Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Advice to a fellow developer

Here's my advice to a fellow Java developer who asked me how to learn Ruby on Rails. Having gone 100% Ruby on Rails since October of last year, I had a lot to say:
Join a local Ruby group if you can find one in your area. I would say definitely get the newest version of the Rails book, but wait a month or two if a new version is about to come out. Older versions aren't useless, but things change every day. Even the newest book will be missing things before ink even touches paper. I highly recommend Rails for Java Developers as the fastest way for you to get up to speed. After slogging through the Ruby and Rails books, I found RfJD wished I had read it first. They build on what you know from Java instead of starting you from ground zero, and that will save you a lot of time. Build a couple of VERY SMALL projects first before you launch yourself on a big project. Your first few projects will be very messy and hard to maintain, despite your best intentions to the contrary. Practice Ruby with simple problems like the ones at Project Euler. Ask a lot of questions. Shun the Rails Wiki pages. The information there is generally a mix of wrong AND out of date. Watch Railscasts videos. Suffer gracefully. Ask more questions.
Got any more advice to share? Post it here!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

BookMooch vs. PaperbackSwap (Part 1 of 2)

I've been using BookMooch to trade books with people, and it's generally worked pretty well for me. However, I found myself ultimately with a number of points and a big wishlist of books that I wanted that nobody offered. Enter PaperbackSwap. I've been a member for about a week now. What do I think about it? I think they got a bunch of stuff right that BookMooch hasn't. Take a minor example: That's a referral banner that I can include in my blog post. I get points if you sign up through it. If you find this post at all helpful, I hope you'll use that banner to sign up for PaperbackSwap. What's the difference, you're asking? The most compelling reason for me is that they have a bigger catalog than BookMooch. Checking out the "Under the Hood" link earlier today, I found that they have around 4 books posted every minute. Right now the site says 2,280,827 books available. One of the most striking differences, to me, is the fact that BookMooch only gives you 2 points to start with (meaning you can request 2 books), and after that you can only ship books to other members or buy points, as a means of getting more points to request books. BookMooch, on the other hand, awards 0.1 points for every book posted and 0.1 points for every book you receive and provide feedback on. This means that BM is creating points constantly regardless of whether you're posting useful books into the system or not. More points received than spent means that it's easy to mooch books, and you don't even have to post books that anybody wants.