I’ve been learning Ruby on Rails for new job, and that means a lot of frustrating Google searches to find the answer to what you think are really simple questions. Every once and a while, I’d come across a site called Railscasts that would seem to have the answer, but in video-podcast form. Since I was impatient, and because the audio card in my work computer was non-functional, I’d grimace and move along.
Yesterday, while looking for the proper Railsy way of doing dynamic sidebars, it became clear that breaking down and watching the railscast that specifically covered the topic was the right thing to do. An hour and a few failed driver installs later, I had sound and was ready to go.
I shouldn’t have waited this long.
I’m naturally skeptical of video podcasts, or really podcasts of any kind, when I’m looking for the answer to a problem. Generally I can read faster than I can listen, and I have that cranky Luddite gene that makes me skeptical of newfangled ways of doing things. The irony of being adverse to change while working on a newfangled web development platform does not escape me. But sometimes – maybe a lot of the time – you’re wrong, and I was dead wrong here.
Railscasts is run by Ryan Bates. He does great job of covering useful topics and doing it succinctly. Most of the casts are around 5 minutes long, which strikes me as a sweet spot for answering a question in video form without being irritating. I had about a dozen questions about Rails when I found it; questions that weren’t technical enough to look up in a reference guide. It’s one thing to search for the syntax for removing whitespace from a string in Ruby (strip, by the way). It’s another to find something a little higher level, problems you have a technical solution for, but probably not the right one. Railscasts nails these topics, and nails an awful lot of them.
Kudos, Ryan, and thanks for the help.