Sunday, December 4, 2011

Taking the next step…

I am a learner by nature. This has even been confirmed the StrengthFinder tests. I not only love to learn new information (who doesn’t?), I love the very act of learning. I always have. It is something that is hardwired in my brain.

Since I started working with computers some 10 years ago (really? Gosh! I feel old just saying that), I’ve wanted to become a developer. In those years I’ve dabbled a bit with Visual Basic 6 (there I go making myself feel old again), Perl and Python (from my Linux stuff), and I even fixed a line of code in a C program and pushed it back upstream in Debian once. I started trying to learn C# and ASP .NET about 3 years ago, but abandoned the idea. I just had too much going on, and I simply wasn’t ready.

A lot has happened to me in those past 3 years. I started by stopping smoking, and then losing over 50% of my body weight, then I started running and just recently finished my first half-marathon. It was the weight loss process and starting to enjoy the sport of Running that taught me a lot about myself. It taught me that I can do *anything* I want to do, if I want it hard enough.

I decided a few months back that I wanted to learn Ruby on Rails. I want to change the direction of my career. It’s not that I don’t enjoy what I do, because I enjoy my job as a server admin very much. I simply want to make things happen – not just simply manage the computer that others use to make things happen.

I did very well catching on to Ruby on Rails. What was different than my previous attempts at learning a programming language and framework? I think part of it was finding just the right tutorial with Michael Hartl’s Ruby on Rails Tutorial. Another part was the fact that I had the will to follow through, followed up with the act of actually following through with it. It’s simply not something I was prepared to do a few years ago.

I’m not by any means a Ruby on Rails expert now. To put it into perspective, let’s look at my swimming skills. If you walked up to me and ask the question “Do you know how to swim?”, my response would be “No, but I know how to not die”. Which means, I don’t know all of the proper techniques that go into making one a swimmer, however I know how to use basic skills to keep my head above water and not drown. Am I a swimmer? No, but throw me in a lake and I won’t drown. That is kind of where I’m at with Ruby on Rails. I don’t claim to be a RoR expert, but I think if I was thrown into the deep end of a pool of code, I could find my way to the top and come out ok.

This is where the next step comes in. I also decided to loop back to the whole ASP .NET thing. I decided to see if I could use some of those basic “swimming” skills I learned in the Ruby on Rails pool to also swim a little in the ASP .NET pool. Since I *do* want to become a “Developer”, I think the more skills I have, the more marketable I can become. Right? Knowing both will only help making applications built in each of the frameworks communicate with each other better. Right? I hope so. In any event I’ve devoted some time to learning a little about ASP .NET this weekend, and I do think I can “not die” in that pool also. It seems a lot of the basic concepts of MVC I learned in Ruby on Rails are going to translate quite nicely to ASP .NET MVC. I’m really excited to be taking this next step in my life, and finally following a dream and passion I’ve (somewhat secretly) had for quite a while.

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