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01 January 2008 @ 08:20 pm
 
I don't really have any New Years' resolutions. But I'm going through one of those "learning a bunch of new stuff" phases that I do, and that's similar enough that I'll cheerfully mention it.

Characteristically for me, this "learn stuff" phase is all about computer programming. While I've had a decent grasp of basic HTML and (really) basic CSS for awhile, I'm refreshing my knowledge of that while hitting Ruby and Ruby on Rails pretty hard. I started off with tutorials, practice projects and open source stuff, and I'm now reading the expected books on those topics. Javascript is also on the list this time -- it's really, really time for me to learn some decent Ajax stuff. I'm still doing Rails first since I'm already pretty deep in it.

Ruby on Rails stuff seems to assume you'll need to do significant sysadmin work. I've intentionally avoiding doing much of that for awhile... and it's really time for me to learn. So I've figured out basic SQL and MySQL, database creation and backup, simple app deployment. Now I'm sifting through firewall and DNS stuff. We'll see how much of this I actually stick with, but so far, so good.

And I'd never looked into a lot of how you, y'know, actually stick an app on the web. MemcacheD, caching proxies, reverse proxying with Apache and NGinX, clustering, load-balancing, all kinds of database optimization... Wow. There's really a lot to it. We'll see how much of it I actually learn and/or use, but I've learned the basics of it, at least, so I could really dig into it if I needed to.

And while reading many, many web sites on all of these topics and many more, I'm again struck by the differences between web and print. There's a lot of web documentation that is simply not available in print, and which is absolutely worth the time. However, really serious in-depth documentation on how to do something complicated just works better in a book, and web sites are rarely available on those topics. To learn to do some specific, small task in Ruby on Rails, the web is the way to go. To learn the basics of Rails overall, somehow all those many, many web doc sites still miss most of what's in the basic Rails book.
 
 
 
The Onion Girl: geektshuma on January 2nd, 2008 04:00 pm (UTC)
Amusingly enough, the basic Rails book was available free as a pdf for several months earlier last year. But it's generally true enough that the web is great for the small specifics, and also great for the "I'm having this particular problem and I haven't quite sussed out the behaviors -- has anyone else encountered this" Google searches, but not that great for the overarching theories of best practices. I find that I can round that out to some extent with a subscription to e-safari, the proquest site for technical books. Fortunately, my university subsidizes that.