Guest Author

Today’s guest post is by Joshua Rose, one of the students in our first Introduction to Ruby on Rails training class:

There are things that we can’t change about ourselves. I was born a geek, always have been, always will be.

I hacked on BASIC as a kid, studied computer science for a few years at Miami University then landed my first programming job around 10 years ago doing visual basic. My career in the corporate world advanced from software developer to architect.

However, I was terribly unhappy with the state of my career. I felt like my work was more about meetings and politics than actually building great things.

I had heard about Ruby on Rails, but being a career long .NET programmer, my initial attempts to explore it had been filled with command lines and text editor wars.

I came to Gaslight’s Cincinnati Rails Day and met some amazing people. There is a welcoming atmosphere and energy in the local Ruby community. Being a career corporate programmer, I had never experienced such a community of passionate people before.

I didn’t know if I wanted to be a Rails programmer, but I knew I wanted to spend more time around these people. I was skeptical if enrolling in the Introduction to Ruby on Rails class would have any value for someone like me.

But I decided to sign up to spend 12 Saturdays with instructors Jim Anders and Ben Stafford, as well as a group of amazing students ranging from other career long developers to talented artists and manufacturing workers making time for the class around their 60 hour work weeks.

The course at Gaslight involved lectures from two very talented real world Rails developers, question and answer time, and pairing up with another student.

I can’t stress how valuable the course material was; learning computer science at the university level unfortunately doesn’t necessarily translate into real life. In the course, we all built an application together and were given the opportunity to build a passion project.

During the course, I learned not only techniques that could only be learned from Rails veterans, but I also learned the joy of helping out fellow classmates. Perhaps in the future I’ll be able to give back by teaching a round of courses.

Because of my time in the class, I had the opportunity to interview for a position at ChoreMonster, and now I work with instructor Ben Stafford every day. Gone are the days of sitting in meetings and dreading going to work. I work with some of the most creative people in the city and look forward to going to work every morning to build great things.

Michelle Taute

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We recently created bio pages for every member of team Gaslight, and in the process, we uncovered some surprising facts about each other. Here are 10 we thought you’d enjoy as much as we did:

1. Photographic memory: Managing partner Chris Moore has a crazy good memory. We dare you: Ask him to recite his junior high girlfriend Megan’s phone number.

2. Reluctant foodie: Developer Alex Padgett didn’t try macaroni and cheese until he was 22 years old. Now it’s one of his favorite foods.

3. Rock star: Designer Tammy Gambrel once sold two paintings to Courtney Love on Etsy.

4. Snake alive: Partner and delivery manager Peter Kananen has a 7-foot boa constrictor named Cocoa.

5. Almost famous: Office manager Merrilee Luke-Ebbeler once danced with Milli Vanilli at a nightclub during the height of the musical duo’s popularity.

6. Royal watcher: Designer Kristin Lasita flew to London and back in a day to see William and Kate’s royal wedding procession. She went with her mom (an airline employee) and her brother.

7. Love match: Developer Michael Guterl met his fiancée at QCMerge Drinkup, a monthly MeetUp for Web and tech types.

8. Mouse magic: Co-founder and developer Bill Barnett and his wife visited Disneyland and Disney World a combined 13 times the first year they were married.

9. German style: When Chris Nelson, co-founder and developer, was 6 years old, his favorite article of clothing was a pair of lederhosen.

10. Tree house living: Writer and content strategist Michelle Taute grew up in a house on stilts with a front yard that ended at the edge of the Mississippi River.

Michelle Taute

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You don’t have to be a computer geek to boost your productivity with technology. But it helps if you’re friends with a few to give you the inside scoop.

Here are just a few of the tools we use around the office to make life a little easier:

1. Manage Distractions With RescueTime

Not sure where all your time went when the end of the day rolls around? RescueTime tracks exactly how you spend your computer minutes each day—whether it’s browsing Facebook or staring at Excel spreadsheets. Then you can use the data to improve your productivity.

2. Outsource Tedious Tasks With If This, Then That

Think of If This, Then That as a digital personal assistant that automates small tasks you’d like to accomplish online. You set up tasks on the site: If I post a photo to Instagram, then save it to my Dropbox. Or: If a standing desk goes up for sale on Craigslist, then send me an email. Then sit back and enjoy your extra free time.

3. Stop Junk Email with Unenroll.Me

Newsletters and junk clogging up your inbox? With one click, Unenroll.Me generates a list of all your email subscriptions. Then unsubscribe to junk with one click as you go down the list. Receive the newsletters you still love as a daily digest.

4. Never Forget a Password Again with LastPass

Add all your passwords to this secure online password manager. Then let LastPass login to your favorite sites for you, so you don’t have to waste time racking your brain for forgotten passwords. Or worse yet, going through the hassle of resetting them.

5. Set Priorities and Track Projects With Trello

This free online project management software makes it easy to collaborate with office mates or colleagues around the world. You create different Trello boards for each project and cards for individual tasks or ideas that you can move through a series of steps until they’re done. You can comment on cards and attach files.

6. Track Your Team’s Productivity with iDoneThis

This simple, yet genius, application sends everyone on your team a reminder email each evening. Each person replies to iDoneThis with what he or she accomplished that day. You receive a digest the next morning that helps you track work and celebrate wins.

7. Give Better Feedback With Skitch

If you need to comment on that presentation or new brochure, stop typing and download Skitch. This app allows you to snap a pic of whatever is on your computer screen then visually add feedback with arrows, notes, shapes and more.

8. Gather Inspiration With Private Pinterest Boards

Pinterest isn’t just for shopping. Now that the site has introduced private boards, which you can share with a small group, it’s the perfect place to gather inspiration. Use it to bookmark articles, track ideas for your new website design or keep tabs on your competitor’s online efforts.

9. Talk Through Ideas With Discourse

This update on the old-school message board allows you to talk through ideas and issues with your team that are just too long for texts or instant messaging. Discourse is a place to have real private conversations when you don’t want to call a meeting.

Do you have other tools you’d add to the list?