Localhost #11: Aditya Mukerjee on cloning Git in Go

Rachel vincent circle Rachel Vincent

RSVPs for our next Localhost talk are now open! Localhost is a series of monthly, NYC-based, free, public technical talks from members of the Recurse Center community.

On June 26th from 7:00 to 9:00 pm, RC alum Aditya Mukerjee will be giving a talk about the Gitgo project and how it can make Git a practical choice for content distribution, distributed build systems, establishing consensus, and more. The talk will be hosted at AppNexus, our Localhost partner through the rest of 2018.

You can RSVP, read the abstract, and find more details about the venue and schedule on the talk’s RSVP page.

Talk format

Localhost talks are 30-minutes long, and are followed by a dedicated Q&A session. There will be a two-minute break after the talk for folks who wish to leave. There are a few reasons we run talks this way:

  • We’ve found that having questions during talks can often derail the speaker.
  • Having a break in between a talk and Q&A keeps the talk time–boxed and allows folks to leave if they wish.
  • Having a set time for questions leads to more equal audience participation and better discussions.

Unlike most RC events, Localhost talks are open to the public. We set aside a fixed number of seats for folks who aren’t members of our community at every talk. It’s been great meeting so many new folks at our Localhost talks!

We know that attending a batch of RC is a big commitment, and hope that Localhost talks are a way for people to get a taste of what the RC community is like (and maybe even apply for a batch afterwards!). If you RSVP, please read about our social rules before the event.

We’ll open RSVPs and post details for future talks on our Localhost page and here on our blog. Follow us here and on Twitter for updates on when RSVPs open.

All guests of Recurse Center events are required to abide by our code of conduct.

RC is moving

Rachel vincent circle Rachel Vincent

We’ve signed a 10-year lease on a new space at 397 Bridge Street in Downtown Brooklyn. We’ll be moving there in late summer.

Our new space

RC is an unusual business, and that’s reflected in what we need in a space. We weren’t just looking for an office for RC employees: our space is primarily a community hub, both for people currently attending our retreat and our alums. Before we started our search, we came up with hard requirements for any new space.

First, it had to be highly accessible to our alums and future Recursers. It’s important to us to be in a location where alums can drop in on their way to or from work to program after hours or attend an event. Any space we rented had to be accessible to current Recursers 24/7, and close to public transportation. 397 Bridge will have a similar entry system to our current space, is within a few blocks of 11 subway lines (including several ADA accessible subway stations), and is ADA compliant.

It’s also essential our space is comfortable for all Recursers to use and work in. That meant having good natural light for folks working at their computers all day, heating and air conditioning operable 24/7, having gender neutral restrooms, space for a lactation room, and more dedicated rooms to take phone calls.

We also wanted a lease of five or more years. The lease on our current space was also for five years, and it went by quickly — we didn’t want to move RC into a new space just to have to move again a few years later.

Finally, we wanted to move into a larger space that was still affordable. This meant we had to move out of SoHo! Committing to a 10-year lease means that we needed to find a space we could imagine growing into. Our current space is 5,500 square feet, and at times it feels tight. The space at 397 Bridge includes two adjacent floors, and is 10,000 square feet.

Quiet work and spontaneous discussions are both integral parts of RC. Having two floors will allow us to simultaneously support folks who are working quietly and folks who are collaborating.

People working at RC

Though we know this will probably change over the course of the next decade, our current plan is to use one floor as a social space: it will have a kitchen, dining area, presentations area, our computing cluster, a living computer history museum, several meeting rooms, and some desks for pairing. Conversations and pair programming will be encouraged. We’ll also use this space for first day welcome talks, job fairs, end of batch celebrations, and game nights.

The other floor will be a quieter working space: it will have two phone booths, a library, and a few meeting rooms, but will mainly be open with lots of desks, like the main area of our current space in SoHo.

More space will mean that alums will feel more comfortable knowing there’s a desk for them when they stop by during alumni hours to work. Having two floors also means we’ll be able to host social events without disrupting folks who’d like to program, and at hours that makes them more accessible to parents and folks with family obligations in the evenings. We’ll have more opportunities to open RC for technical talks and daytime events.

