Big Nerd Review
I’m home and (mostly) rested from the Big Nerd Trip and the Big Nerd Plane Ride so it’s time for the Big Nerd Review: cocoa edition. As Ferris Bueller once said of a certain red Ferrari, “If you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up.”
The format of the class is fairly simple: the alpha-nerd who wrote probably the most recommended Cocoa book around will walk you and perhaps fewer than 20 other students through (pretty much) the entire volume. That in itself is worth the price of admission, but as Ron Popeil often says, “but wait! There’s more!” Do you want to learn the newest cocoa toy? Aaron knows you do and has slides for it (and a large supplemental handout) already prepared. We went through 3 (!) lectures on CoreData, which is not (as of the current printing) covered in his book. Aaron and several class members were also just back from a trip to WWDC, so the Mac nerd excitement over the new toys was palpable. As with his book, there was a fair amount of “type this page of code into Xcode” involved, however the tedium that might be associated with this style of learning was just not a concern for the students I asked. The quality and brevity of the examples along with the mechanics of typing that much objective-C code really did help me to get a good handle on the Cocoa way of doing things. My fingers know memory management better than I do.
Big Nerd Ranch also shines beyond the classroom. The accommodations, food, and service were all amazing. “Y’all want dessert. Right?” The whole BNR experience is clearly geared toward making the student as comfortable as possible so that you can spend your time learning. As was mentioned in an earlier posting on this blog: it’s not just the information, BNR provides the all-inclusive nerd vacation experience. With the cost and the content involved, the nerds-in-training who consider a class like this tend toward a certain very narrow kind of self-selection. Those who spend this kind of money on a week away from home/work to learn a programming technology are seriously Cocoa-inclined to begin with and, as with all things mac-geek, you’ll end up meeting a number of people who are scary-cool and wicked-smart. …and there was a fair amount of movie watching, poker playing, network gaming (and some creative hacking, too) going on after hours. Nerd fuel?! There was Mountain Dew, Diet Coke, real southern sweet-tea, lemonade, and mineral water in the fridge, plenty of candy, cookies, and fruit too.
As soon as you can, I recommend that you take some time off and head on over to Atlanta (or Europe!) to hang out with the Big Nerds. If you're reading this blog, there's a technology being taught that you'll want to learn. Who knows? Maybe you can convince your boss to pay for it. I myself am tempted to sign up for another class that’s happening in a couple of weeks: the first (?) OpenGL boot camp!
The last of my notes are in the extended entry. Take a look at my earlier entries for more info.