Jeff has a great article on the Ruby Olympics, and I couldn’t help to add my 2c to the discussion, so here goes:
Podcasts are great way to get information in manageable dosis. I spend close to 2 hours every day commuting, and I’ve decommissioned my car radio altogether so I can just listen to these podcasts and other random audio clips. The value you gain from these shows are unbelievable.
Open Source something
I don’t mean build the next Rails. I published ActiveRecord::Tableless for two reasons, the first being that the original source disappeared of the face of the internet. The second, and most important reason was that I needed something (even if it was so small), to put outside and receive critique for. Those last couple of moments before you publish a gem can be a killer, it really makes you doubt the quality of your code, your documentation, your blog’s project page, all that and more.
It is also very rewarding, especially with bigger projects like PowerDNS on Rails, when people start forking your code and contribute patches. Even ActiveRecord::Tableless got some patches, I couldn’t believe it.
Jeff also noted how important it is to learn Ruby, not Rails. I’m fortunate enough that Rails is the lessor part of my day to day work, and Ruby is the biggest part. I’m not dissing Rails, merely indicating that a lot my work arounds glueing independent systems and architectures together. More recently I’ve gotten extremely intrigued by XMPP and the possiblities it holds.
I’ve written my own crawlers, and burned my fingers. I’ve written jabber bots for distributed process, also burnt my fingers. I’ve been privileged enough to play with some bug EC2 deployments. I give regular lectures at tertiary institutions around Gauteng, South Africa, and have recently met the guys behind the eschaton plugin on a trip to Cape Town.
Dare to move outside your comfort zone, it is rewarding.
Being a true Ruby olympian does require you to have various skills. Don’t try to master them all, but master some. In time as you improve and learn your interests will adjusts and your skills improve. In the end its all Ruby, so exposing yourself to the world beyond Rails is really priceless.
Let the games begin.