Finding a space that fit the bill wasn’t straightforward: we saw over twenty places in Brooklyn and Manhattan before we found 397 Bridge Street. We’re excited that it ticks all the boxes on our requirements and our nice to haves, like being near inexpensive food options, hardware/electronic stores, banks, and parks, and being closer to neighborhoods that are more affordable for Recursers to live in.

Saying goodbye to SoHo

We often describe RC as an ecosystem, because so many important aspects of it have evolved over time as the result of our community’s ideas and efforts.

Our current space, 455 Broadway, was RC’s first long-term space. Over the past five years, the hundreds of Recursers who spent time here made it a home: they decorated the space with art, created a programmable room, and brought in more hardware than we could accommodate. You don’t need to spend very long in our current space to see the many ways Recursers have helped shape its use, and how its contours in turn help create important parts of the RC experience.

Library at RC

Our library, with mural by Monica Toth

Moving presents a subtle but significant challenge for RC because it means wiping away all that history and starting fresh. We’ll be documenting our usage of 455 Broadway over the next few months, and will bring as much of what makes this space great along with us.

Ultimately, RC is constantly being defined and redefined by Recursers themselves. When looking ahead to the next 10 years of potential challenges in defining our new space, we like to remember the words of Jane Jacobs:

Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody.

We think this is true of RC, too. It will take work and time to make a home of 397 Bridge: part of the reason we wanted to make a 10-year commitment to a new space is that we understand that it takes time to grow into one. We’re confident that with the help of our alums and future Recursers over the next decade, 397 Bridge will become an even more wonderful version of RC.

Localhost #10: Mindy Preston on library operating systems

Rachel vincent circle Rachel Vincent

RSVPs for our next Localhost talk are now open! Localhost is a series of monthly, NYC-based, free, public technical talks from members of the Recurse Center community.

Our speaker is Mindy Preston, an RC alum who will be giving a talk about how library operating systems allow application programmers to approach operating systems programming in a way that’s comprehensible, documentable, testable, and hackable with everyday tools on May 15th from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm at AppNexus.

You can RSVP, read the abstract, and find more details about the venue and schedule on the talk’s RSVP page.

A new partnership with AppNexus

Mindy’s talk will be the first of many hosted at AppNexus, an internet technology company that powers the real-time sale and purchase of digital advertising. We’re grateful to AppNexus for agreeing to host the rest of our 2018 Localhost events in their space!

In addition to being one of our recruiting partners, AppNexus has adopted some of RC’s social norms, including our social rules. Later this spring we’ll be co-writing a blog post with them about building good engineering environments, and our partnership.

Talk format

Localhost talks are 30-minutes long, and are followed by a dedicated Q&A session. There will be a two-minute break after the talk for folks who wish to leave. There are a few reasons we run talks this way:

  • We’ve found that having questions during talks can often derail the speaker.
  • Having a break in between a talk and Q&A keeps the talk time–boxed and allows folks to leave if they wish.
  • Having a set time for questions leads to more equal audience participation and better discussions.

Unlike most RC events, Localhost talks are open to the public. We set aside a fixed number of seats for folks who aren’t members of our community at every talk. It’s been great meeting so many new folks at our Localhost talks!

We know that attending a batch of RC is a big commitment, and hope that Localhost talks are a way for people to get a taste of what the RC community is like (and maybe even apply for a batch afterwards!). If you RSVP, please read about our social rules before the event.

We’ll open RSVPs and post details for future talks on our Localhost page and here on our blog. Follow us here and on Twitter for updates on when RSVPs open.

All guests of Recurse Center events are required to abide by our code of conduct.

Living Room: Making RC programmable

David albert circle David Albert

For the last three months, Jonathan Dahan, an RC alum from our Summer 2, 2014 batch, has been back at RC building Living Room, a system to make RC physically programmable. Living Room is installed in Lovelace (a room at RC) and is made up of a projector, some cameras, and a database. It can recognize physical objects and can project onto the wall in response to what it sees. Living Room is inspired by Realtalk (a computing system being built at Dynamicland, a genuinely different and exciting community center in Oakland), Natural Language Datalog, and Linda.

