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Rails Is an Old Hat, and That’s Okay

Not too long ago, someone I know said, “At this point in time, Rails is an old hat”, in reference to the fact that many developers are adopting newer technologies like Node.js. I don’t see this as a negative, true as it might be. When Rails arrived on the scene a decade ago, it was thoroughly impressive and quite the improvement over the status quo in the PHP, Java, and even Ruby communities. At the time,...

10 Programming Challenges Sites

My previous post about using Project Euler to experiment with new programming languages, or learn programming altogether, was for the most part met with positive feedback online. The common theme amongst those who didn’t love it however, was that Project Euler is too math-focused and not very real-world oriented (unless you mostly do math research). Commenters on various social sites also recommended...

Learn New Programming Languages with Project Euler

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about beginners and the very understandable struggle to grasp programming that many of them face. This post is mostly aimed at those who currently find themselves in this position. When it comes to creating, there is no substitute for hands-on experience and the same rings true for programming as well. If you can spend three months reading a 1,000 page reference book on a given...

On Programming Languages as Languages

When you look up the word “Language” in the dictionary, you’ll find a few variations of similar definitions. My trusty Google Dictionary extension in Chrome, offers up a first definition that is rather obvious, but nevertheless: The method of human communication, either spoken or written, consisting of the use of words in a structured and conventional way. The second definition is more interesting because it...

3 Upcoming Languages That Are Worth Exploring

Being at the forefront of technology is something that I’ve always sincerely enjoyed. For example I was one of the first C# programmers in Italy back when C# was still in beta, and I was there in the early days of Rails as well (just a few months after its initial release). Over the years I’ve dared to risk and have made some educated bets on technology that have served my career well.[1] I share this as a way...

Meteor is going to be big

More than four years ago, I called JavaScript the most important language today. I stand by that – admittedly somewhat sensationalistic – assessment. JavaScript remains the lingua franca of the web and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future, despite the emergence of mobile (where native development is winning). In fact, much like I speculated at the time, Node.js ended up becoming fairly...

People Driven Development

At every stage of the software development process, I like to put people first. I’m deliberately using the generic word people instead of the more common users. In many cases the decision will indeed affect end-users, because designing a good user experience (UX) is fundamental to the production of quality software; however my point is to try to consider all the people who may be affected by a given...

Why I Won’t Be Publishing New ‘Great Ruby Shootouts’

Someone on Twitter politely asked me when I was going to run a new Ruby shootout. I replied that I wasn’t planning to. This got me thinking though that he might not be the only reader wondering about this point, so I thought I’d share a few of the reasons behind my decision not to carry on with this series. My last shootout (over two years ago now) and its predecessors were highly popular posts. In fact,...

New Release of the Ruby Driver and Rails Adapter for DB2

The API team at IBM recently released a new update for the ibm_db gem, which includes both the Ruby driver and the Rails adapter for DB2 (and Informix). This coincides with the release of the latest major upgrade to DB2 LUW (Linux/Unix/Windows), which is now up to version 10.1. ibm_db 2.5.10 adds support for Rails 3.2 and fixes a few minor bugs that have been reported by the community. New features such as Time...

RubyMotion brings serious Ruby development to the iOS world

For the past several months I’ve been involved with, but unable to publicly discuss, an exciting project called RubyMotion. My friend Laurent Sansonetti, creator of MacRuby, has now officially launched a serious alternative to Objective-C for iPhone and iPad development. RubyMotion is not a bridge; it actually generates native applications that are as fast as the ones written in Objective-C . You can check...

Discount coupon for the Rails Tutorial (2nd Edition)

Contrary to what you may have been led to believe, learning Rails from scratch can be challenging. The framework and surrounding ecosystem have evolved so much that the experience of getting started now in 2012 is far more daunting than the one we early adopters encountered back in 2004 or 2005. Yes, things are more polished in many regards, but there are also so many more choices to be made. What login library...

On the Usability of Codecademy

I asked a friend of mine (who isn’t a coder) if she could try out the amazing Codecademy for me. She is a smart person, but again, she isn’t a programmer. I thought Codecademy would be a great way to introduce her to programming for the web. As a programmer, I thought it was extremely well made and assumed it would work for anyone. She landed on the homepage and read the instructions. She wrote her...

A Big List of Interesting Programming Books Released in 2011

The following is a list of 48 interesting programming books that were released in 2011. While technically some of them are only programming-related and not about coding per se, each one is sure to be of interest to some programmers. As some of you know, I run a service called Any New Books?, which emails you a list of new books that are related to the categories of your choice each week. For the most part I pulled...

Download DB2 Express-C 9.7.5

IBM recently released a new edition of DB2 Express-C, the free edition of their powerful commercial database. You can grab DB2 Express-C 9.7.5 for Linux, Unix, and Windows here. This new version includes support for Oracle compatibility (which was previously only available for commercial editions), and a few other features, including an enhanced db shell known as CLP+. If you downloaded DB2 in the past, take this...

Speeding up queries by a factor of 100 or more with DB2 Text Search

During a recent Rails project at IBM we had to deal with a large table consisting of customers. The table is made up of legacy enterprise data, and contains close to a million records. Among many other fields, the table Customers includes a column name defined as VARCHAR. name is used to store company names. One of the requirements for the project was to implement a Google Suggest-like feature. That is, when...

The need for good vocational schools for programmers

A rigorous computer science education is certainly beneficial to programmers. It provides you with the ability to see the bigger picture, and a more in-depth understanding of many topics that will ultimately make you a better developer. I would argue however that it is far from actually being necessity. For many programming jobs, a computer science education is akin to having a mechanical engineering degree when...

Programming in Objective-C, 3rd Edition is out

Addison-Wesley quietly released the third edition of their Programming in Objective-C book (USA | UK | Canada). I own the first edition of the book and it’s stellar, so I’m really looking forward to reading this upgraded version which includes the latest changes to the language, the main IDE (XCode), and the Foundation framework for developing Mac, iPad, and iPhone...

jQuery Air: An outstanding introduction to jQuery

Code School is a fascinating new provider of video lessons for programmers. In the past I reviewed their Rails Best Practices course and certainly didn’t hide the fact that I’m a fan of their approach. It combines modular video lessons with practical exercises (called challenges), game-like rewards with scores and virtual badges, and also includes a handy support forum in case you get stuck. Recently Code...

IBM is Looking for a University Student with PHP skills in Toronto

My team is looking for a student for a paid internship, which will last for up to 18 months. The candidate should be legally permitted to work in Canada, as the location for this internship will be the IBM Toronto Software Lab in Markham, Ontario. PHP is a required skill for this position. If you have experience with cloud computing (Amazon EC2), relational databases, open source contribution, and/or Moodle, that...

10 Ruby One Liners to Impress Your Friends

Someone came up with a list of 10 one-liner examples that are meant to showcase Scala’s expressiveness. A CoffeeScript version quickly emerged, so I thought I’d publish a Ruby one. I find Ruby’s syntax to be a bit cleaner than Scala’s, but the substance (at least as far as these examples are concerned) is relatively similar. Multiply each item in a list by 2 (1..10).map { |n| n * 2 } Sum a list of...

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