Helping you fish better!

Helping you fish better!

In one form or another, I’ve been a contractor for the vasty majority of my career: building other people’s software for them. Along the way, I have mentored developers, founded and continue to run a conference (now going into its fifth year) to enrich and educate both beginning developers and expert alike, have shared some of what I have learned along the way by speaking at user groups and conferences, and regularly pair with distant developers to both educate, share with, socialize, and learn from them (I wrote most of RubyPair as well).

This has led me to realize that I am happiest when I am helping eager developers improve their skills. Seeing the “eureka” moments can only be described as a rush!

A couple of months ago, I began setting aside at least 3 hours each week, when I’m not on travel, to remote pair or otherwise consult with other developers on Open Source. Again, that time is only for Open Source and not for commercial use. I’ve taught a lot. I’ve learned a few things. I’ve met some cool people who I wouldn’t have otherwise. It’s been a blast!

As the Chinese proverb goes:

Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.

That’s what I’d been doing. I simply had not put a label on it! The mentoring, the conference and user group presentations, the (not-so-) occasional rant about why people should be writing their tests first and then move on to evolve a Test Driven Development discipline: it has all been about trying to help other developers get better.

I’d blog but, while not a terrible writer, I don’t have the writing bug as much as some. But, man, do I ever love a good conversation or pairing session!

I want to touch and enrich lives. I want to help people fish, that is: write software, better!

What only occurred to me a month ago was that this mentoring fills a real need. I could make a living off of helping people have “eureka” moments!

And, so, for anyone who is looking to improve: this one’s for you.


Via Triple Dog Dare (I admit, I really need to update this page with more recent work but I’ve been too busy!!!), over the past several months, I have helped bootstrap one company from almost no Rails knowledge to a working application. For another client, I’ve provided occasional periodic one-on-one mentoring in building his web startup with Rails (shhhh….. it’s a secret for now!). For both, the majority of the collaboration has been online. Although, for the former client, I’ve occasional traveled out to San Fran to help them onsite. San Fran is just such a terrible town to visit, after all – and, yes, I’m kidding; San Fran is pretty awesome.

But, yes, most of the mentoring occurs online. Sometimes I’m answering questions via email, more often IM, doing a code review, or helping via VOIP or a remote pairing session.

And, let me tell you, remote pairing works pretty darn well. The technology is not only there but it’s been there for some time. Frankly, VOIP was the missing component for a long time. The other technologies involved are tried and true *NIX apps.

I’ll write about remote pairing in a later post. It’s been at the forefront of my mind a great deal lately.

If you or a team you work with is new to Rails and you believe you would benefit from someone to shepherd you through the learning process, drop me a line!

Posted by evan on Friday, September 23, 2011

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