The site "portfolio" page loads WAY to slow, an error on how I'm calling Flickr's API on my part.

3) Peter (the company owner) wants to tweak the "Services" page and maybe add some different things.

4) I took the logo image from an email and cropped it, so it's pretty fuzzy. I should be getting the pdf file from the designer soon.

5) I screwed up the DNS name somehow with Amazon's "AWS" 53 service and the URL displays the Heroku URL instead of the name.

I'm sure there are many more things I could/should do for the site, but after I fix the above, I'm calling it done. At least for now.

I'm meeting with Peter Wednesday evening to touch base, tweak things and put a little spit & polish on the site. Till then I am not working on the site anymore tonight or tomorrow.

Last week I had an awesome week. I studied/learned 29 hours and 40 minutes, no brag just fact! 617.5 hours so far. 10 days left and I only have 17 commits for my "Surprise" site for the 23rd. I will get it done peeps, box me in a corner and I will make magic happen or never go to bed :-)

Totally excited about coming to the end of my learning journey so far and seeing what happens, can't wait for the 23rd to knock your socks off with some mad coding skills :-)

No more time for talking, back to the grindstone. If you're not dreaming in code you need to get more excited about this whole thing! - Josh

Sunday, May 12, 2013

615 hours studied and my site is up now!

Check out ! It took me a while but I feel fairly happy with the finished product. It was an awesome all around learning experience :-)

I had to put the code repo to "private" to hide the email password and the Flicker secret Api key. I'm sure there has to be a better way, but for now that will have to do.

Only 11 days till my surprise on the 23rd, working my butt off on it right now to get it done in time. Wish me luck :-)

The site "wellspring" has the contact page send emails with all the contact form information. The "portfolio" page calls Flickr's api using the gem "FlickRaw', to upload photos from my friend Peter's phone to the "Portfolio" page whenever he takes a picture and clicks 'upload', so he's pretty happy with how convenient that is.

Several things I may change down the road: Fonts: a little softer. More mobile friendly. Possible have all uploaded pictures come with a standard border.

Time to code, time is running out like water from a bucket full of holes.- Josh

Monday, May 6, 2013

Learning Ruby on Rails Day: 195 = The Devil is in the details :-)

Wow, I have learned so much, and have So little to show for it :-)

I mean that in a positive way, I was hoping to get 4 sites completely done on my own in basically 35 - 40 days, spending 3 hours a night working on them. Well I am here to tell you 2 things:

(1) My mind can code a lot faster than my hands actually can.


(2) I am so glad I decide to actually start making stuff my self and not just do online tutorials, In hindsight I should have started on real world projects on my own sooner.

What's slowing me down?

(1) Errors: Googling and finding the answer after 2 - 3 hours of trying things that didn't work.

(2) Bugs: I know my site is VERY basic, however, one wrong '/' instead of a '#' in the routes file can have you searching in the wrong file trying to fix a problem that doesn't exist.

(3) Design: Not knowing how to properly design a website from start to finish. I realize now, I shouldn't have worried at all how the Css looked on my first website attempt, I should have focused on getting the tricky parts out of the way first.

With that said, I can not stress enough how much fun I've had and more confident I feel since making this site on my own. I will be posting a link shortly of the finished site, once I show it to my friend and get the domain name from him.

Next project = Surprise! for May 23rd. I will be giving you updates and telling you how it is going, but I will not be telling you what exactly it is until my surprise release date of May 23rd!

Okay, back to work, the night is young and we all have a lot of coding to do :-)  -Josh

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Learning Ruby on Rails Day 193: Talking to Flickr's API

VICTORY! last post I told you I wish I had some really upbeat positive news, but I didn't have any. Well last night that changed, I have officailly used my first API, Flickr.

Learning to read the Flickr API documentation took a while for me and was a little bit of a learning curve, but I feel like now I get the general idea of how they work, so I feel really good about that.

I have my friend's site that I'm building call Flickr's API and get his most recent photo uploads and then put the photos in his portfolio page of his website. Now in thereoy anyway I have the site done, it's just a matter of assembling everything together and make sure it's still all working. Still need to put a little "spit and polish" on the site's Css and then deploy it to Heroku, but I feel like the trickiest part of this site is behind me.

20.25 hours of studying so far this week,  my wife's is out of town for the day at a conference, so it's my turn to watch the kiddos today, going to take them to see the grandparents, hopefully the little buggers will sleep at some point and I'll get some studying in today.

Hey, just met a really cool fellow traveler on the journey of learning Ruby on Rails @_ZPH. The man is hard core he's made some serious stuff, what I love about his journey is we are both working full time jobs as we are learning RoR. Check out his blog at

Time to feed the boys some breakfast then head down to the gramps. Study peeps! - Josh

Friday, May 3, 2013

Learning Ruby on Rails Day: 192 = 575.75 hours!

I haven't forgotten to blog. I was just hoping to have things more finished, and have a little better news to report then the actually truth :-)

I've studied 15.75 hours this week so far not including today so that's pretty good. This week has been a week of errors, which is probably more what real life development is going to be, like I'd imagine. I've probably remade my friend's website over from scratch about 12 -15 times now, and yes I can whip out the site pretty darn fast now.

The 80/20 rule seems to be true in everything in life, 80% of the site is done and not very difficult to do. However the other 20% has been giving me heck. I can easily get my application to send emails, but then it was sending empty emails, or the email wouldn't send till the next day. When I did get it 100% working Heroku decided to have fun with me and not let the site work on there server :-)

It's all good, I'm not discouraged, I wanted to give an amazing update and really positive news, however the truth is, I've been struggling with errors,  getting the mailer and  Flickr API to work properly. No need to fear, after work today, I'm driving 40 miles to pair program with a friend into the whee hours of the night...Rails will be defeated!

On the positive, I'm learning a lot of basic errors, and when I read the error messages I'm feeling less scared and more confident that I can figure the error out, even if it takes a while.

No more time for dilly dallying, Onward and Upward Peeps,...Time to show Rails who's boss! - Josh