Getting Ready for a Hackathon

Three or four times a year I take part in hackathons for various reasons such as networking, learning new technical skills and getting new ideas on things to work on. Every time I go to a hackathon I have a list of things that I do to get ready and I thought I’d share them with you today.

Personal Checklist:

  • Water
  • Clothes (single day/multiple days)
  • Sleeping Bag/Pillow (if overnight)
  • Advil/Tylenol
  • Deodorant
  • Toothbrush and Toothpaste
  • Business Cards

Hardware Checklist:

  • Laptop and Charger
  • Phone and Charger
  • Projector Adapter
  • Headphones
  • Pens/Pencils and Paper
  • Keyboard and Mouse

Software Checklist:

  • Technical Stack (VM’s, local machine, favourite programming language)
  • Github Repository
  • Domain Name (or at least a registrar you’re familiar with)
  • Server (Heroku/Webfaction)
  • Any SDK’s or Frameworks installed
  • Agreed upon standard tools (IRC, Editor, Trello, etc…)

Idea Checklist:

  • Basic Idea
  • Knowledge of any needed APIs
  • Checklist of Features

I’ve shown up with just a laptop and a charger before and still placed relatively high. Planning before hand just gives you that little extra advantage over the other people there. What tools/things do you bring to a hackathon?

Why I Became a Programmer

When I was in grade 9 I wanted to be a lawyer. I didn’t really know what that entailed and I had no idea how many more years of schooling I’d have to complete to realize my dream. In grade 10 I took my first law class and absolutely hated my teacher. From that moment on I knew I would never become a lawyer. I dropped out of law class and took computer science and fell in love. Over the years I’ve learnt more and more and I thought I’d take a few minutes to talk about “Why I Became a Programmer”.

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Creating your first Blog

Starting a blog is an exciting time. Ideas for potential themes, posts and frameworks running through your head. If you’re a technical user you’ll already have bought your domain name, forwarded it to your hosting provider and started creating your own theme. If you’re like most people though you probably don’t have the faintest idea on how to get started. Hopefully after reading this post you’ll have a better idea on how to create your first blog.
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Write Code as if People Will Read It

“Oh I’ll just write this little script to do. Nobody will ever see it”. I have heard many programmers say that exact sentence. And inevitably someone at some point will see the hacked together script that you never meant for public consumption.

I want to propose a challenge to everyone. Write code as if everyone in the world will see it. Here are a few things you can do to complete this challenge. Continue reading Write Code as if People Will Read It

DjangoCon 2011 – Deployment, Daemons and Datacenters

Following a great talk on Security in Django we now have “Deployment, Daemons and Datacenters” by Andrew Godwin. This talk will go into the deployment strategies at

A tour through the systems that power, the Python hosting platform, from the array of daemons powering the system, to how redundancy is set up, and also covering general best practices for hosting Django sites yourself.

Updates Below:
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DjangoCon 2011 – Secrets of PostgreSQL Performance

After a slightly dry but informative talk from Russell Keith-Magee on the current state of the Django Software Foundation (which I forgot to live-blog) I’m back with the next talk of the night by Frank Wiles

PostgreSQL is effectively the default RDBMS for Django. Learn the dark arts of optimizing this powerful database to be blazingly fast on your own hardware or in the cloud.

You can view the slides at

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DjangoCon 2011 – Testing: The Developer Strikes Back

Next up is “Testing: The Developer Strikes Back” by Sandy

“Code not tested is broken by design” – Jacob Kaplan-Moss Every programming project has unique testing needs. It’s not always easy to understand what those needs are, or how to write tests that satisfy them. One of our goals as developers is to write tests that minimize failures in production that can cost our companies time, money, resources, and in many cases, hours of sleep!

You can view Sandy’s talks at

Updates below:
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