This line of work can be odd.

I’ve spent the last year working at a non-profit, where I’ve learned so many great things. So how to put this? Technology changes, non-stop. Sometimes your work adopts things out of necessity or convenience, and you play a supporting role.

Okay. With my own line of thought so far. 

But sometimes your work just be crazy. And adopts things for seemingly endless combinations of random, non-sensical reasons, and you are left like. What the hell just happened to my stack. (Using an MVVM binding language within an MVC application, many times over!?)

As someone a year in, I’m in this very awkward place. I’ve had to learn enough about antiquated and awkward technologies to do my job, because that is a responsibility I take very seriously. I always, always, show up and do a good job, no matter what. So, I’ve gone very old-school.  The part of me that knows code, and knows what is going up and what is going down though, is terrified. I feel like I’ve been given the option between learning Sanskrit or Chinese, and the option is held by my work, and they’ve chosen Sanskrit. Whereas, I’m eminently practical and would choose Chinese every time.

I’m not a fan of changing for the sake of change. It seems silly to me for folks to pile on the React bandwagon that don’t need that amount of flexibility or power, but do it to ‘stay relevant’. Nope. I also don’t much go for places like my work, staying the course just to stay the course. There has got to be a middle ground, right? Where, you adopt things based on actual practicality, whatever level of documentation your team is going to need, whatever level of support there is for implementation you may desire…?

I feel on unsure footing here though, because surely I’m not the first to think of this. So either there is something I’m missing,  or something others aren’t admitting to. It will be a work in progress, and I will do my best to keep you informed (as I do) here at LadyDev.


What has been working for you, in the flavor of du jour programming buzzwords? Worth/not worth hype? Please comment and let me know.

FOLLOW UP/FOLLOW UP: I do understand some of the relative merits between the most predominant frameworks of our time, however I haven’t been close enough to hear the business case from companies on why they choose one vs. another. If I’m being quite honest, I would love to be in those conversations, I feel like I would learn a ton, as a sort of outside intermediary for both perspectives. I also do have some reason to believe that at times, an opinionated developer can really steer this question and its answer pretty strongly one way vs. the other. Which is not altogether a bad thing, but at a company of any substantial size, you really need more than the ‘one guy thinks x’ approach. I have lived through that, and it rarely bodes well for those around that developer.


Adventures Lately


  • As semi-seriously referred to ‘Git girl’, I am still working on preparing folks at my work for moving off of Version-Control-That-Shall-Not-Be-Named. My work can be somewhat change resistant, so I am trying to entice them with things like the rerere Easter Egg
  • Work as of late has been SQL, SQL, SQL. We recently cloned an app from our secure servers back out into the wild, which meant migrating chunks of the db back out
  • We’re going to be beta testing the free Continuous Integration feature of GitLab for this crazy project we run where a master laptop acts as basically a central wireless access point for a buncha lil Chromebooks to run one of our applications.


I’ve decided that my next official Joy Kaufman Programming Adventure will be Python. How did I land at this decision?

  • I have reached the consensus that as far as not getting to work with Ruby for a living, Python is like the methadone to wean me off of it
  • It has a great outlook, and I am interested in deep diving something with a good shelf life
  • I consider it equally syntactically beautiful to Ruby, perhaps even more so except for whitespace quirks

I like to start off, as silly as it sounds, with CodeAcademy. I feel like it sounds laughable that I’m a professional programmer and that is where I still go, but it has its advantages. I mean, I work really hard and I’m in school, so sometimes in free time code learning I like to start on stuff I can do while only half paying attention.

I also tend to much better learn interactively than say, through videos. I know many programmers who YouTube is their jam, but I really like to get hands on.

At this point, I’ve dabbled in enough languages that I pretty much have my workflow. Find an interactive tutorial. Pick a baby project => Pick a less baby project => Start using in the wild.

3.0 BETA

In redoing my portfolio for the 500th zillion time, found out that for some of my Heroku apps you can now do automatic pushes to Heroku from any time you commit to master instead of the oldschool CLI way.

I’m always a bit suspicious when technology takes over things I used to do previously…but so far so good!


Hacktoberfest is officially on. Hackathons have the most gorgeous sites. Another beauty here.…although truth be told, their design last year was even better.


‘So you want to be a Developer’… | Imposter Syndrome Part II

My life has changed rapidly.

In 2005, you could find me changing the code on my MySpace page. I don’t think I had any clue I was dealing with ‘code’, and I certainly had no concept of it as a career. It was just something I did, and something my friends had me do cause I could figure it out.

