Big Nerd Ranch Day 1: The Journey

Jeff Boyus and I arrived today at Big Nerd Ranch in Historic Banning Mills, Georgia, for a 7 day class on beginner Objective-C and iOS programming.  After a long day flying cross-country, I'm surrounded by wilderness, only tenously connected to the internet, and excited by the promising hunt for knowledge in the coming week.

Big Nerd Ranch, as I am experiencing this week, is like a boot camp for developers.  They are in a camp-like retreat, outside of Atlanta, GA, where we have not much to do, but learn and practice our craft.  We'll have two days on Objective-C, the programming language of choice for OS X and iOS, followed by five days on learning the ins-and-outs of core development for iPhone and iPad.

Jeff was adamant that this was the best choice for training and he seems absolutely right.  Unlike on my previous out-of-town training tip with PNNL with a usual 8-hours of class then 16-hours of whatever schedule, this week promises to be a huge bang-for-the-buck.  We will get more hours of training, with less hassle, than any of the other options we found, and I can't think of a better way to immerse someone.

A big part of the magic formula is the setting's unique ability to form culture.  Maybe it's just the Lord of the Flies-like scenario, but you can't help but take on a tribal mindset when surrounded by the other students who have the same goal and no one else around.  We are a hunting party here to spear knowledge, claw all we can from its bones, and drag it back in pieces to feed our respective kin.

Very few people out to make the next instagram and more people working for companies looking to harness mobile for an internal audience.  Similar to PNNL's desire for mobile: they are facing a workforce that has adapted to mobile, found they like it, and their hunger for it in the workplace has left management looking for a way to built capabilities to make their own.  That's the appetite we have to satisfy on our return. 

Gathering around the campfire-like glow of Macbook monitors, we sharpen our spears, anticipating the chase ahead...