Recap: Photo Hack Day

This past weekend, I participated in my first ever hackathon. Photo Hack Day 2 was hosted by Aviary at General Assembly, and both the techie and photog in me couldn’t stay away. 

My team created fotosquare, an Android app that allows users to check-in on foursquare by just snapping a picture of the venue. The application sends the photo and GPS location data to our server, which then calls the foursquare API to return a list of nearby venues with their street addresses. We then feed these street addresses to Google Map’s Streetview static images API and compare these Streetview images to the one taken by the user. If there is a suitable match, the native foursquare app is initiated with the appropriate venue and the user is prompted to confirm the check-in. The end product worked, somewhat, but we did run into some difficulty with the lack of some venue addresses available on foursquare.

I have to admit that I use the term “participated” fairly loosely. To be honest, I didn’t actually write a single line of code. Our team of four had 3 very talented developers… and me, who did everything I could to keep up. Here were some of the “hats” that I wore over the 24 hours of the hackathon:

  • the Intern: grabbing event t-shirts for everyone (great success), hunting down the Bing representation to ask if MSFT had a Streetside static image API (not so successful)
  • the Product Manager: asking Ben to implement specific features, working with Joe to figure out the API methods and parameters
  • the UI Designer: collaborating with David to lay out the use case and product flow, mocking up screenshots of the Android app
  • the Hustler: making the team logo, putting together the presentation deck

Despite not winning any prizes at the end of it all, I had a great time building with my team and was very impressed by all the other hacks. Spending a weekend at GA taught me a lot in terms of working with code and programmers, and here are some other lessons I picked up:

  • For a two-minute demo with a laggy webcam, you need to pray to the demo gods. Hard. 
  • The smell of pulled pork, cold pizza, and diet Doctor Pepper becomes comforting after approximately Hour 18. 
  • It’s way more fun to code at a table full of your college friends
  • With enough planning and a kick-ass team, sleep is indeed attainable. 

Next weekend, I’m going to try to check out GOOD’s design hackathon at Parsons. Can hardly wait! 

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