I’m currently on a train headed back to NYC, ready to start my second week of Hacker School. I’m pretty excited to get back at it, but thought it would be fun to reflect on the past week.

What happened in week one?

I was pretty nervous as I arrived at the Hacker School space last Tuesday morning. I was so worried that I didn’t have enough experience and afraid to let that show. But my nerves were eased as I met everyone and realized what a wide range of experience is represented here. Everyone is friendly, eager to share what they’re working on, and give you feedback or help with something you’re working on.

There are a good mix of intro- and extroverts. I fit somewhere in the middle, depending on the day/weather/situation. But I’m growing a lot more comfortable and at ease as our batch has started rolling.

On the day, after breakfast there were a few talks to explain what we should expect over the next three months and a review the social rules, after which we had our first check-ins.

As many engineering teams do, each day we do a check-in with a small group. There, we share not only what we hope to do that day, but also a low and high note from the day before.

After check-ins, we get down to work. For some, that means pairing or doing a code review. For others, that simply means hunkering back down to move our projects forward.

A few highlights from week one:

  • A talk on floating points by co-creator of Julia, Stefan Karpinski. This pretty much blew my little mind, but I learned a lot.
  • Thursday presentations that included syntax highlighters, natural language code generators, and, visualization apps, to name a few.
  • I finished reading the iOS Swift Programming book and had fun experimenting with Swift in a Playground (more on that below).

This whole thing feels like a big social experiment and I love it so far. What happens when you let people focus on something they care about? Awesome things.

So what did I accomplish?

A lot of people have been asking me what I’m going to do at Hacker School, so I’ll answer that first.

In the weeks leading up to Hacker School, I thought I’d spend my time building computer science competencies and as much about Ruby as I possibly could. I’m pretty comfortable with Ruby, but I wanted to go deep with the language. I also thought itf would be fun to build an app that would help music fans learn more about the artists in their collections and what their collection might say about them.

But the night before Hacker School started, something new popped into my head. In my product and design roles so far, I’ve never had the opportunity to focus on mobile, and this might be the chance I’d been waiting for to get started. So altering course slightly, my focus at will be learning how to build iOS apps - learning Swift and Xcode.

In week one, I got my environment set up for mobile development. I started to learn to love (and hate) Xcode, and read the Swift Programming iBook. I spent a lot of time working through the code examples and experiments for Swift as I read.

When I finished the iBook, I started work a small first iOS project - a basic calculator. In my next post, I’ll share the code I wrote for the calculator and explain what I did and some of the problems I encountered.

On to Week Two!

As week two starts, I hope to make one last improvement on the Calculator project and get started on a new project where I learn about gesture recognition by creating a children’s character creator app.