I think I finally understand the atomicity of time in Clojure’s modeling of state. Function application constructs time in Clojure: there is the value of an identity before a function’s application, and there is the value of the identity after the application. The timeline of a program, as far as state is concerned, is not measured in nanoseconds or any other periodic unit, but in the applications of functions that divide time into before and after. The higher-order functions that compose updates to Clojure’s mutable state references actually mark the ticking of coordinated time.
I love Twitter. At first I thought it was a fad. Fluff. Then I realized it puts you in a virtual room with a lot of people you respect and lets you follow their thought processes in real time. And as you try hard to tweet something worthwhile, every now and then you might actually interest, or inform, or entertain, someone else out there. You meet people, have conversations, learn things before anyone else does. It’s addictive. Really, dude, I need this.
That’s why it’s such a major bummer that for the last 48 hours, this has been Twitter’s status update form, for me at least:
I’m not the first person to complain about not being able to use Twitter. However, I’m not angry so much as scared. Jittery. Shaking a bit, man. I need my Twitter. So I’m willing to propose a drastic solution.
I keep a text file open as I work, and when I learn something, or fix a bug, I make a note of that in the text file. I call it my journal. It’s pretty low-tech, but text search turns out to be a sufficient way to look up past experiences when I find myself thinking “this problem seems so familiar”. There’s another benefit too: I find keeping simple notes about what I’m doing—what problems I’m solving, what approaches I’m using, what’s working and what could work better—keeps me focused on my goals. It turns out learning a programming language or a web framework is not as hard as training your mind to solve programming challenges efficiently.
Here are some things from my journal: I’m working on a Rails 3 app right now, something I plan to flog and promote mercilessly in upcoming posts. I’ve encountered some mysteries for which there was no simple HOWTO information easily available via web search. I thought I’d share the answers I cobbled together:
- How to get RSpec and RSpec-Rails for Rails 3;
- How to make devise routing work with related nested routes;
- How to spec controllers that use devise to restrict access to logged-in users;
- How to get
verify :methodto work in Rails 3.
At RailsConf, Jeremy McAnally noted that no one had built a new-style Rails generator for the mustache template system. So I’m giving it a try. You can see my progress so far on github. I’ve forked the rails3-generator project started by José Valim and carried on by several contributors, and I’ve added just a little bit of support for mustache file creation in controller and scaffold generators. I was greatly helped by Paul Barry’s post on adding a Haml generator to the same project.
The next steps are to flesh out the generator templates and try to get a working mustache template engine. Mustache and Rails don’t officially work together yet. That’s a goal for mustache 1.0. I’m excited, however, about Martin Gamsjaeger’s promising implementation.
I’d like to see a gem that gives you complete Rails support for mustache: the template engine, generators, helpers, and documentation. I’d also like to see the gem work with Tilt, which claims to provide a generic interface to mustache already.
If you’re interested in helping, well… fork me!
As explained elsewhere, I committed a journalistic sin in this post by attributing a passage of text to Giles Bowkett when he was just quoting it. I’ve made changes to this post to correct that.
I’m going to do something different (for me). I’m going to post about someone else’s blog post (mostly). Giles Bowkett’s post College Is Bullshit, I Am The Future is ranty and provocative and funny, and worth reading, but I’m going to call bullshit on part of it (swearing is different for me too — wheee!) hopefully without seeming humorless or as though I’m missing the nuances of his as-usual gargantuan post. College does matter, as much or more than ever. An institution’s pedigree may not correlate to the intelligence or preparedness of all its graduates, but any good school should help its motivated students learn how to learn. And the new way to learn, which is expected to disrupt (as in disruptive technology) the college and university system, information products, is not an alternative to that system at all. It’s as much a life raft for a sinking ship as Giles argues colleges are. The best way to prepare for the future is to learn how to learn. You don’t have to go to more school to learn how to learn, but there are few better places to do it.
The mojitos have been drunk, the neglected lawn work is mostly completed — Memorial Day is over, and now our de facto summer in the United States begins.
I’m writing this post more for myself than for you, generous reader. I hope you forgive my brief use of the weblog’s confessional mode. I need to make an official announcement that I have work to do. Inspired by Amy Hoy’s description of her year of hustle, and by Giles Bowkett’s long post about what he did when he got fired, I’m launching an all-out effort this summer to build and ship some code.
I wandered into web development because it was really cool. It was the next major mass medium, and it did something new: it made documents easy to distribute to the world. That was 15 years ago. I had no contemporary programming experience. I had a newly-minted social sciences degree and a lot of curiosity. I started in production and management and steadily got more and more into software development at a series of failed start ups. Now, in my mid-30s, I finally feel code literate. I also feel like I know something about the realities of writing code and trying to sell applications and content online. But what do I have to show for myself?
Those start-ups are gone. The project management work I did at an interactive agency? Zzzzzzz. I’ve built some decent sites lately, but their futures are uncertain, and my best work for them, I can’t really write about it because it belongs to my clients.
Thirty-six is a funny age in this business. It used to be old. Now, there are plenty of 40-ish and 50-ish people in the industry. But they’re visible. They’ve made a mark. My suspicion is that a lot of other people who didn’t make a public mark are finding it hard to continue doing decent anonymous work.
The solution is to make your mark by releasing something valuable into the world. And with open source having conquered the world, it’s never been easier to do this. So, like my assistant professor wife, I find myself facing a publish-or-perish moment.
Hence my plans for a summer of hustle. This week I’m getting geared up for RailsConf, but I am also reviewing my interests, my passions, looking for inspriation. It’s time to overcome my misgivings — that I don’t know enough, that I’ll embarrass myself, that no one will care about what I produce. Because I’m getting too old to live on work-for-hire.
Not that I’m counting on making money, directly or indirectly, from what I release. I’m not thinking about bread alone. There’s a point when the spirit demands more. It seems to me there are intangible benefits to contributing to the global codebase. More human contact, certainly, and with more intelligent and creative humans. There is also the satisfaction of creation, of making something purely for its own merits.
Although I’d sure like it if it did bring me suitcases filled with cash.
So there, I’m committed. No pressure.