Interview: Michael Morin Creator of Using Twitter with Ruby Course

by on March 17, 2009

The first ever free, online “Using Twitter with Ruby” course starts 18th April 2009 at RubyLearning.org. Satish Talim of RubyLearning caught up with Micheal Morin, the creator of this course, and talked to him in this interview.

Michael Morin, USA

Satish Talim>> Welcome, Michael and thanks for taking out time to share your thoughts. For the benefit of the readers, could you tell us something about your self?

Michael Morin>> I’ve been hooked on computers my whole life. Ever since we got our first family computer, a Commodore 64, I’ve simply been fascinated. I can remember working so hard to copy BASIC programs out of its instruction book even before I could read. So I guess you could say I’ve been programming my entire life.

I continued programming ever since. It’s just so much fun, telling that magical box on your desk exactly what you want it to do. Though I’ve never worked professionally as a programmer, it’s always been a serious hobby of mine.

Satish>> You and Amanda blog at About.com. Tell us something about this.

Michael>> I’d been programming in Ruby for a number of years when Amanda (my sister-in-law) saw an opening at About.com for a Ruby Guide. It was a natural fit. Get me started about Ruby and I just don’t know when to stop. All I had to do them was type it up.

Guides are a lot more than bloggers, we try to pack as much information about our subject into the guide sites. This includes informative articles as well as timely blog posts.

Our Guide site, tries to provide content for everyone of all skill levels. We’re also open to suggestions and requests for all types of content. Everything I write there is for your benefit.

Satish>> How did you get involved with Ruby programming?

Michael>> I like learning programming languages. Sometimes I’ll learn one for no practical reason, just to see what it’s like and how it ticks. A few years ago (this must have been in 2003 or 2004, before the Rails craze), I was looking into pure object oriented languages and stumbled on Ruby. I hadn’t really heard of it before, but I decided to take a chance on it. I certainly wasn’t disappointed.

There’s just something about Ruby that clicks. Things make sense, it’s expressive and the syntax clean. Code is often short and readable, plus all the object oriented goodness. Moving to Ruby from Perl (my former language of choice) was a breath of fresh air. I haven’t looked back, or switched from Ruby since then.

Satish>> You love the Ruby programming language and Ruby is more of a hobby to you. Tell us something more about this.

Michael>> Programming is supposed to be fun. If it’s not fun, it’s not really worth doing, right? For a while I was into Perl, code golf (making your programs as short as possible) and all that, but it seemed like I was spinning my wheels. Perl was just so cryptic and convoluted and I never really understood it fully. I started to realize I wasn’t having any fun programming in Perl.

I had a blast programming with Ruby from the first “puts.” Jumping right into IRB, I was able to type something and immediately see what it did, just like on my Commodore 64! And once you get over a few gotchas (such as mixin modules), Ruby is also easy to understand. I just have fun programming with Ruby and I don’t think I’ll ever stop.

It’s easy to Twitter-face with Ruby!

Satish>> You would be conducting a short course at RubyLearning.org on Using Twitter with Ruby. What are your thoughts on this and why did you think that such a course would be beneficial to the Ruby community.

Michael>> I’d been using Twitter for a while (my username is UziMonkey) and was vaguely aware the API was open for anyone to use, but it wasn’t until I had an idea for something that I decided to check it out. I expected something complex, but what I got was something extremely simple and elegant. I immediately realized that Twitter is a natural fit to Ruby.

I was up and running in no time, I hadn’t realized that it would have been so easy to put my script together. Being someone always eager to share what I know, I thought this would be a useful skill for all Ruby programmers.

This course isn’t just about Twitter though. You’ll learn about HTTP, parsing XML, and how to consume web services in general. You can take what you learn in this course and interface with many other sites that provide APIs. It’s just something that should be in everyone’s toolbox, and was missing from mine for quite a while.

Satish>> Do you have any suggestions for RubyLearning’s ”Using Twitter with Ruby” course participants?

Michael>> Never assume anything is difficult. I kept thinking working with Twitter was going to be difficult, and at first it was, at least a little. But everything is always simpler than you make it out to be, and if you keep thinking everything is difficult, you’re going to miss out on some great stuff.

Satish>> Thanks Michael for sharing your views with the “Using Twitter with Ruby” course participants.

Disclaimer:
The opinions expressed are those of Michael Morin and do not necessarily reflect those of RubyLearning.org.

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Posted by Satish Talim

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