Quick Left hosted the RailsBridge workshop, along with the organization of the event by Thoughtbot's Desi McAdam, earlier this month. We asked some participants to let us know their thoughts on the event and Katie and Paul of 23rd Studios graciously volunteered to share their experiences below. Not only that, they took amazing photos of the event. And yes, that's me giving a speech in a bike helmet.
Hi there, we’re Katie Falkenberg and Paul Talbot, co-owners of 23rd Studios. We just attended the most recent RailsBridge at Quick Left in Boulder and had a blast!
Paul has always been interested in learning new things and has been taken with code ever since he was a youngster. He mostly does photography and video, but Katie does a lot of web work, though mostly on the design end, and when the chance came up to attend the RailsBridge workshop, we both jumped at the chance.
For Paul, his fascination with code started when he began attending a MAGNET school in Ft. Lauderdale, FL, where he learned DOS on something that resembled a terminal, back when Macs were just gray boxes and Oregon Trail was a hot, new innovation.
Katie was dragged kicking and screaming into the tech world after graduating from art school, realizing that the economy had just crashed and no one in Atlanta, GA wanted to hire an illustrator. She took a job at Georgia Public Broadcasting…on the web team. Things finally clicked for her when she got a hold of CSS and saw the aesthetic capabilities of code. Now she’s on a mission.
Lets get back on topic here…
So we’re brand new to Boulder, we just moved here from Brooklyn (Katie) and Connecticut (Paul) and have been making a concerted effort to get out in the community and figure out what this town is all about. Katie found the group Women Who Code, which led her to Devchix, which led her to RailsBridge. Since there is a “males allowed as a guest of an attending female” policy for RailsBridge, we decided to go together.
RailsBridge was started by two women in San Francisco: Sarah Mei and Sarah Allen, affectionately known as “The Sarahs”. They had the idea to make writing code, specifically Ruby on Rails, more accessible to women. They were disheartened by what they had seen in the tech community and at conferences, large gatherings of men and a striking lack of women. Thus RailsBridge was born, a two-day, two-part crash course in setting up and writing Ruby on Rails with the objective to build a quick and easy web app. Something people could get excited about.
The workshop started on Friday night with an “installfest”. We were graciously provided pizza and beer (hooray!) along with the use of the amazing space at Quick Left. We were both amazed at how long it took to install all the tools needed to set up for Ruby and Rails, but it was straightforward enough. Since Katie uses a Mac and Paul uses a PC, and it turns out that most people who write code, especially Ruby, use Mac, that meant Paul had to get a lot of special attention, but it wasn’t a problem for the super hero TA team.
On of our favorite parts of the RailsBridge workshop was the organizer/facilitator, Desi McAdam. She’s the mastermind behind Devchix and a superstar developer for Thoughtbot. If you want to meet the hardest working woman in town, that would be her. She has a remarkable passion for Ruby and getting women involved in tech. So here we are bright and early the next day, Saturday morning…I mean, a late night of installs on Friday and then an early Saturday morning start to writing code? Sounds like the nerdiest fun ever, right? We would have been there even if we weren’t being bribed with Illegal Pete’s for lunch.
We started the morning off with hot coffee and bagels (and for some: last night’s beer and cold pizza) and then broke up into pre-determined groups based on our level of experience. Katie was grateful to be at the beginner’s table since she had never even used the terminal before. Our group was assigned 3 TAs. They were sent from heaven, and we put them to good use. Seven hours of coding and one functional Ruby web app later, we both left with our heads spinning. All in all: success! So what did we learn?
- Using a terminal makes you feel like you have super powers.
- RailsBridge leaves you hungry for more.
- All the class material is online! You can go back through the workshop at your own rate any time your heart desires.
- The more you code, the more you learn. Tech people love pizza and beer.
- Science = magic.
- The Boulder tech community is incredibly supportive and gracious.
- CamelCase vs. snake_case
- Illegal Pete’s is delicious.
- Learning Ruby on Rails is the next cool thing on our checklist.
Link to photos from workshop : http://www.23rdstudios.com/portfolio/ruby-on-rails-railsbridge-workshop/