18 Jun 2007

hackday thoughts

hackday summary

it was great fun. i wish i buckled down to submit a hack, but i spent too much time playing around with sneak-peek apis released by yahoo and bbc (and others -- see below), chatting with people and listening to other interesting conversations. flickr photos of the event here.

we got all sorts of goodies like an impromptu showing of a doctor who episode on the massive projector screen, plus wii and xbox action in the hall. food and drinks included free pizza, free mars bars, free twixs, free walker crisps, free bottled water, free coffee, free tea, free fruit, and up to free three beers! there was even a yahoo branded wifi detector in the swag bag. we even got to bring a hackday bean bag home [photo coming later].

best "gift" of all were the sneak peeks at upcoming APIs from yahoo (such as mybloglog [403 until they release it], mythical yahoo maps v2 api, zonetag, fireeagle), bbc (more music apis, feeds, etc) and other lesser known apis such as the nazbaztagbunny, nestoria, etc.

roughly 7 in 8 people were using macs in the hall. it would of been interesting if a questionairre was circulated to see what OS people were using, what percentage of people participated in submitting a hack, number of bean bags taken away, etc.

presentations with 73 individual laptops running mac, windows, linux was amazingly successful apart from 3-4 hiccups. someone could make some universal vnc presentation software so that screen resolution would not be an issue. no more bloody vga dongles and such.
general trend of hacks

there were 73 hacks (i think), and could be mainly described as:

1. something to do with getting photos from flickr
2. plotting something on a map

of course i'm generalising here, there were some very notable hacks, but i'm too tired to mention them at the moment. i'll save that for another time.

missing hacks

given that there were so many macs, no one did a cocoa hack (quartz composer doesn't count). and there were disappointingly little mobile phone hacks too (the grand prize winner was a mobile phone syncing hack) . i think if someone had some mobile phone hackery up their sleeve, they could really do something amazing.

for next year's hack day (if there will be one)

  1. must have some template code (possibly 2 or 3 types) before going in.
  2. prepare for internet outages and thunderstorms
  3. prepare for new apis that will suck up all your time playing with it.
  4. bring mobile charger
  5. bring own access point + router + proxy
  6. don't rely on bluetooth, wifi working. (bluetooth scan revealed 40+ devices, impossible to pair with your own)
  7. remember to bring external display dongle
many thanks to yahoo (tom coates & co) and bbc (matt cashmore & co) for making everything run smoothly despite the hand of god menacing the proceedings.

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