Updating Ruby (not a real blog post!)

This isn’t a real blog post. I just want to state that up front. I know it’s been ages since my last one (if anyone’s counting) and that one was about a bunch of feels and I should probably follow it up with a really good one. But I’m not. You’ve been warned. 🙂

A few weeks ago, I had to update my Ruby version twice in a 3 week period. Both times I had to look up how to do it (I love having an exo-brain called Google that means I don’t have to remember every single thing), and both times I didn’t find everything I needed to know in one place. Talk about frustrating.

Continue reading


All of the feels of a junior developer

It has been too long since my last post! I suppose that’s what working full time again does – you find there is far less time to write regular blog posts!

As you will know if you’ve read this blog before (since I mention it in every post!), I took the course at Enspiral Dev Academy (EDA) earlier this year to learn Ruby on Rails. Before that, I was a marketing professional who had graduated with a diploma in Creative Communications (and degrees in English Literature) and had worked in a variety of comms-related roles since 2006. I had never fancied myself particularly technically adept and had therefore never really considered that I would end up doing anything technical for a living. But after feeling a general need to move on from the role I had been in for the last 5 years and not feeling inspired by any other marketing positions, I decided to jump off the deep end and try something completely different. Enter: EDA.

Since my husband, Samson Ootoovak, worked for EDA, I was aware of the course from its very beginning. But it didn’t occur to me to consider it for myself until I had watched the first couple of cohorts – filled with many people who had already had other, unrelated careers and had never coded before, just like me – go through the programme and get jobs afterward. Then it clicked; I could become a programmer too! My general feeling of malaise towards marketing combined with my need to do something new would be cured and fulfilled, simultaneously.

Continue reading

WDCNZ 2015: “Surely it’s just an if statement”

(Title credit to Amanda Dorrell from her WDCNZ talk “The fuzzy line between design and development”) I had heard what a great event WDCNZ was after my husband, Samson Ootoovak (a Ruby on Rails and JavaScript developer – he was a Ruby teacher at Enspiral Dev Academy and still works for them on the contracting side of things), attended last year and raved about it. So while I was a student at EDA and WDCNZ tickets went on sale at Early Bird prices (March? April? Around then), we bought two at Sam’s insistence. I had obviously never been to a web dev conference (I’d only ever attended disappointing Arts conferences at that point) and was looking forward to going to such a good one. I also had no idea whether or not I would have a job by the time of the conference, but figured that most companies wouldn’t mind letting me go. I just started with Rabid Technologies on Monday, and they were more than happy for me to take off Thursday – my fourth day on the job – to go to the conference. We arrived in time for breakfast, which was awesome – smoothies, coffee, and bacon and egg on English muffins. I have to say, the WDCNZ conference organisers and staff at the Michael Fowler Centre really looked after us all day – the food and beverage selection was bountiful and yummy – we did not go wanting. It was great to catch up with other members of the Wellington community over breakfast; as per most events in Wellington it would have been hard to swing a brick (is that even a thing? I’m not sure where that analogy came from …) without hitting at least 5 people you know (not that you’d want to actually hit anyone). It was a good start to the day, and we were more than ready to get started when the programme officially began at 9.

(L-R) Megan Bowra-Dean, Cara Hill, Aurynn Shaw, Samson Ootoovak at WDCNZ. Photo by Samson Ootoovak.

(L-R) Megan Bowra-Dean, Cara Hill, Aurynn Shaw, Samson Ootoovak at WDCNZ. Photo by Samson Ootoovak.

Continue reading

NetHui 2015: Fundamental Fellowship

After graduating from Enspiral Dev Academy, I decided one of the best things to do in the hunt for a job (in addition to the colour coded calendar) was to put myself out there as much as possible. I connected with as many people in the Wellington tech industry on LinkedIn as I could, I attended Meetup events, I started a new dev Twitter account (@ilikeprettycode), through which I started following a bunch of awesome industry people, and I started this blog. It was through Twitter that I first heard about NetHui and it sounded like a fantastic event: three days of talking about the Internet with cool people from all over the country. I wanted to go! But as a newly graduated, currently unemployed student, it didn’t seem likely that I could travel to Auckland to attend. Sad face.