We’re supporting Jonathan’s work because we think Living Room will make RC a richer experience for Recursers and alumni: a physically programmable RC will make it easier to see what projects other Recursers are working on, and will make it more likely that projects persist from one batch to the next. We want to give Recursers more control and ownership of RC’s physical infrastructure, and supporting Jonathan’s work is a great way to do that.

Katherine Ye (S’13) started a research blog where she, Jonathan, and other Recursers working on the project are keeping their notes. We’re planning on having the system running by Never Graduate Week, our annual alumni week, in May.

How it works

The system consists of a central Datalog-style database that stores facts about the world, and independent processes that can query the database and add facts of their own. There’s a projector that draws pictures in the room, and cameras that can see what’s going on. Everything drawn on the projector is computed each frame from the facts in the database. The database is accessible over the network, so processes can run anywhere.

The project is in the early stages, but it runs. It’s also surprisingly performant. In January, Jonathan and Alex Warth (m1’18) were able to project video from a webcam in real time by having one process put each frame into the database, and another read the frames out and draw them.

How to get involved

If you’re a member of the RC community, stop by any Thursday or Friday before May 18th to pair with Jonathan.

If you’re not yet a part of the RC community, you can still follow the development on GitHub, follow the research blog, and join in the State of the Room video chats weekly at 12:30 pm EDT on Fridays. All the code is open source so you can play, learn, and make your own.

If you’re interested in joining a friendly, welcoming community of people working on becoming better programmers, consider applying to RC. You can join us for a six- or 12-week retreat, or try one of our new one-week mini retreats.

Join RC and help grow a new kind of business and community

James j porter circle James J. Porter

Update: As of June 19th, 2018 we’re no longer hiring for this role.

We’re hiring a Career Facilitator to help run our recruiting business. This involves helping people find fulfilling jobs, establishing and nurturing recruiting relationships with partner companies, and helping strengthen and grow all aspects of our business. The Recurse Center is an educational community and a recruiting agency, and while the primary focus of this role is on the latter, we’re hiring someone to think about and collaborate on improving both.

Read on to learn more about RC, what this role involves, the good and bad parts of working here, and our hiring process.

About the Recurse Center

RC is a radically self-directed educational retreat integrated with a recruiting agency. Experienced and new programmers come to RC from around the world to spend one, six, or twelve weeks in New York focused on getting better at programming. The primary educational value of RC is peer-to peer. We don’t have teachers or a curriculum, and Recursers work on whatever they’re most interested in, teaching and learning from each other. Afterwards, alumni remain highly involved in our community, both offline and online.

Our revenue comes from recruiting fees paid by our partner companies when they hire alumni we refer to them. This allows us to keep RC free for everyone, and to fund need-based living expense grants for people from groups traditionally underrepresented in programming. There is no expectation or requirement that people who attend the retreat want or take a new job.

About this role

We started RC in 2011, and for the first several years, we mistakenly organized our company into two divisions: education and recruiting. There were good reasons why we thought this was the right way to operate, but by late 2016, experience had changed our minds.

We now think of RC as an integrated whole. Rather than some of us working on recruiting and some on education, with the two groups mostly keeping to themselves, we now all regularly collaborate to improve all aspects of RC, and we all take a holistic view of the company when choosing what we work on and how we do it.

The primary things you should expect to do in this role include:

  • Helping Recursers with all aspects of their job searches. This includes meeting with them to learn more about their goals and backgrounds, editing their resumes and professional communications, referring and introducing them to our partner companies, helping them move through interviews and negotiate offers, and giving them feedback and moral support.
  • Supporting Recursers with their careers more generally. You’ll help them figure out their goals, make their jobs work better for them, negotiate for promotions and raises, and resolve conflicts at work.
  • Developing and maintaining relationships with our partner companies. This involves learning about their hiring needs, finding Recursers for their open roles, organizing in-person hiring events, searching for and on-boarding new companies, and soliciting and processing feedback about how RC could better meet their needs.
  • Improving our processes and strategy for doing all of the above. We don’t expect you to do this on your own or on day one (we expect anyone we hire to take some time to get up to speed). We have an existing team and process that works reasonably well, but we are always trying to improve.
  • Working on projects that improve all aspects of RC. Examples might be helping plan our annual alumni reunion week, guiding improvements to our internal software for recruiting work, or helping Recursers run events they’re excited about.

