Hacker School

I currently use the local community college to keep up with programming technology. But lately I have been considering alternative methods to learning. I've been keeping an eye on the so called hacker schools that seem to be popping up. Maybe it is time to try one of these out.

I was interested in the hacker school called Hacker School mostly because it is free of charge. However you need to attend in person in New York City. Don't think I can afford to be away from work for the two and a half months it takes to complete the training.

Bloc is a school that is new to me. It has the benefit of being online. I can enroll from the comfort of my own home. However the thing costs $3500 for the two month experience. In the big scheme of things, that is not a huge amount of money. But I don't think I can talk my employer into footing the bill from Bloc hacker school. LOL.

The school with the most buzz is Code Academy. It is the worst of all worlds though. You must attend in person at the Chicago campus. It also costs $6000 to attend. Those two strikes mean that I will most likely not attend. To see a tabular comparison of the different offerings, you can check out the following page on Bloc. I would take the stats with a grain of salt. It is hosted on Bloc after all. Still a good start.

eCommerce Hack Day Challenge

Dwolla and Etsy are teaming up to put on an eCommerce Hack Day. On Hacker News, someone asked WTF is that? Apparently it is a hackathon specific to the eCommerce industry. You can attend as a developer or designer. If you choose developer, a challenge is made to you. There is a puzzle in the source code for the Hack Day web site. Solve the challenge and you get free admission.

Oh I like a challenge. I am ignoring the fact that most hackathons are free. In fact, they usually try hard to recruit you. They should really be paying you. But all that aside, let's see what this challenge is about. Here is a comment I see in the HTML:

So you want to develop at EHD? Sweet. Now all you have to do is figure out how to make this code snippet work, and you'll get a personal invitation to EHD. $.ajax({ url: '/{010010010110110101000001010010000110000101100011011010110110010101110010 in ASCII}', data: { action: 'getCode' }, success: function(response) { } });

Okay. That long sequence is binary. They want me to convert this to ASCI, eh? I check and the number of digits are a multiple of 8. Great. Those are all bytes broken up into 8 bits. I translate the binary to decimal. Then I look up the decimal values on an ASCII chart. Now I have a secret password. Now what?

Ooops. Looks like I am not a web hacker (or an eCommerce hacker). Can't give up this soon though. Appears to be some type of AJAX call using a GET. Umm I don't know AJAX. That's some API to make things update on a web page. I try creating a web page with just that code and the secret password filled in. No luck. This is harder than it seems. It is also a call to beef up my web skills fast.

One final note. I initially heard about this challenge through an article on Beta Beat. To tell the truth, I don't know who they are. But shout out to Beta Beat anyway.