In 2014 and 2015, you could find me idly doing CodeAcademy from my mobile phone to relax at night, never seriously thinking I would be a programmer two years later. (Why’d they scrap mobile??? Miss that.)

My career for a long time was as a technical recruiter. My claim to fame was being particularly adept at complex Boolean searches to find rare certifications and DoD Security Clearance combinations. In my first month doing this kind of work, I hired a guy for a job that had previously been open 6 months with no success filling it.

It is ironic in a couple of ways. Firstly, because as a programmer I would spend similar amounts of time querying databases, just without the dumbed-down GUI job boards offer up for recruiters to use. Second, because although I worked with technical professionals all day long I somehow never made the connection that my querying aptitude was anything significant.


In 2015, my father died after being ill for five years. I was devastated. My devastation manifested in really inconvenient ways as a tech recruiter. I couldn’t talk to people anymore for a living. A large part of being a public facing portion of a company is that you have to be upbeat, patient, energetic….as you can imagine, that is extremely challenging for someone just dealt a personal blow.

My dad’s death and life inspired me. He was a gifted guitarist and painter, and had an English degree. He was an engineer by profession. He raised me to draw in charcoal, and also took me up in a bucket truck at age 7 in his Bell Atlantic attire. (Predecessor to the Verizon behemoth.) When I was 20 or so he also let me shadow him re-doing failed electrical wiring – he was Renaissance in that way,  and I guess I am now too Renaissance. As a kid, I was never steered towards math or arts more pervasively. My dad had ultimate faith that I could do whatever I wanted, and it stuck.

I thought after his death, why can’t I be the way I always was as my dad’s kid, having an artsy side and an engineering side? I had all this interest lying there latently, and somehow in dealing with my dad passing it became more important. It is terribly cliche, but when someone passes you start to question whether you are doing something important with your life. And in 2016, with the economy fairly healthy, I didn’t feel as if I was doing people any great service recruiting. The jobs were for the picking by jobseekers, and I just felt neutral about the impact of the work I was doing.

I still find CS degrees appealing and will probably get one eventually, but after my dad passed the feeling to switch careers immediately totally drove me. It had to happen right away. I became obsessive, in fact. I looked at in demand certifications and none seemed like they’d bridge the gap to get me into tech. So I discovered bootcamps.

I narrowly picked programming over Cybersecurity or network specialized training, and I find them all interesting still. I realize now though, that programming was the right choice for me hands down. So here is the meat of it — what will make or break you as a programmer:

  • Problem solving junkie. Check.
  • Google nerd *EYYO BOOLEAN GEEK* Check.
  • Endless curiosity
  • You don’t need to know a certain language. You need to know, that a little like mathematical concepts, all things mainly stay the same but just get more complicated as you get better
  • You will feel miserable and dumb, and wonderful and brilliant, every day.  Maybe back and forth multiple times in that day. (Recruiting prepped me for this.)

My bootcamp taught me enough to be dangerous: HTML, Ruby/Rails, JavaScript, postgreSQL and a bit of MySQL,  smidgeon of PHP and React. On my own afterwards, I was like an insane person. The full list of every thing I dabbled in via tutorial, CodeSchool, or what have you, includes PHP, Python, jQuery, Angular, I did another free JavaScript course that touched on JSON, some node, Java. When I say dabble, I mean that with no exaggeration – there were certain things like Python I spent a good deal of time with back in summer of 2016, whereas Java I just stayed very surface. (Because, at risk of infuriating the ‘JAVA! JAVA! JAVA!’ crowd, I wasn’t a fan.)

They told me from within the bootcamp very emphatically that is ISN’T THE LANGUAGES YOU KNOW THAT GET YOU A JOB. And indeed, my job at a nonprofit uses little of what I originally knew. We use this  library called Knockout.js for data binding, the code base is C#, and I also completely left mac development and had to get used to the ugly GUI Windows insists on giving you for EVERYTHING. ON. EARTH. I also spent about half my day in the database, which was a surprise.

I collect weird errors like trophees nowadays. I am equal parts proud and mortified when my machine does something spectacularly weird. I can rehash weird errors like a president in their inauguration rehashing campaign issues. I literally have a book of weird shit that has happened to me, like a scrapbook. For dumb technical goofy nonsense.

All I can say about this, is the change wasn’t easy for me. But I had unwavering faith that this was something I needed to do. For me, programming is a form of mindfulness. It is like running for people who are into that, wish I was among them lol. I dealt mostly without complaint with being a spectacularly idiotic programmer in my infancy, and now I look back and laugh. You have to suck to get any better, and I am okay with that.

