Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Learning Ruby on Rails Day: 365

1 year ago I came home from shoeing horses hurt, angry, and determined. I hugged my wife and cussed at "them" and said: "I don't care if it takes the rest of my life, I am getting out of shoeing! I am going to teach myself how to code and get hired!"(quite a few cuss words were removed from that sentence) =)

What a year, what an adventure and man do I have a WAYS to go. I can't wait to get to work each day and to learn more, it's great! 4 years 9 months from now I want to be a lead/senior RoR developer, so I need to get learning and make "magic" happen if I'm to accomplish that.

Thanks to everyone who has helped me out especially +David Bock, +Jim Gay,  
+Jason Wieringa ...there are MANY more but those 3 encouraged me the most and I am grateful. I started 1 year ago with zero knowledge, zero connections, and knowing NO one.

Everything I've done, anyone else can do and probably quicker and better. The purpose of this blog was to hold myself accountable and make it publicly known what I was doing. The purpose of this blog now, is to help of noobs, to make it as "junior" developers and to document my 5 year junior to becoming a "senior" developer.

In other news....I offered to do a monthly Google Hangout, but didn't get much response, so I won't be doing it after all. I didn't get to hang out with @codestoic last Sunday, because he had some internet problems, but will make it up this coming Sunday. I will keep you posted on how things are going for him and his journey!

I truly believe we can accomplish 99% of what we set our minds to. 
As Babe Ruth said: "It's hard to beat a person who never gives up."

keep coding peeps!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Learning to code: Day 359

Well I can't believe it, it's almost been 1 year from when I decided to teach myself how to code and get hired on my own. A lot has happened in less than a year it's hard to believe sometimes. I am just now getting used to not shoeing horses and catching myself saying: "I shoe horses" when asked what I do for a living.

I was shocked when someone at work said: "Oh he's one of the engineers" I was thinking, I hope no one hears that :-)  My back used to hurt me SO bad I couldn't sit in a chair for more than 30 minutes. It is just now starting to really feel quite a bit better and not hurt all the time. I've lost my last callous on my hands. I was riding home with a weird feeling today thinking: "Holy crap, everything is so different for me now."

Some big things are happening still, my friend +J. Terrell Allen who 's learning to code himself and is currently an awesome writer recently took my book and gave it a much needed facelift and made it look like super sweet. I will have the "much better formatted" version up on Amazon sometime this week. Thanks J! If you guys need any work done in regards writing, you need to look J up at @jterrell. Even if you don't need any writing done, check out his inspiring "learn to code" blog at J.T's Big Coding Adventure J is a former pastry chef, technical trainer and currently author and freelance writer. The man is going places :-)

This week I was also just contacted by Listen and Think Audio™. They said they really liked my book and wanted to make the audio version and put it up on, Listen and Think Audio™ heard about me from Dan Miller's Podcast. The whole process to pick out a narrarator, record the book and get everything done will take 6+ weeks so it won't happen tomorrow but it felt really good to have a company contact me out of the blue.

I currently am mentoring +Dustin James for the next 8 months (or until he gets hired) and do a Google hangout with him every Sunday night when my kids go to bed. I was thinking though that I'd like to teach some basic things that would be useful, maybe do a monthly "group" hangout, just for an hour or so. I'd teach things like: "How to quickly make a Gist using Jist", "How to install some basic Gems", "How to do some basic Html/Css", "How to convert Html to Haml", "How to use Firebug like a pro". 

I'm not sure how many people can get on a Google hangout at one time, and I'm not sure how much interest there will be. If enough people are interested, I'll do it, if it goes well, I'll do it again.
Email me if you want to be in the first "group" learning session. Email me at Also tell me 3 or 4 things you would like to know more about. 


Monday, October 14, 2013

Ruby on Rails Interviewing: Final

I've mentioned him many times before as one of the instrumental people in helping me on my learning to code journey Jason Wieringa. Jason is located here in Northern Virginia and is an excellent RoR developer who is looking/exploring his options looking for a good fit to be part of an awesome development team. If you would like to know more, contact Jason on Twitter at @jwieringa, +Jason Wieringa  or his email:

How many of our most important or break through moments come unexpectedly or not how we thought they would? 

I was given the opportunity to apprentice with a really skilled highly respected farrier because I made his friend's "Triple shot White Mocha" "the best", while I was working as a supervisor at Starbucks.

 I was able to shoe for an Olympic equestrian rider because a client said: "Oh, Josh he's the best at shoeing Dressage horses!"…boom, I'm shoeing for an Olympian! 

I was hired not by replying to every email and answering the phone for every recruiter that called, but by getting lost in the wrong building and bumping into Kalimar Maia who was also in the wrong building =)

Yes, that's it no secret technique, I was lost and introduced myself to Kalimar and asked if he was going to the Ruby Meetup group as well, and he said yes. We talked a little and hit it off well. We found the right building and I happened to give a short 5 minute presentation that night. Kalimar said I did a good job and that we should get coffee some time.

Kalimar emailed me the next day and I said I'd love to meet for coffee and get some advice on how to get hired or just about development in general. Anyway long story short I had no idea that ZipList was thinking of bringing somebody new onto their team. We met for coffee and towards the end of the conversation mentioned the idea of applying to ZipList. Just over 1 month later I started my first day at ZipList on August 1st!  2 weeks later I completely finished up with all of my shoeing practice and have not touched a horse since!