We expect your role to change over time as we learn more about how we can most effectively meet our goals, and that you’ll play a large role in figuring out what changes to make and implementing them.

Pros and cons

Every job has downsides, and this one is no exception. People usually learn about these things after they join a company, but we think it’s important to highlight them in advance:

  • Some of the work can be emotionally draining.
  • Some of the work is unglamorous (we’re a six-person company, so we all have to do some amount of mopping up, figuratively and occasionally literally).
  • You’ll sometimes need to be able to attend events, take calls or respond to emails in the evenings or during weekends. We try to avoid this, but we prioritize being responsive to our alumni, and so if an alum wants our help deciding between two offers on a Sunday evening, we’ll happily take the call.
  • The pay is probably less than you could get at many tech companies.

Thankfully, we think this job has many more good things going for it:

  • Meaningful work, with a huge effect on people’s lives. To brag briefly: We’ve lost track of the number of people who have told us we changed their lives, or that RC was one of the best things they’ve ever done.
  • A friendly and intellectual atmosphere, and a tight-knit and supportive team of coworkers.
  • A warm and welcoming office (we’re currently in SoHo but we will be moving to a new location in lower Manhattan or Brooklyn this fall).
  • A great health insurance plan, plus dental and vision insurance.
  • 15 days of vacation (we effectively have unlimited vacation, but we have a number to make sure people actually take it), a 10-day winter holiday (Dec 23 to Jan 1), and seven additional holidays. We also have five days for personal development, which you can use for anything that supports your personal and professional goals and growth.
  • 3 months of paid parental leave, which you can take within a year of having or adopting a child. In addition, you can do an optional one month of working from home after your three months of leave.
  • Complete organizational transparency: If we give you an offer, we will share all employee and founder salaries, how much cash we have, projected revenue, and the many risks we face. We will answer any questions you have about our company and prospects honestly and directly.
  • Speaking of transparency, the salary for this role is $100,000.

Finally, working at RC involves a fair amount of uncertainty and change — we’re a small business and we routinely try new things to help us meet our goals. This is either a pro or a con depending on what you value.

Who we’re looking for

  • You’re empathetic and have a high “EQ” (emotional intelligence).
  • You’re intellectually curious.
  • You’re a good writer and communicator over email, on the phone, and in person.
  • You collaborate effectively with others.
  • You’re confident enough to make decisions and get things done on your own and humble enough to accept feedback gracefully when it’s given.
  • You’re driven to make organizations you’re a part of successful.
  • You’re not overly introverted and don’t get drained by interacting with people.
  • You share our core beliefs about education and our business. Dissent and skepticism are great, but if we don’t all agree on enough of the big things we’ll never get anything done.

Lastly, there are some things you might think are required for this role but aren’t. You don’t need to have a specific degree (or any degree at all), prior experience with recruiting or programming, or an existing connection with RC to be a strong candidate. What we’ve described in this post is what we’ll be evaluating all candidates on; we don’t have any hidden requirements.

What to expect from our interview process

  • The first step is to email us with your resume or publicly accessible LinkedIn profile. Please also include short answers to the following three questions:
    • What’s the most fascinating thing you’ve learned recently? (This can be about anything and certainly does not need to be about programming, education, or recruiting.)
    • What are your career goals for the next few years? (For example, how are you looking to grow, and what type of work would you like to be doing three years from now?)
    • What’s your biggest concern about RC or this job?
  • None of these are trick questions. Instead, like every part of our process, they’re meant to help us assess how you meet the requirements listed above. Please don’t write more than a few sentences for each answer. Please do use thoughtful, conversational English and proof-read what you write.
  • We’ll respond with a quick acknowledgement that we got your email.
  • If we decide to move forward, we’ll follow up to schedule a call. This call has two purposes: We’d like to learn a bit more about you and what you’ve done, and we also want to answer whatever questions you have about RC and the role. This call can take anywhere from 30 to 90 minutes, depending in large part on how many questions you have for us.
  • If that goes well we’ll invite you to an on-site, which will be a day-long series of interviews with RC faculty and community members. We will try to make these interviews as much like the actual work of this job as possible.