To bring this back to my dad and the insane faith in me, I think I said that he never pushed me towards art vs math one way or another even though he was an engineer. What I’ve learned is that the idea of being only artsy or only math-ey an the two being parallel planes that never shall meet, is wrong. Just the same as it is wrong when people assume all of the most brilliant developers have extremely poor social skills.

To this point, what about cooking? Tenderizing meat or cooking heats are very scientific. But in the best restaurants it is an art form. Subjects like cooking, or programming, are the reason I think that anything done with enough precision can be a science, and anything done with enough passion can be an art

Lets think about that for a moment. I don’t think I am so brilliant for coming up with this way of saying it, but I also don’t think it is said enough in those terms. So, yeah. I’m an artist, I’m a scientist of sorts, I am a goofball, and I am my dad’s kid, a programmmer.


Lesson Learned | Fish Tacos | The Swift Kick I Needed to Improve My Project(s)


The other day, I was sitting outside on my patio enjoying a cup of coffee when my neighbor across the hall came out to his patio to stain a piece of furniture for his son’s room. We had our small talk and he then proceeded to ask me what kinds of things that I build seeing as how I am changing careers into web development. I went on to show him the Recipe Saver app that I made using Ruby on Rails (link: and I was in for a big surprise.

“Fish Tacos”

The beautiful picture of my fish taco recipe had been replaced by a severed head and upon closer examination of the recipe, it looked like the ingredient “Chupacabra” in the unit of measure of “tesla” had been added as well.

At first, I didn’t know whether to laugh or be a little upset. On one hand, yes, this was hilarious but on the other hand this has proven to be detrimental to my job search due to the recent onslaught of rejections with no interview. This is especially devastating as I live in the Tampa Bay area, one of the most competitive job markets for web and software developers in the country, where the typical applicants per opening for development jobs are in the high 400’s/low 500’s on average. The job below is typical for my area, and has accumulated 497 applicants in 4 days.

I was the 496th applicant for this position on CareerBuilder.

Oh, it gets better, this position was also advertised on a few other job boards. If the other job boards get as many if not more applicants, worst case scenario, the competition for this position could reach the thousands. Even if the other sites do not get as many applicants if any at all, a minimum 497 applicants is still nothing to scoff at. So yes, I think what happened to my app was kind of a big deal and a severed head was not quite the right way to make the right impression for the companies in my area.

I will admit that this was my fault as it is true that my app did not have a login thus leaving the app open for anyone to mess with. It’s not that I didn’t know how to add a login, it’s more that I chose not to add the Devise gem to my app because I wanted hiring managers and recruiters to have easy access to experiment with the app without having to go through the hassle of having to create an account. I was also perfectly okay with people changing the pictures, ingredients, and even getting silly and having fun but I never counted on someone not changing the picture back or not deleting the nonsense ingredients. I now know this rationale was incorrect.

I have since added the Devise gem to this app so now if someone wants to change the picture to something silly or goofy, they can go nuts. It now won’t show on anyone else’s page. I have also learned a valuable lesson and I hope to pass it onto any other aspiring web developers—add a login because you never know what kind of person is going to look at your Ruby on Rails app. This is especially true if you’re applying for hundreds of jobs a month and have your resume up on not only your school’s or coding boot camp’s job site but also other jobs sites such as Indeed or Careerbuilder.

To the person who did this, I hope you had fun and now you can add goofy scary faces on your own login. I’m actually not mad at you and if anything, this is exactly what I needed to get me to clean up, improve, and keep tabs on my projects. So actually, thank you.

Who Goes First?


On Monday, I will be entering my first job as a Programmer.The title alone was music to my ears: how unapologetically nerdy and technical it is, how honest and unassuming. (No Software Engineers here. Programmer with a capital P.)

For one role I interviewed for before landing this job I had an interesting experience, that I would like to explore further. (Opinions and commentary welcome.) The recruiter I was working with told me in all frankness that this organization (a sports startup) was trying to diversify their team, but the previous candidate they made an offer to declined – she didn’t want to be the only woman on the team, and turned down the offer.

I had a mixed reaction to this, and at first honestly felt a little frustrated that there are women out there thinking this way. First I thought if all women felt that way we’d never have broken into tech at all. Then I started feeling a little impatient with this other unknown person – this woman knew she was getting into a male dominated field, right? No one goes in blind.

It didn’t take long though for my hypothetical annoyance at this idea to fade. Another part of me who has heard the tales of loneliness women in engineering face at work understands. Indeed, the endemic culture issues surrounding women in tech are well summed up in the image above. I often start google queries that way just to see what they type. The examples are incredibly depressing.





