Friday, March 12, 2010

Hacker Dojo



This week was my first encounter with the hacker dojo, and I was very impressed. As I entered, curious as to what I might expect I asked a simple question to the first person I saw sitting at a large desk with 5 other 20 something laptop people.

Since I am a newbie I ask the basic, what is hacker dojo?

Without another word, he answers.

"well its a community of people, its also sponsored by some larger companies, and probably in this room 6 different small companies are being run, and tonight it is hosting the android meetup and tomorrow night it will be hosting a co-founders meetup" all said without a blink, or snide arrogance, in fact the tone was welcoming and curious. As he talked to me he looked at a google calendar, events overlapping each other over 30 days straight.

That's really what I loved most about the hacker dojo. I am sure that some of these people are ninjas, in fact I met about four of them that night, humble, interested and interesting in their tone and approach. I drop 10 dollars into the "daily subscription" box.

"Oh you paid!, have a piece of pizza!" That was a welcome gift, I was very hungry and needed some nourishment. "We also bake bread every night, I think there is a fresh loaf back there we made less than an hour ago!" I sliced myself off a piece and poured myself a cup of some of coffee that made would make a Peet's pour seem like tea. After talking I bit more I found out that not only is the hacker dojo a nexus of geekery, they also do a bunch of classes "We are doing a machine learning class, a iPhone development class, a Hadoop class". I am sure that the machine learning class will probably be as much philosophy as programming.

I make my way to the android meetup, the organizer starts the meetup, a developer herself has created an application for android called GeoGad. "If you are going to Android Hackathon make sure to sign up, we want to know who is coming so we have enough projects". I am curious, how do you engage a group like this, a mix of developers or people who are just interested in Android development? "Its easy just go up to the table and talk to them."

So I did.

At first Michael Kolb is a little distant, but if you engage him he is one of the coolest people you will meet and is more than willing to talk. "Why would I write a thread pool? The AsyncTask is fully threaded and has a pool under the covers". Actually Michael's Steel Browser was just aquired by Skyfire, he is also running a company called kolbysoft, a micro business owner like a lot of people here. Michael Winter then chimes in, "I want to build a an Andoid Robot (no pun intended)". Michael Kolb responds confidently "well you can just use the USB if you dont mind rooting, but its sounds like you are a bit of a tinkerer in fact there is an instructable for truckbot". Yeah, I think he is.

Think of this night, one night of many and so much of what represents the valley that I love, the spirit of curious innovators who want to learn from each other which is so represented by this humble dojo.

I know kung fu.

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