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I'm Ryan Lowe, a Software Engineering graduate living in Ottawa, Canada. I like agile software development and Ruby on Rails.
I write this blog in Canadian English and don't use a spell checker. Typos happen.
» Full-time Ruby on Rails freelancer
» Full-time with Rails since May 2005
» Former committer for RadRails (now Aptana)
» I also have a few Rails side-projects in development:
1. wheretogoinTO.com Toronto nightlife
2. Hey Heads Up! TODO list and sharing
3. Layered Genealogy family history research
4. foos for foosball scoring
5. fanconcert for music fans (on hold)
Hiring Rails developers? I can telecommute by the hour from Ottawa, Canada
»» Email: rails AT ryanlowe DOT ca
Now hosted on Hey! Heads Up -- check it out!
Derek Lowe's (Ryan's older brother) words at Ryan's funeral
email@example.com no more
Forging Email Headers: Good, Bad or Ugly?
Sarcastic Dictionary (Part 1 of Many)
Twisting Rails is Risky Business
Risky Business? My Take on Early Alphas
Whoa, it's August 2007
A Postscript to "Growth at the grassroots"
»» All Blog Posts
David Heinemeier Hansson
James Duncan Davidson
Signal vs. Noise
Amy Hoy: (24)slash7
Luis de la Rosa
Here's something obvious: I haven't been blogging much. Why not? I like to blog when I feel like it ... and to be honest, I just haven't felt like it lately.
If I feel I'm pressured to blog -- explicitly or implictly from myself or others -- I know the quality will decrease. Given that one of my goals from blogging is to be a better writer, getting better instead of worse is always in the back of my mind. And as I get pickier about my writing, it takes more time and edits to make a blog post.
Another reason is that I just don't have interesting things to talk about publicly. The Ruby on Rails projects I'm working on to make money are -- for now -- under wraps.
I'm narrowing my focus intentionally: I'm a full-time Ruby on Rails consultant and that's all I feel like working on. Eclipse/Java is still appealing -- and I'll continue to do work for RadRails -- but Ruby on Rails is even more appealing than the Java universe right now.
I'm not so sure Java can recover from this, since a lot of the magic of Rails is done by features of the Ruby language that Java just can't pull off. I have a feeling that Java, while not dead, is as much of a dead end as C++ was 10 years ago.
That said, Java will continue to be used extensively for many years... just like C++ and COBOL and FORTRAN live on endlessly (for humourous agreement see this via James Robertson). Looking at my career timeline (20+ years to go) and my goals as a software engineer, I'm thinking Java won't survive that long for the kinds of things I want to do. I needed a new horse to hitch my wagon to and a dynamically-typed language like Ruby seems like the future to me.
Well hey, it looks like I just found a topic to blog about sometime this month! I just have to unmothball my flame-retardant gear. :)
I'm still trying to work on fanconcert every once in a while -- but it's really all about motivation because fanconcert time is off the clock. I have a lot of big ideas for it but I'm out of "free" time to implement them. I also have a few other Rails projects of my own that I might release soon as well.
What else is going on? Well, lots I don't talk about on this blog. :) I was in Las Vegas last weekend with 20 others for a bachelor party. The football and hockey seasons are in full swing and thankfully, the baseball season is over. I am also increasingly getting interested in Canadian national politics -- is it a coincedence that I disagree with almost all of the policies of the party in minority power? I'm thinking it's not.
What about you -- how are you doing?
DemoCamp is probably best defined on the wiki. The short-short version? Four fairly informal demos and networking. Anybody is welcome to sign up on the wiki to do a demo as long as they think it can stand up to the audience. In that way, DemoCamp's demo quality is "self-policed" for lack of a better word.
This Monday's DemoCamp turned out very well for a first go -- and we've already done an organizing "post mortem" to make the next one better.
What camp events are coming up? DemoCamp Ottawa 2 is on November 20th and the big event BarCamp Ottawa 2 will be on December 2nd. We're also organizing CaseCamp Ottawa 1 to discuss marketing cases, taking place on November 6th. Then we'll have another round of Camp events in 2007...
We have a page on the wiki for all of the Ottawa "Camp" events and I snagged a URL to make it easy to remember: http://www.ottawacamps.ca
# Disruptive Interviews
There's a good reason why some technology/thinking is called "disruptive". Disruptiveness screws with the status quo; the nice comfortable bed a company has made for themselves. The bigger the company, the harder it is to deal with disruptiveness. But disruptive people and technology can have real impact. So sure, being disruptive is risky but the rewards are also great.
Knocking the exuberance out of employees is a great post on the Creating Passionate Users blog about this kind of thing. While it never mentions the word "disruptive", I think that's exactly what it's about.
I just wanted to point to that blog post and say I agree with it 100%. I absolutely fall into this camp and I want every prospective interviewer and client to know it. Yes, responsible disruptive people can be used to your advantage! Having said that, I take my Software Engineering degree very seriously and I balance the disruptiveness with my education and experience.
I also wanted to extend the blog post into the interview realm. If you really want to screw up an interview with most big companies, don't be a "robot" (a term used in the linked blog post). That's a great way to not get the job.
I'm torn on it though. People expect technical interviews to be a certain way. I've had enough of them between co-op and post-graduation to recognize the established protocol. Most interviewers are looking for pre-prepared answers to the non-technical questions and perfect answers to the technical ones.
Interviewees are supposed to be glad for the opportunity and interviewers are supposed to do their best to find the interviewee's weaknesses that (unlike the interviewee's supposed strengths) aren't laid out explicitly in 12 point Times New Roman on the freshly printed resumé in front of them.
Have you ever tried to dig for the interviewing company's weaknesses in an interview? Ever asked about their process? That's kind of disruptive -- to put it lightly -- and not looked well upon.
So what am I torn about? Well, if a company can't handle me being a little curious and disruptive in an interview, how well can they handle it when I'm an employee?
I don't want to be beaten into a "robot". I have a natural interest in and excitement about technology -- a PASSION for it -- and I will NOT let it get beaten out of me for a paycheque. On the contrary, I want to cultivate my passion into an asset for my employer and/or clients.
I don't want to have to leave a company after less than a year because they expected me to be a "robot", I want to find a good fit. So I interview the interviewer(s). Why give the impression that I'm a "robot" when I'm obviously -- have you read my blog? -- not one?
Will it be harder for me to find a job doing this? Yes. It's hard for any non-"robot" to find a good job. But who said life was going to be a cakewalk?
PS> I'm not alone. Disruptiveness is spreading.
# "RadRails Speeds Web App Development"
Martin Heller has written a product review on LinuxInsider about RadRails titled RadRails Speeds Web App Development. He goes over a lot of the features of RadRails that speed up development time on an already fast webapp development framework: Ruby on Rails.
What's most interesting is the audience: Linux programmers. The Eclipse Rich Client Platform lets us simultaneously release RadRails for Windows, Linux and Mac OS X. Ruby on Rails could end up being very big with webapp developers that use Linux -- and RadRails will be there waiting for them, with very little additional work from our team.