Our man, Hasan “the hack” Haque, with the support and creative input of the rest of us eye-patched swashbucklers at Movement, did us proud at Yahoo! Hack Europe during a 24 hours hackathon where he bagged the grand first prize and the Firefox OS second place prize. Yahoo! Hack is considered by many as the “mother of all hackathons!” and the 24 hours of hacking frenzy over Saturday 27th through to Sunday 28thApril certainly proved that right. At the event itself, Hasan was supported by Movement developer Mike Monteith and Movement Tech Director Kaustav who were all present to help code and brainstorm ideas.
The journey towards hacking glory began four weeks ago after developers from Movement, including our ninja developer Hasan Azizul Haque, registered for Yahoo! Hack Europe. Attendees were greeted by Titan the every so male chauvinistic robot. As you can see from this video, Titan couldn’t contain his silicon sneeze and graced our man Hasan with his robotic snot.
Day 1 kicked off in earnest with a series of morning tech talks split between two presentation halls. Yahoo! gave initial talks and demos presented by their enthusiastic developers who flew in from Yahoo’s Bangalore, India campus as well as from their US offices.
Code went up on big screens; geeks flipped open their laptops and wifi buzzed in the air. Various Yahoo! API’s from YUI, Boss to YQL and others were demoed. Other speakers presenting the BBC News Digital Labs showed off their triple play news juicer and we say demos by Twilio who provide cloud based telephony solutions.
A palpable buzz and background excitement could be felt as Telefonica rep Daniel Appelquist (@torgo) came on stage to talk about Firefox OS. His tech talk was to become the fuel behind Hasan’s existing excitement about Firefox OS and wanting to code more for Mozilla’s open web mobile platform. We also saw some hardware demoes and talks based on Arduino and the application of an Arduino GSM Shield, which is a nifty little expansion board, that enables you to send/receive sms and voice calls over 2G.
Lunch, drinks, candy carts and a few origami demonstrations later the twenty four hour count down began at 2pm and hacking commenced. Hackers tweeted as they hoped to link up with others at the hackathon to form teams, whilst other hackers got their heads down and started coding independently.
As evening drew closer the early start to the day started to show in face of some hackers but then the pizza dinner and chocolate fountain uplifted spirits and continued to fuel more hacking. To those who were vigilant as they entered the venue may have spotted the sleep pods/quiet rooms that were available onsite to catch 40 winks inbetween hacking though most crashed out on comfy bean bags. An unlimited supply of free coffee, tea, soft drinks and fruit were in copious supply to fuel the minds of all the geeks as they hacked late in to the night, with many coding through the night without a wink of sleep.
Roll on the morning. Hackers with sunken sleep-deprived eyes continued to code at fever pitch to apply their tweaks and get ready for the 11am cut off to submit and register their entry for judging. 2pm arrived out of nowhere and so commenced a marathon 2 hours of 90 second demos of all 44 hacks submitted for judging.
Hasan’s demo of Road Buddy was number three in the order of presentations being delivered by their respective coders.
The web app works on Firefox OS and shows the users of the app safe routes to walk through so that they can reach your destination by avoid crime hotspots. The web app queries the Open Data Gov police crime statistics data source to display street level crime data on a Google mashup. Using this information the web app suggests alternative routes to walk via based on your current location and the destination you would like to reach so that you can avoid the high crime areas and have a safer journey to your intended destination. The web app also features a emergency trigger, that enables you to alert a trusted friend if you get in to trouble.
Two hours elapsed as the final demos went up on screen. Judges started to deliberate and hackers deposited their voting forms to Yahoo! reps who walked around the main hall collecting voting slips.
Then the moment had arrived! Judges were done deliberating, hackers were on the edge of nervous breakdown as they awaiting the judges verdict to find out who had won. Up came Daniel Appelquist of Telefoncia on stage to announce the Firefox OS hack winners. The Firefox OS first prize was won by the creators of ShipIt. This cool app allows you to share photos across multiple devices using a proximity sensor that lets you literally swipe an image from one device another. The sharing is seamless and almost magical. Second prize went to Road Buddy and both winners collected coveted and highly sought after Firefox OS developer’s phones. We were hoping for a little more “The Apprentice” style tension before the judges announced the grand prize winner, but in keeping with no-nonsense tech nerdiness Hasan’s name and his Road Buddy app was called out as the recipient of the grand prize!
It was also Hasan’s birthday. What a way to celebrate. The 27th April will forevermore be known to us as Haque Day.