MRS: 012 Simon Moro

This episode is a My Ruby Story with Simon Moro. Simon is an Australian record producer and mixer. He has been teaching himself Ruby for the last 18 months, Rails framework, and is a frustrated aspiring entrepreneur. Through negative experiences with outsourcing and finding tech co-founders, he wanted to empower and educate himself.

How did you get into programming?

He remembers that the first computer in his home was actually called a dinosaur. His first experience with a computer made him intrigued. He was a lot of gaming consoles when he was young. Personally liked Sega and his best friend liked Nintendo. It was like an early Apple vs. Android rivalry.

He was introduced to visual basic in an InfoTech class in high school. His high school didn’t have a strong tech department so it was a very simple class. There was a button that you would click which would display a dialogue box with a calculator. He was fascinated by the way you could write instructions. He had always been full of ideas. The idea that you could create a digital product just by writing text fascinated him. He started borrowing books from the library and even bought a few. He tried to teach himself.

When he got older he used HTML and found WordPress useful as a music programmer and for the digital products he created. It wasn’t until 18 months ago that he thought he would try to learn a language and build something.

Connection Between Music and Programming

There are a lot of programmers that are also musicians. People don’t often acknowledge that there is creativity in code. Music and code may be appealing to people for the same reasons: because there is both science and creativity in both areas. Music is about agreements within a culture. Musicians agree that certain notes blended with each other either do or do not work. This is how they program symphonies and refactor sheet music to make it easier to read. Music is a process of solving problems creatively using a structure where if you go outside of that structure it won’t work. This is similar to front-end frameworks. In musical theory a lot of things are mathematical. There is a science of music and what makes it sound good. This is foundational in the same way math is the foundation in computer science.

Did you start programming in WordPress or did your interest in programming come from something else?

Simon did little in WordPress in terms of learning to program. He delved into CSS and changed themes using Envarto. He outsourced those tweaks to people from freelancing websites. He did try to learn PHP for his wife’s product but realized he didn’t do it correctly.

He was involved in Melbourne startup world and heard about Ruby on Rails through that. He researched it after he heard about it and read about the philosophy behind it. He raised capital to build a product production management tool for music producers. He built it in Ruby on Rails, and a company in Deli built that for him. He had to fire them and start again.

Because he’d been exposed to it, decided he’d delve into it and teach himself because if he’d started his learning at the same time he’d hired the company he could have taken over once he fired that company. He tells people that they can teach themselves if they have time and has people they can ask for help if they get stuck.

Are you building the mbp for your own product?

Simon built it himself. He had found a tech co-founder 18 months ago but it went south. Five weeks ago he finally decided to do it himself. He focused on one particular feature for receiving client feedback on a work in progress for music. A band that’s sending demos to each other can upload a song and add comments of change requests within the site.

How did you come to Ruby? What was it about Ruby and how did you find it that made you decide to want to do this type of work in Ruby as opposed to PHP or something else?

Simon started reading the philosophy around Ruby; then looked at the code. He thought the Ruby language and the Rails code made sense compared to PHP. He believed that PHP had too much code. He also likes the elegance of Ruby and the Rails framework, the organization, and the syntax.

What kinds of things have you done with Ruby? Is this your first and only product/project? Have you done other things? Ways to learn?

He believes that the way he is learning is most useful to beginners. The first thing that he did is to jump into a Ruby on Rails course through Treehouse. He found it confusing but he completed the course. A friend told him he thought it’d be helpful to learn Ruby through After that, he could separate Rails and Ruby. He started making quick prototypes to help learn and putting together budgets for projects apps, which he used for himself.

Do you find that the courses were enough or did you have to find groups of people who were coding or find a mentor?

It has helped by having people he could reach out to. He hasn’t had formal meetings with mentors. He had a problem with Track Bits and his friend Rahj helped find a solution to a problem one day. He has had moments where he’s been stuck like that and had someone help him. It is difficult to know what questions to ask Google to get the answers. Having someone to point the things out he doesn’t know that he doesn’t know is helpful.

What was it that made you get to the point that you said, “I’m pretty comfortable with this, and I think I can do a good job with it.”

He graduated from audio production in 2000. He has generally been the opposite of confident. He always assumes that he can always learn more, when he started out he was more confident than he is now in his craft. He now knows how important his role is in his client’s potential for connecting with an audience and his client’s potential for going further in their career. When he was younger he thought he could do things because he was trained so he could do things.