Monthly Archives: September 2013

How I’m starting – Heroku and Rails tutorials

Like I mentioned before, I have very little web programming experience.  I wrote a little bit of HTML back in the 90′s for class projects of “build a personal webpage”.  A couple of years ago I started a project that used a bit of JavaScript and very, very poorly done CSS.  But most of my coding these days is done in System Verilog, a bit of Perl, and the occasional Ruby script.

Oh, and I know nothing about setting up and administering a web server.

Learning Rails

I’ve heard that Rails is still pretty popular for web stuff, and I’m at least familiar with looking at Ruby code, so I decided to go with that.  First step, find some tutorials to help me understand how to use the language and start to put together an architecture for my application.  The tutorials are pretty easy to find, and I’m sure there are a ton out there, but here’s where I’m starting:

- Rails Girls Guides is a program intended to “give tools and a community for women to understand technology and to build their ideas.”  While I’m obviously not their target market, I found their tutorials to be pretty helpful, and their reference app gives a good start into understanding Rails.

- RailsGuides has a lot more detail than Rails Girls Guides, and the reference apps have a lot more detail.  I haven’t worked through all of their stuff yet, but it seems to be a solid introduction into MVC (Model – Controller – View) design.

Publishing on the Web

Most of the initial work I’m doing will be on my laptop.  Eventually, I’ll want to move it to the web where others can see it.  I’ll need a server for that.  Enter Heroku.

Heroku is a Platform as a Service company that provides application hosting across a variety of languages.  They manage everything, and I just get to use it!  The obvious benefit to me is that I don’t have to figure out how to set up and administer a stable hosting platform.  It’s super easy to move my application code from my laptop to their servers.  Basically just a Git command (Git is a system to manage source code changes.  While I don’t know it specifically, I’m familiar with revision control so it won’t be difficult to pick up.) It’s also free for very small applications, like mine is likely to be for a while.  On the negative side, the cost goes up pretty quickly as you scale, and you give up a lot of control.  In the end, it lets me focus on all the other things I need to learn, so I’ll take it.

Anything you want to know?  Leave a comment below.  I’ll reply to all of them!

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I’m building a web app!

I frequently wonder what it would be like to start a business, but I never had an idea of what I would do.

Now I have that idea.

My wife recently decided to open an Etsy shop for handmade greeting cards.  She’s been making them for years and has gotten very encouraging feedback about them.  She’s at a point in her life where she has some time available, so she decided to see whether she could make a business selling her cards.  It’s exciting to watch.

I have the aesthetic ability of a fallen tree limb, so I won’t be much help there.  I am working on a website for her (Etsy is expensive), and hope to convince her to let me use her customers as a marketing lab.  Thinking about her business and running into a very old post on Hacker News, I realized there was something else I could do, and that it could be helpful for others as well.

Once her business gets an order, she’ll need to an invoice (WooCommerce will probably do this for her), a packing list, and a shipping label.  All of this could be done on paper or with Word/GoogleDocs/whatever, but it’s basically the same information on each document.  So I’m going to create a web app to do basically that.

I hope.

It’ll certainly be some work.  Most of my programming is done in SystemVerilog, which is about as far away from web programming as you can get.

Anyway, my plan is to document as much as I can about both the technical and business sides of this project here.  Leave a comment if there’s anything you’re particularly interested in hearing about.

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This week in running (09-08-2013)

I’m getting into some of my longest mileage weeks since my target race is about seven weeks out.  The plan I’m following calls for three 20-mile long runs, and this week was my first one.

There’s always a tension when I get to this part of my training cycle.  On one hand, I want to be sure I’m well rested for my weekly long run.  On the other, I still want to make some progress on speed.  Since I was still a little tired from my half marathon trial a couple weeks ago, I kept most of my paces on the slow side and focused on mileage.

It’s still very hot and humid in Austin, which I’m sure is affecting my pace.  It also means I start my long runs early to avoid the sun beating down on me as much as I can.

Next week is a down week, and I’ll take 12 miles out of my schedule.  I’m looking forward to it!

 

Stats for this week:

Total mileage – 53.6 miles

Avg. pace – 9:38

Longest run – 20 mi.

Weeks until marathon – 7

 

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Consuming and Producing

If I’ve had a conversation with you recently, you probably heard me say some variation of “I read on a blog post the other day…”.  I’ve been told it happens quite a bit.

I love to read, and I love to learn.  It doesn’t matter what I’m learning about, really.  The jokes about Wikipedia being a dangerous place for some people definitely holds true for me.  I can get lost there for hours.

I read Quora. I read Hacker News.  I follow Freakonomics and I Will Teach You To Be Rich and Rands in Repose and Strength Running.  I consume a lot on the Internet.

I produce very little in return.

I want to change that.  I want to start producing, whether it’s writing on a blog or building a business or being involved in conversations in those forums listed above (along with many others I haven’t listed).

Here we go…

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