After each stage we’ll let you know whether or not we’d like to continue as quickly as possible (our goal is within two business days). If you’re advancing to the next stage, we may also give you feedback about what we thought you did well and what you could improve on for the next round.

A few extra things to know

  • Most of the company gets in around 10am and leaves around 6:30pm, but some of us come in early and/or stay later.
  • We’re personally and institutionally committed to combating sexism and racism.
  • If you’re considering applying, you should spend some time reading our about page, blog, and User’s Manual to get a sense of our company and your potential coworkers.
  • This is a full-time role, and you need to be able to work on-site at our office in NYC.
  • We are happy to sponsor visas when possible. We cannot sponsor H-1Bs, since the soonest someone could start work on a new H-1B is October 2019, which is unfeasible for us (we can probably transfer existing H-1Bs).

Localhost #9: Samantha Goldstein on crafting a connected home

Rachel vincent circle Rachel Vincent

RSVPs for our next Localhost talk are now open! Localhost is a series of monthly, NYC-based, free, public technical talks from members of the Recurse Center community.

Our speaker is Samantha Goldstein, an RC alum who will be giving a talk about building custom hardware projects using microcontrollers and RFIDs on April 24th from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm at Etsy.

You can RSVP, read the abstract, and find more details about the venue and schedule on the talk’s RSVP page.

Format

Localhost talks are 30-minutes long, and are followed by a dedicated Q&A session. There will be a two-minute break after the talk for folks who wish to leave. There are a few reasons we run talks this way:

  • We’ve found that having questions during talks can often derail the speaker.
  • Having a break in between a talk and Q&A keeps the talk time–boxed and allows folks to leave if they wish.
  • Having a set time for questions leads to more equal audience participation and better discussions.

Unlike most RC events, Localhost talks are open to the public. We set aside a fixed number of seats for folks who aren’t members of our community at every talk. It’s been great meeting so many new folks at our Localhost talks!

We know that attending a batch of RC requires a large time commitment, and hope that Localhost talks are a way for people to get a taste of what the RC community is like (and maybe even apply for a batch afterwards!). If you RSVP, please read about our social rules before the event.

Future talks

Our next Localhost talk is scheduled for May 15th.

We’ll open RSVPs and post details for future talks on our Localhost page and here on our blog. Follow us here and on Twitter for updates on when RSVPs open.

All guests of Recurse Center events are required to abide by our code of conduct.

Localhost #8: Andrew Kelley on Zig, a new programming language

Rachel vincent circle Rachel Vincent

RSVPs for our next Localhost talk are now open! Localhost is a series of monthly, NYC-based, free, public technical talks from members of the Recurse Center community.

Our speaker is Andrew Kelley, an RC alum who will be giving a talk about Zig, his pragmatic, optimal, safe, and readable new programming language, on March 20th from 7:00 pm–9:00 pm.

You can RSVP, read the abstract, and find more details about the venue and schedule on the talk’s RSVP page.

Format

Localhost talks are 30-minutes long, and are followed by a dedicated Q&A session. There will be a two-minute break after the talk for folks who wish to leave. There are a few reasons we run talks this way:

  • We’ve found that having questions during talks can often derail the speaker.
  • Having a break in between a talk and Q&A keeps the talk time–boxed and allows folks to leave if they wish.
  • Having a set time for questions leads to more equal audience participation and better discussions.

Unlike most RC events, Localhost talks are open to the public. We’re setting aside a fixed number of seats for folks who aren’t members of our community at every talk. It’s been great meeting so many new folks at our Localhost talks!

We know that attending a batch of RC requires a large time commitment, and hope that Localhost talks are a way for people to get a taste of what the RC community is like (and maybe even apply for a batch afterwards!). If you RSVP, please read about our social rules before the event.

Future talks

Our next two Localhost talks are scheduled for:

  • April 24th
  • May 15th

We’ll open RSVPs and post details for future talks on our Localhost page and here on our blog. Follow us here and on Twitter for updates on when RSVPs open!

All guests of Recurse Center events are required to abide by our code of conduct.

