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Tue, 21 Feb 2006

Rails Videos and Tutorials

I've had two people today express an interest in Rails and I've ended up pointing them both at the Rails video page, and that's my limit. Once I've sent information to two people in a day, it gets posted here. :)

The page starts with Show, don't tell: Seing is believing" and then has links to several very impressive screencasts of people creating Rails applications while you watch.

This type of productivity isn't staged. I've seen Dave Thomas (the pragmatic guy, not the hamburger guy) do this at a software conference and it's truly mind boggling to watch. I'll grant you that Dave isn't the typical coder. He's extremely talented and knowledgable, but it's still amazing what he can do with Rails.

There are other videos at the bottom of the page and lots of other resources on the site. The Get Better page has links to books, tutorials, and online resources. Tons of information.

If you're digging into Rails, you need to be very familiar with the site. It has all you need to learn about Rails and then (if you decide to pursue it), the tools to get you rolling are also available.

By the way, if you know of some other storehouses of Rails videos, let me know and I'll post them. There's something about a webcast that feels more accessible to many people. Many who won't read an article or a tutorial will watch a video. Funny isn't it? But if it works... do it! :)

Enjoy!

Jared

posted at: 22:36 | path: | permanent link to this entry

A Dull Work Environment Damages Your Brain

This is a great bit from the Creating Passionate Users site. It deals with recent discoveries that show new input and different experiences can actually help to improve your brain. It also covers how a lack of new experiences can wither your brain! Use it or lose it isn't just for arm muscles.

Here are some great quotes from Brain Death By Dull Cubicle:

You always knew that dull, boring cubicles could suck the joy out of work, but now there's evidence that they can change your brain. Not mentally or emotionally, no, we're talking physical structural changes. You could almost say, "Dull, lifeless work environments cause brain damage."

....

"Eight years after Gould defied the dogma of her field and proved that the primate brain creates new cells, she has gone on to demonstrate that the structure of the brain is incredibly influenced by one's surroundings."

One of the most interesting (and, in hindsight, "doh!") discoveries was that one of the main reasons researchers kept finding NO evidence of new neuron development in their test primates is because they kept them in an environment which shut that process down. In other words, it was the caged-living that stopped the neurogenesis process. By giving her animals a rich, natural enviornment, Gould "flipped the switch" back on, allowing their brains to work normally, and sure enough--the happier, more stimulated animals showed a DRAMATIC increase in neurogenesis as well as dendrite density.

....

"Complex surroundings create a complex brain."

What can you do this week to exercise your brain? It sounds like travel literally expands your mind. Might be time for a short day trip... or maybe a new video game? When's the last time you picked up crayons and drew a picture?

I'm not trying to limit your selection, but rather I'm trying to stir your creative juices. Sure, it's a neat article. Now act on it. :) Try to pick two new things to try this week. Pick something that will work your brain in a different way.

For myself, I'm digging in deep on Rails. I'm about to order a Mac laptop so I'll have to learn OS X. Heck, you could go cheap put a new Linux distribution on some old hardware. Learn Free BSD.

These are longer term changes though. I recently picked up a set of cheap colored pencils and a pad of drawing paper. When I write an article or start designing software, I'm starting to use mind maps. These tools aren't magic, but they involve a different experience for my head.

How about some new art in your office or cube? New music? Learn to play music?

What will you do this week to expand your mind and improve your brain?

Jared

posted at: 19:55 | path: | permanent link to this entry