Learning Ruby on Rails Day 10

This is the second day of me journaling about learning Ruby on Rails, but it's been ten days since I did my first journal entry.

I got hooked on reading Head First Rails on Safari. I'm already on page 307 of 417, not bad hein? Will I ever read a Rails book from cover to cover? I'm currently reading 3 books simultaneously, and that's counting only the books on Rails. Pathetic? Maybe not. I need my panel of experts, I need a second opinion, I am a compulsive looker-for-a-second-opinion. Each book brings something to my multifaceted fest quest. (This time around, the reason I haven't finished a book yet is not because I've lost interest.)

E., who works for Jaded Pixel, asked me today: “How do you like Head First Rails? Anything missing? Anything particularly good?” To which I replied (my book review, verbatim):

“There isn't always a clear separation between Controller and View Logic. For example, when using a partial in a view, local variables 'sent' to the partial are set right in the view by calling on the model, @variable = Model.find..... while this variable should be set in the controller. Also, in the chapter about Ajax, the edits to the webpage using 'page' are done in the controller rather than a separate rjs template. And without javascript there's nothing that's rendered. No 'graceful degradation'.

But all these things are minor compared to what the book gives you. And while I was working out all the examples I improved on them anyway, making them mine, and that was part of the fun. There's a problem with other books in that they give you a clear path... but don't make you 'fudge' around at all, so in the end you can't find your way if you get lost a little bit in the Rails forest. In a HEAD FIRST book, you are forced to fudge around, so in the end, you will always find your way... That's the best analogy I can find, excuse my language.”

Today, I stumbled on an excellent screencast on ActiveRecord. The execution is a little amateurish (low budget), but the content is awesome: ActiveRecord Tutorial by RailsEnvy.com The screencast shows you the SQL generated by playing around with models in a Ruby console. (BTW, until recently, I didn't know you had to pronounce SQL sequel. Unbelievable.) Suffice to say: It's amazing how far naming conventions and a few lines of code that read like English will take you. Oooh I loove Ruby. I was about to say I love Rails, but ActiveRecord is a Ruby class that can be used in other frameworks. Such as Merb. Speaking of Rails and Merb, thinking of the upcoming merge... #railsconf is raging now and I so much wish I was there. I wish I was there rather than here... sitting in my wheelchair, in my living room, slash dining room, slash office, with C. in Switzerland. There does not seem to be many women at the conference. Too many hard-core geeks too. I know what I'm saying: I've looked at video footage taken at the conference. Just too many dicks? Maybe I wouldn't feel comfortable there. “Spread out the dicks a little. Create some lady space.” Ah.

What are you saying, Caroline? That's not true! I've been too many times in situations where I was the only girl, and I've felt very comfortable then. It's quite pleasant really, and feels strangely natural to me. How so? Maybe it comes from studying at Polytechnique and working as an engineer in a department where I was the only girl. No, it goes way back. In my childhood, I was hanging out with guys mostly. My first best friend was a boy... I would, however, feel uncomfortable at said conference because I feel like I don't belong when surrounded by hard-core geeks. Not sure how to call these guys. Without being judgmental. At Polytechnique, I was studying electrical engineering, and during my last semester I took a few classes in Computer Science Engineering and what a shock. I discovered a new male species. The guys in Computer Science were unlike the guys in other Engineering departments. They were withdrawn, intense, not funny, they were touchy, etc. I had a bad start with hard-core programmer geeks. Interesting fact: there was absolutely no girl in that department then. There were a few girls in Electrical Engineering, and there we, girls, felt right at home. No sexism was felt. Ever. But when I paired off with a guy in my Computer Science class — that was my last semester, fourth year, I wasn't a rookie and had very close to 4 as cumulative average, 4 being the highest score — I faced sexism for the 1st time at Polytechnique. The guy insisted to take on the programming part, and that I stay out of it, he wanted me to write the 'paper' (read: paperwork that must be presented with the project, that usually no one wants to write). Whatever, I thought. I have better things to do than to convince you of my capacities, have it your way, this is my last semester, and then I'm outta here.

It's probable I'm being unfair here. Electrical engineering had its share of hard-core geeks, or rather nerds. I confuse the two, I'm still unsure what the difference is (geek versus nerd). Maybe nerds transform into geeks at a later age. Maybe geeks is what nerds proclaim to be. Maybe a geek is One-that-could-have-been-a-nerd-but-was-lucky-enough-to-be-in-a-nurturing-environment-that-values-nerd-activities, and so on and so forth. It's possible that I simply did not make an effort to mix with other students while in my last semester as I was also working full time, night shifts, and was heart-broken. I can't remember any other specific guy from any of these Programming classes, anyway. I only remember impressions, and a memory of a memory of an event.