99 bottles of robots: our first code retreat

Last Friday our gSchool class took a field trip to the Source for our first code retreat. If you’re not familiar with code retreats definitely check them out. There are a ton listed on Meetup and there’s one happening in Denver in December.

We were given two seemingly simple problems to work on, 99 Bottles of Beer and a moveable robot.

To make things more interesting though we worked under some constraints. The main constraint being that we had only 40 minutes to work on the problem with a pair before we’d blow away our code and start again with a new pair. In addition to the speed dating style of coding we imposed some additional limitations such as those below.

Some constraints

The most fun and productive session I had was where my pair and I combined no talking with ping pong. While awkward at first (picture all sorts of odd gesticulation) and exhausting by the end we were forced to be extremely focused and take our queues from our partner.

These retreats are a great way to work with many different people in a short period of time, which opens you up to different perspectives and ideas. My main takeaway though from this code retreat is that ‘exercising’ your code techniques is important for staying sharp and a great way to learn some new and concepts.