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The nerdiest New Year’s week - exported from Medium

10 kilos of pasta, 500€ worth of booze, 1.000 square meters, a fireplace and a 3.4kg cheese-wheel of Brie. Oh, and programmers-developers-nerds all over the place. That is the frame of the first few days of the year 2014 I spent in a very remote place, somewhere in France.

Faster Than Light and sequoias burning

As soon as we took my car to head South, laptops popped-up on the backseat, emitting a sweet and familiar 8-bits music from the indie game Faster Than Light, a space-opera in which you pilot your ship through beacons and sectors to defeat your enemies. Extremely addictive.

  • dude, you should power up your shields.\
  • nah, gonna TP in his med-bay, need the power.\
  • duh, but without a mantis before sector 7 you’re dead anyway.

Electro was the music of choice for the trip, as we quickly vetoed Paul’s speedcore-something-with-BPM-in-the-title. For the whole week, the house resonated with this music and Faster Than Light’s, as well as Pink Floyd’s everlasting instrumental pieces.

Well, except for the two nights were our team of five was joined by two dozens of people who came to celebrate New Year’s Eve by listening to party-music and drinking champagne.

One of the things I enjoy the most while being with these guys, it is that I feel we all have certain needs and desires that many could consider… well, strange, or borderline socially-awkward. Thus we all agreed that four people around a chimney with an old scotch is a better night than a huge bunch of drunks celebrating with loud music. Countless logs and bottles later, that was a good decision.

But the best part is that no one from our anti-party team felt neither guilty nor sad to be in a small group just sitting around and chatting.

GoPro time-lapses and genetic algorithms coding

With hackers wandering around the house, everything is a pretext to experiment weird ideas. For example, time-lapses videos are a thing. Baking your own pizzas too. But making a time-lapse of the cooking of a pizza? We had to try. Though in the end, we were not convinced the story was flying.

During the first days, as many people were in the house, we all had different rhythms. Some went hangover-jogging in the morning, others tried to win every FTL achievement possible. Some ate their plate of pasta at 11am, others at 4pm. Croissants and butter, coffee, or Leffe for breakfast. Reading a book in a sleeping bag outside or playing chess. A matter of choice and taste. Still, the common denominator was the “apéro”, i.e. the time of the day were cheese is taken out the fridge and where the number of beers popped open per minute is the highest.

for(;;) {wake up — code — drink — go to bed}

Then people left. It was January 1st, 2014. One by one, they said thank you and departed. Luckily, the last five men standing had supplies, though nutritionally limited.

But we made it. Thanks to the internets and to our laptops.

Despite the fact that we were sitting in the same room, we had to set up an IRC channel to chat together. That may sound autistic, but it was actually useful to share a couple of links. Yeah, but that was tooautistic. Even us knew it, so it didn’t last.

We sat around the fireplace literally for days. Breaks were taken to cook a batch of pasta, take an occasional shower, and smoke cigarettes (I smoked approximately 160 of them in 4 days. Much cancer). Paul and Nicolas learnt Rust, Raphael discovered FTL, Clement coped with machine learning, and I struggled with JS libraries and JSON files. We barely left the house, except for a trip to the nearest town to get fresh bread, packs of cigarettes and a nice selection of beers.

When a ray of sunlight pierced through the window and expanded on the floor, slowly moving and growing bigger as minutes passed, we realised after some time that we all slowly moved our chairs away from it, to stay in the shadow. To avoid reflections on the screens, yes of course. No, we are not trolls turning into stone when in contact with day light.

“What on Earth were you doing there?”people asked me, curious, suspicious, and a bit judgmental at the same time.

They just don’t get that it’s simply about passion. A passion wrongfully perceived by the mainstream. Smart is the new sexy, still smart can be the contrary of fancy.

Much fabulous.