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Sunnyvale Hack Day Report .:. kentbrewster.com

Besides background concerns about buildings burning down and people driving home drunk, I had three personal success conditions for Yahoo!'s first open hack day:

  1. The wireless had to work.
  2. Beck had to show up.
  3. There had to be at least 50 hacks when we were done.

I'm very, very happy to say that all three were met. You could have gotten a sunburn off all the wireless that day; it was full-strength from one end of the lawn to the other, and even when I sat down in a classroom with 32 other people, all hitting the same little node all at once, it was fine.

Beck did indeed show up, as has been documented elsewhere. (The truly neat part was after the show, when he and the band came out and took a stroll through Hack Day; they were genuinely interested in what was happening, and our hackers were cool enough not to mob them.)

Oh, and we had about 56 outstanding hacks. Special props to:

  • the guys from Canada, who wrote a Maps hack based on their drive down from Vancouver
  • the TV guys, who built (solder! woot!) an always-on box that pulled temperature, traffic, and other open data and displayed it on an ordinary TV screen
  • the men from Sharp, who brought their awesome open-API copier multi-function printer to hack on, and gave up not one but two thirty-two-inch LCD TVs for top prizes
  • the lone brave Google engineer who showed up, had fun, and turned in not one but two hacks, a file system based on del.icio.us, and a new, really interesting way of mouse-free screen navigation.
  • ... and our top prizewinners, the Mobile Blogging Platform krewe. They built (yes, with sewing machines and everything) a mobile blogging platform inside a ladies' purse: cameraphone and pedometer, integrated with Flickr and blogging software. Just crazy awesome.

One more thing and I'll quit, for now. Two of my friends, front-end guys Scott Schiller and Eric Wu, turned out early Friday to help register attendees, keep things running through the day, and (naturally) enjoy the Beck show later that evening. As it turned out, both of them wound up getting sucked into the full Hack Day experience. Eric helped the Mobile Blogging Platform hackers and Scott ran many of the same errands I did.

At the end of the day Saturday they both had tickets to the Download Festival, happening just up the road and starring our new best friend Beck. Scott, in case you don't know, is a huge Beck fan, so this didn't surprise me a bit. As it turned out, however, the Mobile Blogging Platform gang did not have tix for the show ... Eric had two extras ... there were three of them ... and Scott, gentleman that he is, gave his up, so the third MBP hacker could go to the show. Nice going, Scott.

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