A geek's journal about a sillicon valley adventure

We came, we saw, we hacked

This post was originally published at Joget Unplugged.

It was a gorgeous Saturday afternoon in the Bay Area. Spring was finally here (well actually in the Bay Area, spring comes and goes when it feels like it. Kinda like a case of relatives you don’t really like coming over when you least expect it) but in this case, spring was actually here. Not a cloud in the sky, warm weather, nice cool breeze and the occasional concussion when you get in the way of someone playing fetch with their dog.


Given the setting, I was honestly a little apprehensive approaching our hackathon in Stanford. It just seemed like a day that was usually spent on the sand with a beach ball and not a lot of clothes. Considering that we’re entering a community of mostly students, I fully expected to step into the venue with a bare handful of attendees plonked in the middle of a bunch of snoring frat guys hung over from the night before.

In any case, pushing those thoughts aside, the first thing I did was….

…get lost.

Seriously. They either change the roads around Stanford an awful lot or I really need to update my GPS maps. At one point, my little Gamin was insisting that I turn right immediately. I would have gladly complied aside from the fact that turning right would have made my car a permanent fixture in someone’s living room.

Stanford Hackathon 01 When I did finally get there tho, I was greeted by a very healthy bunch of eager hackers who have already started on technology tutorials. Just a quick side note, the PHP and Python bunch outnumbered *everyone* else by a huge margin. If a fight broke out between the different camps, I figured I’d be the one diving for cover yelling “<?php Echo “Hello World !!” ?>”. In any case once the Code For America guys arrived (their GPS was a lot more insistent than mine apparently), the hacking started in earnest.

We generally worked on 4 different projects. Chach dragged her bunch off to a corner and worked on web scraping with ScraperWiki, Dan Melton took his guys and built some gems for client libraries that would connect to AFF data, Michael and Michael (it sounds like a cheesy boy band but what can I say, we both just had a cool name) took a group over for Open 311 and I know I’m getting mail bombed for saying this but I honestly can’t remember what the fourth group did. There was a lot of tech geek talk that went around that afternoon but the one highlight I want to insert here is: CouchDB is cool 🙂

Definitely has my seal of approval.

I can’t for the life of me give you all the details even if I wanted to. The entire day flew by so quickly and the only moment I was aware of the time was when it turned pitched black out and there was a general murmur of discontentment when youth metabolism and hunger pangs combined. I think the pizza guy was greeted with a level of applause you don’t normally see for the winner of an Academy Award.

All in all, it was a *LOT* of fun and I’m certainly looking forward to our next adventure with the CfA folks in this year’s Google’s Summer of Code.

Quick PS: There was even time for a quick shirt swap of Dan in Joget colors and myself in CfA’s. That preluded an episode where we were looking at the fruits of his labors, me volunteering to fill in with a Java library to complement the PHP and Ruby ones they hacked out, and him deciding to diss me by going “who the heck needs Java libraries ?”. If you were on Stanford grounds on Saturday night and saw a skinny geek chasing a tall one with a chair, that was probably just us.

Stanford Hackathon 02

Stanford Hackathon 03

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