Alyssa Nicoll

I am a web dev located in Orlando. I teach online at Code School.

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Break all the rules

 There is beauty in rule breaking, in questioning the reality of the laws set in place around you. To not accept the default, is to always strive for better.

Thinking back to the Malaysian plane and how all those lives were lost… just — gone, made me realize that what my father told me as a little girl over and over again, still today rings true.

“Life isn’t fair, Alyssa; Who ever promised you that it would be?”

Yet still, today, an adult, graduated, 27, married, having a “real persons’ job”, I still ask myself why, I still say, “That just isn’t fair”.

Web Development, like life, is often unfair. Standards aren’t consistent, users are unpredictable, many API’s are horribly documented, and open source doesn’t always blossom a project like us dev dreamers think it ought. The web is “the wild west” as a dev dreamer and dear friend once referred to it:

“I prefer IOS. Sure, I am at the

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The best boss I ever had

Last week, I lost the best boss I ever had. His name was Wade Minter. He moved on to another company, and as startups go (or so I am told) this is to be expected. I am also told that losing someone at work is not something to be taken personally, but nonetheless, it was still a blow.

Wade, from the beginning was incredible to work for. I have never before worked with someone so intuitive and good at reading people. He organized and managed his team so seamlessly, he made it seem easy.

He was really good, after a time with working with people, at pinpointing not only their weaknesses, but what they were really good at as well. He would push me and help me cultivate those strengths, while always still being there if I needed him. He took the attitude that his developers were self sufficient and could handle the tasks they were given. This attitude rubbed off, and everyone rose to the

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I’m not a developer-y enough developer to talk on developing

I was slacking with a friend today and I heard something that I have heard too many times from developer friends of mine.

I don’t see myself as a developer-y enough developer to warrant giving a talk on developing

I don’t push the limelight on people lightly; nor do I think that everyone belongs up on stage. However, I believe speaking is one of the best way to solidify what you have learned, along with spreading it to others.

It’s true, I am an odd duck. I have never felt more alive than when on stage giving a talk. During those early days in development — I’m talking, barely knowing how to get a <p> tag on screen — is when I started speaking. I signed up at local meetups and events with crowds numbering under 50 people.

Getting up there, being my quirky fun self, and sharing, even what little I had to share, resonated wildly with the crowd. It was at one of these events that I met

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Living in my Head

 Living with ADHD

Living in my head is like being apart of an art project undergone by 20 or so savants. Savants that happen to be distractible 5 years olds.

This glitter heavy art project is being constructed by this group of 20 or so 5 year old savants. They are messy, they get distracted easily, and without adderall, attention goes to whomever screamed last. The only way the art project gets done, is because they are geniuses. They eventually remember and set things in place, so that in a minute, not too far from now, they will remember the task they were doing and iterate or maybe even finally finish it. Jumping constantly from one thing to another, to another. Never landing, never resting, always buzzing.

On bad days, not even adderall helps. On bad days, I feel like a failure. Trying to wrangle the agitated bunch of kindergartners into some form of a cohesive functioning

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Turned his back on jQuery

He walked into the bedroom, getting dressed for work, that, as always, he was so often late to. And there he was, waiting for him, staring at him with a smirk in his eye.

“What did you say about me?”

Zach swallowed, the dryness in his mouth seeming to penetrate and grow into his throat as well. He had no answer, so he turned his back on jQuery.

That was the day, that development got a lot harder.

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Git: Delete a branch (local or remote)

 To delete a local branch

git branch -D local_branch_name

 To remove a remote branch

git push origin :remote_branch_name

Note: If you remove it remotely, you still need to delete it locally.

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My Next Step

 Common Pitfalls of Web Students

I wrote this talk ‘Common Pitfalls of Web Students’ about 3 years ago while in college. I have updated it and kept it going since then because I will always be a student in life.

In this talk I go over things that I believe truly hold people back in their life.


“Sure, my job has good benefits. I have friends there and I know what is required of me. It’s comfortable, it’s safe…”

Alyssa working at Code School


“…fear of learning something new, fear of the unknown, fear of getting stuck, fear of something being too hard, fear of looking dumb.”

fear slide from talk

 But Why Tho

Ironic as it is, I believe so much in these concepts, that there is no better way to explain why I am leaving Code School than my Common Pitfalls talk. This was a really hard decision to come to, but honestly, I felt it coming for some time now.

If I am to be real with you all, and brutally honest with

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Rails for Plebs Part: Model Associations

Once you have your models created, see Rails for Plebeians Part: Models, you need to create the relationships between all your tables!

In a new conference tracking application, I created these migrations:

 Step 1. Create the Models

Create models for each migration.

  • file names are lowercase and singular
  • class name is capital and singular


 Step 2. Create the Associations

class User < ActiveRecord::Base
  has_many :talks, through: :talk_authors
  has_many :talk_authors
  validates :email, uniqueness: true

To better understand associations with Active record in rails apps, check out this article.

2.4 The has_many :through Association

A has_many :through association is often used to set up a many-to-many connection with another model. This association indicates that the declaring model can be matched with zero or more instances of another model by proceeding through a third

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Rails for plebs Part: Controller

We need a new controller you say?

rails g controller users


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Rails for plebs Part: Method Madness

Apparently this:

  def has_speaker_info?
    if self.speaker.present? && self.audience_size.present? && self.experience.present?


Is the same as this:

  def has_speaker_info?
    self.speaker.present? && self.audience_size.present? && self.experience.present?

Now how, you ask me, How Alyssa, are those two the same?! I have no idea. Let us ask @turtleguyy to clue us in…

Because these questionable methods ? will no matter what resolve to a boolean, so you can simply return the boolean itself. This is like that time in javascript, when you learned you could set variables directly to the boolean itself instead of to the result of a boolean:

if (foo === true) { return true; }

same as

if (foo) { return true; }

same as

return foo;


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