My First Program


Sat down last night and decided to use my new knowledge of Ruby (I’ve been taking the course over at Codeacademy) to write a little program. It’s nothing fancy…like, seriously, it is just a few chicken scratches of code…but it is my first functioning program. I wrote it without any outside assistance save for the bit where I had to convert a string into a fixed number with .to_f.

my_tax = {
“AL” => 0.04,
“AK” => 0,
“AZ” => 0.056,
“AR” => 0.065,
“CA” => 0.075,
“CO” => 0.029,
“CT” => 0.0635,
“DE” => 0,
“DC” => 0.0575,
“FL” => 0.06,
“GA” => 0.04,
“HA” => 0.04,
“ID” => 0.06

print “What state do you live in?”
my_state = gets.chomp

print “How much does it cost?”
my_cost = gets.chomp

sales_tax = my_tax[my_state]
sales_tax_pct = sales_tax * 100

total_cost = (sales_tax.to_f * my_cost.to_f) + my_cost.to_f

puts “The sales tax is #{sales_tax_pct}% and the total cost is $#{total_cost}.”

That’s it. Just a simple sales tax calculator that creates a hash, requests user input, and then compares the user input against the hash to produce an equation that would add sales tax to a purchase price depending on what state you live in.

I’ll keep tweaking it…fill out the rest of the states…add an if/else statement to make sure people are putting in a real state…let me know what else you think I should try in the comments below.




If you haven’t heard of it before (like me), I highly recommend checking out Harvard’s CS50 course. CS50 is “Harvard University’s introduction to the intellectual enterprises of computer science and the art of programming.” Best of all, if you’re like me and don’t have any means or desire to actually attend Harvard, you can audit the class for free via edX. For $90 you can even walk away with a teacher-signed certificate and some electronic evidence for your LinkedIn account.

It is a 12-week course and I watched most of the first week’s videos today. We started off with some basic information about what computer science is, why we use binary, etc. That branched into some basic programming with MIT’s Scratch system. By the end of my day I was writing some basic programs in Scratch, and getting a better idea of how this might all lead to improvements in my own problem solving and coding skills.



Seth Godin’s blog post this morning was on point:

In search of metaphor

The best way to learn a complex idea is to find it living inside something else you already understand.

“This,” is like, “that.”

An amateur memorizes. A professional looks for metaphors.

It’s not a talent, it’s a practice. When you see a story, an example, a wonderment, take a moment to look for the metaphor inside.

Lessons are often found where we look for them.

I do this quite often; as I am learning, I find myself saying “this” is like “that” and I feel that my understanding is immediately improved.

Personal Discovery


With all of the hubbub about what people should be studying these days (STEM? STEAM? STREAM?), it’s worth pointing out that one of the most important but overlooked subjects we can focus on is ourselves. As an introvert I seem to be naturally inclined to looking inward, but ambiverts and extroverts alike would benefit from some regular introspection.

I was browsing Reddit this morning and found a link to Pymetrics. Pitched as a career search platform, their team has prepared some cognitive and personality assessments in the form of games to help people discover their characteristics and then match them up with organizations that could benefit from their strengths.

I’ve wandered down that path a few times before, most notably with and found the results to be rather useful. I don’t believe that the results of these assessments are in any way a perfect measurement of ability and personality or that someone will find success and happiness going down a certain career path. I have, however, found it helpful to use the results as a way of putting words to things that I often have trouble verbalizing.

Anyway, I signed up for a free account and took 12 tests in order to build up enough data to create a profile. The intent of most of the games was pretty obvious. For example, the first game I played put me in the following scenario: I am given $10. I am connected to a stranger who has no dollars. I am able to share none, part, or all of my $10 with the stranger with the caveat that whatever amount I give them will be tripled, and then they will have an opportunity to share a part of that final amount back to me. This test purported to measure my trust in others. By sharing none I would be guaranteed to walk away with $10. By sharing all, I risked losing everything while the stranger would walk away with $30. Or if I was trusting, I could share part or all of my money hoping that the stranger would share an amount larger than $10 back with me. In the end I chose to share $7.77 with them – some, but not all of my original allotment – and they returned slightly less than 50% of the tripled amount back to me. My trust benefited me in that scenario. This then provided the Pymetrics folks with some data about me. The data points they collected over the course of 12 games became my profile.

What was the final result? My top traits were attentiveness, planning speed, and processing consistency. In other words I was able to avoid distractions, plan, sequence, and problem-solve quickly, and my thought processing didn’t seem to come in spurts…it was evenly distributed. Based on those top traits I was given the following three career path matches: Product Development, Human Resources & Recruiting, and Marketing.

Pymetrics provided even more results in their Cognitive, Social, and Emotional reports. Some of the results didn’t seem to match my own observations, so I am a bit wary of them, but on the whole I felt as though it was a worthwhile system and I’ll be taking more tests/games to add more data.

Pymetrics offers most of their results in scales, but the scales don’t always make a lot of sense to me. For example, the scale on cognitive processing went from 6% “flexible in my processing speed” to 94% “consistent in my processing speed”. The planning speed scale went from 6% “deliberate in planning” to 94% “efficient in planning”. What is bad? What is good? I’m not sure. I think deliberate and efficient are both good things. So the results are, at times, hard to decipher.

On the other side of the coin, offers more text-based results. For example, my “tagline” is “You’re a self-directed, organized person who enjoys thoroughly exploring and synthesizing a wide range of ideas. Complex, multi-faceted projects are fun for you.” While this is a little bit more along the spectrum toward what you’d see in the Horoscopes, it’s more understandable for me. also offers text-based explanations of your various “archetypes” – for example, I am an Idealist, Technician, and Go Getter. Again, there are times when the explanations are too vague to offer any helpful insight, but on the whole I appreciate reading things and going “oh yeah, that is me!”

What’s your take? How do you heed the Greek maxim to “know thyself”?

This is Fine


I love this comic, and it really captures how *certain people* tend to ignore the obvious warning signs around them in order to maintain the status quo.this is fine full