If you’re reading this blog you’re probably familiar with the Bitmaker result - students leaving with the skills, attitude, and networks they need to to bring their own ideas to life. However, getting to that point is an awful a lot of work. Just last week Bitmaker grad and [Kiwi Wearables](http://www.kiwiwearables.com) co-founder Ashley Beattie encouraged us to write 10, 000 lines of functional code in our quest to become programmers. In this post I’ll try to give a sense of what the day to day is like as we work toward such a goal.
I’m usually in the lab by 9:40 to get my free coffee and chat with classmates before lecture starts at 10AM. What to talk about? Usually the previous assignment, or perhaps an event from the industry calendar - Rails Pub Night, talks from Bitmaker alumni, HackerNest, Think Thursdays or something else.
# "As we work, one or two students from previous cohorts drift in and out, using the space to work on final projects that have become businesses in their own right."
At about 10AM the lecture begins and goes on for about two hours. Every once in a while a siren pierces the air as a detachment from nearby Fire Station 332 peels off into the city in search of flames. Lectures are also recorded as a screencast for review later.
After the lecture we’re essentially free to do we as we please. Some of us retrieve our lunches from the communal fridge, but there are enough food options nearby to keep a foodie entertained for at least a week. Provided we’ve avoided food coma we code until 2:30PM or so. From 2-6PM instructors are available to answer questions on the assignments.
At 2:30PM we have our standup meetings. A standup is a meeting format commonly used in software teams where participants discuss their issues - while standing - in order to keep the meeting short. In our own standups at Bitmaker Labs, we go over our successes and challenges from the past 24 hours with a group of students and an instructor. “Happy coding!” our instructor says, and we’re back, in front of our laptops and under our headphones.
The code is uncompromising and we deal in humbling frustrations (an equal sign here, a forgotten save there), but also in quiet victories when things work as they should. Then, onto the next problem. At times, it’s useful for me to remind myself of my own motivations - my desire for challenge, to work on problems, and to take part in the ongoing software revolution that’s changing our world.
# "Although three weeks has gone by quickly in a way it feels like we’re only beginning."
As we work, one or two students from previous cohorts drift in and out, using the space to work on final projects that have become businesses in their own right. Occasionally a shutter clicks as the Bitmaker media guy documents our progress.
As the afternoon progresses, the lab slowly empties out until about half of the original 40 of us are left at 5PM. By then the air is a little thick in the lab (but we’re moving to a new space soon!) and people are leaving for dinner. On select days of the week, a speaker from the tech community comes by to talk tech at 6PM or so.
After dinner there are much fewer of us left, and by 9PM maybe six students are left avoiding the distractions of home (bed, friends, cats) to work on our assignments. While the after-dinner group is small for now, I suspect that it will grow as things get increasingly complex and projects get started.
Over the past three weeks we’ve reviewed Ruby, HTML / CSS, and gotten our first introduction to Rails 4. With Ruby we solved traditional programming intro problems like “[making change](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Change-making_problem)” and got our first taste of object-oriented programming through an “address book” program. Now with Rails we are adding databases, HTTP requests, and styling to that mix. Although three weeks has gone by quickly in a way it feels like we’re only beginning.
By David Yip
You can follow David on Twitter: @transplantott.