Hackathon – Programming Take-aways

The Lavu hackathon last weekend was a great learning experience for me. Here is a list of my personal take-aways from the event that I thought I would share:

  • I code slow at work. Our code base is huge and complex and written by multiple people. It takes a lot of thought and planning to make sure you write something correctly. Starting a project completely from scratch where its entire existence is directly in front of you allows you to write code extremely quickly, and that is exciting.
  • I rely on a lot of motor memory and tools. I borrowed a laptop for the event and had a fresh install of Visual Studio 2013 Community Edition (which just came out for free) on it. Everything was at the defaults with no plugins. At work I have Resharper, short cuts, other tools and plugins and four years of customizing my setup. I have no idea how it is setup. One thing I need to do is start from a fresh install and set things up exactly how I like them and record all that so I can duplicate it when needed. In the future I probably need to bring a full keyboard, Home/End/Del are too critical for me to try and locate a smaller key in a different spot.
  • I exercise regularly and eat much better than I did in college. My body has a rough time handling not moving, programming all weekend and drinking liters of sugar and coke, not sure how I lived off of that for so long, but it is hard to do now. In the future I still need to make sure I take a break and limit the sugar intake.
  • I’ve started plenty of projects before and worked on them for a bit, gotten bored and abandoned them. Having a deadline with a demo is a huge motivation for completing something. I need to find a way to work this into personal projects.
  • I spent too much time making things perfect at the beginning. The first item I started on was my connection screen that would work and perform exactly how I would envision it as a full product. I never demoed this screen, no one ever saw it and there was no reason not to hard code all that information into my system. I need to really focus on what the minimum viable program is an
  • .Net is not what people want to use to build minimum viable products at a Hackathon or startup weekend. People want web utilities, apps and sites, so I really need to be comfortable using JavaScript and PHP or perhaps deploying an app to Azure. Need to research this more.

Hopefully I will have a chance to try again in the future and we get to see more events like this in Albuquerque.