Hackership Week 1

4 min read

The first week of Hackership is over and it’s been a great experience so far. Here’s what happened the first week.

Monday

Initially I had some trouble finding my way through the confusing Moritzplatz station.

Berlin Moritzplatz station
Berlin - U-Bahnhof Moritzplatz by IngolfBLN (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Eventually I managed to find the right way out and arrived at Betahaus where we started out with breakfast and quick introductions at 9. We then had about two hours of workshops about how to approach learning. Starting with brainwriting, where we wrote down the first two words that came to mind after hearing the word learning. The brainwriting session was followed by an introduction to the psychology behind learning. We were introduced to three different perspectives on learning: Behaviorism, cognitivism and constructivism. Then we had a short video session followed by an open discussion about the video and learning in general.

After lunch it was time to get started.

I joined a group which was planning a booking system in Python/Django and I quickly joined their discussion about their database schema. We found a few more people interested in database design and organized a small meeting room to do some planning. After that, I started working on fleshing out some ideas for my own project.

Tuesday

The second day started off with a presentation about deliberate practice:

Deliberate practice hackership from Ellen Koenig

After that, it was my turn to give an introduction to learning journals and my tool jou. I decided to give reveal.js a try for that. I should have prepared a little better since the most important slide didn’t show up at all. That caught me by surprise and I was lost for a moment. Also, I probably need more practice with public speaking. Anyway, the (now fixed) slides can be found here.

After lunch, I started working on the Railstutorials book. Since I already had a working Ruby environment, I just had to make sure to install rails properly. At the end of the day I found myself at the end of chapter five as I skipped a few things I already knew.

Wednesday

Compared to Tuesday, I didn’t really make a lot of progress with the tutorial. I managed to finish chapter six, though. However, there were other things happening on that day. At around 10, Christoph showed up to give us a tour of Betahaus. He is pretty much the CEO of the place, although he doesn’t really fancy that term. He started with their woodworking room and explained how Betahaus was just a group of friends originally. After that we went on to see the other parts of the space and then it was time for lunch already.

After lunch we had a Q&A about Rails and testing with one of our Hackers in residence. That really helped me to answer some basic questions about testing. I also learned how the different environments (testing, development, …) work. For example in a production environment, rails is started with the --environment production switch. For testing it’s a little bit different because rails is not really starting a new server to run the tests on. Instead, the server is mocked.

Thursday

Thursday started off with me forgetting about BetaBreakfast. Luckily, I was still on time to see the demos. The first one was Somewhere. On Somewhere you can Discover how interesting people around the world actually work. Their mission is to give people a glimpse into other people’s work and give them an idea if they want to work there. The second demo was by Makeapoint which aims to provide an alternative to text-based discussion forums. The third was by tran.sl which is a platform that aims to be a marketplace for translators.

Once BetaBreakfast was over, I started working on the tutorial again. At some point I got stuck for an hour or two because the database was acting weird. I am still not sure about the cause. Eventually I rolled back to a previous commit where it worked again. At the end of the day I made it to chapter eight of the tutorial but was bored out of my mind. See the current progress here. The book is very detailed and copying stuff over to the editor makes me feel like I’m not learning much. Which is probably true. For the next week I plan to start working on my own project. I will skim over the rest of the tutorial and see if there is anything left to learn.

Fast forward to 6 pm, it’s demo time. This is where we show off what we accomplished during the week. If I were to compare my work to the other demos, they were really interesting and I kinda feel like I didn’t learn as much as I could have. For next weeks demo I will try to share more of what I learned and focus less on what I did.

For my project I don’t want to say too much because I don’t have anything to show yet. All I can say is that it will be helping people to learn touch-typing.

I might have mixed a few things up in this weeks blog post - there was so much stuff that happened! This month is probably one of the most intense months in my life so far.


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17 Nov 2013
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