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 🙂