Ruby Hero 2016

This year I was lucky enough to be one of 9 rubyists chosen to receive the Ruby Hero award. I’m also only one of 2 Heroes to be pictured wearing a hat this year.

I’ve been describing the award as “The Oscars” for Ruby programming for those not in the community. This description went over really well, however my Mother-In-Law got a bit confused and asked if I won because I “wore a hat to my talk this year” (i.e. dressed up as Indiana Jones).

Thankfully, the award has nothing to do with my ability to act.

I’m incredibly grateful to be a part of the Ruby community. I started programming Ruby as my first language back in 2006. I thought I would be super rich by making a website and selling it, instead I found something even better. I found an amazing and supportive community. It’s impossible to quantify how friendly, and helpful a large group of self-identified people are. If I could, then Ruby would be at my personal number one spot.

There were a few bad apples. In my first programming job interview, a CTO told me “I couldn’t program” to my face. I got over it. By pushing past the bad I was able to get to the warm collaborative center of the community. I eventually quit my mechanical engineering job and got a software dev position. I became active with austinonrails.org. I started teaching programming and even taught at the University of Texas once. I’ve written heavily on tech topics at this blog, and I enjoy staying active in open source.

For the most part I’ve gotten nothing but encouragement and help. It is so easy to be mean, snarky, or cynical. There is so much negative in the world. It takes a great deal more effort to be productive and helpful.

I was inspired by the idea of nominating a “Ruby Hero” this year to start a personal experiment. I like the idea that people get up and share that they have someone who made an impact in their lives. It’s sad that there were 500 or so nominations but only a few got to be recognized. I wanted to show those around me that they’re actively making the world a better place. Nothing says “thanks” quite like a hand written card, so I printed off a bunch of postcards:

I intended to hand them out blank for others to write on, but I ended up writing so many myself that I went through my whole stash. I had to go buy some regular cards at a grocery store just to have enough. It felt really good to give out “thanks”, and once I started I couldn’t stop. Here’s an action shot:

I want to keep this up. I’m exploring ways to encourage more people to speak up about the good others have done for them. I’ve printed out a whole bunch of postcards and I’ll be at OSCON May 16-19 in Austin (my home town!), find me and grab one. Then consider someone who made your day, week, or year; and let them know.

Before I get too carried away, I would like to thank Heroku for taking a chance on me over 4 years ago. They also employ another of the 2016 Ruby Hero’s, Koichi Sasada, who works on Ruby core. Heroku has a history of supporting the Ruby and the Ruby community. They’ve supported my interests in speaking and open source. I’m proud to work with such an amazing team.

This past year has been a whirlwind. I had a son, I got into Sprockets Core, and now this award. I sincerely appreciate this honor and I plan to keep contributing. I also see the award as more than recognition. I see it as a challenge. It says to me “strive to be more”. It says “go out there knowing that people are watching you now”. It says “set an example and live with purpose”. While this award is a career and community high for me, I don’t see it as the end of my journey. It’s a beginning. Thank you all for reading and for making Ruby such an amazing community.