Upon starting work as a software engineer at Groupon this April, I noticed that I was an outlier. Pretty much all the engineers I talked to had technical degrees, and a huge number were from one of three sources—Stanford, an Ivy League school or a start-up that Groupon acquired. My particular group was full of crazy-technical Chileans from one of those acquisitions. Needless to say, nobody else had a B.A. in a foreign language like I did. Within my first month on the job I started planning a roadmap to increase my skills to the point where I could shine even among this impressive company.

Education vs schooling

I can't say I felt intimidated by the formal credentials of my peers. To be completely honest, I was and am a little concerned about credentialism being used to close certain doors, but it's my belief that such barriers can nearly always be overcome. It's true that companies tend to be conservative in matters deciding who to let do what work but after a person attains a certain level of mastery, credentials start to fall by the wayside. I learned that first hand when it came to university admissions


Wanna get make all your files use spaces for tabs consistently and eliminate trailing whitespace every time you save in sublime? Put this in your user preferences:

  "font_size": 13.0,
  "tab_size": 2,
  "translate_tabs_to_spaces": true,
  "trim_automatic_white_space": true,
  "trim_trailing_white_space_on_save": true,
  "use_tab_stops": true

I absolutely hate trailing whitespace in any of my code. I used to use a plugin that eliminates it when you hit a predefined keystroke, but this is much more convenient.

Also see: Adding a JS build-system to Sublime

Many prospective students have been emailing me and asking about how various programming boot camps compare. How does Dev Bootcamp compare to Hack Reactor? Where can I find an App Academy review? Should I consider doing Hack Reactor instead of a four year degree at Stanford or Berkeley? Most of all I've been asked, "What happened after you finished the program? Could you find a job?"

I'm happy to say that Hack Reactor exceeded my expectations in pretty much every way possible. I learned far more than I ever expected and it was the most intense twelve weeks of my life (Except maybe that time I started a business with no capital in a foreign country).


I learned something at work this week that I can't believe I didn't pick up during my years as an English teacher—the difference between hyphens, en dashes and em dashes. I guess being a web developer can lead just about anywhere.

NameExampleHTML Code
En Dash–
Em Dash—


The first Hack Reactor class has graduated started working, a new cohort has arrived and my class is now the senior class. The new students are awesome! Considering how selective Hack Reactor is, I can't say I'm surprised, but it has been great to meet them all.


These are the notes from my presentation for the new class at Hack Reactor.  I know the time constraints make it tough to answer everything, so feel free to ask here.

Choose your own talk

  • How to exit or save & exit VIM
  • How to enable/disable VIM mode in Sublime
  • Sublime short-cuts in general
  • Multi-select
  • Strip out HTML
  • How to learn in general
  • Build JS from Sublime


Frustratingly, the Sublime Text editor doesn't set up a build system for JavaScript the way it does for Ruby and some other languages. Fortunately, it's an easy problem to fix. Assuming your JS interpreter is Node.js, these are the steps to set it up: