Giant Robots Smashing Into Other Giant Robots

About the show

A podcast about the design, development, and business of great software. Each week thoughtbot's Chad Pytel is joined by the people who build and nurture the products we love.


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    52: You look really fancy in your tuxedo

    June 9th, 2013  |  Season 1  |  58 mins 19 secs

    In this special episode, number 52, and our 1 year anniversary episode, recorded at RailsConf 2013, Ben Orenstein is joined by Ruby and Rails core team member Aaron Patterson, thoughtbot CTO Joe Ferris, and a live studio audience. The trio discuss Rails 4, observers, callbacks, dubstep, namespaces, Scheme, functional programming, thread safety in Rails, what it would take to remove callbacks from Rails and why you would want to do it, what should be in our anniversary episode, dealing with Rails security issues, why Aaron likes to work on Rails, meeting people's expectations, Vim, intuitive software, and so much more.

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    51: I found a voice

    June 2nd, 2013  |  Season 1  |  32 mins 50 secs

    On this week's show, recorded at RailsConf 2013, Ben Orenstein is joined by Sandi Metz, developer, author, podcaster, and recent Ruby Hero award winner. Ben and Sandi discuss winning awards, writing, whether notoriety changes who you are, what Sandi is proud of, the bad code she's writing and why, what she's doing now, getting real feedback on your work, that it's OK not to know everything, and much, much more.

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    50: It's Monday today, let's change everything

    May 26th, 2013  |  Season 1  |  43 mins 26 secs

    In this week's episode, recorded at RailsConf 2013, Ben Orenstein is joined by Jeff Casimir and Katrina Owen from Jumpstart Lab and gSchool to discuss performing, speaking, and imposter syndrome, preparing for your talk, and what makes a good talk and how to give one. The also discuss gSchool, the way the program works and they way it's guaranteed, teaching, admitting ignorance, how good practice should be harder than the real thing, and why Jeff didn't like studying Computer Science and why he didn't enjoy programming and how Rails reignited his passion for creating things, and much more.

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    49: The psychology of work

    May 19th, 2013  |  Season 1  |  35 mins 46 secs

    In this episode, recorded at RailsConf 2013, Ben Orenstein is joined by Gregg Pollack and Nathaniel Bibler from EnvyLabs and Gregg shares what he's learned running his business, when not to be transparent, how to deal with compensation, and how the EnvyLabs compensation structure has changed over the years. Nathan, Gregg, and Ben also discuss Code School, yearly payments to a subscription, making courses effective, effective marketing, the effectiveness of mailing lists, community events, shared ownership, and much more.

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    48: Barista imposter syndrome

    May 12th, 2013  |  Season 1  |  37 mins 44 secs

    In this episode, recorded at RailsConf 2013, Ben Orenstein is joined by Jon Larkowski, closet hippie and developer at CareZone. Ben and Jon discuss being a closet hippie, transitioning from consulting to working on a startup/product team, ping-pong, paying attention to your habits and improving to your life, meditation, firewalling your attention, fostering a startup culture, imposter syndrome, podcasting, coffee, code review, guitar, and much more.

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    47: Two hours per minute

    May 5th, 2013  |  Season 1  |  20 mins 53 secs

    In this episode, recorded at RailsConf 2013, Ben Orenstein is joined by Ryan Bates of RailsCasts. Ben and Ryan discuss Ryan's transition to working on RailsCasts full time, staying up to date on the latest technology, how his coding style has changed, maintaining his open source, the process of producing RailsCasts, why he doesn't speak at conferences, the latest technology he is excited about, and much more

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    46: We don't have a monopoly on being unhealthy

    April 28th, 2013  |  Season 1  |  33 mins 43 secs

    Ben Orenstein is joined by Joe Kutner, programmer and author of ‘The Healthy Programmer’. Ben and Joe discuss how the demands of a development job lead to unhealthy habits, and ways to address the issues. They discuss specifics like standing desks, walking desks, the pomodoro technique, exercise, vitamin D, and much more.

