Jaret Manuel

Starter League and Why I Left Wordpress for Octopress

Octopress Logo

Wordpress served me really well but I decided I needed more flexibility and control over the Mortgage Agent website I was setting out to build. It is not that Wordpress isn’t any good - it is pretty awesome and fairly easy to get ramped up. But I had no firm grasp to tweak the layouts and I just wasn’t feeling it so I figured now was time to give something else a shot. I also don’t know PHP (Wordpress is built on PHP) and I have no immediate desire to learn that language - although I do hear it is pretty sweet.

The other ‘final straw’ so to speak was the fact I attended an awesome Ruby on Rails 12 week course in Chicago in January - known as Code Academy up until a couple days ago. The amazing program was perfectly renamed Starter League and they just leaped into another success stratosphere given the brilliant partnership they struck with 37Signals. You know those rockstars Jason Fried (Pron ~ Freed) and David Heinemeier Hannson (founder of Ruby on Rails) who are backed by Amazon’s founder Jeff Bezos? - Yeah, those guys!

Hold Up… Freeze

Huge congrats and respect are once again extended to Michael McGee and Neal Sales for engineering this impressive feat. Nice work!

I didn’t set out to become an all-star programmer by the end of the course (mission accomplished) but I did learn plenty and with help from some colleagues, we managed to get my hockey project PuckDrop.net - Think Hacker News for Hockey and The Property Handlers (a rental listing app for a friend) up and running. To be candid, I haven’t done much coding since I got into the mortgage business here in Toronto but it lingers. Luckily, I stumbled onto Octopress - a blogging platform for hackers. I loosely qualify at best for the term hacker but I thought “what have I got to lose?”. I knew it wouldn’t be a breeze but I put myself to the challenge and amazingly I got this website up and running. Actually, if your terminal is already setup with RVM (Ruby Version Manager), etc, running Octopress is easy. It was the migration from Wordpress that was trickier and time consuming. After many hours, the transition was accomplished. The process got me way out of my comfort zone and overcoming the challenge was really rewarding. Best of all, I absolutely love Octopress!

The setup I went with was Heroku for hosting and Amazon S3 for photos. I use Sublime Text 2 and I quite enjoy the markdown format and I am writing in Evernote as I whip together this post prior to doing a ‘rake new_post[“Starter League and why I left Wordpress for Octopress”]’ in terminal. Octopress is written in Ruby so it has allowed me to stay engaged with somewhat familiar code while allowing me to hop around terminal a little faster. Best of all, I built this website on my own, although I would randomly type raged messages (for fun) at my Code Academy mentor and now good friend Don Bora - founder of Mobile Makers Academy. You rock Don!

I highly encourage you give Octopress a whirl if you have any hacker chops whatsoever - You will be glad you did. Then again you could build your own blog but that is a whole other matter. Want to learn some code and fuel your startup bug? If you haven’t already signed up for Starter League or Mobile Makers then what are you waiting for? Passionate Starters and Coders await - it is life changing awesomeness wrapped in Chi Town goodness!

P.S. To my awesome Code Academy Jabroni’s and Jabronette’s (hard for me to say Starter League to my good friends I met at Code Academy)…. I am happy to announce I am going to be a Dad around December 31st. Code the math on that one shall you!!! Oh yes, Starter League takes on a whole new meaning of exciting Life Change upon returning to Canada from the “Bars and Stars”!

On to the next one!

Much Love from the Great North,

Crazy Canuck! aka @JaretManuel

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