Thanks for talking to us! What have you been working on lately?
I am always working on a bunch of stuff. Right now I'm helping a fresh start-up get off the ground and teaching a team of Stanford grads how to create production-level code and work effectively as a team. Before that I was scrambling to pick up Ruby on Rails from scratch for a freelancing gig.
You've blogged a lot about Rails. Briefly, how does Rails stack up to other web frameworks like Django?
I've only been using Rails for a couple of months, so I don't know all the ins and outs yet, but I have to say it's pretty good. Its best feature is probably that it's opinionated, which frees up a lot of concerns over picking the right combination of tools to get stuff done. What I hate the most is that everything seems to be shoved into some sort of global namespace, which gives me the heebie-jeebies.
As far as Django vs. Rails goes, I think Django's ORM is better than Rails just because you can do things completely pythonically and Rails seems to require many bits of raw SQL to get things working. I'm not sure if this is a limitation of Ruby or just a design choice for Rails, though.
Are there any particular developer tools or resources you couldn't live without?
I absolutely could not live without Emacs (and my particular combination of plugins), Git and ZSH. Those three are the absolute minimum necessary for getting anything done. My almost-but-not-quite A4 Moleskine and the trusty Pilot G-2 see a lot of use as well.
Do you have a favorite open source project (or projects) that you've contributed to recently?
Actually, I don't have a favorite open-source project. Usually when I start something new I just make it open-source, like Peeshkot--the Chrome plugin for EU cookie notices--and I do a lot of drive-by commits when I find a bug in a library that I need fixed, or am missing a feature. But there's nothing I really commit to regularly.
Do you follow any blogs or Twitter feeds that you would recommend to developers?
My favorite source of programming articles is Reddit's /r/programming. The community is really high-quality and it's got a great mix of various sources to keep things interesting. @CompSciFact also shares a lot of great stuff on Twitter.
Did you have a coding first love -- a particular program, gadget, game, or language that set you on the path to life as a developer?
Turbo Pascal. I was in love with that thing. When I was about 11 I would spend just hours on end browsing the help files and finding new tricks to use. I wrote some extremely s****y code that I am immensely proud of, like a 4,000-line monster of code with some 100 global variables that acted as a GUI in DOS and let me use my computer pretty effectively.
Anything else you'd like to mention?