In November 2012, I set myself the goal to program 500 hours over the next ten months, become a solid programmer and get into Hacker School. These ten months have now ended two weeks ago while I was in Scotland in a monastery. I was behind with my monthly updates so this will be the last three months in one batch and wrapping up the project. I might follow up with a post analyzing the data I gathered about my programming learning and/or a post about my learning experience in general.

How I spent my Time

I spent 65 hours programming in July, 58.5 hours in August and 6 hours in September. Overall, I ended up at 427.5 hours so I while I got close to my 500 hour goal I missed it. The three last months were very shaped by my Master’s thesis that I finally submitted at the end of August.

Virtually all of my programming time was spent using R. I have really grown to like R and I now feel that I know R better than I know Python.

My focus with R changed over time from learning the language to actually using it. By the end of August, I spent very little time learning new things. This, of course, is a natural part of the learning process and it felt really great that using R had become quite automatic. (I only partially counted my R hours working on the dissertation as the programming was often hard to differentiate from the statistical work.)

At the end of August, I also did a Show & Tell talk at the Berlin Quantified Self Meetup and spent a few hours analyzing my productivity data again with R.

Hacker School

My plan for the fall had been to go to attend Hacker School in New York. I didn’t end up getting in.

That was both unexpected and disappointing. I had applied at the beginning of August and had my first interview with Tom Ballinger. I liked Tom and felt it went well although he was in a great hurry and the scope of the interview was very limited. After some delay, I had the second interview in which I did some pair programming with Alan O’Donnell. That again went well, although he was in a hurry too and we didn’t get much farther than me explaining how the code worked. There was a delay again in getting back to me but finally I heard that I hadn’t gotten in.

I ended up feeling fairly resentful about Hacker School. I felt the application process was very hurried and superficial and they repeatedly didn’t get back to me when they said they would. Although, when I followed up with Alan he ended up giving me a proper response, suggested some projects to work on and even offered he could do code reviews if I need them. He also encouraged me to apply again for the January cohort.

Going Forward

I haven’t yet decided if I’ll take on a new programming hours target, but I’ll certainly continue programming.


Bitcoin is the most exciting thing I have come across in my life and I have increasingly dedicated my time to Bitcoin. Now, that my thesis is finished I have even more time to do so. This fall exploring bitcoin and its different aspects will be my main focus. I plan to write a long essay on bitcoin economics as well as a series of blog posts. And I’ll also spend considerable time on understanding the core protocol and getting to know more people in the bitcoin community.

Data Analysis & R

I am also going to keep working on R and data analysis. There are a few projects I plan to do. First, I want to finish the Computation for Data Analysis course on Coursera. Second, I plan to do a workshop for the Quantified Self group on using R for simple data analysis. Third, I want to do data analysis on the blockchain.

Node.js / Angular

Learning javascript and modern web development techniques has been on my mind for a while and this fall I plan to do that. I’ll go through the tutorials for Node, Angular and Backbone. Then I want to set up a website that pulls some of my personal data through APIs.


I still want to do a programming bootcamp and plan to do so in January. I’m now tending towards HackReactor, a Javascript-focused bootcamp in San Francisco, and will be applying to the program within the next two weeks. I may later also decide to reapply to Hacker School.


September Plans

August 28, 2013

In the last few weeks the things I have spent most of the last few months working on have ended. I have handed in my Master’s dissertation ten days ago, I had the last interview for Hacker School on Monday and I gave my first Quantified Self talk last Thursday.

While I still don’t have a decision from Hacker School, I have been thinking about how to spend September. I was working a lot in the last months and was very busy. This month I want to change gear, slow down, read and think. We’re going to a buddhist Monastery in Scotland for two weeks and that will be perfect for that.

But I also want to deepen my understanding in some areas and I’ve decided to focus on cryptography and read a few books in that area. I’ve settled on:

  • The Code Book: The Science of Secrecy from Ancient Egypt to Quantum Cryptography
  • Understanding Cryptography: A Textbook for Students and Practitioners

I also want to read some science fiction books and I’ve settled on William Hertling and will start with his book Avogardo Corp.

And finally I plan to read at least one book about buddhism although I haven’t made a choice for that yet.





After finally handed in my Master thesis


Ten Months of Programming – Month 7

July 22, 2013

I’m about to submit my Hacker School application for the fall 2013 cohort. This, of course, is a good reason to bring this blog up to date and report on what I have been up to in Month 7 – June. How I Spent my Time I spent a total of 57 hours programming in [...]

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Ten Months of Programming – Months 4 to 6

June 6, 2013

Just yesterday I passed the 250 hour mark which means I have completed half of my total target hours. This, of course, is a great reason to finally (!) write the update post on my last three months on the project. The last three months have been very busy. In March and April, I was [...]

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Ten Months of Programming – Months 2 & 3

March 3, 2013

Months two and three of my ten-month project to become a solid programmer have now ended. In total I have spent 121 hours programming since the start of the project which means I’m one hour ahead of schedule (Hooray!) and have completed 24.2% of the targeted 500 hours. In this post, I will discuss how [...]

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A Picture A Day – 365 Project

January 4, 2013

With the new year, I started a new project that I’m calling 365. The premise is simple: Every day I will take a picture and upload to the 365 website.  I will use my IPhone’s camera to take the picture and used Tumblr to set up a separate blog that is on a subdomain of [...]

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Ten Months of Programming – Month 1

December 1, 2012

The first month of my Ten Months of Programming has now ended. Next week, I’m heading to South East Asia to travel with my wonderful girlfriend for a while so I’ll have a month-long break from the project. What have I learned these past three weeks? How did it go? Measurements and Their Use I [...]

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Review of ‘Dreamland: Adventures in the Strange Science of Sleep’

November 20, 2012

Dreamland: Adventures in the Strange Science of Sleep is a very readable and entertaining popular science book by David K. Randall. In twelve different chapters, he ventures into a different area of sleep research ranging from sleep-walking crimes, to historical sleep patterns to taking advantage of the circadian rhythm to optimize the performance of athletes. It’s [...]

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Ten Months of Programming

November 11, 2012

Hacker School is a three-month program in New York focused on becoming a better programmer. My goal is to participate in the October 2013 batch of the school. In this post, I will outline my plan to become a solid programmer over the next ten months. I also expect that it will allow me to [...]

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