A 19-year-old conversation with Apple’s CEO who slipped through the net in “exam-oriented programming”

Before the official sharing session, Han Chubo had been preparing for a while.

This kind of "grand" also made him think secretly: So formal? Is Cook coming too?

Even so, Han Chubo was pleasantly surprised when Apple CEO Tim Cook actually appeared.

There was a man named "Apple" on the video conferencing software, and he didn't speak either.

Then "Apple" suddenly turned on the camera after a while, and the host said, "By the way, Tim will be here today."

The Swift Challenge is a student coding competition organized by Apple. This year, the competition invited students from around the world to create a Swift Playgrounds app project with a theme of their choice.

On that day, Han Chubo, a sophomore at Beijing Jiaotong University, as one of the global winners of the Swift Student Challenge, participated in this special online meeting to introduce his designs to Cook.

▲ Han Chubo introduced his work to Cook

Cook wasn't the only bright spot in that meeting.

At that time, there were also student representatives from different parts of the world online with him, sharing their works and stories one by one, and the atmosphere was very relaxed.

What impressed Han Chubo most was a classmate who had done sign language related applications.

Tim didn't ask many questions that day, but I remember he asked the classmate if he had watched Apple TV's "The Listening Girl" (CODA), and he (the classmate) said he hadn't.

But seriously, Han Chubo thinks this classmate's creativity is amazing. In the sharing, he learned that sign language is very important, but it has not received enough attention.

▲A lot of sign language lines are used in "Listening Girl"

The window that Global Connection opened that day was more than this one:

For the first time I felt that it wasn't just me, I felt the wider world, that many people were with me, discussing the same things.

This feeling is also related to his experience of learning programming.

Although he has been exposed to programming in elementary school, Han Chubo can be said to be a "fish that slipped through the net" in "exam-oriented programming", so that programming is still a creative tool he uses to satisfy his curiosity.

Even when he won the game this time and met Cook, it also came from a small "rebellious" mentality.

"Slip through the net" to find the freedom and happiness of programming

It was because this competition was "not useful" to my grade point in school that it made me feel it was more important.

Over the years, he has heard others say that going to college is about free trial and error and exploration. But after the real start, he found that the path most people chose was surprisingly uniform – the pursuit of higher grade points.

When doing homework, sometimes people will "stack features" in order to get a higher score, even if it is not the optimal solution for the product design itself.

Han Chubo admitted that he could understand and even did so, but it still didn't feel good.

▲ Chu Bo recorded life bits and pieces

And Apple's game was his "slip through the net" exit, a brief escape.

Because there are not too many hard constraints, he feels that the Swift Student Challenge is more free and expressive.

(The competition) is less about what cool technology you use, and more about your creativity, your thinking.

That day (video conference) I saw everyone’s sharing, and everyone’s work made me feel amazing and felt a lot of different things.

At that moment, the "discomfort" he felt at school found resonance in the sharing of developers around the world.

For him, programming is a tool to realize his ideas and satisfy his curiosity.

In my programming learning, I always have a problem first and then think about how to solve it. This process allows me to learn a lot of deep programming skills with fun.

This habit of thinking stems from his programming entry experience.

Ten years ago, Han Chubo, who was still in elementary school, was dragged by his teacher to participate in the "Informatics Competition", also known as the "Mathematics Olympiad in the programming world".

This type of competition is not about software or applications, but "more like math application problems", so most of the selected are children who are good at math.

If you get good grades in the competition, it will be helpful for further studies in the future, so many of Han Chubo's classmates continue to study.

And Han Chubo himself "slipped through the net" after winning a second prize in elementary school. With a basic understanding of programming, he swam to a more wild exploration.

▲ Chu Bo recorded life bits and pieces

At the age of 11, he owned an iPad Air of his own, and it tickles at the plethora of apps in the App Store.

Apple's Swift Playground 4, launched last year, allows adults and children alike to learn, write and even publish their own apps directly on the iPad.

However, when Han Chubo was a child, it was difficult to complete programming with an iPad alone.

By chance, he discovered an app called "Codea" that allows him to write iOS games directly on the iPad.

I wanted to create enemies in a game, so I learned object-oriented programming; I wanted special visual effects, so I tried Codea's Shaders editor.

▲ Han Chubo used Codea to make the first game "Airplane Wars", which can use the gyroscope of the iPad to control the plane

The work "Genetic Lab" designed by Han Chubo for the Apple competition this time is also another response to "doing questions".

In middle school biology class, we all study genetics and understand the knowledge of biological hybridization. However, most of our cognition of hybridization can only stay on the reasoning of the topic, and there is no chance to actually experiment.

"Genetic Lab" is a space where you can "cyber hands-on".

You can pick up tomatoes with different genetics and crossbreed them to see what new varieties will grow.

Even Han Chubo tried to take the test with his friends – he "experimented" according to the question in the application, and got the correct answer.

You can see how this all happens, not just by doing the math.

In Han Chubo's mouth, programming is particularly "manual".

It is the means by which he builds things with his hands, and the means by which he provides hands-on experience for others.

You can make something that works with minimal cost.

If I want to invent something, if it is a physical object, there may be many processes, but if it is programming, you may be able to make something that others can really use with only one computer.

The coming reality

▲ Picture from Unsplash by Tai Bui

Over the past few years, the public's impression of programmers has changed dramatically.

This profession used to be synonymous with "high salary" and "change the world", but in recent years' related reports from major Internet companies, people have seen the "996" and "short shelf life" side of the industry.

Han Chubo was determined to learn programming during the college entrance examination.

Even though the final exam results were not as good as expected, he still worked hard in his freshman year and switched back to computer science.

Although the love is firm, the voices of the outside world can still make him feel anxious.

Looking at the news reports, many companies are laying off workers recently, and laying off thousands of people, that is, there will be very precise numbers on it, which is very scary.

I may go to work in these companies in the future, and I may encounter these things mentioned in the news.

This makes me feel more pessimistic about the future.

This anxiety haunts others, too.

Others may already be planning summer internships, or preparing to play games.

Although he hasn't been able to find the optimal solution for his future, Han Chubo still finds it unacceptable to spend the whole vacation on "business".

I can't keep myself prepping for the future.

▲ Chu Bo recorded life bits and pieces

The experience of participating in the Swift Challenge gave him some confidence.

More diverse stories let him see more possibilities.

He met a senior who was in the same high school as him. "He didn't follow the steps and jumped out of that circle. Now he is living the life he wants. This kind of example from others will also inspire me."

Perhaps as Han Chubo himself said, the world described in the news may only be one side of the situation, and the reality may not be so good or so bad.

As for the next summer vacation, Han Chubo decided to restart the trip to Wuhan, which was interrupted four times, to slow down for himself. He agrees with a sentence written by @Vincent Zoo:

To reduce entertainment time is to reduce your heart. You must make time to play and devote yourself to specific fun, otherwise it will become more and more indifferent to life.

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