Tjaco Oostdijk

Web Developer | Drummer | Vibist - from Amsterdam

Visit a Meetup Group Asap!

It has been 25 days since my last post and that is way tool long to keep a consistent blog. I can think of a lot of excuses and reasons that it took this long for this post, but then I would be fooling myself. So let’s try to make this a weekly thing from now on.

The last 25 days have been very exciting and today I want to stress the importance of going to a loal meetup group if you are an aspiring web developer. Because of that single fact, my whole prospect for the future has suddenly rotated 180 degrees.

I went to my first Utrecht.rb(Ruby User group in Utrecht, Netherlands) hacknight on the 7th of may. A couple of days before the meetup I got in contact with another member of the group and we ended up driving there together and I am now working together with him, helping each other build their app ideas. So in relation to my last post about building something real, I am now building something really real and working together with someone on a ‘team’, which ofcourse is AWESOME and really makes everything even more ‘real’. This also made me focus on one app for now to really get a grip on developing and managing a real world application. This has now turned my idea into a real life project.

The next thing that blew my mind is that I got an email with a pretty serious work offer and I got accepted and am now getting paid to write ruby (well, at least modify and edit ruby code). So I am now actually learning ruby on the job. I got the invitation solely because I was a member of the local ruby user group. And I haven’t even attended one of this groups meetups at all.(but this is because I always teach drums when they meet).

So if you are hesitating to go to a local meetup, please don’t! It is sooo worth it! I guess some people are scared to put themselves out there, but in my opinion and experience it is almost always not grounded. I had a great time at my first hacknight, although I didn’t get much real hacking done, but I did get a job and a ‘partner in crime’ from these user groups.

So stop reading and visit to check out local user groups in your area!

Let’s Build Something Real

I have been studying Ruby, Rails and related stuff for some time now and have been realizing that I am gonna need some serious practice in order to take a step to the next level. There is just a big difference between reading stuff, doing tutorials (e.g. copy and paste coding), watching videos, conference recordings, pair programming and on the other side just plain old practice, practice, practice. If I would have been reading about playing drums and never touch the instrument, I would probably suck. Ok, yeah, maybe some people think I still suck…

There is ofcourse the concept of the code kata( to get a lot of practice going, but that won’t give you any practice in deploying, source control, layout and design etc. As I’m aiming for the full stack (at least for now, so I understand what goes on from top to bottom) it seems a better option to just start building apps and/or websites. Hey, and maybe I’ll even build something useful that people can actually use, right?

So I have too many ideas… I mean “really too many ideas”.upcase for apps. I think this is the reason I really started to get into the whole web stuff in the first place. I just have an urge to automate stuff and make peoples lives easier(or at least build something that nobody is going to use). This started already when I tried to build a musicians booking system in PHP(i know…)about 10 years ago. I actually almost finished the whole thing and then suddenly I gave up (can’t remember exactly why, but you know…well…it was php, I guess :))

Ok, let’s get to the point. I am gonna filter out my mess of ideas and focus on a couple of projects that I think are cool. These could actually become some useful apps IMHO. The apps are focussed on music stuff, because my ideas tend to flow towards problem solving for musicians. I will also try to constrain myself in the technology/tools I’ll use for these different ideas. What I mean by that is: I am gonna try not to jump around and add every gem I find and use too many new things. There is a real danger in losing focus when there are too many new things to learn at the same time. I will probably find out that I will need some stuff when the app grows, but I’ll have to research the right gems for the job. Ok I’ll stop rambling now.

  • App nr. 1: =>

    Let’s throw away all our traditional drumbooks/materials and move all this to one big online drumbook! So online drum exercises, lessons, challenges etc etc.

    • Tools:
      • Rails 4.1
      • Gems:
        • rspec / capybara
        • puma
        • has_secure_password (bcrypt-ruby)
        • factory girl
        • postgresql (also in development)

  • App nr. 2: Student Manager =>

    Manage your music students with ease! A CRM for music teachers. So for normal contact features but also with a lesson log and homework assignment system.

    • Tools:
      • As much vanilla Rails as possible (just to see how rails does things)
      • Gems:
        • minitest
        • webrick(dev) / postgresql(prod)
        • unicorn
        • has_secure_password (bcrypt-ruby)
        • fixtures

  • App nr. 3: =>

    Track your progress learning Ruby on Rails. An app that manages learning resources, tasks and goals to help you keep on track learning Rails.

    • Tools:
      • Use Thoughtbot’s suspenders gem for this app. This gives a fairly complete starting point.

That is it for now. Be sure to check out the repos and let me know what you think! Time to get coding!

My Favorite Podcasts

As a musician I tend to travel a lot in my car and to put some good use to that time I have gotten into the habbit of following some great podcasts to listen to. At first I thought listening to video tutorials would be a good idea, but it turns out you’d be better of watching them so you can actually see the code… duh :)

I am learning Ruby, Rails and web development stuff, so these podcast are focused on those topics mainly.

My Top 3:

The Ruby Rogues podcast is just awesome. They have long episodes and they tend to cover a lot of ground. Led by Charles Max Wood and the currently regular rogues are: Avdi Grimm, David Brady, Josh Susser and James Edward Gray. They have special guests and they also do a book club once in a while. I highly recommend this one!

This podcast is by Thoughtbot. A great consulting company from Boston(and they also have a great learning program! Learn Prime. This podcast is hosted by Ben Ornstein. It is actually Ben who inspired me to finally start this blog. I heard him mention this a couple of times on different episodes and that led me to starting this finally! Ben always has one guest and the topics don’t only cover tech/development stuff, but also more general stuff and life lessons. Ben(and Thoughtbot) inspired me to dig into learning vim also.

Another great podcast about all things open source. Hosted by Adam Stacoviak and Andrew Thorp. They also have a great weekly newsletter that is sent out every saturday morning. And if you support them by becoming a member(for only $20/year) you get all kinds of cool discounts.

And here are some more great podcasts I listen to regularly: