Tuesday, July 30, 2013


My first day at ZipList starts this Thursday, SOOO excited to be taking the next step on my learning journey.

My blog recorded it's highest traffic ever after announcing I got hired. I have also received about a billion emails from people asking for advice. I apologize for not getting back to everyone yet, I 've been very busy. I love getting emails, so keep them coming, I just am a little slow getting back with thoughtful good advice.

I also have been getting asked the always awkward question: "How much did you end up getting?"

Awkward. However I started this blog to keep myself accountable, and to help/encourage others to step out and learn on their own. So I want to be very transparent with everyone.

First off I will say, I am VERY happy with ZipList and the incredible opportunity I have been given, but I'll give you a range so you can get an idea.

I am making between: $60,000 - $80,000 ....how's that :-)

No, I'm not working for $5 an hour in some sweat shop, so no fears if you are on a similar journey as mine. Yes, you can with no college education or expensive bootcamps land a great paying job at an awesome company, if you don't mind a little hard work!

In other news, I am featured on Uncollege this month which has me totally stoked! I have always been inspired by the work they are doing, and Dale J. Stephen's book Hacking Your Education  which was very helpful to me while on my learning journey. (And no I don't have to promote them, I just really believe in the book, and think it will help virtually anyone on their own learning journey).

Wish me luck peeps, I've spent this week saying good bye to a ton of shoeing clients that I have had for 7+ years of shoeing horses for a living. I thought I'd be a little happier about leaving shoeing than I actually am, it's a kind of sad/mixed emotion. Feels almost like when Fall comes around, you're happy for it, but you are going to miss the Summer.


Friday, July 26, 2013

275 days => 827 hours = HIRED!!!


On October 23rd 2012 I started trying to learn RoR hardcore and to not make excuses, study EVERYDAY no matter how tired, and keep on studying/learning until I landed a job somewhere.

9 months 2 days later I landed a super sweet job at Zip List in Reston Virginia!!! I am SOOO excited for this opportunity, I plan on learning/working my butt off!!

Some people told me that someone without a degree who didn't have an IT background wouldn't be able to get hired.

I just want to encourage you, that if you are willing to study really hard EVERYDAY for a long period of time, that you CAN accomplish your goal and get hired. My secret to success is simple: NEVER give up and eventually you'll get there.

Sorry I didn't have more of a "real" secret :-)

I plan on having a blog post dedicated to the people that helped me out the most and took me under their wing, because I could not have done this on my own.

What a ride, what a journey! I do want to be clear, that this is only the BEGINNING, I will be continuing to blog as always, and share what I learn as I navigate this whole new world.

My end goal has not changed, 4 years from my hire date I want to be an expert full stack Ruby on Rails developer. Let the fun begin :-)


Monday, July 22, 2013

Learning Ruby on Rails Day 271 = I'm a typing WIZARD!!!

Holy crap! excuse my language, BUT I just typed 43wpm!!! a year ago, I was at 12wpm! I am still doing my old stand by of "hunting and pecking", but apparently I've gotten better at either "hunting" or "pecking" :-)

When I was trying to get into Dev Bootcamp, they made all the applicants take a typing speed test on Type Racer and to then take a screenshot of your speed and send it to them. They told me that everyone who made it in to Dev Bootcamp, needed to be at a minimum of 40wpm before class started.

I remember thinking to myself as I typed 12-16wpm, that I would NEVER see 40wpm EVER! I really do one day want to learn how to "really" type instead of my "free hand" style, but I never wanted to side track myself from strictly learning to code.

Well I'm buying my self an ice cold coke to celebrate (beer gives me a migraine). I guess the moral of the story is, you can get halfway decent speed just by learning to code without ever actually learning the correct way.

I do NOT recommend my style of typing, I just feel happy to be ANYWHERE in the 40s wpm!

I took a Ruby 1.8 skills assessment test today for one of the places I was interviewing at. The test was designed for intermediate Ruby developers. I felt good with about half of the stuff I was reading and the test reflected that with a score of 62% correct, which needless to say more than slightly deflated my ego :-(

I don't think being timed and nervous helped either, but what the heck, live and learn. eventually I will be good, and ole' "DHH" himself will be begging me for advice :-)

Time to code peeps, no more dilly dallying! -Josh

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Learning Ruby on Rails- Summer!

This last week has been so hot here in Virginia, we set a heat record yesterday! I have been having a really hard time being able to get my study hours in this week with the heat and long days of shoeing. No fear, I'll get them in, just saying :-)

Pair programmed today with +Bill Glennon. We are making a basic little rails app for fun with trivia questions about the 49ers team and players. Right now, it's still pretty basic, just made some scaffolding and doing some basic mocking up of the site.

I'm going to try and black mail a small company for stickers in exchange for mentioning them on here, how awful is that? Ha ha! I'll let you know what kind of response I get back.

I'm learning more about Css lately, couldn't sleep last night after one of my little guys woke me up so I opened up my mac and made just a plain html/css webpage without looking anything up. Just typing in stuff and seeing if it did what I wanted. I actually really enjoyed the "experimental" way of making a page without looking stuff up.

Interviewed at 2 more places, we'll see what happens, I'll keep you up to date. Apparently things go slowly when getting hired, that's the vibe I am getting :-)

Who cares, I say keep coding till you're so good no one can ignore you :-)

Thursday, July 18, 2013

<%=learning_ror, "Day 267" eql? => 814.5 hours%>

The "Making a basic Rails app" talk at NovaRug went fairly well on Tuesday, about 60 or so people came out. I was pretty darn nervous but everyone says I did well (probably don't want to see me cry) :-)

If I could do the talk over again I would have more clearly stated in the Meetup group that I wouldn't be able to help people install Ruby or Rails, and to make sure to have everything working on your computer before coming. The talk went slower than I wanted for a variety of reasons, but all in all I really enjoyed it, and would love to do more public speaking/teaching in the future.

When am I going to finally get hired??? Well I have been doing multiple phone screens and interviews EVERY week, so I think it's just a matter of time till I find a place that is a mutual "good fit". Once I am hired, I will tell you more about some of the pit falls and horror stories I've had, and maybe a few tips on what not to do.

I signed up for Code School, and am going to go through some of their materials. A really talented, smart, senior RoR developer who I got to pair program with last week recommended it to me, so I decided to give it a try. It's supposed to be better than other places because of the challenges they give, to make sure you really know what you are learning. I don't know, I'll let you know what I think as I get through them.

By the way, if anyone is looking for someone to pair program with over Google hangout who is also trying to learn RoR, send me an email, or put your name in the comments. I always have a ton of people asking to pair program, and I can't pair program with everyone.

Not trying to be cocky, I just thought that maybe if someone wanted to know of someone else who was looking for a study/partner I could suggest one. No fee, no business idea, just trying to help others out and learn this RoR beast!


Monday, July 15, 2013

End of Week 38 = 803.5 hours learning/studying RoR!

You know what is harder than coding? Interviewing :-)    No seriously, it's SO intimidating to be asked questions by super smart people with OOggles of knowledge, that I don't have. honestly though I've gotten to learn a lot about programming, just by talking to other developers while interviewing, so it's good.

I apologize for not blogging for a few days, I've just been swamped shoeing horses this time of year. Things are going very well, and I'm learning as always!

I can not believe how many people have signed up for this months NovaRug Meetup: Josh's Amazing Talk :-)  82 peeps are coming to hear my 2 cents on making a basic Rails app, can't believe it. Wish me luck!

I can't lie, I am a tad nervous :-) About speaking in front of a lot of people, but nothing ventured, nothing gained. I am totally excited to have the chance to help some other people new to RoR. My wife Elisha is coming for support, so it's a win-win for me!

I've been having a hard time meeting my hourly goals, just due to the fact of getting back to recruiters, interviewing, phone screens, and working full time. I can't wait till I'm hired and I can once again totally focus on learning to code better versus learning to write a resume better :-)

Anyway, that's all I've got for now, enjoying the journey and can't wait to land my first coding job (hopefully very soon) :-)   -Josh

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Day 260 = Debugging

Went to Arlington Ruby Tonight (technically yesterday) and heard some great talks on using Pry and debugging in general.

I learned about the "cardboard programmer" to help you debug, which I had never heard of before. Basically, talk to someone or something about what you are trying to accomplish with your code and while you're talking through your code you will have a "lightbulb" moment and realize what the bug is.

I know a little about Pry now and use it some, just not at a high level, just in place of IRB. The talk by @jdpagano on Debugging was excellent. Learned how to weed through a stack trace error MUCH more efficiently and not to be intimidated by them. HINT: Look for the word 'app' in the stack trace error. More than likely that's a place to try and find your bug.

Worked with Eric from Arlington Ruby (who's last name has escaped me or else I would mention it ) tonight on fixing some Css issues I was having. The man is a Css wizard, he fixed and explained what was going on in the code and showed me how to make my code better. Really enjoyed working with him, and I learned a lot :-)

I haven't forgotten about Burrito To Code+Guille Carlos has been swamped with a big upcoming release at the startup he works at, next week we'll get a date set in stone for our first class. The interest and sign ups have been amazing!

I'm giving the main talk at this Month's Nova Ruby meetup. Totally shocked how many people have already signed up:  Josh's Talk  and it's still a week away, NOW I'm getting nervous!

Tomorrow I'm going to the D.C. Ruby group for the first time, totally excited, can't wait! I'll let you know how it goes.

Still working on Ruby for the time being, along with some other things. Loving the journey! -Josh

Monday, July 8, 2013

RubyLoco Hack Night!

What an awesome night, and a great group of peeps!

I have always known I have a different way of learning new things than most people, tonight I learned something else about myself.

At RubyLoco they had a coding challenge which was great but I got stuck and thankfully @JustinNash2 partner of Simply Binary  came to the rescue and explained a couple things I wasn't getting.

 I thought about what Justin explained, and kind of got it but, was still kind of confused. I had been driving home for 35 minutes when it clicked and I said out loud in the car: "Oh, I get it now". For me, sometimes I learn something new quickly, other times like tonight, it's more of a "delayed light bulb" moment :-)

Thanks to @JustingNash2 for taking the time to help me out, him and @peterbroderick
are good peeps over at Simply Binary :-)

The secret sauce to my life, the one key to any success I've ever had, was from never giving up and to always keep on doggedly pursuing whatever it is I am trying to learn. I hope you don't ever give up as you are learning RoR. 

Some days I feel like I can make anything, other days I feel like 'irb' has cursed me and no Ruby code will work NO matter what I do. Here's to plugging away regardless....-Josh

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Day 256 = Pair Programming in Wales...

Just finished Skyping with +Richard Lewis who lives in Wales, UK. Had a great time learning from him, and talking about all the changes to WellspringLawn, learned so much.

I now need to track down +Zander z and finally have our pair programming session, I was too intimated to pair program with him before, but the time has come. Who care's if the man's a Ruby genius :-)

Everyone loves Stack Overflow and I do too. I have always been a little intimidated to ask a question as I have seen the Stack Overflow crowd turn into an angry mob and eat developers who ask "inappropriate" questions.

After talking to Rich today, I have decided to face my fears and ask questions on Stack OverFlow, if I perish, I perish. My current rating is 0, which means I can't upgrade anyone else's questions either. That changes this coming week, I will be asking questions!

I'm loving Ruby the more and more I learn about it. Not that I know that much, but it's always so cool to see the cool differences between .empty? and .nil? and then think: "Wow, that's really cool, and that was SO easy".

Last but not least, I am going to be the main speaker at this month's NOVARug Meetup, which is cool and slightly frightening as I have only ever given 2 short 5-10 minute talks before. This talk will be longer and with no chance of escape! I CAN NOT SUCK :-)

Check out my talk, and come if you're in the Northern Va area on July 16th. Making a basic Rails App. I'll let you know if anyone chucks fruit at me or not :-)  -Josh

Tuesday, July 2, 2013


Wow several things!  I have a couple cool things in the works that I am not 100% assured of yet, but if and when I am, I'll certainly let you know about them, just letting you know there is always something going on :-)

Met with +David Bock and +Carl Fyffe for another "Stealth Meeting" of strategic talk about our super cool soon to be world changing, money making product, at an undisclosed location in 460 Elden St  Herndon, VA 20170. Great as always, I love getting 2 senior developers together. One moment we are talking about UI design the next, the reasons we are using dijkstra's algorithm for our mapping. I was like: "What? who's Dijkstra?" Good times!

Met an incredible RoR developer who has taken me under his wing and is putting a serious smack down of knowledge on me! +Richard Lewis from Wales certainly knows his crap, if you need a side project that is the man for the job (ha ha, I haven't even asked him if he'd take any side projects) but seriously I have learned SO much from Rich in the last week it's made my head spin, more on that later.

I counted 6 new emails yesterday asking for my help/opinion on learning RoR and I got to thinking. I should have an free online RoR study/matching web app. Maybe if someone contacts me and wants some help or wants to skype, I could have a secret "members only" site/list where people could go and meet other people trying to learn RoR. I don't know, but there are a lot of new developers who want to learn with other developers.

Wow again, I was totally blown away with the amount of people who signed up for the beginner  Newbie To Ruby class at Burrito To Code. +Guille Carlos and I were hoping for maybe 15 people responding and signing up for the class. We WAY over shot that goal on day one!!! I'm always shocked how many people are eager to learn RoR and coding in general, I'm so glad I can help in a small way :-)

I'm honestly not sure at this point how we are going to decide who gets in the first class, but keep signing up, maybe we'll do 2 classes instead of 1. Not sure yet, but I'll let you know as I know. Still don't have a concrete date yet for the first class, but it will definitely be in July, probably starting in the next 2 weeks.

I've interviewed many places since launching my "resume site" 1 month ago, and have liked some places and not liked other places I've interviewed at. Keep your fingers crossed for me, I talked to a guy that works at a REALLY cool place, and it would be SO cool if I ended up getting hired there!

 Next post, I'm going to give an overview of all the projects and stuff I am currently working on, in case anyone wants to know :-) -Josh