RailsClub'Moscow 2013. Interview with Linda Liukas

The start of the 12th Moscow RailsClub is coming very soon - only 11 days left! By the way, we recommend not to delay the purchase of tickets . Tickets for 8,000 rubles are still available, but their number is limited.

We tirelessly continue to tell you about the guests. We have already met Ernie Miller , Eric Hodl and Jeremy Evans .

Now, it's time to learn more about perhaps the most charming of the conference guests - Linda Liucas. The 2013 Ruby Hero Award winner, author of Hello Ruby, and RailsGirls activist, have agreed to answer a few of our traditional questions.

Interviews are published with original answers in English and our free translation.

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When and why did you start programming?

I was 13 and I was literally in love with the then Vice President of the United States Al Gore (somewhere in 2001). In those days, there was neither Tumblr, nor Twitter, nor Facebook, so learning HTML and CSS was for me, a teenage girl, the only possible realization of my hyperactivity. About ten years later, I happened to take part in the Ruby on Rails weekend workshop, and I again experienced the same emotions!

I was 13 years old and madly in love with Al Gore, the then vice president of United States (somewhere in 2001!). This was the time before Tumblr, Twitter or Facebook, so learning HTML and CSS was the only way to express all of my teenage girl excitement. Some ten years later I took part in a Ruby on Rails weekend workshop and instantly felt the same rush of excitement.

What are you working on now?

I am working on a children's book on the basics of programming: we are talking about such basic things as loops, sequences, variables and functions, as well as principles such as open-sourcing culture and object-oriented programming. All this is told on behalf of a little girl (whose name is Ruby!) And her friends (among them a lonely Snow Leopard, clever penguins and little stupid robots). Perhaps this is what now most of all captivates me.

I'm working on a children's book on the very foundations of programming: the fundamentals like loops, sequences, variables and functions, but also the principles like open source culture and object oriented programming. It's all told through a little girls perspective (who's called Ruby!) And her friends (which include the lonely Snow Leopard, the booksmart penguins and the messy little robots). This is the project I'm probably most excited about.

What is the best and worst part of your work?

I have to work with developers from all over the world. It’s a great honor for a native of a small country to work with people who are really passionate about their special craft and have gained worldwide recognition.

The worst thing is that too much needs to be done, and I would like to have a little more time in order to focus on certain aspects of my work and develop in them.

I like working with developers from all around the world. Coming from a small country it's such a privilege to get to work with people who are very passionate about their special field and are world-class in it.

The worst part is that there's always too much to do, I'd love to have a little more time to focus and get better at certain aspects of my job.

What do you consider to be your main achievement in life / career at the moment?

The fact that I found the strength to leave the usual career ladder. At school, I had a master's degree in business, but soon my hobby became much more important for me - from a professional point of view. Taking on startups and software development (and never bringing it to mind) was scary, but it was worth it. I would like to hope that the most important discoveries are yet to come, but often for happiness I do not need much - balloons, kids and rabbits.

Stepping out of the traditional career ladder. I was a "business major" in school, but my hobbies ended up being much more important for my career. Taking the leap to startups and software (and never graduating!) Was scary, but definitely worth it. I hope my biggest achievements in life are still upcoming, but I tend to get really excited about super simple things, like balloons, babies and bunnies.

What is the purpose of your career and professional development?

I admire people who never rest on their laurels, who are constantly improving and unifying different worlds (as well as creating their own). My role models are Tove Jansson (author of a children's book about the Moomins) and Armie Ratia (founder of Marimekko).

I admire people who don't stay stagnant, but reinvent themselves and somehow combine different worlds (and radiated their own). I usually mention Tove Jansson (a finnish children's book author behind Moomins), Armi Ratia (founder of Marimekko) as my personal idols.

What helps a programmer grow professionally?

I can’t say that I am a professional programmer, but I believe that I owe all my skill to my responsive colleagues who gave very lively and sincere feedback. The ability to give and receive feedback is very developing. I also think that it is very important to periodically stop and analyze what you are doing. I try to keep a diary of my achievements in order to be able to detail my professional growth and not engage in useless work.

I'm not a professional programmer, but I think I've learned most by having close colleagues give me very candid feedback. The ability to give and receive feedback makes me better. I think it's also important to take a step back and reflect what you're doing every so often. I try to keep a higher-level weekly worklog with same set of questions to keep myself accountable of progress and also not fall into the trap of busywork.

What book would you recommend any programmer to read?

I love interesting quotes (and I follow too many literary Tumblrs). Here is one of my favorites, owned by Ira Glass
I love quotes (and follow too many literature Tumblrs!). One of my favorites is from Ira Glass:

“No one is saying this to beginners, but I would like to be told this in due time. Anyone who is engaged in creative work does this because he has good taste. But there is one caveat. The first few years you do not get very. Almost “good”, your works have potential, but they cannot be called good. It's about taste, your good taste affects what you do and bothers you. Good taste is the reason why the fruits of your labor do not please you. Many people leave without being able to survive this phase.

"Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it's just not that good. It's trying to be good, it has potential, but it's not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit.

Most of the people who are known to me for their interesting and creative work have come to this for years. We understand that our work lacks the inspiration that we would like to see in it. We all went through this.

Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn't have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this.

And if you are only at the beginning of the journey, it is important for you to know that this is normal, and the only thing you can do is just work hard. Every week, set yourself a new goal and manage to complete it on time. Only by working tirelessly will you be able to overcome this shortcoming and get results that will correspond to your ambitions. In order to realize this, it took me much more time than anyone. You just have to wait a bit. This is normal. Get ready to make your way up! ”

And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I've ever met. It's gonna take awhile. It's normal to take awhile. You've just gotta fight your way through. "

What do you like to do when you don't write code?

I rarely do coding during office hours, so coding is exactly what I enjoy in my free time. I also love cooking for large companies and having culinary parties. I also like to design something and dream of learning Japanese one day.

I get to code so little in my work, so coding is actually the thing I enjoy doing on my free time. I also love cooking for large crowds and hosting dinner parties. I like to build physical stuff too and dream of some day learning japanese.

Thanks for the interview and see you in Moscow!

The conference

We invite everyone to the RailsClub'Moscow 2013 conference. Traditionally, we will deliciously feed, give gifts, hold contests and lotteries, play good music :) There will be a lot of interesting and informative.

Registration and payment for participation in the conference
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