IMG_0342 Tim Tyrell and other participants at Code Retreat
Tim (front right), volunteer and student at the Austin "chapter" of the Global Code Retreat at the Capital Factory, and other students.
Global Code Retreat was a day-long programming event that took place on December 14th across many cities around the world. The point was for programmers to practice their craft without worrying about the finished result.
This was achieved by pair-programming the Conway Game of Life in six iterations. Each iteration took 45 minutes, with a lunch break after the 3rd iteration. We could use any programming language we wanted. We were required to pick a different pair-programming buddy for each iteration.
With each iteration, the task was made more difficult. For example, in Round 2 we were not allowed to use loops, except for the outermost loop. But we could not use loops to, for example, compute the alive/dead status of each cell on the game board. In the third iteration we were required to write unit tests first.
I left after lunch, so I don't know what were the tasks for iterations 4-6. I left because I just didn't think it was a good use of my time. Coming here, I didn't know that we were going to program Conway Game of Life for the whole day; I assumed we were going to work on our own project. Seeing how I have a ton of my own projects and very little time to work on them, I didn't want to spend the whole day on this. That's not to say that I didn't enjoy it. It provided the same adrenaline rush as solving coding problems in the whiteboard part of a job interview; except no job depended on this. And there was this delicious sense of something-just-within-reach at the end of each iteration: just when you thought you started making progress, the timer went off, and you had to erase all your code -- yes, erase your code! -- and start anew with another person, on a more difficult task. Very fast paced and exhilarating. But at the end of the day even some seasoned programmers tweeted that going through this lather-rinse-repeat six times was just... too much of a good thing.