Recurse Center Week 10

Last week (the first double digit week!) was shorter because of my trip to speak at NorfolkJS, but I’ve enjoyed looking into the silent dance party app idea, detours into programming for fun, and resident Mark Dominus did some awesome talks!

Monday

I made a basic file list view in the app, so that you could (eventually) add files to your queue to stream. However, it was about this point that I realized that my proof-of-concept didn’t actually prove what I needed to (I was so excited that it worked at all, that I didn’t see that it didn’t fit my full use case). This led to more talks and research about network protocols.

Luckily, I could distract myself with the awesome talks from phellow Philadelphia (I had to, no apologies) Mark Dominus, who (fun fact!) participated in my user tests when I was doing the HCI course on Coursera. My research on streams sparked an interest in the history of Unix, and lo and behold, what did MJD give a talk on his first day of residency? Unix (and computing history)! This was in addition to his talk later that day on hash tables, which was quite good.

Tuesday

Tuesday I was browsing the library at RC (an under-sold benefit of RC is the super chill small library space filled with amazing books), reviewing the section in SICP on streams to make sure there wasn’t anything I missed in there, when I read the awesome quote at the dedication of the book.

After I read it, I literally read it aloud to my batch-mate who was also in the library at the time. It was probably a little weird, but she was cool with it! I decided that since I was doing a dry run of my talk later in the day, I’d focus on doing some FUN programming, and looked into Markov chains, pairing with someone on them, and generally learning more about what they can do beyond my dreams of silly generative text, and some funky ideas on how I could use streams and Markov chains together for some sweet programming fun.

There was also a test-run of my talk, and I got so much great feedback, more information (and different than I would have thought of) than my usual “talking to myself, record self, listen to self and revise” loop.

Wednesday

Spent the day toggling between working on the talk (mostly) and exploring Markov chains. When I was talking to Aditya about how I was starting to realize I could use [ES6] generators for the Markov chain, but oh#$* I’d have to finish that example that night to use it in my talk the next day, he suggested building a simple parser instead, and I think it’s a great example for the talk, especially when I realized that Markov chains aren’t as commonly known among programmers as I previously thought? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

The parser code is on Github within the talk, and I definitely think it’s an interesting use case for teaching generators!

Thursday

I woke up quite early to fly to Norfolk, where Linda, instigator of the visit who is an organizer of NorfolkJS as well as a bad-ass robot enthusiast, picked me up at the airport and kicked off a very nice day hanging about Norfolk before my talk (we opted for early arrival to ensure any flight snafus would hopefully get me in before the talk).

Big thanks to Linda for spearheading my visit, Travis & Balderdash for sponsoring the travel, Stanley & Grow for putting me up in their very hip apartment, the rest of the NorfolkJS organizers (Brandon and Bret), and of course, the membership of NorfolkJS for coming out to your user group 🙂

Thoughts

A pretty fantastic week. IIRC, I also got a little sick on Monday (not related at all to the two cupcakes I ate instead of lunch. Not at all), so the fact that it turned around so positively with deciding to do fun programming + a great visit to the awesome community at NorfolkJS is very cool.

Visiting NorfolkJS confirmed a suspicion: my love for regional JavaScript conferences extends to user groups as well, so if your user group has the means to bring out-of-towners and an interest in the work I do (ex. the JS frameworks book, streams, JavaScript education), I’d be happy to visit.

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