Rebirth via Open Source

Short Form


How open source is helping to restore one coder's life balance


The moral of the story is “Once a coder, always a coder!”

This is the story of a software engineer that loved to code – me! I loved it so much that I’d often work on personal projects late into the night, even after toiling in the suburban cubicle farms all day. I did this for years, and eventually it was time for a break! For a while, I continued to work on projects, but ended up spending most of my time pursuing other interests, eventually returning to the work force in a non-technical role. By this time, the only reason I ever wrote any code was to maintain a couple of personal affinity-group websites. I missed coding, or more to the point – I missed having a reason to code. Nevertheless, I had a full and enjoyable life. Then came the personal drama, the big C, stage IV. With great support and a positive attitude, I emerged from the process good-as-new, and with a renewed passion to live life to the fullest. Even the the small things were great, but something was still missing – oh yeah, building things. I really didn’t want to gut and remodel another house, so that meant coding!

It was time to make my re-entry! But how? My time away had started to add up. As luck would have it, the internet is great for learning new things! So I started trying out some web apis and a ruby-on-rails tutorial and then building a web app that I’d been thinking about. Somewhere along the way I realized that a piece of software that I needed was missing and started building it. I pushed a couple of ruby gems and put the src on Github. Before long, a local startup decided that my early-stage project had potential, enough that they decided to apply resources to help its progress.

I’ll walk through my process, describing what I’ve learned so far about becoming an open source contributor, and talking about how open source brings people together. Of course, I’ll get into the technical details of the project.

This story is just unfolding, so by the time the conference happens, I should be able to tell the ‘rest of the story!’

Speaking experience