How we HackPSU won



I have long wanted to join your online community, but unfortunately there were no ideas for the post or could not get an invite. But then HackPSU happened, and I decided to write a post about how everything went, who was the sponsor, as well as about the most interesting Workshops. I’ll try, maybe not briefly, but quite interestingly to tell about what happened.

To begin with, my name is Daniyar, I come from Kazakhstan, Astana. I am a sophomore at Pennsylvania State University, majoring in Computer Science. One late afternoon, a message came from InnoBlue, a community at our university, they invited all students, one way or another connected with programming, to participate in a hackathon from our university. Not only local students were invited, but also students from other universities, such as UPenn, Carnegie Mellon, North Carolina State University, New York University. The first thing we started to assemble a team, but unfortunately, not many agreed. I don’t know the reasons, but still our “team” consisted of 2 people: me and my friend Alibek. He is older than me, he is already graduating from a university, majoring in Math and Computer Science, also from Kazakhstan Honestly,

The theme of the hackathon was not very diverse, mainly the sponsor companies set the trend. In other words, “He who pays the money dances the girl.” The categories were as follows, mobile app, website, hardware technology. At the first moment, we were very upset, since almost all the main Computer Science courses are taught in C ++, JAVA and C. Our team knew the basics of JavaScript and could build a simple HTML page using CSS3, since the Internet is full of courses. But mobilz comes to the rescue with his post “An Easy Way to Write iOS Applications on the Web” , where the basics of programming a web application for IPhone are literally on the fingers. That was the thread we could grab onto ...

The main list of prizes:
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First Place: $ 2,500 + MLH Badge + 6 months of Firebase's Bonfire Plan

Second Place: MLH Badge + 3 months of Firebase's Bonfire Plan

Third Place: MLH Badge + 3 months of Firebase's Bonfire Plan

And then it was Friday, at exactly 8:00 PM we entered the IST Building on our University Park campus. We were a little late, and we got a small force majeure with registration. But when all the paperwork was smoothed, we moved to the presentation. I forgot to mention, when registering we were given a coupon for a free domain in the zones .net, .com, .org, .biz and .info for one year, a guide from and on MongoDB and a couple of photo caps. ("Which is already very, very not bad, do you agree?"). At the presentation, we were told about the goals of the hackathon, partner companies were presented, where each representative presented commercial APIs for development, as well as “not the main gifts” for the competitions. ("A complete list of companies under the cut"). After we were presented with a schedule of upcoming workshops (“What's also under the cut”). Basically, the workshops were for those very far from programming, but we went a couple and were very happy, because they showed using an API and just basics programming as an example. It was very interesting for me, as a person who had never coded Objective-C, to go to a workshop called "Getting started with iOS." The most interesting thing is that this workshop was led by a Russian guy who later met with us himself after hearing that we speak Russian.

Reference book from MongoDB:
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Coupon for a free domain:
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Friday, April 4:

Learn Chromecast like a boss
9:30 pm

Ruby Workshop
9:45 pm

Programming for Dummies
9:45 pm

Getting started with iOS
10:15 pm

Using Github
11:15 pm

Mashery API Network
11:30 pm

Saturday, April 5:

Node School
12:00 am

Intro to Android
12:30 am

1:30 am

iOS - Beyond the Basics
2:00 am

9:30 am

12:15 pm

2:00 pm

Twitter Bootstrap
3:00 pm

Improving Implementation
3:30 pm

Desing Tutor Session
4:15 pm

Metadata and Keywords
6:00 pm

7:00 pm

Google Analytics
8:45 pm

Using the App Store
9:15 pm

9:45 pm

10:00 pm

Marketing Your App
11:00 pm

Sponsoring companies:
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Then we went to the workshop at Mashery, a company developing and distributing APIs. They have +40 APIs from a variety of companies, ranging from the WorldWeatherOnline and WhitePages APIs to the USA Today and AETNA APIs. We could not even imagine an API, for example, from the Coca Cola Company or theGuardian. The most interesting thing is that the agent of this company provided us with free, full access to any API, and also presented us with Intel XDK, a framework for mobile UIs (“The article from mobilz mentioned above has a mention about it”). We could not attend all the workshops, as many went at one time or took place in the middle of the night.

Taken from @masherydev

Having finished with the workshops, we had dinner with free pizza and soda (“Food for programmers”), and started coding.
Our main idea was to use opensource Spritz and create a news reader using spritz technology. Our dumbest mistake was that we started using Intel XDK. This "application" works terribly on MacOS and creates just a terrible garbage dump from the code that we then had to rake. In general, the Intel XDK is pleasant for developing a concept, the main wrapper for presentation, but not for the real work. First of all, it was decided to build the application on my knee, delving into js files and understanding the principle of the algorithms, we started writing code. Later they started tying various tweeters and twisters for “beauty”, since the judges at the hackathon were not professional programmers and the main goal was to surprise them with a beautiful picture. The second priority was to use one of the Mashery APIs,
Without sleeping for a day, we had a prototype application that worked pretty well, using the ESPN API one of the ones provided by Mashery. Of course, I understand that “this” could be written in a couple of hours, but you need to take into account the fact that we knew only the basics of web programming, and in my opinion, we learned more during this day than we could have studied in month.

Frankly speaking, I was already running out, I wanted to quit everything when you are hungry and tired at 6 o’clock in the morning, sitting and staring stupidly at the screen, realizing that "you don’t get in touch." But at the last breakthrough, we finished off our application and weary went to represent our project. We were extremely unsure that we would win anything. But the attempt is not torture ...

The presentation began at 10 a.m. We were even afraid to present our application, considering it miserable, but nevertheless, the representative from the same Mashery company approached us first. We presented our application, not without a couple of embarrassments. Other judges came up, and meanwhile, we all tried to come up with new “usefulnesses” for our application. After the departure of the smiling and surprised judges, some inspiration nevertheless came to us.

After the presentation, everyone was invited to the main audience, and there our long wait began. I was exhausted, fell asleep right on the table. Suddenly, my friend hits me on the shoulder, I sleepy raise my head and do not understand what is happening around. Having gathered my thoughts, I realized that the same agent was standing on the stage and holding our awards from the sponsoring company. We, slightly surprised, go down to the podium, shake hands, take pictures and pick up gifts, mainly we won in this category thanks to the use of APIs from this company. Still not believing our own happiness, we sit down in our seats.
A few minutes later, silence falls in the hall, and the main organizer from the podium looks in our direction. After a little downcast, we understand that this is according to our souls and that we took third place in the hackathon! So surprised I was for the first time in my life. I could not imagine that we would win anything at all, and here is also third place! After talking with the sponsors, we joyful went home.

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A hackathon is a place where we met people of the same interests, where we found a storehouse of new information that we did not have time to get enough of, a place where we applied our skills in practice and a place where we realized how cool it is to create something new and interesting, practically from nothing. And most importantly, how cool it is to be a programmer.

PS All the information provided in this article should not be construed as advertising in one form or another.

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