On Joining the Nerd Club

I realize that that title may be very charged for some. Let me explain. I do not mean it to be derogatory in the traditional “That kid’s a nerd!” sense. In fact, it is a challenging step to become part of a larger community — the community of web developers.

Last night I began my first JavaScript developer’s class at General Assembly located in Washington, D.C. It had been a harrowing day, which I will try not to get into, but upon arriving into the bare bones campus, already my mood started to shift. I met a fellow classmate in the elevator going up. We were both nervous and excited at the same time, but we both had a very subdued approach to that nervous excitement.

After we were directed to our classroom, I noticed there were name tags lined up at each seat. At my seat was a note written in erasable marker from my recruiting agent who I had tried to connect with earlier that day but did not. She apologized in the note and briefly commented on the note I had left her, and told me to have fun and good luck. It was kind of a cool message system. In fact, General Assembly, or GA, thrives on white erasable — painted walls and desks. Along with our assigned seats were a small notebook, a pen, a sticker, and a power strip along the wall for connecting our laptop.

I look around, and a number of people are putting a bottle of beer up to their lips… Where did they get a beer?! I want one! I had passed this pony bucket of beers on the way in, but ended up finding a Stella Artois that would find its way to my lips with a smile. Already, a big relief to my manic Monday.

We went over what we all know of JavaScript and what it is or supposed to be, the history of it, and we got into teams to mind map JavaScript and anything that goes with it. I thought this was fun — I’ve always been a big proponent of mind mapping, and it’s so much easier to mind map on a big wall than on a 15" computer screen. There were a couple in my group who really weren’t familiar with what mind mapping was, so I took the marker and facilitated the session. I have an idea we’ll be mind mapping a lot more in future classes, as well as working in groups and teams, which I’m also excited about. What can be done by one person can be multiplied when working with several, and it can be fun and feel cathartic to be working and interacting with others toward a common goal.

The class title was “InstallFest” and our objectives were to install Homebrew, git, node, and npm on our Macs. Macs are highly encouraged at GA. I brought in my 2008 MacBook Pro — and no one said anything to me about how old it is, so let’s see how far I can go with my ancient aluminum brick. My sentiment is that I will buy a new computer when I’m able to be paid to have that new computer. For those who got through this quickly, our “bonus” assignment was to upgrade npm to the latest version and learn what nvm is, and try to install it. The simple definition is that nvm is a node version manager. With node always having new versions coming out, it’s good to have a version manager. I am excited to learn how to use it more.

I finished pretty early, so I looked around to see if anyone needed any help. After helping the guy sitting at my table with npm, I went out and fixed myself a free PB&J sandwich with crunch Jif and squeezable strawberry jam. It totally hit the spot!

We ended our class a little after 10pm and after leaving I felt like I was returning to the regular world again… sigh… It turns out I have something to look forward to! I actually am pretty excited to see what we learn to build in this class. Even though we have a syllabus that tells us what we’ll be doing, the doing of it I think will be pretty cool. Can’t wait.