Han Chubb had been preparing for quite some time before the official sharing session.
This 'grandeur' also made him wonder in secret: so formal? Could it be that Cook was coming too?
Even so, Han Chubb was pleasantly surprised when Apple CEO Tim Cook actually showed up.
There's a guy named "Apple" on the video conferencing software, and he's not talking.
Then "Apple" took a moment and suddenly turned on the camera before the host said, "By the way, Tim will be here today."
"The Swift Challenge is Apple's student programming competition. This year, students around the world were invited to create a Swift Playgrounds app project on a theme of their choice.
That day, Han Chubo, a sophomore at Beijing Jiaotong University, attended this special online meeting as one of the global winners of the Swift Student Challenge to present his design to Cook.
▲ Han Chubo introduces his work to Cook
Cook wasn't the only bright spot in that meeting.
He was joined online by representatives of students from different regions of the world, sharing their work and stories one by one, and the atmosphere was relaxed.
The one who impressed Han Chubb more was a student who did a sign language related application.
Tim didn't ask many questions that day, but I do remember he asked the student if he had seen Apple TV's CODA, and he (the student) said he hadn't seen it.
But in all seriousness, Han Chubb thought the student's idea was amazing. In sharing, he learned that sign language is important and not given enough attention.
🙂 A lot of sign language lines are used in "Kin Hear Girl
The windows opened by Global Connections that day were not the only ones.
For the first time I felt that I wasn't the only one, I felt the wider world, a lot of people were with me, talking about the same things.
This feeling is also related to his experience of learning to program.
Although he was exposed to programming in elementary school, Han Chubo can be described as a 'leaky candidate' for 'test-based programming', allowing programming to remain a creative tool he uses to satisfy his self-curiosity to this day.
Even his winning the contest and meeting Cook this time was born out of a little 'rebellious' mentality.
"Leakage" to find the freedom and joy of programming
It's the fact that this contest is 'not very useful' for my GPA in school that makes it all the more important to me.
For years, he'd heard people say that going to college was about having the freedom to try things out and explore. But when he actually started, he found that the path most people chose was surprisingly uniform -- the pursuit of a higher GPA.
When doing homework, sometimes people will try to 'stack features' to get a higher score, even if that's not the optimal solution for the product design itself.
Han Chubb admits he can understand it and has even done it, but it still doesn't feel good.
▲ Life as recorded by Trubo
And the Apple game was a 'leaky' outlet for him, a brief escape.
Because there aren't too many hard and fast restrictions, he feels more free and expressive with the Swift Student Challenge.
(The competition) is less about what cool technology you use and more about your creativity, your thinking.
That day (video conference) I saw what everyone shared and each person's work would be amazing to me and felt so many different things.
In 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.
I've always had problems before thinking about how to solve them in my programming studies, and this process has made it fun to learn a lot of deep programming skills.
This habit of thinking stems from his introductory programming experience.
Ten years ago, Han Chubo, who was still in elementary school, was dragged by his teacher to participate in an "informatics competition", which is also known as the "Olympiad of programming".
These types of competitions are to be done not with software or apps, but 'more like math applications', so most of those chosen are kids who are good at math.
If the competition gets good results, it will also help in the future to go on to higher education, so Han Chubo has a number of students who have continued their studies.
Han Chubb himself, having 'slipped through the net' after getting a second prize in primary school, swam off to wilder exploits with a basic understanding of programming.
▲ Life as recorded by Trubo
At the age of 11, he got his own iPad Air and got an itch to look at the wide variety of apps in the App Store.
Apple launched Swift Playground 4 last year, allowing adults and kids alike to learn, write, and even publish their own apps directly on the iPad.
But when Chubb was a kid, it was hard to program with just an iPad.
By chance, he discovered an app called Codea that lets him write iOS games directly on his iPad.
I wanted to create enemies in the game, so I learned object-oriented programming; I wanted special visual effects, so I tried Codea's Shaders editor.
The first game Han Chubo made with Codea, "Airplane Wars," uses the iPad's gyroscope to control the racing machine.
This time, Han Chubo's work for the Apple competition, "Genetic Lab", is another response to "doing the question".
In middle school biology class, we all learn about genetics and about biological hybridization. But most of our knowledge of hybridization is limited to reasoning about the topic, without the opportunity for real hands-on experimentation.
The Genetic Lab is a space where you can 'cyber hands-on'.
You can pick up tomatoes that have different genetic factors and cross them to explore what new varieties will grow.
Even Han Chubo tried to test it with a friend by bringing it to the exam - he "experimented" with the question in the app and got the correct answer.
You can know how it all happened, rather than simply doing the math (to get the answer).
Programming is particularly 'manual' in the words of Han Chubb.
It is a means for him to build things with his hands and a tool to provide hands-on experiences for others.
You can make something that works for a minimum cost.
If I wanted to invent something, if it was a physical object, there might be a lot of processes, but if it was programming, you could probably make something that someone else could actually use with just a computer.
Punching reality in the face
▲Image from Unsplash by Tai Bui
The public perception of programmers has changed dramatically over the past few years.
This career was once synonymous with 'high pay' and 'changing the world', but in recent years reports related to the Internet majors, people have seen the '996' and 'short shelf life' side of the industry.
Han Chubb was very determined that he wanted to learn programming during his high school entrance exams.
Even when his final test scores were not as good as he would have liked, he made a concerted effort to switch back to a computer science major his freshman year.
Passionate as he is, outside voices can still cause him anxiety.
Watching the news reports, a lot of companies are laying off thousands of people these days, it's just that there will be very precise numbers on it, it's pretty scary to watch.
I may go to work for one of these companies in the future, and I may encounter the same things that were mentioned in the news.
It would make me feel more pessimistic about the future.
This anxiety haunts others as well.
Other students may already be planning to get an internship for the summer or preparing to play in a tournament.
Although he hadn't been able to find the optimal solution for his future either, Han Chubo still found it hard to accept that he had spent his entire vacation thrown away on 'business'.
I can't keep putting myself on the line to prepare for the future.
▲ Life as recorded by Trubo
The experience of participating in the Swift Challenge has given him some confidence.
The more diverse stories have opened his eyes to more possibilities.
He met a senior who went to the same high school as him, "He didn't follow the same routine either, jumped out of that loop and is now living the life he wanted instead, and that example of others will be an inspiration to me as well."
Maybe, as Hanchub himself said, the world as depicted in the news might just be one side of the situation, and the reality might not be as good or as bad.
As for the rest of the summer, Han Chubo decided to give himself a reprieve by restarting his trip to Wuhan, which had been interrupted four times. He identifies with a quote written by @VincentZoo.
To abate recreation time is to abate the heart; be sure to make time for play and devote yourself to concrete fun, or you will become increasingly indifferent to life.