Regina Imhoff

Software Engineer in Austin, Texas

Tag: wisdom

Ruby’s Method Lookup

In many programming languages you are able to lookup methods without much trouble – just start at the receiver and work up the chain until you find the method you want.  However, in Ruby, you are able to mix in modules and singleton classes, so it gets weird fast.

There are just a few steps on how Ruby looks up methods:

  1.  Look within singleton class
    • A singleton method is a method that is defined on a instance vs. to a class where the method would be available on all instances
  2.  Look within modules that extend singleton classes
    • If you can’t find the method on the singleton class, look at modules that extend the singleton class
    • If there are multiple extend modules, the later modules are more important and take precedence
  3.  Look within methods prepended to the method and methods defined on a class
  4.  Look within modules that were mixed in when class was defined
  5.  Look up the ancestor chain
  6.  Start again checking method_missing

Chromebook OpenVPN

I recently got a new job and had the pleasure/torture of being assigned a Chromebook and needing to get it onto the VPN. This is easy on a Mac, which everybody else has, but since the ChromeOS is so lightweight, it was more challenging. I eventually got it to work though, so here are my directions!

If you don’t already, you’ll need some text editor (not Google Docs) and I had good luck with Caret and you’ll need some sort of sftp system and a shell.  I also recommend using developer mode for the Chromebook, as it makes for a lot less hassle long term.  You can also dual boot into linux, but I don’t do that as ChromeOS in developer mode has been enough for me to be pretty happy!


First, have a read on Errietta’s blog and get an idea on how this will work.  I tried her directions and they weren’t entirely sufficient, but I got 90% there.
First go into your OpenVPN directory and build a key:
./build-key client1my

which will build a key and a certificate (.key and .crt) but they will be generated in the directory that the file vars specifies. I had to run:

openssl pkcs12 -export -in client1.crt -inkey client1.key -certfile ca.crt -name MyClient -out client.p12

Go into your openvpn/ccd directory and copy the most recent file . Don’t forget to increment both IPs in the file by 1 (so you don’t have conflicts later on!)

You should now have a client.p12 file.  Share this with the Chromebook in Google Docs.


On the Chromebook

Navigate to chrome://settings/certificates (in the browser) and in the Authorities tab, click ‘Import’ and select the ca.crt file (in the ‘shared with you’ section of Google Docs!)  You will be asked if you want to trust the ca, click on ‘trust this certificate for identifying websites’ and leave the rest blank.

Now navigate to chrome://settings/certificates and click on “your certificates” and then “import and bind to device” (NOTE: NOT JUST IMPORT, IT MUST BE IMPORT AND BIND TO DEVICE) and select the .p12 file from earlier.  You should see your (hardware-backed) by the certificate name.

ONC File

First, make your .onc file, as can be seen here: and you will need to upload it.  In a browser tab, open chrome://net-internals and along the left side of the page, click on “ChromeOS” then click on the “choose file” button in the line “Import ONC File”

DO NOT PANIC IF NOTHING HAPPENS!  (I panicked and it was unnecessary!)

After a few short moments, the name you gave your network name should appear in the OpenVPN/L2TP screen (click on the wifi icon near your profile icon in the lower right corner of the Chromebook screen, click on VPN, and the file with your name on it should appear there!)

Fill in your password and leave OTC and group name blank.


Congrats, you’re all done!

How To Find Freelance Clients

First, I’m going to irritate you:

I was at an interview yesterday and my freelance business came up, since it’s the only programming work experience I have.  The developers interviewing me seemed really intrigued and a little confused on how I find freelance clients.  I’m not going to lie, when I first started freelancing in May 2015, I was looking around and couldn’t find a client in sight.  Now, in September 2016, I turn work down all the time because I’m just too busy with other clients.  I was ALWAYS irritated when reading blogs when the author bragged about turning down work…and here I am telling you just that.  There are a few things that I did that really changed my business for the better and I’m going to try to communicate that to you.  Some of it is magic/luck/#blessed, but I really don’t think that’s the only contributing factor.


I know, you have been told to get out there and network.  Usually it’s left just at that – go talk to people.  Let me fill you in on a mistake I made.


