Contextual Camouflage: Erasing the Stigma Around Mental Health

by Brittany Martin

Contextual Camouflage is an open-source gallery art installation built in Ruby on Rails that guides visitors to anonymously report mental health disorders that affect themselves or their relationships. After users submit a disorder, they have the option to include anecdotes and demographic data for intervention researchers.

The application was born out of Steelcity Codefest in 2017. After the hackathon was over, we pared down the team and restarted the application with a smaller team of three: me, my developer life partner, Danielle Greaves, and my husband, Jeff Waltrowski. We continued to work with Jason McCoy, head of McCoy Creative, the mastermind and designer of the concept. 

We pitched the idea of hosting an installation in the Cultural District to my employer, the Cultural Trust. They had a new space they were prepping for future installations and they generously offered it to us for our trial run. With Railsconf coming to town the week of April 17th - 19th (I was scheduled to present on it), we launched the installation on April 15th, 2017. The installation completed during the Trust's Spring 2018 Crawl

Event Description

Contextual Camouflage sheds light on mental health issues and brings those living with mental health issues out in the open, showing that they're not alone, and that mental health issues are more prevalent than some assume. By allowing visitors to namelessly submit their experiences with mental health and tell their story, gathering all of that data and plotting a heat map of experiences in a real-time display. During the Crawl, a selection of Storytellers will share their experiences and tell the world how mental health has affected their life, relationships, and community.

The pride I felt as our talent Storytellers bared their souls in front of the installation was undefinable. Through the night, I had a lot of hearltfelt, honest conversations about mental health. 

We have plans to continue to build out the project and to host the installation in more locations. If you are interesting in contributing or collaborating, please contact me. 

Draw A Crowd | Railsconf Video & Slides


With help from “amazing code ninjas,” Contextual Camouflage exhibit explores mental health

90.5 WESA Interview with Jason McCoy


Photos for the Contextual Camouflage Installation | Spring 2018 Gallery Crawl

Photo Credit: McCoy Creative

My Interview with Logan McDonald | Kickstarter Rails 5 Upgrade

by Brittany Martin in

It has been awhile since I've written here but don't interpret that as a lack of personal endeavors. Since my last post, I played in three official roller derby bouts, upgraded my work's Production Rails applications to Rails 5.1, attended (and rocked) AWS Re:Invent, organized Alexabridge Pittsburgh, resigned from Bloc as a mentor and completed Term 1 of Udacity's Artificial Intelligence nanodegree. Phew!


I also keep contributing to the 5 by 5 Ruby on Rails podcast. In the latest episode, I stepped into the host seat to interview Logan McDonald on Kickstarter's upgrade to Rails 5. I came across her excellent blog post in Ruby Newsletter detailing how they executed the upgrade so smoothly. Logan was an absolute delight to interview and she had thorough answers to questions such as:

  • Was it difficult to maintain writing new features while one team was focused on the upgrade? 
  • When you deployed Rails 5 to Production and had some errors, how close were you to rolling back?

  • With the technical side of the company on board with team #upgraderz, how involved was the rest of the company in the upgrade? Was it a celebration or did you just cross your fingers that no one noticed a major deployment? 

Take a listen here and, as always, please send me your feedback and suggestions of fabulous RoR community members to bring on to interview. Team #upgraderz for life. 

me.add_role :co_host_for_ror_podcast

by Brittany Martin in

Surprising virtually no one, I'm a huge fan of podcasts. I've considered starting my own but then an even better opportunity presented itself. I'm pleased to announce that I'm newest co-host to one of my favorite podcasts: the 5 by 5 Ruby on Rails podcast

During an episode, Kyle Daigle, the main host of the show, mentioned that he wanted to bring on more co-hosts so that the show could accelerate to a weekly format. I reached out to him on Twitter and we had a quick chat to see if I would round out the other two co-hosts: Joel Oliveira and Mike Coutermarsh

I recorded my first episode in April. After a bit of a hiatus, the podcast is back with my introduction as a co-host. Listen below to learn more about my background, the group affinity for Hamilton and why you should always opt for the oysters. I'll be recording with Kyle every 3 weeks with some surprises with my co-hosts ahead. 

If you have any topics or questions you would like me and/or my co-hosts to tackle in a future episode, please submit them here. Thanks for tuning in!

Ruby & Rails Community in Pittsburgh, PA

by Brittany Martin

Every week, I get an email from a junior developer requesting my thoughts on the Ruby and Rails scene in Pittsburgh, PA. As a working RoR developer/RoR mentor and a loud and proud Pittsburgher, I love to see Ruby and RoR being utilized by the community. 

With the exciting announcement of Railsconf landing in Pittsburgh in 2018, it was time to pour as much as I know about the Ruby and Rails community here into one place. 

Pittsburgh is still an enterprise programming language town. When I asked a local recruiter which languages he sees the most demand for, he quickly answered, ".NET, Java and C". It is difficult to be a junior developer in Pittsburgh but even more so if you are only comfortable with Ruby. I was fortunate that I had progressed to the intermediate level before I moved back. Ruby still has an imprint here, as you can see for the list below. 

Note: I'm absolutely sure I will miss something so please comment below or tweet at me (@BrittJMartin) with any edits you would like to make. 

Companies that Use Ruby

Companies that Use Ruby & Rails

Local Programs that Teach Ruby or Rails

Meetups for Ruby Developers

I hope you find this unofficial list helpful. Long live Ruby and Rails in Pittsburgh! I'll see you at Railsconf April 17th - 19th, 2018 (▼∀▼)