This weekend was not like any other – it was more awesome than many others. It involved me hacking for about twenty straight hours at the hackNY student hackathon with a bunch of guys I met there. The whole event was awesome. We ended up creating and not completely finishing a social meme-creation game called BalderMash, which is available <a href=”http://hackny.ericsluyter.com”>here</a> if you have four people to play with. Basically, the idea is that it scrapes google trends for a random trending topic, then selects a random image from the top ten hits in that category. Then, you and your friends have thirty seconds to add stickers, text, filters, and your own drawings to turn it into something hilarious. After the time’s up, you all rate your friends’ creations. I had a ton of fun and learned more than I expected to building this with Yuriy Skobov, Eric Slutyer, Ulysses Popple, and Andrew Flockhart. Although we didn’t get it to a point of complete functionality, we were able to present what we did manage to finish, and people seemed to like it. All in all, an amazing experience.
We started actually hacking at about 3 PM on Saturday, all set up around a table that was hardly big enough for all of our laptops. We spent a little while trying to think of an idea, tossing around a bunch of different social networking mashups, and eventually settling on a social image-editing game.
I didn’t notice time passing between about 4 PM and 1:30 AM (meaning that 1:30 was the first time since the start of the event that I got up to take a walk outside). I did have to drink some Red Bull for the first time in my entire life, and it was just as bad as I expected it to be – but I was working hard and had to keep going. We were all working really hard actually – I discovered that Yuriy is amazing with PHP and MySQL, and reaffirmed my belief in Eric’s incredible design skills. As for me, I worked mainly on the PHP implementation of the system for organizing the game lobby mechanics, putting my PHP skills to the test for the first time in a collaborative situation. Honestly, my self-esteem being as wonky as it is, I was amazed and relieved when each function that I’d written for teammates’ use actually ended up working. It was a huge confidence boost, and now I feel ready to go tackle some of my own projects, knowing that I do have the chops to work in a collaborative team setting. Thank you, HackNY.
Here is the full official photo collection from the night
I stayed very much awake and alert for most of the night, but as I saw the sun rising out the windows, I suddenly began to get tired. After about 8:30, I was kind of dead, and didn’t catch a second wind until around 10. That period was kind of tough for everybody, I could tell. But soon after, the two members of our group who hadn’t pulled all-nighters returned and revived us with the enthusiasm that we seemed to have lost. We spent the last 90 minutes or so testing our app, and in the process realizing that it didn’t work – so we fixed it as best we could. We managed to get it presentable, and we did, in fact, present!
A few other projects that I really enjoyed were Andres’ “Mugshot” and another called “Come @ Me Bro”, which matched you with a twitter follower that you’ll probably hate and then tells you fight them, complete with suggested taunts. Also, there was this guy who made a bunch of client-side image editing tools from scratch in 20 hours – stuff like filters, swirl warp, newsprint effects, etc. That was probably the one that impressed me the most. A full list of the hacks that people made, including links to many of them, is right here. This whole event was amazing, inspiring, educational, and amazingly fun. I pulled the first all-nighter in a while, spent it doing what I love to do, and got some recognition for it (and now I have something to show for it, too). I slept pretty much all yesterday afternoon, and was a daze for the brief periods where I wasn’t sleeping.
What an incredible experience. Congratulations to all the winners, and everybody who participated and/or presented. The projects were all amazing.