My New Year's Toast
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I’m not one to set “resolutions” for the new year. I set my personal goals on my birthday, because for me this has more meaning than a calendar change. So instead, on this New Year’s Eve, I thought I’d offer up a toast to those out there striving to reach their own goals, whatever they may be.

Over the past year I have met in person or online, so many more like-minded people than in all my years previous. It’s encouraging, it really is. I attribute the increase in connecting with this new crowd to three things: 1) I set it as a personal goal on my birthday last year, 2) I became involved in the right online social networks (not all will do), and 3) I joined the Ruby on Rails community full time.

Many of you have provided encouragement, motivation, and wisdom as well as shared your experiences. And for that, I am very grateful. I’ve never felt clearer in the direction I’m taking, and I’ve never made as much progress. The fears are still there, as is the little voice that tries to object to the optimism I feel, but thanks to many of you, I’m able to tell that little voice to take a hike.

And so, first to my fellow entrepreneurs and web service startups, I toast you, and wish you the happiest of New Year’s and the best of success in reaching your personal and professional goals (which to me are one and the same).

And next, to those of you who are still unsure where your passions lie, and what direction you want to take, I wish you clarity and peace in the year ahead, and encourage you to seek out those who can motivate you as they have motivated me.

And to any and all who have hopes and dreams of achievements and success, I urge you to persevere through all the obstacles and road blocks that may come your way. Most of them are never as big as they appear, and there are plenty of others out there who have been right where you are and can lend a helping hand and offer some motivational words when needed.

Remember, if its not challenging, and there is little risk of failure, then its probably not worth doing and offers little reward.

Happy New Years!

Announcing Ruby Rails Review: a ruby and rails news site
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I’m pleased to announce that my team, currently all two of us, known as Agile Nomads, has released a new site to assist in monitoring the news in the Ruby and Rails industry. It’s called Ruby Rails Review and is designed to be very simple, small on download size, thus fast to load, and very quick to see an overview of what’s going on in the community.

Thanks to my team mate Steve Pothoven for his work on the very nice CMS tool that you can’t see but that makes updating the information a snap. Also much thanks to Beth at DblTake Designs for the design of our Agile Nomads logo.

Feel free to send in your Ruby or Rails blogs, sites, events, and articles for consideration. We won’t post everything, but we’ll post the best of what is out there in our humble opinions. You can send your suggestions to rubyrailsreview@agilenomads.com.

You can follow us on Twitter as well, to be notified of some more features we will be adding, and more products we plan to release in the future.

13 technologies to be thankful for
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As I take a day off tomorrow from all my projects, and turn my attention toward the yearly tradition of turkey, family and giving thanks, I thought I would take a moment to give thanks here, but as this site is focused on technology I will focus my thanks on the same, though not before taking a personal moment to mention the most important things I’m thankful for in my life, which are: the freedom to support myself with capitalistic endeavors, freedom of religion, the opportunities available in this country thanks to those who’ve sacrificed over the years, my home, my job, my friends, my immediate and extended family (of which I’ll be eating with 16 of them tomorrow), my wife, and my two amazing kids.

Now for the technologies I’m most thankful for in 2008, which combined are allowing me to reach my personal and family goals like never before (in no particular order):

1. Ruby on Rails
Not in ten years have I enjoyed web development as much as I do now thanks to Rails. Thank you Yukihiro Matsumoto, DHH, and the entire Rails community.

2. Slicehost
Doesn’t do much good to create great web sites if you can’t host them reliably and affordably. I love to concept, design, develop, and tweak web applications, but system administration is something I’ve never cared for. I tried many hosts, and not until I found slicehost did I find a company that could help me with all my needs and do it so well. Thanks slicehost.

3. MacBook Pro
Thanks to my Mac, I now focus all my time on being productive and little time on getting my computer to do what I want it to. Thanks Apple and all my friends who talked me into getting a Mac.

4. Broadband Internet
What did I use a computer for before broadband Internet? Can’t even remember now. So much information available. So many opportunities and…

5. Online Media
Last year the Tivo would have been on my list. But these days, with Hulu, bit torrents, my blockbuster online subscription, iTunes, and all the TV sites that stream their own shows, my Tivo sits idle. Thanks to Boxee as well for providing a great way to bring all this media together and use from one common interface.

