OpenGL at the Big Nerd Ranch
Having been greatly impressed with my first experience, I threatened to sign up for the OpenGL class at the Big Nerd Ranch in my review of their fabulous Cocoa Bootcamp. Well, as most of you already know, I did. I went. I was blown away. Again. Just like last time, the service was great, the accommodations beautiful, etc. You can read my earlier review (and those of many others) to understand the extent to which the Big Nerd Ranch represents the total nerd camp experience. What I hope to share with you today is information that you can really only obtain from a handful of people: those of us who have attended the first Big Nerd Ranch OpenGL boot camp having previously attended other Big Nerd Ranch classes.
It’s enormously difficult for an institution to handle subjects broad and deep equally well. A university may offer a broad undergraduate physics degree with genuinely interested professors teaching survey courses but is unlikely to have much to offer in the way of (say) the physics of the superfluidity of supercooled liquid helium. Big Nerd Ranch handles a very specialized subject like OpenGL equally as well as they handle the broader path to Cocoa programming. The BNR formula works in a variety of situations. Listening to short lectures on a given subtopic then typing like mad barely understanding the load of C code your reproducing actually causes a lot to sink in. I’m surprised. Now I read through the OpenGL “Red Book,” which seemed like so much Greek to me when I first opened it, and I understand it perhaps as well as I do Heinlein.
Rocco Bowling, our esteemed instructor, noted nervously that I didn’t blog about my OpenGL boot camp experience during the camp in stark contrast to my almost daily blogging habit during the Cocoa boot camp. I have a few reasons for this and I hope that Rocco can forgive me for being so quiet prior to today. First, I wanted to get more sleep than I did at the Cocoa camp. Having zero experience in OpenGL, the subject was over my head and I was working hard every day to stay afloat. Second, I wanted to withhold public statement with regard to this untested class until I had experienced the whole and had a chance for this foreign material to sink in a bit. Third, I was in largest part interested to see if I could use the class material to actually do something. I suspect that some of you find yourselves in the process of deciding whether to spend a sizable amount of money to send yourself and perhaps an employee or two for some very specialized training. If I were in that position, I would be wondering whether I could expect immediate results.
How about this for ROI?
With the Cocoa and OpenGL boot camps under my belt, I was able to reverse-engineer, design and code in probably 90 (+-) hours:
an XML parser and data model (as an embeddable framework) for the Nike+ (an awesome product, by the way).
a number of little test applications.
a (it’s getting pretty, huh?) data visualization in OpenGL.
I’m happy to report that I can produce results that I know would have taken me weeks or months of steady frustration to achieve with my prior Mac programming skills. I went from Python to Assembly in five weeks. How about that?
So! Thanks again to the fine folks at BNR. Perhaps you’re lucky enough to work for the large tech company where Rocco will be teaching this class soon and hopefully BNR will put the class on the calendar again soon. I know you’ll want to go.