Getting into webapps and Paas:

After my nightmare with installing Ruby on Rails on Windows, I ended up on Heroku. This was my first experience with PaaS, so I was a bit foggy on the details about how everything worked.

I poked around on Heroku a bit, but couldn’t really understand what was going on, even after reading their detailed Getting Started tutorial, so I decided to check out the recommendation of the Web Apps MOOC lecturer,

I found getting started on Nitrous to be a much easier experience. Following their steps, I set up a Ruby box, and within 10 minutes I was starting my first assignment from the MOOC. I also successfully linked that box with my BitBucket account so I could submit the assignments.

As I only have a free account, most of my credits were used up on the Ruby box. The box also shuts down after a period of inactivity, so I have to start it up again when I log in. This was also before they changed their structure, so I’m still on Nitrous Lite, while new users are redirected to Nitrous Pro.

Using gave me a kickstart to learning how to use Git properly, and how to code in the cloud. I learnt a lot about these concepts during the webapps MOOC, and will be sharing some more about it soon.

I also ended up returning to Heroku (I had better luck with the Python tut), as well as dabbling with Google App Engine, but I will get into that a bit later.

Web Application Architectures: Final Recap

This MOOC ended almost 3 months ago, and it took them super long to grade it, but they did.

Web Application Architectures

I got 97.8%, mostly because just by following the videos and retyping the code in the correct files, one could get 100% for the assignments, and the quizzes were not particularly hard either. The lack of an exam also made this a bit easier for me.

I do see why Coursera is now phasing out free certificates. On the other hand, it’s not like the MOOC would have been harder if I had paid for a Verified Certificate. I still did the work.

While I doubt that I will carry on with Ruby on Rails (not really my scene), the other concepts I learned while trying to do this MOOC is far more valuable to me. These include:

  1. Learning to use version control correctly (Github, BitBucket)
  2. Using PaaS (Heroku,, Google App Engine)
  3. The difference between developing a local application vs web application
  4. Security concepts, like when to use SSH etc

As part of a team that provides enterprise GIS solutions, I’m very eager to learn more about networking and the enterprise part, so this MOOC kickstarted me into a series of MOOCs around networking. First up is Princeton’s offering.

Web Application Architectures: Week 1, 2 & 3 recap

One of the courses on my Coursera watchlist started a few weeks ago, namely Web Application Architectures. As I’ve mentioned before, I wormed my way out of the Computer Science module on networking in my third year of university, so naturally that decision has come back around to bite me.

I took this MOOC to help fill in some of the blanks for me, and to brush up on Ruby on Rails. By brush up, I of course mean start basically from scratch, because the amount of RoR I crash coursed when I was doing a second year module in Databases has long since vacated my brain.

The MOOC has been very enjoyable so far – one of the highlights has been learning to use version control correctly. I’ll be creating separate posts for the various (mis)adventures I had just trying to get started with this MOOC, including installing Ruby on Rails, coding in the cloud and using BitBucket.

One of the things this MOOC has going for it is that there is no social requirement i.e. no mandatory discussion forum posting or peer assessments. The videos are informative, and the programming assignments have been a bit simplistic but with very good instructions. Overall, I am glad to be taking this course, and would have considered the Signature Track for it.