I’m a Ruby and Ember.js expert who’s passionate about introducing non-technical people to programming.
After training as a registered nurse, I’ve spent the last ten years in senior leadership roles in healthcare. I wanted to use healthcare data to provide better services, and got frustrated that the available tools were so poor. I started studying database design, learning to view our data in wa__ys that helped us work more effectively.
As my experience grew, I developed my skill in test-driven development in Rails and Ember and recently published a book on the subject.
I’m now the organizer for the Ruby on Rails meetups in Perth, and I’m a co-organizer and mentor for the Rails Girls project in Perth. I’m committed to ensuring that our community is a welcoming place for all people, especially those who might feel excluded from the tech community.
What advice do you wish someone had told you when you were getting started coding?
Spend time with others who want to code. It doesn’t matter if it’s in your language of choice – just go to whatever is available locally. Most of the problems in software development and coding have parallels in other languages, and although the words may not be the same the principles usually are.
There’s a good chance that there’s an event where you live – to get started, check for meetups, hackathons and other community events.
If you can’t get to an event, subscribe to the Ruby Rogues podcast and listed to the amazing depth and breadth of topics they cover with both humor and humanity.
What’s your favorite programming language and why?
I fell in love with Ruby early on because it’s an elegant language with a lot of built in features that make me happy! The best thing about it, though, is the community – the people are really nice!
Could you share any coding tips or tricks that make your life easier?
If you’re really struggling with a coding problem, step away from the computer! Get out some paper and draw / write the problem, map it out on a whiteboard, go for a walk, or make a cup of tea. It’s amazing how your brain comes up with good answers when you give it the freedom to explore without pressure.
When you’re stuck on a coding problem, how do you get unstuck?
When I’m really stuck, I find that StackOverflow and Google searches are my allies. There’s a definite skill to putting questions onto StackOverflow that will lead to good answers. Don’t ever be vague or ask for opinions on whether one thing is better than another! Share the problem you’re having, with code samples and as much context as possible.
What’s your favorite project you’ve worked o** n and why?**
I’ve really been enjoying building a new version of TryRuby for use in RailsGirls workshops. I’ve been playing with lots of interesting technologies, just for sake of doing something that may be helpful.
What’s your approach to helping someone with a coding problem?
When helping with a coding problem I first like to get the problem explained to me and to discuss it. I avoid just ‘fixing’ it for the person I’m helping. I’d much rather spend the time helping them find a solution that is meaningful to them and presents an opportunity to learn.