This was the single biggest mistake I made when trying to find clients.  I would go to and look for tech meetups to go to.  DUMMY – tech people can make their own websites.  They don’t need you and they definitely won’t pay you well for something they could do just as easily.  No, instead I want you to go put on your big girl pants, grab a stack of business cards and go to a small business meetup.  Go to the chamber of commerce.  Go to coworking meetups.  Go to the farmer’s market and chat people up.  That’s where you’ll find your first clients.

I know small business meetups sound scary.  You’re a developer, not a small business person.  Actually, you can be both.  As a freelancer, you aren’t quite a small business, but you can talk their talk and understand their needs.  Remember, you are not working as a developer.  You are solving problems for people.  You just happen to use code to solve those problems.

Cold Calling/Emailing

One of my first clients was a local shop.  I was browsing their website and noticed all their image links were broken.  I knew exactly what was wrong, so I sent a quick email to the shop owner telling them what was wrong and how they could fix it.  The shop owner said they didn’t know what the hell I was talking about, but if I came into the shop with my laptop they would pay me to fix it.  I got a ton of business from that owner, because every time one of his small business friends complained about their website, he would tell them to contact me.

Cold Emailing (let’s be honest, you’re much more likely to email than to call) isn’t going to have as high of a success rate as meeting people face to face, but it works often enough that it’s worth trying.  To be clear, you need to address a problem, not say things that are asshole-y or smug.  Say the links are broken, not that a 12 year old could make a better site.  Say the site is not responsive (more on this in a bit) don’t say that the site is complete garbage.  Somebody, and that somebody is likely the owner, spent a lot of time trying to get a website up.  That’s what they heard businesses need.  Let them know, respectfully, that you can make a better site for them.  Again, you are solving a problem.

Freelance Job Boards

90% of them are crap.  Upwork, Freelancer, whatever.  They are crap.  Freelancers are racing to go be the cheapest option because they believe (and a lot of clients on those boards back up this belief) that you can compete on price alone.  That’s nonsense.  If you want, you can bid on a few projects to 1: discover that it’s a race to the bottom and 2: find out I’m right about it being mostly crap.  If you have no portfolio, then go ahead.  Honestly, making a site for you Aunt Gertrude for free will be a better experience, but go ahead and try it out.

There are some freelance job boards, however, that are not total garbage.  In Austin we have Austin Freelance Gigs, which has a lot of great jobs that pop up at all hours of the day and night.  People can tag you in job postings so you see it (again, knowing people is key to freelancing!) or you can just set aside some time to check the page.  You do have to practice some diligence to make sure you aren’t spending all your time on Facebook, but it’s a nice way to find local jobs.

Technical Jargon

This was something that took me WAY too long to figure out.  The people you are helping are not tech wizards.  Many of them will tell you straight up that they are not tech savvy at all.  Knowing that they are not tech savvy, don’t try to impress people by using jargon and concepts they have never heard nor cared about.  Treat them with respect.  If you notice their site isn’t responsive, tell them that it isn’t mobile phone friendly.  Tell them that it affects search results.  Tell them how many people use their phones for checking on websites.  Those are the problems they care about – they do not care about which framework you’ll use or what library you’ll use.  When looking for jobs, remember that Jane Businesswoman isn’t going to ask for a React JS frontend with a Ruby on Rails backend.  She’s going to ask for a site that runs on a single page and can be done quickly.  You aren’t selling Ruby on Rails, WordPress, or any tech stack.  YOU ARE SOLVING A PROBLEM!

Now What?

I would love to hear your questions or other comments about looking for clients.  There is so much work out there, you just have to be found.  Leave a comment!

Site Redesign

After some trouble with hosting issues, the website is back up!

I’ve been keeping busy with freelance projects, primarily fixing sites. In an interview recently, I was asked why I like programming. I responded with “I don’t always like programming!” and it’s true!! When I’m deep in the middle of trying to get a site to show the stupid preview image and there are 48 plugins that aren’t necessarily tested to work with the new WordPress update…I don’t like programming then.

But when I get the site working and running beautifully, I really love programming.

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