Welcome to Robot Dialogs. This is a place where I will record my progress, mistakes, errors, failures, lessons learned and hopefully occasional success in my designs and implementations of robots and other technical endeavors. I will try to make it as educational, informative and entertaining as I can...

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Hacking the Gigabit City was NOT a Hackathon.

This weekend I attended and participated as a developer in what was advertised as a 'hackathon' to take advantage of the gigabit network that Google is implementing in Kansas City. It was not a hackathon.

I only heard about the event on the preceding Thursday (a major fault of the organizers in my view). After arriving on Friday after work and finding the room full of the start-up and entrepreneur crowd my hopes began to fall immediately. After a bit of mingle time the MC called up the people who want to pitch ideas. Twenty-two pitches were given. In my notebook between notes about each pitch I scribbled
"This isn't sounding like a hackathon...This is something else...start-up pitches?..."
After the pitches were given and the pitchers lined up along the walls I stayed at my chair flipping through my notes thinking about which (if any) of these pitches would I like to contribute to...Only one looked somewhat interesting, a highly unorganized idea about a github for music... I sat back down and thought about it and what would be required. I concluded it wouldn't need my skill set. So I looked around again. And found myself next to a fellow hacker (he was from Noisebridge) who off-handidly mentioned that a friend who was too busy to come mentioned the idea of using gigabit simply to download more cat picture more quickly. It was the most 'hackathon' worthy idea I had heard all evening.

And so we stole a piece of the paper pitches were written on, wrote "Too Many Kittens for Broadband" on it and taped it to the wall.

Within five minutes we had a team of seven sitting around us.

Within ten minutes we had a domain and a placeholder kitten on our homepage.

In summary we had more to demo after ten minutes, with no plan or forethought, than some teams had by the end of the weekend.

Continuing late into the night I (and let me state for the record that I'm not a web developer) had a crappy webpage written up to load and show images of kittens to the user as quickly as they could be loaded. Others on the team worked (way harder than me) to find ways to scrape kitten images from reddit and other sources so that we could host them on a server guaranteed to be on gigabit.

That's basically it. Kittens at gigabit speed. But now even that feels barely worthy of a 'hackathon'. We did the best we cared to do while being distracted by thousands of kitten pictures...and probably had more fun than any other team.

But the point is that it wasn't a hackathon. If anything it was a startup-a-thon.

And that's me; done venting.

In the end the 'serious' teams of note:
  • Engage3D (based on kinect hack)
  • Gigaphonic (music github mock up)
  • Live picture gallery (as the images were shot). (sportsphotos.com)
  • Flickr for 3D Models
The rest, to me, were either too unprepared, too underdeveloped by the end or it was an existing start-up re-pitching their idea and begging for developers.

No comments:

Post a Comment