Confessions of a Serial Hackathoner.

Posted: May 24, 2013 in Corona SDK, Hackathon, Javascript

Hello World,

It’s been a very busy few months for me. New Projects! New Languages! More Hackathons! Yes, you heard that right, Hackathons.

“Hi, My Name Is Theo and I’m A Serial Hackathoner”

In case you’re wondering, “just what is a Hackathon?” I’ll give it to you short and sweet straight from the one resource that knows all (wink):

hackathon (also known as a hack dayhackfest or codefest) is an event in which computer programmers and others involved in software development, including graphic designers, interface designers and project managers, collaborate intensively on software projects.Wikipedia

So there you are … no “black hat” hacking into organizations in order to steal tons of information. In fact it’s quite the opposite. Many large companies run, organize, and sponsor these Hackathons such as:

Microsoft, Facebook, Google, and YES even The White House!

So why am I confessing this here on my blog? During the past (almost) two years I have participated in 7 different Hackathons. Some were as short as 8 hours. Others were as long as 48 hours. During these events I learn a lot about the effectiveness of the languages, libraries, and tools I use and my skills as a software developer. Even the choices I make before and during the event say a lot about the kind of developer I am. I believe that every software developer should participate in a Hackathon or two. I have been asked so many questions by many so many people about my desire to participate in so many of these events. So here my answers to just a couple of those questions:

“What tools do you use when you participate in a Hackathon?”

In my first Hackathon (The BeMyApp AppOlympics in 2012) I used a HTML 5/CSS/Javascript platform called appMobi. It enabled me to quickly create mobile apps that can be deployed on mobile and tablet devices leveraging my Javascript (jQuery, Knockout.js, and more) skills. My team won 1st place in that event and then went on to win the global grand prize. After that I continued to use appMobi in 4 more Hackathons. Some I won. Others I lost – always learning more about myself as a coder and always improving. After a loosing a major Hackathon in Las Vegas I went back to the drawing board and started re-evaluating my toolset. I discovered that my weakest skill is in CSS. So I searched for a tool that would enable me to easily create highly responsive UIs with very little to no CSS coding. I found several but I stumbled upon one that I embraced and use to this very day – The Corona SDK and Lua!

Corona SDK

I dove head long into learning Corona and Lua and entered my first Hackathon using the Corona SDK. It was the TechCruch DisruptNYC.

TechCruch NYC 2013

Not only did it enable me to quickly create a mobile app, I had time to create a second app using Appery.IO (HTML 5/Javascript based). The two work together as one.

Appery.IO

I won the 1st prize of the VISA challenge at that Hackathon. From then on I knew the power and efficiency of the Corona SDK and Lua. Now I include Corona in all my evaluations when new software development projects come along and yes … even Hackathons.

“Got any more Hackathons you plan on entering?”

Well, of course. I am always looking for Hackathons. I liken them to the cooking competition shows on cable TV (I wish someone would create that kind of show for coders). You never know what opportunities will arise from participating in such an event. There are two events in June 2013 I will be joining. One is in our backyard (Rockville, MD) and the other in Washington, DC with the big boys – AngelHack. There is another online Hackathon that runs from May until July that is Corona specific. I am really excited about that on because it involves the Dilbert comic strip characters. Lastly, I can’t wait to get back to Vegas for another chance to win at MoDev’s CEA Hackathon.

AngelHack

Well, that’s it for now. I’ll try to keep you updated on my activities. I hope that I can meet some of you at one of these Hackathons. I have met so many great people already.

CIAO!

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Comments
  1. omouse says:

    Hey, I’ve been to two hackathons and I’ve figured out that I’m really slow at getting into producing code. Is there some way I can improve this? How big are the projects that you tackle at these hackathons?

    Thanks

  2. therush says:

    Great question! Give me a day or two and I’ll answer with a post. I’m getting my “baseball on” during Memorial weekend! Thanks 🙂

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