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Monroe Mann – How I Finally Became a Ruby on Rails Coder After Ten Years of Struggle!

Dive: Coder - Rails
Description: Knows how to code using Rails
Level: Level 1
Level Requirements: Can code using Rails at a basic level
Certified On: May 7, 2019

Editor’s Note: On all dive certifications, we try to edit the writing as little as possible to preserve authenticity, personality, and writing style. We typically fix spelling errors, but minimally modify grammar and sentence structure (just enough to ensure readability).

Monroe Mann

Name: Monroe Mann Break Diving Level: Level 1 Number of Certified Dives: 14 From: United States In: United States

1. When and Why Did You Decide to Pursue This Dive At This Level? What was your inspiration and motivation?

I don’t remember where I first read about Ruby on Rails, but I believe that it was shortly after I returned from my deployment to Iraq with the US Army in late 2005.  Something about it appealed to me, so I bought a book and began to study it.

2. How Long Did It Take For You To Accomplish This Dive At This Level From The Day You Decided To Pursue It, And Why Did It Take That Long?

Oh man, it took me over a decade.  And the full story about how I got into coding is on the main Break Diving blog.  But short story about RoR: It took me that long because for me, just learning how to code using a book didn’t work.  It was only after I joined the now defunct Firehose Project RoR coding bootcamp that I really finally learned the basics.  I struggled numerous times with numerous books from 2005 – 2017, and I never got far. It was thanks to Firehose that I finally learned how to code in Ruby on Rails.

Was I an expert? No. I wasn’t even good. But I was good enough to begin coding the foundation for the Break Diving community site that I really hope you’ll become a part of! Note: if you’d like to start coding yourself, please join our FREE partnership program with App Academy.

3. What Was The Hardest Part About Achieving This Particular Dive Level?

Coding is one of the most humbling adventures you can go on.  When you can’t figure something out, you feel like an idiot. No matter how much you may have accomplished prior, nothing makes you question your intelligence and capacity to solve a problem like a coding bug or a difficult coding concept.  It’s for this reason that it took me so long to learn the basics: with a book, if you don’t understand something or get stuck, that’s it, you’re stuck. If you don’t have someone to help you figure it out, you get discouraged, and may give up.  It’s for this reason that I joined the bootcamp–to have those shoulders to cry on and stand on as I learned to code.  It’s also why I created the Break Diving community: to provide that support for coding dreams (and in fact, for all dreams) that I didn’t have back in 2005 when I started learning Ruby on Rails all by myself.

4. What Was The Easiest Part About Achieving This Particular Dive Level?

The easiest part: it’s so much fun.  And the feeling you get when something you built works, or when you solve a pesky bug, BOOM!  You feel like you just won the lottery. There are times when I figure out a bug or get a new feature to work that I jump out of my chair, fist in the wait, screaming, “VICTORY!    Woo hoo!”, and end up jumping around the house for ten minutes. The thrill of coding victory more than makes up for that terrible (and frequent) agony of coding defeat. The key however is not getting discouraged initially so you never get to experience that thrill of coding victory.  Once you feel it once, you’ll never turn back again.

5. What Is Your Advice For Someone Who Is Pursuing This Dive And Level?

Do not study coding alone.  I could say the same thing for anything, but particularly coding, because I’ve heard countless stories of people who have quit because they didn’t solve a bug or couldn’t understand something or couldn’t get something to work, and had no one to turn to, or worse, the person they turned to dismissed them and made them feel even more stupid. Advice: find a good coding bootcamp and find a wonderfully supportive community.  Good news: Break Diving can help you with both!

6. What Are Some Of The Best Resources You Recommend to Those Pursuing This Dive At This Level, And Why Do You Recommend Them? Please Include Relevant Weblinks, If Applicable.

Want to get started with Rails?  Start here:

Resource 1: Pragmatic Studio - Spend the $250 for the Ruby/Rails course bundle. Best Course Ever.

Resource 2: App Academy Online - This great free online bootcamp is fantastic.

Resource 3: Go Rails - Join this awesome community of Rails Coders

Resource 4: Break Diving's H.A.C.K.ers Community - Come join other coders like me in our community!

Resource 5: -

7. Tell Us A Story Of One Of Your Adventures While Pursuing This Dive (At This Level).

I spent over a week trying to debug this error we were getting everytime we ran rake db:seed.  That particular command ‘seeds’ the database with data so we didn’t have to do so manually. In this case, it seeded the database with all the country names, cities, languages, etc.  Getting this seed command to work again was critical to the launch of our community site but each time we ran it, an error came up. I poured over every line of code in seeds.rb to figure it out.  I spent hours reviewing every line of code. And I just couldn’t figure it out. It was driving me absolutely crazy.

After a while, as any good coder does, I reached out to others. 

I found a great guy on Codementor who agreed to volunteer some time to help me debug. 

In less than 20 minutes, he found it. 

Guess what the bug was?

Instead of a there was a

Instead of a short dash, there was a long one.  

It had nothing to do with seeds.rb but instead, language_groups.txt.

It was a text file issue.  And one character was different.  And it crashed the entire seed process.  

The lesson: often, what is causing a bug is nothing like what you’d think. Moreover, the tiniest little error can have huge wide-ranging consequences. Most importantly, get over your ego: if you can’t figure something out, stop wasting time trying to prove to yourself and others that you’re better than you are.  Admit your deficiencies, find someone who can do it, pass the baton, and solve the problem!

8. What Evidence Did You Submit to Prove You Met the Requirements for This Dive and Level?

Graduate certificate from Firehose; Co-worker statements; Github pull request history

9. Will You Be Pursuing The Next Level For This Dive? If Yes, Why? If Not, Why Not?

I am finally at the stage when I consider myself moving out of the beginner RoR coder stage and into the realm of the intermediates. Now that I’ve learned the basics, I intend to continue pushing my skill level as far as my brain (and my repetitive stress injury in my wrists from typing so much haha) can take me! Onward!

10. What is the Break Diver's Creed?

No Rules. No Excuses. No Regrets. 

Certificate photo:

And having made this post, and provided adequate evidence to the dive committee, Monroe Mann is now hereby certified by Break Diving, Inc. as: Coder - Rails - Level 1. Congratulations ! Thank you for being an inspiration to others!

Certificate number: 12

The author above wrote this WYSEguidance post as one of the certification requirements to become certified by Break Diving, Inc. for a dive completed. Would you also like to find greater success, happiness, and friendship, and make genuine supportive connections with others around the world pursuing your same dreams? Come join us at Break Diving and soon your story will be the next one you read about on this site!

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