Austin Ladies Hackathon
Austin Ladies Hackathon
This weekend was a blast, hacking with all women at Rackspace, and wow were the projects impressive. Here's how it went.
Friday night we gathered at a restaurant, the Flying Saucer, to meet each other and start to form teams. I’d guessimate that 20 of the 30 participants showed up. I helped out by facilitating discussions for people to find teams, and I spent a lot of the night talking to complete newcomers about what a hackathon is like, what to expect, and especially how to learn at one. We also recruited for the upcoming NoSQL Mobile App Challenge (http://rackspacemobile.challengepost.com/).
Saturday the teams gathered at Rackspace Austin to start coding. I believe most of the teams formed by the end of Friday night. The beginners were distributed quite evenly on the teams, and five teams took on five challenges. On Saturday one of the Ruby teams had one person who couldn’t get the dev environment running, so we all did “phone a friend” to get her going again. Many thanks to my Developer Relations teammate for returning my call. We got her sorted out. Pro tip: don’t name a folder "Workout Buddies – Austin Ladies Hack!” if you expect to do bundle install or bundle exec in it.
Four of the five teams wanted to know how to deploy their app, so I did a 10-minute talk about deployment, demonstrating local dev > staging >production with the developer.rackspace.com Github repo and walking through 12 Factors. It was really well received, though I don’t feel like I know enough about the topic deeply (like ansible, fabric, and so on). I did mention horizontal scaling and shooting cloud servers in the head, which was quite memorable for my young son Nathan in the front row.
My brain was so excited about the possibilities for all the teams' presentations next day. So Saturday night I researched how to populate a Google Spreadsheet with published KVM data from a Google Map but was thwarted in my POC Python code by OAuth2.
Sunday the teams came back to code for about another three hours prior to presentations. Here's a great group photo of everyone from Sunday.
Our judges were Austin site leader Bill Blackstone, new Racker and Austin Pyladies founder Sara Safavi, and Chief Scientist at Artemis Capital, Katrina Riehl. They had their work cut out for them as these teams made completely demo-able apps and great presentations. With each presentation, I thought, well, that one’s going to win. Every team shone. There wasn’t much of a competitive vibe, but we did end up with these placings and prizes provided by Ebay and NumFocus:
Texas Women’s Clinic Finder web app – Shows a map with color-coded pointers for women’s health offerings at http://twcf.webflow.com/.
Water Your Wallet: Kivy mobile app — enter a Texas city, then enter a plant name and number of plants you have in your garden or landscape, and get the cost of watering it.
Workout Buddies: Ruby/Sinatra web app – enter your workout interests, find people also interested as well as upcoming events. Hooked up with Facebook and worked really hard on Google + integration.
Special recognition for best Python app: SkillCluster – Have a primary programming language but want to know what other technologies are in high demand in job postings? Enter the primary language then the app looks for clusters of secondary skills like frameworks or co-present programming languages. Guess what co-existed the most with Python? You’ll never guess. XML.
Symptom Tracker: Android app – choose a body part then enter symptoms you or a family member is experiencing (such as a child or elderly person) on your mobile divide so you can take a listing and record to the doctor and look for trends.
Their empathy for users was incredible and a huge reason why I think we need women developers all over the place! I was inspired by the energy and technical acumen in the room.