I have got the hackathon bug this past few months. In early October, I attended DubHacks, at the University of Washington, with my “Hackathon Partner”, Mahesh. It was a fun hackathon (We ended up building an Alexa app to describe images for the blind), and a great learning experience. Not wanting to take our foot of the gas, we decided to attend CalHacks, at the University of California, Berkeley. This was a major step up, as it was a 36 hour hackathon, and we expected the competition to be even more than at UW (there were around 2500 people attending).

Thanks to DubHacks, it was easier to figure out what to build. A lesson we learnt at DubHacks, was to focus on problems, rather than the technologies, while focusing on our strengths. We got inspired by the Election Results, which came out last week, flooding our Facebook and Twitter news feeds with news and reactions of the election. While we were engrossed, after a point, we wanted no more of it. That’s when we decided to build a Chrome Extension, which hides content related to topics which we are not interested in. We gave the user the option to add the tags which will be our script to hide content.

It was an interesting problem, and we could not find any existing work done on this. We were both familiar with Chrome Extensions (mostly popup based), so the idea of a Content Script was new to us. The next 36 hours was spent in reading the docs, pair programming, and taking the problem task by task. At the end, we had the extension deployed to the Chrome App Store (probably due to the Cross Site Scripting, it took slightly longer to get approved).

Tech aside, Berkeley was a nice place for a hackathon, though I repeatedly felt claustrophobic at the venue. Probably a slightly more open venue would have helped (or not, considering it was pretty cold). I really liked the Berkeley campus, and would love for a chance to explore it more. I was really impressed with some of the other hacks as well (One team made a Tesla move by just thinking… :O ).

Overall, it was a great decision to attend the hackathon. On to the next one 🙂

Link to our Hack:


Weekend project with React.js


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Learning React.js had been on my mind for quite some time. I had seen it’s usage during my internship at Chegg, but had never really got around to using it. I had stuck with Angular.js for quite some time, but have been itching to try something new. Over the past 1 month, I took some tutorials from, and one brilliant React.js tutorial I found. However, I felt that I actually had to develop something, in order to validate whether I have understood all I learnt.

I picked up my Eventbrite Chrome Extension, which I had developed sometime back. It was broken for a few weeks, and while fixing it, I thought it is a good candidate to develop in React. I took to this task, and working intermittently over the course of a week, I completed it, and pushed it to the Chrome store. I made a few changes to the design, which I felt were required:

– I removed the ‘Search by Location’ option, as it is redundant. In place of this, I added a generic ‘Search’ option, where the user could search by event itself.
– I removed the ‘Search by Location’ option, and made it ‘Default’
– General tweaks to Pagination, and Event display

My experiences with React have been really good. I struggled a bit with Tooling, and working with webpack was initially painful, but towards the end, I had got pretty used to it, and grown to like it. I absolutely loved the concept of Components in React, and breaking down each aspect of the application down to the minimal component was a fun task in itself. I am pretty sure I can improve upon my React code further, by building/reusing more components, which I will keep doing as I keep learning more. The extension is available at:



Until next time 🙂

The Crunch

This has got to be the most hilarious experiences of all. My recent hackathon experiences haven’t been all that great. For some, we just went unprepared, while in some, we experienced difficulties, while learning valuable lessons. So I, with 3 other friends attended a hackathon just for fun. In fact, we made the plan of attending the hackathon just 4 hours prior to actually attending.

Titled Hack-the-Dot, the participants were supposed to create a hack for the domain name over a period of 3 hours. Now, our first thought was to go by the literal meaning of ‘crunch’, and decided to create a twitter trend analysis of crunchy food (chips, celery etc). On second thoughts, we headed over to urban dictionary, and found the following definition:

Adjective. Used to describe persons who have adjusted or altered their lifestyle for environmental reasons. Crunchy persons tend to be politically strongly left-leaning and may be additionally but not exclusively categorized as vegetarians, vegans, eco-tarians, conservationists, environmentalists, neo-hippies, tree huggers, nature enthusiasts, etc.

A hilarious idea clicked with this definition. A simple web application, which based on what you are tweeting about, tells you whether you are a crunchy person or not. We split into groups of 2, and hacked on both ideas.

For the first hack(Mahesh and Abhijit worked on this), we used Python, Twitter API’s, MongoDB, and Highcharts to display the trend analysis for the specified crunchy food. The results were mostly justifiable, with most people tweeting about Chips, Fried food, rather than the usual healthy food like carrots, celery etc. The visualizations were pretty good to look at, and the judges were impressed.

For the second hack (I, and Karen worked on this), we used Flask, Twitter API’s, Bootstrap, and jQuery to create a barebones web frontend, which takes in a Twitter handle, and tells you whether you are crunchy or not. For determining crunchiness (I can’t believe I am typing this  😀 ), we gathered a set of 70 keywords, which denote crunchiness, and checked for their presence in the most recent 1000 tweets, and assign a score based on it. A score of 10 onwards is defined to be crunchy. It’s a pretty simple implementation, and was done in about 1 hour. The results were pretty hilarious. We were able to show that Donald Trump is definitely NOT CRUNCHY, whereas Bernie Sanders is CRUNCHY. We put the floor open to the audience to give in Twitter handles, to hilarious results. Overall, the audience, and the judges were mightily impressed with our hack.

