Let’s F-ing Do This: Programming Bootcamp and Products I’d Like To Build

General Assembly logoStarting Sunday, I’m taking a programming bootcamp.

The pre-work has been fun. It’s like learning to ride a motorcycle when you’ve ridden a bicycle your whole life and all the cool kids are on their Triumph Bonnevilles (which I’d like to buy if I can get over this nagging fear).


  • General Assembly Web Development Immersive: a 12-week program run by the awesome GA team
  • The purpose is to prepare students for entry-level web developer jobs
  • I’m guessing there will be 20-30 students from a variety of backgrounds
  • Topics covered: Ruby on Rails (primary), HTML5, CSS3, Javascript, AJAX, Github, databases, testing & debugging, external APIs, some CS theory


“Functional” programming (not “functional programming”) has been a goal since childhood.

I don’t expect to become a badass developer (impossible without many years of practice and mentorship), but instead to:

  • Better understand and lead software engineering teams
  • Prototype my own ideas
  • Continue my commitment to learning. Programming’s attention to detail and analytical rigor will definitely stretch me

It’s a return to childhood. I read HTML and Javascript books for fun in 6th grade. That’s probably why I didn’t get a girlfriend until, like, 4 years later.

While I’m semi-literate in HTML/CSS/Javascript, that is practically useless, the languages change quickly, and I’ve never fully grasped a full-stack language like Rails or Python.

I’m not disciplined enough to get good by myself. Too easily distracted and frustrated.

My past bite-sized learning experiences have been fun:

  • Big Nerd Ranch Python bootcamp
  • Patient teaching by the Hyperink team, especially Mek and Matt
  • CodeAcademy courses

Random stuff I’d like to build

Note: most of them will not be close-to-accomplishable after just 12 weeks

Delete “dead accounts”

I have 500+ accounts to various websites, apps, forums, and message boards. I actively use less than 75.

All that personal data – emails, addresses, usernames, and passwords make me nervous. Further, a lot of companies make it hard – or impossible – to delete that info!

I’d love to build a service where you provide your known usernames and email addresses. It then finds ALL of the accounts that you use online, and with one click, permanently wipes them from the interwebs.

The challenge is to establish a scalable way to interact with all of these dead accounts. One possibility: establish partnerships with large sites first (eg, MySpace, Friendster, Geocities, Xanga). Provide a self-serve solution for smaller sites. We become the service that all sites use for user-friendly account/data removal.

About.me for authors

“The author’s online business card”

About.me is your online business card – a simple & pretty webpage which consolidates your online identities (eg, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn).

From Hyperink’s experience with authors, most don’t have websites, and the few who do have unattractive ones (sorry Amanda). Furthermore, all authors sell their books and share their writings through increasing (and increasingly confusing) channels.

A simple, attractive, consolidated page would help promote their brand, share their library, and establish better reader relationships.

1 Read A Day

Problem: too much free content, more of it every day, and increasingly hard to find good stuff, read it, and apply it

On a given topic (for example, “how to live forever”, or startups+founders), an email newsletter that recommends one must-read article each day, summarizes it, and offers related links. Education via email. Cliffnotes for long-form content.

Format: email newsletter, website, and mobile app. Each topic is curated by a well-known expert. Eventually a platform where qualified experts offer curated content channels. Read and watch exactly what Fred Wilson recommends for VC fundraising. What Tom Friedman recommends for foreign relations.

Tracking and gamifying Rejection Therapy

Jonathan Gurrera’s excellent post got me thinking: I need more rejection in my life. I am not taking enough risk. How great would it feel if hearing “no” didn’t sting?

Like Bruce Lee says, “a man must constantly exceed his level”. I loved his idea of creating an app to track and gamify rejections, ideally among small friend groups.

See you in class!

I will blog my experiences during the course.

If you’re learning how to program (like my good friend Jason Shen), or have taken something similar, I’d love to hear from you!

Hi! I write about habits and spirituality and random whatevers. Click here to see the daily habits that I track. Find me on Twitter @kgao.

7 thoughts on “Let’s F-ing Do This: Programming Bootcamp and Products I’d Like To Build”

  1. Hey Kevin. Just discovered your blog and first off wanted to tell you how awesome I think it is. Your posts are always interesting and entertaining. Second, I was hoping I could pick your brain a little bit regarding GA’s WDI program. I’m applying for the next session and I’d love to hear about the program from someone who’s completed it.

  2. Hey Kevin,

    how’s it going? I’m glad I stumbled upon your website about the WDI program and I was wondering if you had some time to talk about your experience in GA’s WDI and your thoughts after completing the course? I’ve been doing so much research on getting in contact with alumni who have completed the course but it is has been so difficult! (especially from the staff at GA, I haven’t received any replies or insight when attending info sessions)

    Like yourself, I know the basics of HTML/CSS and some JavaScript but I don’t feel like I’m fully grasping the concepts and able to create my own programs from all the self-teaching I’ve been doing on my own. Honestly, it just feels like I’m reading and reading and it seems like I understand concepts but when I attempt to write my own programs, I have no idea where to begin. Did you take the WDI at GA Santa Monica? That’s the one I’m going to be applying to. I had the opportunity to do so at the beginning of this year but my interview was so close to the start date that I didn’t want to rush into without speaking to alumni first. I like that GA teaches you from complete beginner (which I am) 0 to 60 whereas more sophisticated bootcamps like Hack Reactor and Dev Bootcamp expect more tech-savvy students. I’m just concerned if this will be enough for me to be able to really learn how to be a full-stack developer and use the skills I’ve learned in GA to get an entry-level job or apprenticeship/internship and continue learning?

    I’m really interested in becoming a front-end developer and focusing on design after the course. Do you think this course is a good fit for me to take?

    I hope you can give me some insight and talk about your time with GA! I appreciate you taking the time to read this and if you’re up to it, maybe we can set up a meet-up if you’re in the area. Please get back to me at your earliest convenience, thanks!


    1. Hey Kevin,

      Just like Danny V. I am looking to attend GA’s WDI and just like DV I have stumbled on it just a couple weeks before it starts (3/31/14) and am trying to talk to people who have been through it. If you would spare a minute or two it would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!


Thoughts? Questions?