HackVT 2016

Many life changes since I last posted. Most relevant to this blog is that I left my day job as a Software Architect to be a stay-at-home dad. One might think I now have ample time to play with all sorts of new and new-to-me technologies but that would be incorrect. I’ve basically traded an 8-10 hr day for a 14-15 hr day and I’m enjoying it thoroughly!

Recently I got a 24 hour hall pass from parenting to inject myself with as much caffeine as possible and build some software as part of HackVT 2016. If you’re not familiar with the concept of hackathons the general gist is to create a working, demoable application in 24 hours. Teams are then given a short amount of time to present their work to a panel of judges and a winner is picked. Most often these events have a loose guideline around technologies, problem spaces or datasets that must be incorporated into the projects. The theme at this years HackVT was education. I’m proud to say that my team won first prize for our application – Code Shepard! I’ll give a breakdown of what it is and how it was built in a later post. The event was a great time and especially fun for me since it got me back in front of a keyboard. I ventured out of my comfort zone with some ReactJS but also got to do some devops by setting up a continuous deploy pipeline.

Watching the presentations got me thinking about what a great time it is to be a software developer. Especially for those just starting out in careers or learning at home. The amount of free services, frameworks and tools have brought the barriers to entry for getting started and launching near production level web and mobile applications basically to zero in terms of effort and cost. We as developers are also gaining access to highly sophisticated pieces of hardware and software a la TensorFlow, Alexa, AWS (all of it) and Heroku to name only very few. Witnessing young developers use these technologies was exciting to see. Even considering the pace at which our industry moves, It feels like we’re in a golden age of software development.

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