Hackathons are one of my favorite events to attend as a Developer Evangelist. You get to step outside of your day-to-day role and just code for yourself, from scratch. There are many ways to approach a hackathon, some attend with a specific problem in mind that they’d like to solve, others use it as a time to creatively experiment with new frameworks and languages.
Hacking the future
Last weekend, I represented Mailjet in attending the inaugural Wearhacks Paris. We’re especially proud to have been an API partner and sponsor, because we love their initiative. Wearhacks Paris is an international non-profit and connected and wearable technology community. They hold free weekend-long hackathons which encourage developers (and non-devs – designers, project managers) to build and innovate with wearables.
Devices featured at Wearhacks, such as the Myo armband, have huge implications in how we interact with technology in the future, but more importantly for healthcare as well.
To top it off all of the excitement, I was also invited to mentor, which gave me a chance to dig into code that was not mine. My task was to help teams build their ideas into reality during the 48 hour span. The time flew by as I sat down and helped some teams find their hack ideas, brainstorm creative ways to integrate the Mailjet API, and occasionally debug Python, some C, and some Java.It was really rewarding to hop from project to project and see all of these clever and potentially life-changing ideas come to life. One of these ideas included a connected stick to help improve the experience of the visually impaired walking down the street, built using Arduino. Another was a mechanical arm that follows the movements of a human arm through the Myo.
I’ll even let you in on a little secret – Wearhacks was held at (42), just 20 minutes from my house. It came in handy for taking small naps – even when under the time crunch, it’s important to take small breaks and switch off with teammates during a hackathon. You’ll come back refreshed with new ideas and less likely to make mistakes.
When the nerves kick in
The most nervewracking part for hackers is getting up on stage to present before judges. You have two minutes to show the best of what you created in the past two days. And I’m telling you, the sleep deprivation makes this task that much harder to do. when you are really tired, this task is more than hard to do.
After much deliberation, 42_FlyMyo took home first place, winning a trip to Seoul, Korea to attend another hackathon! 42_FlyMyo hacked the Parrot drone using the Myo armband, which allows you to control a small drone with arm movements. Congrats guys!
New to hackathons or looking for ways to improve your strategy? Check out my talk “How To Win A Hackathon”.