Halloween Randori

Last night was Halloween, which called for a celebration at Makers Academy, complete with sweets, chocolate, and pumpkin carving. Of course, we couldn’t celebrate without some form of coding, and so Enrique organised a Randori.

‘Randori’ is a term that originates from Japanese martial arts terminology, referring to a free-style practice, as opposed to something more structured. In a coding sense, a randori is where a group of people come together to solve a kata. Two people are actively working at the computer, one typing, the other helping, making small steps to solve the problem using TDD. Every two minutes there is a rotation – the typist leaves, the helper becomes the typist, and somebody comes and replaces the now vacant seat.  The problem we had to solve was a variant of the Game of Life, where the focus was on cells dying, a suitable twist given the occasion.

Initially the Makers were quite hesitant to get the game going, so we had two teachers take the first rotation. I opted to have a go after the fourth or fifth rotation, getting over my worry that I had no idea which steps to take to move the solution forward. Two minutes can seem like ten seconds when you’re coding under pressure.

The rules state that no help can be given while there are failing tests, but once all tests are passing, anyone can shout out suggestions. Josh and I spent a while trying to find out why our tests weren’t passing when everything looked fine, and once a minute and a half had gone by, Enrique couldn’t help but ‘subtly’ brush past the screen indicating a missing colon. It’s always the smallest things!

What was most fun about the randori was getting to code alongside the more experienced August cohort, as well as our teachers. We never see them coding under pressure, so it made an enjoyable change.

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