Some people have asked why I’ve got a Hashrocket tattoo on my calf. The reasons are pretty biographical; ‘ware ye the history contained herein. Credit for the photo goes to Travis Schmeisser.
Each Wednesday Hashrocket has a midweek get-together called Hashrocket Hot Hackers Hump Day Happy Hour (or 6H). It was a chilly January evening and there were almost a dozen rocketeers milling about at the local martini bar when Sal casually asked if I wanted to go get a Hashrocket tattoo with him.
Of course, inebriated as I was, there wasn’t much chance I was going to turn down the idea of getting a Hashrocket tattoo.
Yet, there was a time when I considered tattoos silly things that a person gets to show how edgy he or she is, or to indicate an extreme level of I-will-kick-your-ass. Now I’ve got one. So why choose to get a Hashrocket tattoo?
I’ve become quite enamored of Hashrocket since I arrived in Atlantic Beach at the end of March in 2008. I was still a recovering burn-out when I came down here, and somehow Hashrocket refilled my spiritual-coding cup. That sounds extreme, but it’s just the way things are.
I spent five years at a county-level government IT shop as a web programmer. I serviced sixteen department websites and also wrote an intranet from the ground up that served 1700 employees while I was there. My boss was lost on anything past FrontPage and for help I had only a string of limited-engagement, part-time assistants of varying levels of skill.
I burned out. Totally and completely. I threw away all of my computer gear and went back to auditing hotels overnight and contemplatively staring at the moon. After about a year, I had the realization that software is what I do, and no matter how burned I felt or how much I wished otherwise, it seemed that was the value I would provide to society.
I began the slow road back to development by working as a part-time webmaster at a non-profit. Then Tiger turned me on to Ruby on Rails, and things started to happen inside of me. A strange sensation that, after experiencing a few times I was able to place: happiness. I was happy writing ruby code. I was happy using the rails framework. Just typing out each line of code somehow made me feel good.
That’s how I came to be a Rails consultant in Madison, Wisconsin. My first paid site was completed in November, 2007, and I’ve never looked back.
When Tiger invited me to come down and see how Hashrocket does things in March of 2008, I was excited to see the magic sauce that had both he and Lark raving about the company. I didn’t expect to be offered a job, but I was, and it’s been the best thing that’s happened to me.
In many of the same ways that ruby and rails took away the pain of coding for me, Hashrocket has taken away the pain of work and replaced it with happiness. Pair programming has made me a more effective and efficient programmer. Communicating all the time has taken away all the bad conversations, because nothing has time to fester. Test-driven development gives me a level of confidence in my code that makes me unafraid to change even systems I haven’t looked at in ages. I feel encouraged to excel as an individual rockstar within the community, even on the Hashrocket clock. As Les Hill (in the photo, on the right) is wont to remind us in his blog posts, working at Hashrocket is like attending an ongoing seminar.
All of these reasons, from my discovery of Ruby on Rails through joining Hashrocket and even becoming a presenter at local user groups, this is why I have a Hashrocket tattoo on my calf. If I never have another experience that I want to commemorate with a tattoo, I’m glad I’ve had this one.