HackNY: the beginning

Warning – this post is longer than longcat

Update: 

I finally got here! It took me so long but it’s well worth the ‘pain’. So far I only went sightseeing around where I live (Palladium Hall at Union Square) and Times Square and I love the city. For the first day we just hung out at our apartment getting ready for the internships on the day after.

I got more or less lost trying to get to Lifebooker and we had a first day just learning about how did it all started, what are the main roles at each departments and setting up our environment to work (3 people started to work there with me on the same day). They’re growing blazing fast, making great revenue, and I like the chill out ambient they have at their office. Free candies/chocolates/jelly beans/M&Ms and a bunch of other nice perks, they even have a couple of small dogs walking around the office, only in Brooklyn! Not only their office setting is pretty nice but also the dev group has some talent there, Dan Langevin co-runs NYC on Rails and so far the code I’ve seen is an awesome trade between fast shipping and clean code. Heck they even have a guy, Weston, who develops Ruby on Rails in Windows. It’s amazing and super complicated the setup he has set but hell props to him for finding something that works good when Rails people pay so few attention to Windows.. I am looking forward to get hands on real projects, so far we have just taken a look at a few tickets and took one really simple one to solve as an example, hopefully in one or two weeks I’ll get familiar with the codebase so that I can start working on my own on challenging stuff.

We all went out to dinner last night and had a great time sharing experiences and meeting new people. Heck there was SO MUCH talent at the little restaurant in Little Italy we went to. Christopher Poole joined us too although I couldn’t have a chat with him as we were on different tables but we’re meeting him again soon though. We had a nice kickback at our apartment later too but unfortunately people wanted to sleep in for their internships (obviously) so we finished early. What a great group of people, really.

It’s not like everything is set already but we have an exciting prospective calendar for the 10 weeks the program lasts, featuring crazy good fellows like the Fog Creek crew and Joel Spolsky (Stack Overflow), Chad Dickerson (Etsy), and tomorrow we’ll be hanging out with Zack and Ryan from Codeacademy. On top of that there are so many events around the city so I’m expecting to attend a lot of them like Hacker Hours at Vineapple this Thursday.

Can’t be more thankful to Chris Wiggins, Evan Korth and Manya Ellenberg who run HackNY and made me meet all these amazing like-minded folks, they’re really awesome and it’s so nice of them to dedicate so much time and effort to foster the startup community among college kids, this is the 3rd edition and heck they had a huge success. Too bad I couldn’t have had them as my professors 🙁

Now, back to coding.

Original post:

After about two or three months of public (twitter and blog) forced silence about this, I’m finally proud and able to say I will be part of HackNY  during this summer! In short, it’s one of the most exciting programs for fledgling developers studying in the US or Canada. I knew I was selected for it long time ago but unfortunately we all the batch of people that is going to be part of it had to refrain from broadcasting it until told. As far as I know, this are going to be 10 weeks of pure awesomeness of both an internship in a hot startup at Silicon Alley (they couldn’t find a valley around NYC..), a series of dinners/lectures/meetings with some of the most amazing minds on the startup scene, both from the business and developer sides and also developing some personal project. The internships are well paid and on top of it we get housing right in Union Square (next to Occupy Wall St) in the center of Manhattan. I’m so excited about going to the pool we have on the basement of the apartments!

Honestly I am so thrilled about this, especially after the hassle my trip to NYC had been. I lost my passport a few weeks ago, luckily after I made all the paperwork to allow me to stay here in the US for a few more months after classes are over. The very same day I had to pick all the papers up I noticed I lost it and without a passport on hand I wouldn’t be able to board a flight. After a few calls to the consulate of Spain in LA they just told me all they could do is to give me a temporary passport to fly back to Spain, but it wouldn’t work for domestic flights and it’d even be frowned upon when I use it to return back to Spain. I couldn’t do that because of classes/exams/etc so I asked again at the International Center of UC Irvine.. to be told that I wouldn’t be able to do this and I’d have to stay until they issue me a new passport. Or I could go to Mexico City by car and try to get a new US Visa there and an I-94 card when I come back in. No fucking way.

All set I asked my professors about how could I do my finals earlier and they agreed, although one of the finals will have to be online. Last week I barely slept from Monday to Thursday (7 hours for 3 nights.. sigh) so I could finish all most of the assignments/homework I had to do for the rest of the quarter, study for the finals and therefore be able to fully focus on the startup HackNY assigned me to work with (Lifebooker!).

So I guess I had no other option than taking the Greyhound or the Amtrak, which is what I did (in fact I am writing this post at the train). It’s about 74 hours to get there from LA, with a 8 hours layover at Chicago and some minor stops along the way. After all the sleep deprivation I went through last week I slept a solid 15 hours last night (I missed the Grand Canyon) and I woke up to check out Albuquerque and Raton. We’ll get to Kansas City (MO) around 7am tomorrow so i’ll try to check it out too. It’s quite a comfy ride except the fact that I am bringing two suitcases and one of them is broken, but fortunately I don’t really have to carry them at all except when changing trains. There’s a sightseer car which has glasses all around it so you get to see the country coast to coast and take some photos which is what I’m basically doing and doing some more homework so I’ll hopefully get rid of most of it when I get to NYC. I wanted to get familiar with the codebase of Lifebooker but unfortunately wi-fi at the first train (Santa Ana to LA Union) didn’t let me access to Github.

I’m somewhere in Colorado between Trinidad and La Junta right now but I intend to post this when I get to Chicago and I get some internet. I’ll check out downtown Chicago if I find a somewhere to leave my suitcases at.