Kevin SmithWeb Software Engineer

Hack Reactor Week 1 in Review

Week number one at Hack Reactor is over, I had my first day off since moving to SF, and we’re back at it for week 2. The pace this first week was crazy, and I can’t believe how much material we covered in such a short amount of time. I found myself getting home most nights about 11pm this week, simply because there was so much material to digest and work out in my code.

I also finally got my bike shipped out to me, which has been so much better than taking public transportation everywhere. My ride to school in the morning is about 5 miles, and I have been able to find a route that has as few hills as possible because it’s a single speed bike. Getting some exercise in the morning really gets me brain working correctly for the day, and I’ve been much more alert since starting that routine.


After re-building our pre-course assignments, we dove head first into quite a few basic computer science lessons and how to implement them in JavaScript. We also had a guest talk from a former senior team lead  at Facebook, and I attended my first JavaScript meetup. Here is a run-down of the major topics we covered in just the first 6 days:

  • Git workflow and command line
  • JavaScript basics like functions, methods, callbacks, closures, objects and scope
  • Recursion and as an example we re-built the getElementByClassName native JS function
  • The debugger command and the process of finding errors with Chrome dev tools and the console
  • JavaScript prototype chains
  • jQuery basics – used to make a simple Twitter clone
  • JavaScript classes and shared methods with functional, functional shared, prototypal, and pseudoclassical instantiation
  • Test Driven Development with Jasmine and Mocha
  • Object Oriented Programming: isolation, modularity, loose coupling, makers, mixins, subclassing, etc.
  • JavaScript event systems
  • Data Structures: hash tables, linked lists, trees, binary trees, sets, and big O notation

Wow, that is a ton of material now that I have it all together in one place. We implemented all of these bullet points in different sprints and projects this first week. I just hope I can retain it all in the weeks to come.

We also got to see the personal project presentations of all the students in the senior class, which is 6 weeks ahead of us in the Hack Reactor course work. Some of the web apps that were presented were very impressive, and I can’t wait to start applying some of my new knowledge to a project of my own. There seemed to be a few students that tried to tackle a project that was too ambitious for the time they had to work on it, and as a result we had to sit through presentations of projects with limited or incomplete functionality. I talked with a few of the senior students and they stressed the importance of limiting the scope of your project to start, then adding more features as time permits. Seems like a good engineering code to live by, in general.

Some resources I came across this week:
Coderbyte – small JavaScript problems with timers and scoring to practice your skills. A lot of fun and a good boost when you some a problem quickly.
HTML5 Conference Slide Decks – One of the presenters at the meetup this week, Dan Lynch, has his deck here, but it looks like tons of interesting content. I want to check it out when I have more time.
Fancy.js – A mashup of underscore.js and functional.js. Love the poker-themed demo.


  1. max
    July 30, 2013

    Hey Kevin!
    I found your site searching for review of hack reactor. What was your interview experience like? Any tips/pointers?

    • Kevin Smith
      July 31, 2013

      Hey Max. Hack Reactor is really all about your ability to learn and pick up concepts quickly. Don’t worry about knowing specific things before your interviews, but I would definitely do some basic JavaScript tutorials on something like Code Academy or Treehouse. In the interviews, the instructors will be testing to see how you learn and respond to their teaching, so ask questions and don’t be afraid to say when you don’t understand something. They want you to speak up and make sure you grasp the concepts. Good luck! Hack Reactor is definitely worth it. I’ve had 10 job interviews in the last 3 days alone!

  2. Aaron
    May 31, 2014

    Hi, I just purchased the same bike as the one in the photo and i have a couple of questions.
    Is it a good bike? what kind of brakes and pedal straps do you have?

    • Kevin Smith
      June 4, 2014

      Oh nice! Yeah this is a solid commuter bike. I didn’t have a car in SF, so I was on it every day, and it held up great for me. I actually sold it to a fellow HR student before I left SF, so sadly I don’t have it anymore. I just had generic flat pedals with cages on them, so that I could ride standard shoes around the city. Not sure of the brand of brake, but it had front and rear in order to handle the massive hills in that city.

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