Localhost #7: Julia Evans on building a Ruby profiler

Rachel vincent circle Rachel Vincent

RSVPs for our next Localhost talk are now open! Localhost is a series of monthly, NYC-based, free, public technical talks from members of the Recurse Center community.

Our speaker is Julia Evans, an RC alum who will be giving a talk about building a Ruby profiler on February 27th from 7:00 pm–9:00 pm at eBay.

You can RSVP, read the abstract, and find more details about the venue and schedule on the talk’s RSVP page.

Format

Localhost talks are 30-minutes long, and are followed by a dedicated Q&A session. There will be a two-minute break after the talk for folks who wish to leave. There are a few reasons we run talks this way:

  • We’ve found that having questions during talks can often derail the speaker.
  • Having a break in between a talk and Q&A keeps the talk time–boxed and allows folks to leave if they wish.
  • Having a set time for questions leads to more equal audience participation and better discussions.

Unlike most RC events, Localhost talks are open to the public. We’re setting aside a fixed number of seats for folks who aren’t members of our community at every talk. It’s been great meeting so many new folks at our Localhost talks!

We know that attending a batch of RC requires a large time commitment, and hope that Localhost talks are a way for people to get a taste of what the RC community is like (and maybe even apply for a batch afterwards!). If you RSVP, please read about our social rules before the event.

Future talks

Our next two Localhost talks are scheduled for:

  • March 20th
  • April 24th

We’ll open RSVPs and post details for future talks on our Localhost page and here on our blog. Follow us here and on Twitter for updates on when RSVPs open!

All guests of Recurse Center events are required to abide by our code of conduct.

A new way to join the RC community

This winter we held two experimental one-week mini retreats, and we’re pleased to announce that they were a success. Starting April 2nd, we will be hosting a one-week mini retreat every six weeks for the rest of 2018. You can apply for the mini retreats starting in April and May on our apply page.

Our goals

Expanding the RC community

We believe that the community is the most important part of RC, because the primary educational value of RC comes from what Recursers learn from each other. Our main goal in offering mini retreats is to expand the RC community to make it larger and more diverse. Specifically, we think that there are some amazing people who can’t or won’t come to RC for six or 12 weeks, but who nevertheless would benefit from and contribute to the RC community. The January mini retreat allowed us to welcome 16 new Recursers into our community, and we look forward to expanding the community further through future mini retreats.

Helping our alums grow as programmers

Working at RC gave me a much stronger focus on becoming a better programmer. If I was at home, I wouldn’t have felt nearly the same level of inspiration and purpose in my work. - Harry Truong, Mini 1, 2018 & F2, ’15

Another goal of mini retreats is to provide a meaningful opportunity for RC alums to continue to grow as programmers long after their first RC retreat. Some Recursers are able to attend a second or even a third full retreat, but for many it is impossible to commit to another six or 12 weeks at RC. Mini retreats give more alums the opportunity to leverage two of our most important resources: space and community.

What went well

Productivity and focus

The constraint of one week gave me the focus I needed to iterate quickly and make progress quickly without getting sucked down rabbit holes… The environment and the people were wonderful catalysts that kept me going through the week. - Divya Sasidharan, Mini 1, 2018

When planning the first mini retreat, we wondered whether a week was enough time to do significant work. We were blown away by both the quality and quantity of work that mini retreat participants were able to produce. Check out two of the amazing projects that Recursers worked on and blogged about during the Mini 1, 2018 retreat:

Bonnie eisenman 150
Bonnie Eisenman, Mini 1, 2018, New York – spent the week learning Clojure to generate jigsaw puzzles, which she then laser cut
Geoffrey litt 150
Geoffrey Litt, Mini 1, 2018, Boston – wrote a Lisp interpreter in Ruby, including adding support for tail call optimization

On-boarding mini retreat participants

I could get unblocked super quickly because the barrier to asking for help was very low and there were tons of knowledgeable people around me. I ended up learning a bunch of other cool stuff I had no intention of learning at the onset of the week by having good conversations where I felt safe saying ‘I don’t know what that is.’ - Thais Laney, Mini 1, 2018

Another problem we had to solve was how to effectively on-board new Recursers into the retreat and still leave them enough time to get programming work done during the week.

