9 fascinating things I learned while coding up the rules of a board game

I recently decided I was going to take the rules of the board game Forbidden Island and write them up as code.

A screen full of code in an IDEI guess that sounds like a weird thing to just decide to do, doesn’t it? It’s actually one part of a bigger goal I have at the moment of teaching myself some practical machine learning. As part of this journey, I heard a great idea from YouTuber Jabrils to set yourself a significant challenge that you’re interested in, and to work towards surmounting that challenge. For Jabrils, his challenge was getting an AI to control a Forrest Gump character to run around a course in a game. For my challenge, I’ve decided I’d like to build an AI that can play Forbidden Island. (And win!)

Obviously, if you’re going to have an AI play a game, you first need a digital version of the game for the AI to play. Continue reading

The Amazing Benefits of Exercism

A couple of months ago, a good friend at work (@rodeoclownII) sent out an email (or blog, or Slack message, or something) about exercism.io. It’s a cool little website for practising programming in various languages (currently about 45) by implementing koans, or small exercise problems.

I’ve been working through the Kotlin problems since the start of the year and I’ve found it super useful, so I thought I’d write this quick blog to recommend it to others.

Why I like exercism.io so much

Actor Anthony Hopkins seemingly performing an exorcism with the words "Back to hell, demon!" Probably unrelated to exercism.io

Just to be clear, we’re not talking about this kind of exorcism.

The most obvious benefit of this site is the opportunity to practise using different elements of the Kotlin language and standard library. Being challenged to solve problems which you might not necessarily come across during day-to-day work can lead you to discover parts of Kotlin that are really useful but which you otherwise might not have found a need to go looking for. Also, the problems are all implemented in a test-driven way, which feels very natural for me as a long-time practitioner of Extreme Programming/TDD. Continue reading