Webcraft Story: Caley Woods
I believe this whole thing started when I saw a tweet where someone linked the live coding video from John Britton’s Twilio presentation at the New York Tech Meetup. I thought the clip was neat so I started following John on twitter and keeping up with what he was doing.
Some time shortly after I started following him he tweeted about P2PU so I decided to check it out. I have always been interested in programming and things relating to it so it seemed neat. In high school I was going to start looking at schools which offered CS degrees but being a little naiveté then I was lead to believe that programming / development involved a lot of math. For some reason, at that time, rather than strike out and find out for myself I took others word and shied away from going to school for CS because I wasn’t a big fan of math and couldn’t see myself working in detail with it for an extended period of time.
After college (ended up training in computer repair/networking) my interest in programming was still there. I got a job working for a local publishing company in 2007 doing systems management work so I dabbled with enough scripting (batch, vb script, occassional C#) to hold me over. As I worked there I began to really develop a drive towards wanting to learn to really become a developer after interacting online and at work with some good people. I was shown that development didn’t always involve something like C/C++ and writing Fibonacci / Fourier transforms all day.
Joining the School of Webcraft
This all bubbled to a head when I saw P2PU and realized I could learn from respected teachers and peers in an environment where bettering oneself was the motivation for being present (versus something like highschool where you’re forced into it). I signed up for the 2nd cycle of classes I believe and took a class called “Beginning Python Webservices” taught by Jeff Hammel from the Firefox team at Mozilla. This was a great thing, I picked up a bit of Python which as it turns out was a great language to start with. Everything made sense and I had a great time doing it, even though we had a pretty late meetup time since Jeff was Pacific time (we met 11p-12a central for me).
In this class we used Webob and Paste, learned about VirtualEnv and I wrote a simple webservice that’s a random password generator. You can view the source. After Jeff’s class concluded I fiddled on my own with Django but I didn’t stick with it long because there was another course I enrolled in called “Beginning Ruby on Rails” taught by Andy Lindeman. Jeff’s course gave me enough Python knowledge to be able to complete one of Andy’s prerequisites for the Rails course which was: “In your language of choice write a script that will accept a string and reverse it.”
Where I’ve Gone
I started Andy’s course around the end of January and had a fantastic time learning from a truly great mentor. I’m still in touch with Andy today and I think (hope) he can attest to my growth with Ruby over the last 6 months from never having touched Ruby to where I’m at now. I’ve become actively involved in the open source community as well which P2PU is a part of! You can fork Lernata on Github and contribute to something really great.
My current projects are Rstatus and OpenMissouri. In addition to my current open source projects I’ve contributed to Ruby core, active_admin, and I’ve been working with John Britton on a Ruby gem called Cardshark. P2PU was key in helping me get to where I’m at today. There are several grassroots teaching initiatives going on right now and it’s really exciting to see what’s happening. P2PU and Ruby Mendicant are changing the landscape of learning and every day they’re opening doors for people who may be unable to afford conventional courses or may not be geographically able to reach such courses. I believe Andy is now facilitating a beginning Ruby course at P2PU and is trying to partner with Ruby Mendicant University to take you from Ruby beginner to expert all via free online learning taught by well respected and motivated individuals.
Opinions on P2PU
I think P2PU will continue evolve and I would wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone looking to learn a new skill or pickup a hobby. The School of Webcraft is just one aspect of P2PU; there are so many other subjects being taught. I’ve seen courses on gardening, literature, and economics. I also wouldn’t simply recommend it to someone who is unable to take conventional courses, I would advocate seeing what you can get from P2PU before you look elsewhere.