Before the retreat, we gave mini retreat attendees early access to our internal communication tools, including Zulip. We also hosted online Q&A sessions with RC faculty and alums, and had an optional welcome dinner the Sunday before the batch started. This allowed participants to meet each other and socialize before the week began, so they could focus on the retreat during the week.

In our exit survey and interviews, mini retreat participants expressed that they were able to hit the ground running, and found the RC community to be as welcoming and supportive as the participants of longer retreats.

Diversity of experience

The people and community are incredible. Everyone is extremely friendly and excited about knowledge in general. I felt like I could push myself and chat about it and if things failed no one cared and if things went well people were excited. I also got to see what problems others are working on and have a ton of new ideas to try when I get home :) - Nicolas Bertagnolli, Mini 1, 2018

The RC community gets better as it gets bigger and more diverse. Though it was a small sample size, mini retreat attendees on the whole were more likely to have significant work experience, be older, and be parents than attendees of our full and half retreats. This makes sense — it’s more difficult to take months off if you have major life commitments!

What we’ll improve

Many mini retreat participants shared that they would have benefitted from more familiarity with RC’s internal tools, more information on how to pair program, and more time after being admitted to RC to settle travel and other logistics before the retreat started. For future mini retreats we plan to open applications earlier, and we’re looking into creating resources that will help new Recursers prepare for their time here before they arrive. We’ll be evaluating how the next few mini retreats go, and will continue to make improvements to them.

Open questions

One unknown that remains is whether the mini retreat participants will stay engaged in the RC community, and become active alums in the long term. Adding new people to RC only has a sustained positive effect on our community if they continue to collaborate with other RCers, attend events, participate in technical conversations on Zulip, etc. We aren’t ready to commit to hosting mini retreats indefinitely, because we don’t yet know whether mini retreat alums will embrace RC as a lifelong learning community in the same way alums of our regular retreats have. In the fall of 2018, we’ll decide whether to continue hosting mini retreats in 2019.

We still believe that you will get more out of your RC experience if you can spend six or 12 weeks immersing yourself in code at one of our longer retreats. RC is designed to be a place where people can become dramatically better programmers, but that kind of growth can’t happen in just one week. When asked what they would change about the mini retreat experience, many participants said that they wished they could have stayed longer, and are hoping to some day come back to RC to attend a longer retreat.

If you’re interested in RC but can’t make six or 12 weeks in NYC fit into your schedule, attending a one-week mini retreat is a great opportunity to join our vibrant and diverse programming community. Apply today!

A new resource for Recursers: The Heap Community Cluster

James j porter circle James J. Porter

We’re happy to share that RC now has a cluster of four powerful servers. These machines are freely available to anyone in the RC community to use for their projects, exploration, and research, thanks to the generous sponsorship of Heap.

Our goal is for RC to be the best place to become a better programmer, and having this cluster helps us achieve this by enabling Recursers to do things that would be challenging or impossible with just a laptop.

Our initial cluster has publicly routable IP addresses, 48 cores, 64GB of RAM, 2 GPUs, and 2TB of solid state disk space.

Heap Community Cluster

Building this cluster makes RC better by giving Recursers free access to powerful computers, something we haven’t been able to do before. The resources RC has always provided — things like supportive peers and space for focused work — make it a great place to become a better programmer, but there are some kinds of projects that become much easier with access to more powerful computers than just your laptop. This cluster will make it easier for Recursers to learn and work with distributed systems, benchmarking, fuzzing, machine learning, deployment and operations, and lots more.

And like most of RC, this system will be driven by our community. Already, half a dozen Recursers have helped determine how the system should be set up, configured, and implemented. Thanks to their work, it already has automatic cross-cluster network file access and the drivers and software needed for GPU programming.

If you’re already part of the RC community, you can choose a username, add your SSH key, and start using the cluster now.

And if you’re not yet a Recurser, we encourage you to learn more about RC, and consider applying if we sound like a good fit.

We’ve enjoyed a great relationship with Heap since they became an RC recruiting partner in 2015, and dozens of Recursers have praised their thoughtfully designed interview process. We’d like to thank them for sponsoring the cluster, and we’re looking forward to seeing what Recursers build and explore with this new resource.

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