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24 ways to impress your friends

Levelling Up


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Aaron Bassett

There’s something to be said for “scratching your own itch” as well. Not only are you in the best position to know exactly what you need the application to do, but you become more invested in the product and its success. Malcolm Gladwell puts it much more eloquently than me;

When you write a book, you need to have more than an interesting story. You need to have a desire to tell the story. You need to be personally invested in some way. If you’re going to live with something for two years, three years, the rest of your life, you need to care about it.


Hello Ashley!
This was a great read, highly motivational.
Congrats for building your own application, and starting developing on your own.
Pete did you a great favor turning down that job offer!

Steven Grant

Muppet Christmas Carol you say? Welcome at the Grant household this Christmas ;)

Great article and hopefully give someone I know a kick in the pants :)

Good job!

Craig Lockwood

Fantastic stuff, Ashley.

I am at DAY2 when it comes to learning Rails. Hearing your story over the past few months has been a huge inspiration to me.

Like you, I am starting with building something that I will use, rather than following tutorials to build a ‘demo app’. I am hoping that this approach will teach me a lot more and encourage me to take things a little further in the future.

You rock.

Henrik Sonnergård

Hands down best 24 Ways article I’ve read so far. Love the outsider approach, your curiosity and honesty really shines through. Coming from designer/front-end land I’ve tried to wrap my head around basic programming for a year or so, lost my spark somewhere in tutorial-and-useless-blackjack-game-demo-app-making.

After this read I feel really motivated to start tinkering with a small project of my own. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!


Great read. Love reading articles about the process of learning. I’ve spent the last 18 months learning Rails and had similar up and down experiences – a shelf of books that fail to deliver, online and local communities that go out of their way to help you, and moments of pure delight when concepts finally clicked for me. Would do it all again for sure.

The app looks great!

Ben Rellick

Thanks for this article, Ashley. I too have found that having a project to work towards definitely keeps you interested longer; it gives a purpose to the learning. The university I graduated from doesn’t have much of a focus on web design so I was thinking about offering some workshops and whatnot to the undergrads. I think now that I’ll have everyone pick a real, live project to do. I’m glad I read this!


This is a wonderful piece. So down to earth and honest. I relate completely about having a whole library of books that one barely uses and a collection of tutorials that have nothing to do with your idea.

Right now I’m trying to update my front-end web development skills but I also have an idea for a web app that I would love to build.

It’s so true, you need one project to work towards. Randomly trying to learn “to code” will take years.

I’m pretty sure I’ll come back to this article many times.

Louis-Jean Teitelbaum

Great article, which accurately documents my own experience of learning Rails (and just about anything since). I’d only object to “I am not a programmer” in the conclusion. I’d say that being a programmer is just that.


Inspiring. I’ve been in the “must listen to more podcasts, do more tutorials, try new books, maybe start attending meet-ups and go to a related dev conference” mode for a while. Today I’m going to put some time in on my project.


Paul Morriss

I find it hard to rebuild something that’s working, but the more outdated it looks the more incentive I guess you’ve got. I’m impressed with the amount of work you put in to redo that garish software.

Impress us

Be friendly / use Textile