Hacking It Up – Black Ops Style

A couple of weeks ago on a harmless April Friday, we held our first Hack Day at work. It was totally inspired by and loosely modeled after Yahoo’s Open Hack Day, with the notable exception that ours was not “open”. I think Yahoo’s Hack Day was a great idea and I was very excited to see us doing something similar.

Given the fact that I hadn’t done any serious programming for a while — sorry Expedia Dashboard widget, you don’t count — I was itching to enter the contest to stretch my coding skills a bit and, of course, blow everyone away with something so cool we had to win. Lucky for me I had some friends at work who were interested in doing the same. So armed with two rock star developers and two crazy program managers who code (“why would PM’s write code??? they say), we formed an elite black ops unit that began to meet and discuss the details of our project.

Hack Day came around and we hacked our little hearts out. I learned JavaScript tricks I never knew existed, we became intimately familiar with the Prototype library (don’t write JavaScript without it!) and writing object oriented JS, and we wore out the JS debugger and other tools in Firebug — the Firefox extension sent from the heavens unto web developers everywhere.

Working day and night through the weekend on our project (yes I know it was Hack Day but they said if we wanted to work all weekend, more power to us) took me back to the nights spent in Soda Hall on the Berkeley campus trying to finish up one of our many CS class projects a few nights before it was due.

Lots of lines of Java, XML, JavaScript, and CSS and three days later we had completed our vision for a next-generation travel shopping experience. We showed our prototype at the judging the following Wednesday and it was a big hit. Since the initial presentation we’ve been inundated with questions and requests for demos for various groups. Tonight we found out that we won and tied for first place. We had a lot of fun working on the project and I can honestly say I’m very proud of the work we did.

Anyway, if you were wondering why I had been MIA the last couple of weeks, now you know what I was doing pretty much that whole time. I can’t post screenshots or videos of our prototype here but if you know me and are interested in hearing more about this, get in touch with me. Hopefully someday soon I can point to something on the live site and say it was inspired by (or is!) our Hack Day project.

One Response to “Hacking It Up – Black Ops Style”

  1. smolvar says:

    You guys did a great job! Kudos to your whole team.
    Hack day is the beginning of a revival!