You’ll notice the trend: the most common queries are that we get harassed, are we even any good at programming, and then center on how attractive we are. Broadly to face a culture where female engineers are considered so ‘other’ that these are the questions we are asking, is it unreasonable for a woman to have hesitation about being the only girl in her workplace? Maybe not.

This still leaves a question akin to which came first, the chicken or the egg. How do workplaces get female engineers to join their ranks if women are unwilling to join a company that doesn’t yet have any women? We need people willing to be other. We need people willing to be first. At least in some places. (Although I have come to sympathize with having mixed feeling about being the only girl, like I’ve said.)

Whether you are okay being first or not, my advice to all women (and heavily borrowed from Lean In, to give credit) is to be that hand up to other women in your company. Maybe you are the first, but you certainly don’t have to be the last.




Brief Disclaimer: I have absolutely nothing against male programmers. Many are wonderful people that I have enjoyed hiring or working with. This article is more to speak to over-popularization of a ‘type’, that at times can make people who are from different walks of life feel a bit like the odd man out. 

For anyone not in a technical field, I’ll give a brief rundown. ‘Brogrammer’ is a controversial term in some ways, and some argue it doesn’t exist. But it is an archetype in Silicon Valley lore.

What is a brogrammer? This description made me laugh the most, from Urban Dictionary:

A programmer who breaks the usual expectations of quiet nerdiness and opts instead for the usual trappings of a frat-boy: popped collars, bad beer, and calling everybody “bro”. Despised by everyone, especially other programmers.

Do I believe ‘brogrammer’ culture exists, at least in some places? Yes, I do. I once worked with a startup where I very nearly lost an eye to a nerf style missile the DevOps team and software engineers were launching at each other. (Joke)

To me, the term brogrammer seems to be, at it’s essence, a hipster counter culture that rewards trendy nerdiness and technical skills. It has also (fairly or unfairly) been associated with the decline of female programmer numbers. The thinking is, feeling out of place female employees are phased (or phase themselves) out of these environments.

Companies suppose the average brogrammer is drawn to environments that attempt to replicate aspects of college for the sake of culture. You all are crammed together in a small space, and you do EVERYTHING together! You tour microbreweries, go to sports games, play with legos, and have beer pong at the corporate retreats. (Those are all literal examples from my exposure to startups.) There is probably a wii somewhere. (Are those still a thing? I don’t even know. Point is, video games!)

So it isn’t enough, culturally, to bond with a team over nerdiness. I am nerdy, sure, but in the non trendy non hipster way. I can throw down over Harry Potter trivia, and actually still subscribe to genuine oldschool printed out magazines. I listen to NPR and am not ‘on’ ‘kik.’ (I’m assuming that is an app, and not whatever recreational drug has eschewed Molly in fashionable circles.)

I think of myself much as a decades younger version of Nick Offerman from Parks and Rec. You show me a man bun, and in my head all I can hear is “Are the scissors in your house broken, son?” You tell me about how you make craft beer in your garage, and my eyes instantly glaze over. You know what kind of beer I like? Wine. Because I’m a girl? Maybe! And so what.

I don’t know what to make of a workplace where people willingly roll in to work at ten in the morning and stay at work, for fun, until ten at night. Um, I am in bed by then. I am a conventional, non trendy nerd. And as much as I love my colleagues, I need a little convention. I am militantly in the office by 7, and if you make me stay for optional-but-not-really 24/7 camaraderie, I lack some sort of clear cut boundary between work and fun that I apparently kind of need. I feel awkward getting beers with the CEO the first week of work, not totally plugged in to your ‘one of a kind culture.’ When a bunch of sleepy eyed boys roll into my workplace in flip flops and ironic overly tight t-shirts, (or god help me, v-necks) I feel five million years old. And very out of place.

And this culture can also be a reinforcement loop for homogenous hires. If you all share the same background, and the same work style, and the same interests, sure ‘culture fit’ seems locked down. As often this is the x factor startups claim as the special sauce  for their success, it is rarely challenged. (This is my experience in interviewing with them, and previously hiring for them.) It makes people from more diverse backgrounds seem possibly at odds with this cumulative culture of sameness.

So I am proudly a non-brogrammer. By virtue of my X chromosomes and 90 year olds preferences for workplace norms and formality. Is there a place for strange breeds such as myself? Who knows. Know this, however my tale ends it will be painstakingly recounted here at Lady Dev.