Every software engineer needs to practice. Born from the attendees of Code Retreat Boulder 2011, we meet bimonthly to hone our skills working on interesting problems.
The Code Retreat format was developed by Corey Haines and others. The essence of the format is that people pair-program on a problem for 45 minutes then throw away their code, take a short break, switch partners and repeat the process. Classically, these are full-day events including 6 programming sessions, a long lunch, and beer afterwards. In this group, we will meet in the evening and probably do just two sessions.
The primal Code Retreat problem is Conway's Game of Life - it's an interesting problem in that it admits a wide variety of solutions and is simple enough that one can usually almost (but not quite) write a complete implementation in 45 minutes. While we're starting off this group working on Life (at least for the first meetup) my hope is that we expand the scope to work on other problems of similar size, complexity, and that support a similar variety of approaches to their solution. Some possibilities include small parsers, interpreters, Project Euler problems, and other such challenges.
The official Code Retreat site can be found at http://coderetreat.com for more information.
Practice, practice, practice
Needs a location
Lots and lots of "one-off" programming exercises, along the scale & complexity...