Friday, July 11, 2014

NYC BigApps Hackathon, our final frontier!

Hacking at WeWork

We are wrapping our program with the NYC BigApps Hackathon. The nano team decided to work on foodCompass to find healthy restaurants for commuters. Jared, from Thoughtworks, provided us nano T-shirts for the team!

Our first hackathon session was on Saturday, June 7th, at WeWork/Charging Bull, in the financial district. We took over a nice room (thought not enough ventilation). We spent the morning deciding on what application to work for and which features to add. We collected all the potential features on sticky notes that each nano hacker could tackle on. Our first session was an incredible success. We used github to collaborate on the shared codebase. At some point, all the mentors were hacking along with some complex Javascript in the last hour, and the final merge was not working. Ricky untangled the github merging issues! We were one of the few teams to present a functional working project by the end of the day!

The nano hacker team did a great short presentation and the judges were thrilled on the achievements. At the end of the day, there were some raffles for some devices. The members of the Nano Hacker Squad acquired a good number of these: Benno got an Arduino, Lucas got a Pebble and Mario got $250 gift card on Octoparts.

Hacking at Falchi Building

Our second hackathon session was in Long Island City, Queens, at the Falchi Building, on Saturday, June 21st. The space was sponsored by Coalition for Queens. We spent the morning visiting the NY Designs Fabrication Lab and attending a UX workshop by Luke Miller from Yahoo (Pain. Pleasure. Context. Behaviors). After lunch, Kiera went ahead migrating foodCompass to the iOS platform. We had plenty more features to add to foodCompass. Giordan added support for dragging a pin from the google maps and recompute the new restaurant locations. Olivia worked on CSS according to a color scheme designed by Mia. Lucas added support for more buttons and the print functionality. Vaughn added support for different transportation options. We had a successful live application to present. Mario and Julian were enjoying Niagara Falls and couldn't attend.

(Photography by Jennifer)

BigApps Block Party 

By unanimous consensus, the nano hacker squad looked forward to showcase foodCompass at the BigApps Block Party in Industry City, Brooklyn, on Saturday, July 19th. Vaughn couldn't attend due to summer camp. The team submitted the online application on Saturday, July 12th, which was the deadline. The team was devastated to learn that in 2013 there was a BigApp entry titled Healthy Food Compass. I'm guessing that this prompted Julian to add a differentiating feature like the YELP category select drop-down. He kept working until the last minute (well, 10 minutes before the actual presentation). While Lucas and Mario customized the pin icon in Google Maps. The team had 2 minutes to present the three slides to the judges. Everyone wanted to talk, so they did! Everyone: Kiera, Giordan, Lucas, Olivia, Mario and Julian. After 3pm, they showcased the web application while Kiera showcased her iphone version using the ios simulator. The WiFi reception wasn't optimal, so the web app was behaving a little spotty. The food options at Industry City were great: Melt ice-cream sandwiches and pizza from Sottocasa. However, we should have probably used foodCompass to find healthy options in the neighborhood! The mentors who attended: Benno, Matt, Ricky and Pedro. Also, Jared provided more nano T-shirts for kids and mentors.