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WOWZAPP 2012 Post-moterm

So I participated in WOWZAPP 2012 hackathon event in Hanoi, failed to win but nonetheless had fun. Below are some tips, writing down for the next time I go to a hackathon:

  1. If you have the chance to join a hackathon, do it! Big plus if you are young (not to say the events are not for old people).
  2. Project choice: do not build something that relies heavy on network connection. It's okie if the product uses a server but during development you should be able to put in some stub data for it to work. No matter how many wifi APs, the connection at a hackathon will be slow and troublesome, expect a lot of lost packets. Yesterday our team built a collaboration drawing app -- big mistake! We have to repeatedly perform this routine: find an available network, join it (do this at least 2 times for one client machine and one server machine), run "ifconfig en1" to get server address, put the new address in client config, run. Drove us crazy! If you have to, BYO router. We planned to bring ours but overlooked the problem and didn't do that.
  3. Planning: make as many preparations as possible. I'm not sure about other hackathon events but at WOWZAPP, they allow teams to implement server/service at home, prepare all the graphics, etc. The teams which do that won hand down. We didn't do any proper planning with the exception of discussing the product idea. I was blown away how well prepared other teams are.
  4. Eat and drink: I have no scientific data to back this up but I felt pretty good during the 36-hour hackathon. I don't eat much (only at meal time, no junk food). I don't drink anything heavy (coffee, etc., I did drink some energy drink but not much). I just consumed a lot of water. It also helps in keeping me awake (because I have to visit the toilet every so often I guess).
  5. Sleep: Our team didn't sleep much. Each member has 2-3 hours I think. We took turn to sleep too. I heard nothing about lost properties but it seems to be a good practice. Some other teams brought blanket and pillow, they may comfort you better but for just a couple of hours it may be not worth it.
That's it. 

Talking about our app a bit:
  • Idea: Collaboration Board. People can join a (drawing) board and do stuff together
    • Drawing
    • Sharing images (files or captured with a webcam)
    • Posting videos (YouTube)
    • Sharing location (Bing Maps -- it's a Microsoft event after all)
  • Implementation
    • Server: node.js
    • Connection: Socket.IO (Websocket or polling)
    • Client: Windows 8 Javascript/HTML5 app
  • What we have done
    • Server: all features
    • Client:
      • Collections view (a collection can hold many boards)
      • Boards view
      • Board view
        • Sharing images (files + webcam)
  • Repo (my forks)


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