Category Archives: Programming

Recurse Center: Day 1

Started at the Recurse Center today. Totally overwhelmed. Somehow anticipating this did not prevent it!

We had introductions in the morning, all the facilitators introduced themselves and some part of RC, we made big collaborative lists of things we’re excited about, and things we’re nervous about, and then, I don’t know, I guess we were unleashed on ourselves? That’s what it felt like for me. There are so many smart, kind people here, with all kinds of different stories, and they are already inspiring me to be better just by existing.

I spent part of the morning thinking about what I might want to work on:

  • Sidewalk stamp mapping/data munging/goodness knows what with all the geotagged photos I have of Portland sidewalk stamps (which show the contractor and the year they were put in). I want to do maps to them. I need to work on some other things before I get here, though.
  • Word science on 5 1/2 years of daily writing (!). One of the recent alums has also been writing there, so we might pair on this some Thursday (!).
  • Pebble app? I’m loving my new Pebble Time, and I keep thinking about how the apps I have could be slightly better, along with considering whether I need anything that doesn’t exist yet:
    • Pomodoro apps, for counting blocks of productive time — there’s the one I like, and the one that’s colorful and not very fault-tolerant. I want to take the best of both.
    • Something more useful for weather: do I need sunscreen? rain gear? is upcoming rain surprising? is the weather very different than it has been lately? New York weather is already throwing me for a loop. How can it be both warm and rainy in a single day? At the same time? It sounds like a fun way to delve into working with APIs (like Dark Sky!).

But also, the morning made me feel like I lost the ability to read words, and I kind of freaked out a bit.

One of the facilitators, Tom, put out a general invitation to ask him for help if we were having trouble figuring out where to go or what to work on — invitations make all the difference for me, so I walked over, we talked through what I’d previously done and what might be some bite-sized ways to get going here (little games, little command-line tools implemented in Python), and he gave me a good bundle of ideas, encouraging me to discard anything that didn’t excite me.

I spent most of the afternoon reminding myself that I do actually know how to program by doing an assortment of Python codingbat exercises. (Paper has been amazing for having an infinite whiteboard that I can carry around with me; I’m finding it helpful to puzzle through boolean pairs by making a non-pea-plant Punnett square. Someone taught me the logic-specific name for this kind of grid yesterday evening; I think it starts with C?)

I also remembered Pam’s comment about the excellence of the reading nook, and retreated to it to read titles and see if anything jumped out at me. I ended up devouring a couple sections of How Learning Works, which swiftly built on things I knew and added new information. I can see myself going back and rereading parts later.

Day ended with game night, and in a move that sort of surprised me, I stuck around and even played Settlers of Catan for the first time. (I lost horribly, but I tied with Nick, who works here, so I guess that’s not so bad.) My suspicion that RCers would be good people to try new things with: confirmed.