Things have been busy and somewhat stressful at work, so I’ve been itching to start a side project that would be interesting, not too time consuming, and fun. Over the last few weeks, I’d been bouncing ideas around, and I decided to come at it from a different angle. What do I love?

I love lots of things. But lately I’ve really been in love with the great city of Chicago. I love knowing random stuff about, and getting people excited about it. It amazes me how many people live here and complain about its lack of this or that, when in reality it has a great scene for both this and that.

At the same time, I wanted this project to be an excuse to learn something new or practice something old. I decided to build it in Rails, for the same reason I sometimes brush my teeth with my left hand.

And, of course, I wanted to solve at least one problem I have.

The answer:

Out of the Loop: Random facts about the greatest city on Earth

So in what I estimate was less than thirty or so hours, I built a site on which you can read interesting little factoids about Chicago. It was important to me to keep the material very easy to digest, because (as you can probably tell) I have a tendency to explain things in a few too many words. I also wanted it to be so focused that there’s essentially one button to press. And it met all my requirements:

  • It’s all about Chicago
  • The content is not only easily digestible, but it’s fascinating! I’ve been learning new things every day from the (small) community
  • It’s very simple and straightforward, so I could make it as complicated as my time and mental energy would afford
  • It’s in Rails – it felt good to get back into Rails, and I’m amazed how far it’s come since I used it last
  • It’s ad supported, something I’ve always been curious about but reluctant to try, given my hatred of ads
  • And it’s a great platform for me to get all of my “did you know”s out without bugging people who don’t care

The result turned out pretty great, if I may say so. Be sure to check it out!

Out of the Loop@ooTheLoop

(Also, I’m pretty happy with the name. It fits well with my existing company name, it makes a subtle reference to Chicago, and it implies not knowing something yet.)