Take Time to Learn Something New
This past Monday, OSC had a company hackathon day. It is not our first, but we have been trying to make this sort of activity a more regular thing for us. Unlike our previous hackathons, this one was more flexible on the rules. Previously we had the entire team work on the same technology or goal whereas this time was more free form. We each had the opportunity to work on either a new or old technology (by new and old I mean something we’ve worked with before or not), on new or old projects and to collaborate or work individually.
The day featured work on things like Google App Engine and the Android application platform. I took this chance to get myself out of the PHP world I’ve been stuck in for about a year now and get back into some Rails development. I had a little tool in mind that I wanted to develop which would help us internally do some things a bit more efficiently. I used that as an excuse to try out some of the Rails plugins or gems that I have wanted to use for a while, which are:
- Mocha (http://github.com/mislav/rspec-rails-mocha http://mocha.rubyforge.org/)
- Factory Girl (http://github.com/thoughtbot/factory_girl)
- GChart (http://github.com/jbarnette/gchart)
- Open Flash Chart (http://github.com/pullmonkey/open_flash_chart)
I have to say, the buzz around Mocha and Factory Girl is very old and I wish I had the opportunity to use these tools before now. New things come out everyday and it is tough to keep up with everything. My advise to you is to dedicate a “playing time” often for you to try out the newest and greatest thing that comes out. Do this in groups where each one can be working on a different things and share your findings at the end of the day. Even though I didn’t work on the Android app, I did get a feel for it from Arin through his experience with it. One of the things that helped take this experience further is our presence all together in one conference room feeding out of each other.
Looking forward to the next OSC hackathon.