But then I discovered that the ever generous people at InternetNZ (who organised the event) were giving fellowships to people to attend NetHui. Happy face! I applied and hoped that I would get one. I figured it would be such a great way to meet people in the industry and participate in interesting discussions about this amazing tool that is such a big part of all of our lives. Thankfully, my application was accepted – super happy face! (I found out about my fellowship at about the same time I was hired by Rabid, so it was a good week!) I was going to Auckland for NetHui, 8-10 July!

Continue reading

How to deal with the unemployment blues (advice from a newbie dev)


After graduating from EDA, I set out on the the hunt for my first developer position, a task that was by turns daunting, frustrating, invigorating and exciting. I hoped it would lead to something great, a job in which I can learn a lot, become a better coder and work with a fun team. And I’m happy to announce that it did! I start with Rabid Technologies as a Junior Developer on Monday, 20 July.

It’s good that my unemployment will soon come to an end, because I really don’t do well at being unemployed. A big part of that is that I’ve learned to tie a lot of my self worth into what I do for a living (thanks, society!), so when I’m not making a living, well, you can imagine what that does to my self worth. It’s fine when I’m an unemployed student, because then I’m actually doing something, bettering myself and all that. But when I’m not a student and don’t have a job – not that I’ve been in that position very often – well, it’s not the best feeling.

I tried to counter the unemployed blues by keeping the student flow going and actually doing something, or lots of somethings, as the case may be. I started my own project, contributed to a couple of other projects, and just generally tried to continue with my learning as much as possible. And it helped: I stayed busy, I had a schedule, and it kept the lack-of-a-job insecurities away, for the most part. I really wanted to do my best to make the most of the time while I had it, because once I’m back working full time, I’ll probably wish I had more free time to do my own things. Oh, the irony.

Continue reading

Back to Code (Starting a new Rails App)


This was written a couple of weeks ago, when I started a new personal project after taking a few weeks off from coding:

I started building my new Rails app today. Man, am I rusty! I had to look up how to create a new app, generate models, create routes, all of it. I suppose I have only done it a couple of times before, so I shouldn’t be too hard on myself, but I’m feeling a bit like a fish out of water. And without the ever present comfort of EDA instructors hovering nearby to help whenever I get stuck. How will I do this all by myself?! At least there isn’t a deadline, ‘cause this is going to take a WHILE.

But to look on the bright side, at least I’m back at it. The band aid has been torn off, I’ve dived right in and as slow as it may go, I am on my way. One step at a time. Trying not to get ahead of myself by thinking of next steps and worrying, ‘Shit, how am I going to do that? Or that? or THAT??’ I’ll deal with those things when I get there.

The best part is that despite feeling tentative and unsure, I am really, really glad to be coding again.

Continue reading

Planning a new project


It’s been over 3 weeks since I graduated from Enspiral Dev Academy (EDA) and more like 3 and a half since I last coded. That is scary! I learned it all so quickly, could I lose it just as quickly from lack of use? It’s not like I felt super confident about my skills in the first place – I was proud of myself for learning it and fairly confident in my basic skills, but not super confident – so now I’m really worried.

But I’ve made a plan – when in doubt, schedule your life! Nothing gives you a feeling of control in this crazy world like a colour coded calendar and a plan of attack. I have an idea for a website I want to build and an idea of how I will approach it. Hopefully, I’ll be able to get back into it without too much trouble or the need to take the course all over!

Today’s task was to write out some notes for the new website, planning out the user stories, the flow and the database associations. The user stories went pretty well, I know what I want this site for and what it should do, so there were no problems there. I made a messy attempt at wire framing and have a good idea of how it will look. All good so far.

But trying to figure out the associations has left me stumped – I can’t remember if the products belong to the customer and to the order or just to the order and then the order belongs to the customer. Are the orders a join table or polymorphic or has many and belongs to many? Uh oh. The RailsGuides aren’t much help, or else I just can’t make sense of ActiveRecord Associations through the dawning realisation that yes, I have forgotten everything. Crap.

I’m going to go and stare at some code and hope it all comes flooding back like magic.

Continue reading