Know this Nerd? Meet Josh Ramirez



Josh RamirezThanks to The Nerdery for underwriting the ‘Know this Nerd?’ series.

Josh Ramirez is a local software engineering consultant, father of four, and leader of the Twin Cities .Net User Group.

When and how did you originally become interested in technology?

When I realized how small computer circuitry actually was. I knew there must be something really special going on. Then I learned that computers made computers, and that really peaked my interest.
Understanding what software was made it fun!

At what age did you write your first computer program?  What did it do?

I was six and I had a Commodore 64. I had a couple of books I copied out of to learn how to code. I think the first thing I did was an exercise  to make a choose-your-own-adventure script. Fun times!

What do you do now? What languages are you proficient in?

I’m an independent professional and I prefer to work on a corp-to-corp basis. I contract and consult in IT departments in the Twin Cities. I’m in the business of producing business and consumer software. I program primarily using C#, Javascript, HTML, and CSS. I code using several paradigms from “large-scale enterprise” to “rapid-fire prototype”. I consult in design and prefer to personally write subsequent implementations. I also consult in the disciplines of several approaches to software’s demands of project and life cycle management.

How have you increased your skillset over the years, formally or otherwise?

Besides learning how to write software by doing it, I’d say the most important thing has been reading. I’m always reading, every day. It helps keep my research skills sharp and that can often help out in crucial situations.

Which do you prefer in programming, the struggle or the achievement?

I’d like to say that I prefer the creative process within programming. Understanding the science can take you far, but it takes creativity to form structures of abstractions.

The Nerdery

What people, groups, projects, or resources were most influential in your development as programmer?

The people have influenced me the most. People like Grady Booch, Ivar Jacobson, and James Rumbaugh. Later I was exposed to people like Robert Martin, and Martin Fowler. I also found out about folks like Peter Coad and Jeff De Luca. Then there’s also folks like Udi Dahan, Ayende Rahien, Joel Spolsky. There’s so many others I’m not mentioning. I have a deep sense of respect for the contributions these and other people have made to our industry.

Regarding organizations, I think 37 Signals made an important UX impact. The Microsoft Patterns & Practices Team helped me to think about what it meant to explore software architecture. The UML helped me understand how to formalize complexity, processes, and data within my own mind. The Agile Manifesto challenged me and shed light on a clear sense of purpose as a professional developer.

What do you enjoy about it? Is there anything you dislike?

It’s an outlet of creativity for me using expression of logic, order, and protocol. I feel like it’s like writing a book sometimes. Other times maybe it’s like building with imaginary legos. For me, it’s what the technology can do and the journey it took to do it.

If you were to be doing anything else, what would that be?

Ask me tomorrow. I’m sure it’d be unexpected.

What does agile software development mean to you?

Agility encourages change by spreading out planning throughout the entire project. It means being pragmatic. A way to discover an optimal solution for product development. But it does this using an iterative approach.  Agile focuses on the product and its value. When you really do agile then you confront and acknowledge features, resources, and timeline. This means planning using several levels and doing it frequently. It means plans are based on features and durations of estimates are derived from size.

Where do you spend most of your time online?

Google, email, reading, research.

What concerns you most about where technology is headed?

I’m concerned that we’re losing what it means to be connected physically and emotionally to each other. Today we have the capacity to manage a tremendous amount of connections and communication channels. I’d challenge society not to forget about the connections that work without electricity.

What excites you most about where technology is headed?

I’m convinced we’ve only begun to scratch the surface of the iceberg of what information technology can produce. Recent advances in advanced distributed computing, storage, and processing have opened the doors to new possibilities. Cloud Computing, PaaS, and Big Data are just the beginnings of future emergence potential.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

I’m thankful to be in an industry of so much opportunity…it’s full of work that I love doing!


  • Snarky

    I enjoy these profiles. You’ve had a very good selection of developers you interview locally. I think I remember that build your own adventure script for the 64, although I think I used it on the Vic 20 with a tape drive. I like the questions about the direction of tech; it would be nice to see them weigh in on what one or two language or wider features are exciting them the most or causing them the most worry (e.g. they feel the need to get better at it) at the moment. Something concrete they’re dealing with at the moment.