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    45: Tiny Robots Cuddling with other Tiny Robots

    April 21st, 2013  |  Season 1  |  34 mins 56 secs

    This week we try something a little different. Joe Ferris, Matt Jankowski, Ben Orenstein, and Chad Pytel get together and have a little fun, in what we're calling "Tiny Robots cuddling with other Tiny Robots". We'd love to get your thoughts on this special format, tweet us @thoughtbot or email

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    44: I feel the opposite of burnt out

    April 14th, 2013  |  Season 1  |  52 mins 52 secs

    In this week's podcast, Ben Orenstein is joined by Chad Fowler, author, speaker, and CTO of 6wunderkinder. Ben and Chad discuss Chad's recent move to Berlin and 6wunderkinder, what a CTO does, getting back to coding, the early Ruby community, who Chad wants to hire, predicting success of new hires, and what makes a truly good developer, favorite interview questions, how Chad's interviewing process has changed over time, how age and experience can change your perspective, how Chad built a great team, and what he might write about in the future. They also discuss Chad's new tattoo, his regrets, meditation, therapy, gaining control over your mind, and much, much more.

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    43: A good person by default

    April 7th, 2013  |  Season 1  |  44 mins 16 secs

    thoughtbot's Ben Orenstein is joined by Scott Orn, venture capitalist at Lighthouse Capital Partners by day, and co-founder of Ben's Friends by night. Ben and Scott discuss building a community, the future of Ben's Friends, and how running the site helps him be a better VC, teaching people, and getting value out of giving back. They also talk about his work as a venture capitalist at Lighthouse, how the money flows, the freemium software model, why it's good and how it works, picking the winners, and how the market can affect success, and the companies Scott thinks are great investments, and where he thinks the market is going.

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    42: Why were you suing a website?

    March 31st, 2013  |  Season 1  |  50 mins 21 secs

    This week, Ben Orenstein is joined by Peter Moldave, attorney at Gesmer Updegrove to discuss attorney client privilege, what not to do with email, the similarities between lawyers and programmers, how he got into law, his history with technology, and his time as a corporate lawyer at Apple. They also dig into how EULAs work, whether they are binding, whether you should be reading them, and how they can be enforced, software licensing, copyrights and the First-sale doctrine, patent law, software patents, and navigating the patent landscape. They also discuss how to view stock options in your startup job offer, working at startups, how to have a valuable career path, what your employer owns from your side projects or your work for them, how to manage liability in your startup, web site, app on the App Store, and side projects, the best corporate structure and much, much more.

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    41: This is the sausage being made

    March 24th, 2013  |  Season 1  |  35 mins 47 secs

    This week Ben Orenstein in joined by thoughtbot CEO, Chad Pytel, to discuss thoughbot's books, online and in-person training programs, other educational products, and the launch of thoughtbot's new subscription to everything they teach, Learn Prime. They also discuss some changes to, Five Guys, and much more!

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    40: He's winking at me

    March 17th, 2013  |  Season 1  |  32 mins 17 secs

    Ben is joined by Bryan Helmkamp, the founder of CodeClimate. In Bryan's second appearance on the podcast, Ben and Bryan discuss the architecture behind CodeClimate, scaling the service, and growing the business. They also discuss speaking at conferences, proposal selection, two factor authentication and adding it to CodeClimate, marketing and content marketing, how to decide what to build and proving that it was worthwhile, strategies for testing at the beginning when you have few users, and Bryan reveals CodeClimate next big upcoming feature.

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    39: We've been watching you for some time, Mr. Grimm

    March 10th, 2013  |  Season 1  |  38 mins 44 secs

    Ben Orenstein is joined by Avdi Grimm, software developer, author, and podcaster. Ben and Avdi discuss Emacs, Avdi's personal assistant and delegating work. They also discuss naming and finding implicit concepts in your code, encoding processes as objects in their own right, his publishing and podcasting, the pronunciation of Parley, Ruby Tapas, education resources and the benefits of open source languages, his goals, the most civilized way to travel, and what we got wrong about the Law of Demeter.

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    38: Standing out from the pack

    March 3rd, 2013  |  Season 1  |  37 mins 13 secs

    This week Ben Orenstein is joined by Jeremy McAnally, employee at GitHub, author of Ruby in Practice, Rails 3 Upgrade Handbook, MacRuby in Action, and more. Jeremy and Ben discuss teaching and organizing conferences, remote working for GitHub, the and the company summits, GitHub workflows, their internal tools team. They also talk about standing out from the pack in work, life, and getting accepted to conferences, selecting people to speak at conferences, self-publishing, Jeremy's writing process and future writing plans, work-life balance, how to get a job at GitHub, and much more.

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    37: You're riding the Rails bro!

    February 24th, 2013  |  Season 1  |  34 mins 48 secs

    Ben Orenstein is joined this week by Joe Ferris, CTO of thoughtbot. Ben and Joe discuss starting a new Rails project and our Rails application generator, Suspenders, test spies and breaking up your tests, and using Rails beta versions.