A great time was had by all!

Seriously, the Scala workshop was very cool. The actor model was new to almost all attendants and needed some explaining. Looking back, I should have explained a bit more about how the this works. From what I saw, nobody stumbled upon the Scala syntax that much. The people that were there were all experienced programmers, thus may not have needed much hand-holding regarding syntax.

Martin Provencher, organizer of Montreal.rb, and his teammate, Olivier Melcher, wrote an actor-based histogram producing word counter that counted which programming languages were most spoken of. In their tests, Ruby and PHP were the most frequent ones.

The SQL Workshop was more difficult for all. The first exercise was much harder than I anticipated. The first question was:

Calculate the top 5 shows, ordered by social impressions, for the period between 2011-10-17 and 2011-10-23. Return an answer under 3 seconds.

First, people had to get familiar with the data model. I asked people to get the data in under 3 seconds, thus was more of an optimization problem, rather than just getting the correct query. I allowed about 40 minutes for this exercise, and most of the time was used in getting a correct query. Nobody had time to get to the optimization part. Looking back, I’d make this question be two parts: first write the query, then optimize it, or provide the correct query and let people optimize it.

I hope everybody learned a lot by coming to the hackaton.

A big “Thank You” to the event’s sponsors for the beer and pizza:

Notes for Hackaton organizers

If you can, provide a starter application or package. All attendees were happy they could get up and running with little to no fuss. It saved a lot of time because they didn’t have to resolve dependency nightmares.

Move around the room, look over everybody’s shoulders. Without fail, when I walked up to a team, they’d have a question for me.

Speaking of teams, it’s useful for people to work in teams. I’d say this harkens back to Pair Programming with a Novice / Novice pair. Two novices working together can get further along than a single novice. One of the members will have an insight that the other member didn’t have, and both can move forward from there.


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I am François Beausoleil, a Ruby on Rails and Scala developer. During the day, I work on Seevibes, a platform to measure social interactions related to TV shows. At night, I am interested many things. Read my biography.

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