For about a month, I have been teaching myself how to code in Ruby. I still can’t build a web app. And I am still months away from putting together my incredible Choose Your Own Adventure book – they’re making a comeback, right?
Still, 42 hours in to my 10,000 hour quest for computer mastery, what I don’t know can and does fill many books. That doesn’t mean that I didn’t learn, though.
I’m a better proofreader.
I admit, I’ve always kind of thought that proofreading was someone else’s job. I know how stupid that sounds. Still, when I was at the Philadelphia Tribune, I banged out copy and then it went through the wires to the guys down the hall. They straightened it out and picked the lint off of it. They made it presentable while I went on to the next story.
With a news story, that piece of copy with the bad spelling and bad grammar won’t break the printing press or burn through the newspaper. It will just sit there, silently waiting to be noticed by one tenth of your readers.
Ruby doesn’t tolerate sloppiness. You get error codes, the computer equivelent of an editor slamming a story on your desk and saying, “fix it!” Otherwise, that code that you just spent a half hour writing, will sit there broken and meaningless.
I find myself re-reading my work out loud before I run it in the terminal. As I write, I double check the little details. Did I close the quotes? Is there an underscore between the variable names?
These were the instructions in the second lesson of Learn Ruby the Hard Way, by Zed Shaw; read your code backwards, and/or out loud. It sounded familiar. I had been instructed to do the same things when I was in college.
Funny how that goes.
Note: I will now read this post out loud and perhaps backwards. I can’t guarantee that it will be absolutely error free, but you can be sure that however bad it is, it could have been much worst.