And did I mention that we won the hackathon? 🙂
Here is our winning team picture. Mahesh, Abhijit, Karen…It was a great team effort 🙂


Kudos to, QuickLeft for organizing such an awesome, humorous, fun event 🙂

The Mockingbird

Never has a book affected me so deeply, as ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’. It has firmly displaced ‘The Kite Runner’, as my favorite book. I don’t usually review books, but the myriad of emotions I felt while reading it makes me want to capture my thoughts. I absolutely loved the way Harper Lee has written the book. It is witty, funny, and clearly captures the sentiments of the 6 year old Scout, whose viewpoint the book is written from. The characters are richly developed, and grow over time. The handling of a topic as sensitive as racism is excellent.

Specific events in the book have stuck around, and make the book brilliant:

  • The kid’s childish efforts to bring out the reclusive Boo Radley were hilarious to read. It reminded me of the numerous times I come up with crazy bombastic plans to achieve something.
  • The sequence in which Atticus is surrounded by the mob is my favorite part of the book. The mob is out to lynch Tom Robinson. It takes the kids for them to realize what they were about to do. The kids shaming the mob remains one of the most thrilling chapters I have read, and enhances my belief that people are generally good at heart.
  • The courtroom chapters were brilliant, and the most engaging parts of the book.
  • The recurring allusions to the Mockingbird, as a motif for innocence has stayed with me. The revelations of the actual mockingbirds of the story, left me breathless. The book could not have been more aptly named.
  • I loved how the Scout’s relationships with other characters (specially Calpurnia and Aunt Alexandra) evolve.
  • The ending is sheer brilliance, and reveals the genius that is Harper Lee

Overall, the book stands as the finest I have read so far. I now plan to read the sequel (Go Set a Watchman), and hope for another amazing ride.


Weekend Project – I

Last weekend I worked on creating a Chrome Extension. I was not very familiar with Chrome extensions, though I had earlier created one in my undergraduate course. This time, I thought to do a better job, and finally publish something on the App Store.

The objective was to retrieve events from the Eventbrite based on the user’s location. The user could use his browser’s location, or type the name of the place he wants to get the events for. As an additional feature, the app marks the events that are happening on the coming weekend.

As far as technologies go, I used plain HTML, Angular.js, Bootstrap and basic Chrome API’s for the implementation. Implementation was quite rewarding, as I got to explore authentication with OAuth, the Eventbrite API, and the Chrome API’s. It still needs a lot of work to be good, and I need to add Icons and screenshots on the App store, but it’s a start. I hope to improve upon the application in the coming days.

Chrome Store Link:

GitHub Link



Water, Water everywhere. Nature’s fury at full display. So much death and destruction was dealt that week, with no respite in sight. Seeing the plight of he people from his hometown, he decided to act. Sitting in front of his computer, he shared posts connecting displaced people, took calls, and shared phone numbers. He raised awareness among people, and inspired many to join the cause. There was not a whole lot he could do, but he did all in his capacity. A million miles away from home, he was still an unsung hero.


He was not an unfriendly person. He did not know too many people, but formed a lasting bond with the ones he got comfortable with. He was not anti-social, but preferred to avoid human interaction as much as possible. If given the choice, he would rather read a book than attend a social obligation. He used to see his peers laughing and making merry. Often, he remained oblivious to their presence, at the same time, a keen observer of human behaviour. It gave him more to time to analyze, to introspect, and to improve.
Rather than knowing others, he chose to know himself.


It had been three days. It had been a daring escape, but not without cost. His co-conspirators had not made it out. He found himself in this godforsaken forest, which seemed endless. He was lost, and was feeling lonelier as the hours ticked by. He was not able to sleep, due to the fear that he would wake up in prison. Many a times he was sure he heard footsteps, the jingling of keys, or the howling of wolves. The mere thought of it sent a shiver down his spine. Apart from fear, regret dominated his thoughts. His actions had certainly spelled doom onto his friends. Even though he had his freedom, he did not feel free.
Calling upon his remaining reserves of energy, he trudged on, into an uncertain future.


It had taken a lot of convincing for him to take the two hour flight. He had deliberated a lot on facing his fear. As the plane sped across the runway, he closed his eyes, and muttered something under his breath. They were in the air. He had taken the aisle seat, as he did not want to look out the window. Even as the plane attained cruise speed, he was still uneasy. Every time there was an announcement, he shifted slightly in his seat, scared that something bad was going to happen. Sensing his discomfort, a fellow passenger tried comforting him. Then the turbulence hit. He was regretting his decision to fly, when he could have taken a train. At that moment, the pilot announced that they would be landing soon. That sparked him to life. He now had hope that he would be able to set feet on the ground once again. As the plane touched the tarmac, he knew he had made it. Nearly a decade after that horrible day, he had conquered his fear. He had won.

The Fix

It was an addiction. His friends kept telling him that it would destroy his life. He just didn’t pay heed to their rational advice. He needed his fix the first thing in the morning, before going to work. Even while working, his mind wandered in that direction. He was prone to lapses in concentration. He was suffering. He was not able to take control of his life. He knew he had to do something, before it was too late.

Feeling determined, he decided to do the one thing that was necessary – To click on the blue button which read ‘Deactivate Account’.