The moral of the story is: BE NICE TO EVERYONE!….especially when on an elevator =)  Seriously though the "secret" to getting hired as a junior developer is to simply go religiously to local Meetup groups, give short 5 - 10  presentations as often as possible without being obnoxious, and finally after the meetup has finished, go to the local "hangout" afterwards.

From all the emails I receive, I find there are 2 types of people who want to get hired as junior developers. Those who are highly talented/skilled yet never attend any local events or meetups. Then you have the people who basically want to get hired after 2 days of "learning to code" and think they should be making $100K a year and can't believe it actually takes a lot of work to get good enough to get hired.

I know 5 people who are really talented developers (who I won't embarrass here) that no company even knows exist or else they would snatch them up in a heart beat. The reason these 5 developers aren't hired is simply a lack of networking/marketing. You don't have to be a butt hole to get your name out, just be nice and have something interesting or helpful to share and do it consistently.

Yesterday's Google Hangout with +Dustin James  went well, the guy has made fantastic progress putting in 18 hours with still 2 days left in his week! I love working with someone who doesn't mind a little hard work. Watch out for this guy, he is going to knock the coding world's socks off! I am VERY impressed!

Note: Dustin is studying 21 hours per week and lives in Canada, if you want to pair program with him, to learn from him or help him learn faster, hit him up at @codestoic. He is currently in Chapter 11 of Chris Pine's "Learn to Program", so if you've gone through the book before, maybe a Google Hangout is in order :-)

Keep coding peeps!


Thursday, October 10, 2013

Ruby DCamp 2013

I've been pretty busy these past 2 weeks and have been just getting over a serious illness.

Ruby DCamp, yes I was one of the "chosen" only 78 people from around the country and some from Europe get to attend Ruby DCamp each year, and yours truly got to go. First let me say, it was either "nerd heaven" or "nerd hell" depending on your take on the matter. I was warned that I would see some "nerdness" that might be slightly unsettling :-)

Over the weekend I got to learn some: Kung Fu, the ancient game of 'go', Rspec testing, Lots of pair programming, Conway's game of life, how an 'unconference' works, had great food, played Frisbee golf, and got to hang out and talk to some of the coolest/nerdiest people I've ever met :-)

My little kid Ian ended up getting really sick and I had to go home a day early but all in all, I highly recommend going if you can find a way in. A shout out to Chris Mar for taking the time to slowly walk me through Rspec testing, he has an awesome way of bringing things down to your level and making them very easy to understand. That 45 minute pairing session with Chris was worth going to the entire camp on it's own!

I was surprised when I first started trying to learn to code, how every programmer/engineer I talked to who would always "get philosophical" on me whenever trying to explain or describe something. I thought it was interesting to see that it's not just a "local" thing. There were moments when I thought I was in a "theology seminary" and others at an "atheist" convention. Programming and design is all around us in life, I guess I shouldn't be surprised to see these type of conversations prevalent in the development community.

Anyway, had another great day at ZipList, kicking butt learning lots everyday and enjoying it! I can't believe it's been just over 2 months working here now, and to think I haven't picked up a single horse's hoof in the past 6 weeks! I hope to continue that streak for the rest of my life :-)

I'm doing a Google hangout with Dustin James the guy I'm mentoring from Canada who is going to get hired using the "road map" outlined in my book. I am so excited to get this whole thing moving along. I never wanted to be a "teacher" growing up and work at a school, but I realize as time goes on I do love teaching/coaching in general whether or not it's in an academic enviroment.

I'll let you guys know how it goes :-)    


Monday, October 7, 2013

"Get Hired the Hard Way" ...And the winner is???

I apologize for the long delay but I assure you it was worth it. I was surprised by how many people signed up and applied for "Get Hired the Hard Way". After much deliberation I narrowed the field of candidates down to 4 and then had to make some VERY hard choices and finally decided on 1!

Welcome to the winner of "Get Hired the Hard Way": Dustin James of Manitoba, Canada! Here's a short bio of Dustin:

My name is Dustin James - father, husband and Canadian.  I have a business degree and have worked in that field since graduating from University way back in 2006.  I have a small background in web development and am a co-founder of a start-up community here in Canada.  Personal interests include comedy, cartoons (I'm 30), fitness, sports, coding and thinking about the world's problems. I am unwavering in my attempt to find truly fulfilling work and I decided that Josh’s challenge was just what I needed to finally take the plunge and chase some dreams.  Looking forward to self-authoring a new chapter in my life with direction and help from someone who has done the same!

Today is October 7th, 2013 my promise is to help mentor/coach Dustin along and to have him hired no later than 8 months from today June 7th 2014! There I said it, hold my feet to the fire, follow along and if you ever needed a kick in the pants to get started and stick with your goal, now is the time!

Don't just watch success unfold before your eyes and wish it was you, make it you! Start a blog, open a book, fire open the text editor and make something! 8 months from now you'll be a totally different person...but you must start!

Okay, enough of that, Dustin has started a blog so please go follow it, and also go follow his Twitter account, this guy is going to be awesome!

Blog: Follow Dustin's Blog

Twitter: Follow Dustin on Twitter

Dustin has agreed to the tough challenge of studying a minimum of 21 hours per week! I will be giving updates on his progress and how the studying/training is going and stuff we are working on.

If Dustin does not get hired by June 7th 2014, I will have failed and will be publicly embarrassed, so let's get doing some serious coding! =)


Thursday, October 3, 2013

"Get hired the hard way"

I have been the sickest I probably have ever been in my life these last couple days, I 've lost 5 pounds and can hardly function. I have picked the winners and will email everyone over the weekend when I'm feeling better, now back to bed. -Josh