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Learning Ruby

First: Homicide Watch, which I wrote about here, has met its Kickstarter goal. I’m delighted. I’m also delighted that the model has gotten the attention Arianna Huffington, David Carr and others with a larger microphone. I’m especially happy that I saw many of my DC friends among the Kickstarter pledges.

But, as I said before, what really drives Homicide Watch is day-in, day-out dedication. I have no doubt the internships will attract the brightest of DC’s journalism students, but the reason I’m certain it will succeed is the way the site is structured to cover every murder, without judgement of value. As DCist noted, three homicides have occurred in the District since the Amicos moved north. Nothing headline grabbing, though. ┬áThe names of the deceased and some basic information is available online, but the background, charging docs, and everything else that Homicide Watch normally does is not. Sometimes you’ve got to collect data in person.

(P.S. Carr’s column also notes that the Homicide Watch has been licensed for the first time by The Trentonian – a city definitely in need of more good reporting.)

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On my own professional development path, I’ve decided to stop thinking about it and simply start working on learning code. I’m starting with Ruby and Dan Nguyen’s Bastard’s Book of Ruby, based on Ruby’s friendliness to the English language and Dan’s background in journalism and eye-opening essay on how he coded SOPA opera.

It’s been pretty rough already, including realizing a half-day too late that all Apple computers come installed with Ruby, and the frustrating nature of breaking something because there is a space or not before a certain code. But the basic logic of coding languages have always appealed to me, from when I started reading source pages to deduce simple HTML or how I learned just enough PHP to make this site look the way it does.

  1. Chris Amico says:

    Thanks for all your help. And good luck with Ruby! Dan’s book is great, from what I’ve seen. I’m a Python guy, but I know a little Ruby. Drop an email if you get stuck and need help thinking through general programming concepts. Not to add pressure, but the world needs both more journalists who code and more women coding.

  2. Taylor says:

    Thanks Chris! I especially like the first chapter of Dan’s book is “here’s what you’ll actually do with all this”

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