Ten Months of Programming – Month 8 – 10

September 30, 2013

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.

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