6. Fujitsu ScanSnap 300M
My office is 90% paperless thanks to this incredible, two-sided, speedy and portable scanner. Makes staying organized easier and helps with my goals of a more simplistic lifestyle.

7. Mint.com
I tried so many financial software packages before and never stuck with them…too much work. But thanks to Mint, I can keep tabs on all my accounts, my expenses and all related trends. Great for the mobile office.

8. Remember the Milk
It’s simply the easiest task management web app there is.

9. Internet Cafes
Maybe not exactly a technology, but there’s little I enjoy more than a fresh ice tea, free wifi, a pastry, and my laptop.

10. Social Media (FaceBook, LinkedIn, Twitter)
Last year I didn’t have a single account at any of these sites. I didn’t understand how they could be of help. Now I can keep in touch with clients, potential clients, old friends, current friends, extended family, and new friends. Some worry that Internet usage gets in the way of communicating with real people, but thanks to these sites, I have time to keep in touch with 10x more people than ever before.

11. Online Shopping (Amazon, Zappos, Newegg)
Busy roads, expensive gas, large crowds and long lines, all work together to waste massive amounts of time when engaged in traditional shopping. But with the wide product selection, ease of ordering and excellent customer service of some of these online shops, why bother?

12. Favorite Mac Apps
The reliability of the Mac OS is only equaled by the productivity gains of some of its software. My most used apps currently are: TextMate, Firefox, NetNewsWire, Boxee, iTunes, and Vuze. Almost everything I do is done in one of these pieces of software.

13. Entrepreneur leaders in the Web Services Industry
There are so many great companies now doing some fantastic work in providing web services and most of them are more than willing to share their experiences, thereby helping the rest of us to get to our own goals even faster. Special thanks to 37 signals, ADS, Rails Envy, Railscasts, Slicehost, Web Worker Daily, and ReadWriteWeb.

Eight things I learned on Day 1 at RubyConf 2008
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  1. The Davenport, FL area is terribly un-GPS documented. MS Maps, Google Maps, my GPS and Starbuck’s web site all gave incorrect directions to a Starbucks, a Walmart, and the conference hotel
  2. Gregg Pollack makes awesome slides
  3. Electricity is a rare and precious commodity at a Ruby conference
  4. Ruby is playdough. Java is legos
  5. Code Just in time, not in case
  6. NeverBlock can be useful for more than just database connections
  7. C/C++ can be inlined in Ruby
  8. Even after 8 hours of Ruby classes, I still want to code until 2 in the morning
My Goals for RubyConf
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I leave later tonight for RubyConf in Orlando. This will be my first time at this conference and my second Ruby conference. I am so glad I gave Rails a second look two years ago, and enjoy every single day of my development in the language. I love the community, the syntax, and the focus on efficiency. I am enjoying working with more agile and creative small businesses and startups rather than bulky, procedural corporations. There’s more passion in this sector. So onto what I’m hoping to get out of this conference.

Goal-assisting Education
I love learning. There is always more to learn but, what I learn has to directly help me reach my goals for me to stay passionate with it. There are classes that I will attend that I believe will help me improve my applications, but what is also exciting are the classes that surprise you, or the extra tips and pointers you pick up outside the classes from the people you meet and the impromptu discussions.

Absorbing Optimism and Passion.
In my opinion, passion and optimism, founded on persistence and a desire to learn is the recipe for success. I’m looking forward to meeting those of you who absolutely love what you do. You love to code in Ruby. You love creating applications to improve the user’s life, solve the user’s problem, or entertain the user. Particularly, as an Entrepreneur at heart, I want to meet those of you who are optimistic and passionate about the businesses you are starting or have started.

    Suggestion and Tip to presenters: If there is something you do not like about Rails or Ruby, then make a suggestion from a positive perspective on how we as a community can make it better. Sharing your frustrations and distaste for something is fine, but useless unless presented with a real solution. I have no desire to be doused in a pessimistic discharge. Criticism is great, but do it from a passionate and optimistic spirit and the community will grow as a result. Do it with negativity and pessimism and its like a cancer that can eat away at a community.

Meeting like-minded people
This goes right along with my previous point, but beyond just being around optimism and passion, I’d like to meet you, hear your plans, your dreams, your stories. Find me, if I don’t find you.

I plan to twitter my experience and may make some posts on here as well. Should be a great time.

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