Friday, August 17, 2007

Hacks Before Code

I often find that when you are trying to solve two problems at once, you do a poor job of both. Case in point, someone just came into my office asking how they would go about getting the number of SNPs per gene from some excel file they have. I start to explain set theory and databases and you could see visible signs of mental shutdown ensue (the slacking jaw, the glazed eyes). Trying a different tactic and showing them a script as I wrote it to create a hash keyed by gene and the value being the count of SNPs from the file gave equal results.

So I am trying out Something New. I am going to push that researchers learn to program in a context that is completely separate from science, and is hopefully fun enough that they stick with it for more than a few days. Enter, a project spearheaded by _why the lucky stiff that seeks to (insert Fake Steve Jobs "voice") re-instill the child like wonder back into learning how to program.

With HacketyHack, I hope that researchers are motivated to learn aspects of programming in an entertaining environment before they have to do any real work, which of course will suck some of the fun out of the activity.

I'll be putting together lessons to augment the existing 7 exercises of HacketyHack in the coming months with real but simple bioinformatics tutorials. So download that hack-box and get coding folks!