HS Day 4: First Day of School

Hacker School is going to be an amazing experience.

Woke up this morning around 8am, 30 minutes before my alarm was set to go off due to the excitement of the approaching beginning of Hacker School. Still hadn’t bought soap/shampoo or a toothbrush, but I showered with hotel soap and scrubbed my teeth with a washcloth. Gotta do what I gotta do – I was hoping to be a little fresher-smelling for my first day but not being able to find a store with toiletries (I tried two different ones yesterday and neither of them had shampoo) put a damper on that.

It was drizzling rain in Brooklyn but I disregarded it.

Took the A into Manhattan and got off at 4th Ave, which was a bit farther north than I took the train to the other day. It was pouring rain when I emerged from the subway. I ducked under awnings until I found my way to an Ace Hardware that happened to sell umbrellas. So I own an umbrella now – I somehow feel more grown up.

Walked down to the Hacker School location and realized I was an hour early. I had intended to arrive early so I could grab breakfast, but the rain distracted me and I ended up trying to get in at 9:30 to no avail. So I wandered around and found a nearby cafe to eat breakfast at – egg ham and cheese on a bagel – which seems to be my breakfast of choice in NY. Got thirsty and grabbed what I thought was an orange juice from the counter but I swear it was actually Tang. But with pulp. It ended up giving me a bit of a stomachache. Tried to watch some Twitch.tv SC2 but the connection was bad. Still, I was in high spirits for the first day of school.

Walked back to the Varick st. offices and was waved in by Nick and Alison. Turns out they were serving breakfast for the first day, but oh well.  Mingled with the crowd – Met some super cool people, like Muhaiman from Houston, who is working on C and ASM; Rob, who started coding recently and mostly in VBS (I might have this name wrong); Joy, who flew in from Hong Kong last night, and Ian, who has been working for Web Hosting services and really doesn’t like it since it’s not actual programming. Very interesting spectrum of skills and programming experience, but it was awesome to basically be able to walk around and speak programming with everyone there – we all assumed each of the rest was well versed in computers, which made talking “programmer” really easy and fun. (I’m not speaking badly of people who aren’t programmers, just saying that I don’t get to hang out with a large group of people who are in my same field very often).

The place was packed – there are 70 students attending this batch, which is nearly double the last batch (40) and 10x the original (6). It’s growing fast but it’s still a great size, since I’ll be able to find people with skills I want to learn from, and at least be familiar with everyone by the end of three months. For those interested, we’re the 7th batch, called “Summer 2013”.

We listened to some inspirational speeches by Nick and David. I snapped a photo right beforehand; we were all still a bit soggy from the rain outside:

About to start!

About to start!

The talks lasted a bit, and mainly went over the Hacker School social rules, and what to expect during our time here (getting a lot better at programming). From there, we  broke off into groups of 6 – mostly named for dead programmers (I’m in “Ritchie”, the inventor of C), whom we’ll be meeting with every morning to basically have an agile standup meeting, where we talk about what we’ve been working on and what we want to learn.

Stayed afterward a bit to chat with Lauren and Alex about Soylent and Quantified Self. Then started in on my very first Hacker School project: My grandfather’s airline database!

Codng tiem!

Codng tiem at Hacker School!

Basically, my granddad has logged all 3996 flights he has taken since 1936. (The first flight was a TWA airline DC3 from Kansas City to Wichita). I’ve put all of this data into a relational database (MySQL/PHP and Javascript). Today I added 6 new ways to look at the data to the site. This wasn’t really a stretch for me since I know all of those languages, but it was a good way to ease in to Hacker School and my granddad will be happy that I got his feature requests implemented. I would post a link, but I wrote it a while ago and I’m not entirely convinced that it’s Hack-Resistant, so, security through obscurity.

Tomorrow I hope to pair program with some people and re-write my LU Finances app using React.

A Chipotle dinner was provided by the facilitators – every Monday from 6:30 to 8:30 the whole school eats together.  Chatted with Muhaiman, Joy, Jimmy, and a few others while nomming on burritos.

Took the A to Jay/MetroTech, and called an Uber to get to a Target store, to pick up shampoo, toothpaste, etc. Also bought an SD card for my raspberry pi, which I didn’t need to do in hindsight since I’ll get my old one back this weekend. Ah well, maybe I’ll put one in my computer and use it as another hard drive.

Took a train home, watched some StarCraft, wrote this blog post, and I’m about to go to bed! I have a math assignment from school hanging over my head… hopefully I can get that done in an hour or two tomorrow so I can stop worrying about it. Once I graduate from college I’ll pretty much have no responsibilities for three months.

From NYC,



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