What have I done?

Oh no. What have I done?

Yeah, I’ll admit I had that thought at one point after registering for Rails Rumble. I’m expecting to be embarrassed. To be completely humbled by those who… do not suck.

Still some part of me felt it was going to be worth the inevitable humiliation to participate. Plus, I was under a deadline. I can always blame that. I managed to find out about the Rails Rumble when they were already real close to hitting their 300 team limit. In fact, I think registrations closed about an hour after I registered.

And yeah, part of me feels guilty that I’m using up a slot. What business do I have participating? That’s the general line of thought.

But part of me remembered that I had kicked myself for not finding out about Node Knockout in time to participate in that.

So how’d I get here?

I blame this guy on Hacker News who said:

I’ll be “that guy” and say start with JavaScript/HTML5 plus a NoSQL database system like CouchDB. []

This intrigued me and I’ve known that I needed to learn JS at some point for things that I’ve wanted to try on the client-side but had no clue how. So I figured that getting to use JS in an environment that I’m more comfortable (server-side) would definitely help me ramp up to doing the client-side stuff too.

I found a few JS frameworks, but node.js was the one that really stood out for me.

I’m actually kind of shocked to see now that the thing I read on Hacker News was almost a month ago at this point.

I’ve wasted nearly a month.

It didn’t happen straight away, but I know my output in Python/Google App Engine definitely started tapering off once I started chasing after Javascript tools.

Granted, part of that was just a natural thing since it’s hard to maintain enthusiasm with updating a severe weather site when the severe weather starts tapering off itself.

But aside from that, I know me. At some point, I got it stuck in my head that I couldn’t return to App Engine as my main development environment; I had to pick something different, even if it wasn’t going to a be a JS framework.

Which leads me to today

I got it stuck in my head that I absolutely had to pick something this week. No more excuses. And stick with it at least a month.

A month is supposed to be long enough that I can ramp up in whatever it is and actually build something useful with it. Unlike node.js, where I’ve yet to build a single thing and have just been spinning my wheels debating on things like whether to learn CoffeeScript or go straight for JS.

Failure to code

See I think that, in general, javascript-on-the-server is too new for someone like me. Someone, who’s basically new to JS in general.

For instance, I read a tutorial on webscraping with node.js. I got some obscure error and had no idea how to continue. And since the person who wrote the tutorial had disabled comments, there was no way to tell if I was alone. Maybe their code was fundamentally broken. I had no idea. I didn’t know enough JS.

So in a big way, I think that’s a problem for someone of my level - all of these problems (like web scraping) that have been solved again and again in other languages… well, they’re new problems for server-side-JS. So the information is just not very wide spread at this point. And in the worst cases, the information doesn’t exist at all.

I’d still like to return to pursuing node.js somewhere down the line. At a point where either the resources have caught up with other languages, or I know enough JS to actually have a clue what’s going on.

Rails Rumble

So when I happened to google programming contests today, Rails Rumble seemed too perfect.

After all, I had to pick something real soon and then spend a month with it. So the fact that Rails Rumble happens about a month from now works perfectly.

I get to have my month of ramp-up and have a light at the end of the tunnel. A final place to test everything I learned in that month.

At this point, I should mention that I’m deeply in awe of the people who can spend 48 hours working on a site from scratch and emerge with a fully-functioning site.

I want to be like that.

I have many one-off type ideas for sites that I’d love to test. But there’s little chance that I’m going to spend the month+ needed to get them off the ground just to see if they’re any good.

But if I could throw them together in a weekend? I think there’d be a lot more stuff I’d be trying.

The future

At this point, I’m past the initial freak-out of registering for Rails Rumble. Now I’m to the stage of feeling content on some level, because I finally made a decision.

Now I get to move on to what should be the fun part. The learning.

Learning something I want to learn is my drug of choice.

Now it’s time to get high.