Long road of hackathons

I attended a fair amount of hackathons in the three year period. Some small, some large, some medium sized. I went overboard one term but generally I tried to travel if I got the opportunity.

I’m (going to/did) make a blog post about every job I applied for, so why not talk about every hackathon I went to. At the beginning I was bad…really bad. To the point where I had to make static html sites cause I didn’t know how to make a web app.

Winter 2015

TerribleHack 2

This was my first ever hackathon. I loved the low bar to entry and overall carefree environment to learn. I think we made a random joke generator. It was not nearly ironically bad enough to be funny, and not impressive in any way. I didn’t even know Python at the time. Silent crowd reaction.

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Summer 2016

Velocity Residence Hackathon

I was struggling to learn how to use dbs like SQL and still trying to learn NodeJs at the time. I teamed with some hopefuls and I took the lead on the project. I had some really bad project made in HTML, CSS, and some Javscript. It kind of fell apart due to my lack of planning.

I tried to make a joke pitch since our project was laughably bad. This time I was (nearly) actually booed off the stage.

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Fall 2016

Eng-Hack 2016

I worked with my team on a chatbot that gave google maps directions. Was decent but I got carried somewhat in the hackathon.

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UWPHacks

Small hackathon hosted by the dons of UWP. I just followed some Unity tutorials.

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TerribleHack 4

I think this one was sponsored by Zynga. I made a pokemon go clone with Scratch called “Pokemon GOes Lite”.

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I pitched it to a small crowd at SCH. This time the laughter was at my project and not aimed at me. (which I count as progress)

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MHacks 8

First time going to the US for a hackathon. My team ended up disbanding and I spent most of the time playing melee.

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TerribleHack 5

This was hosted at Shopify and was actually really fancy. High budget and had a lot of non-Waterloo people showed up for it. I made some weird Trump Tower/Tiny Tower game.

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Winter 2017

UofTHacks

I tried to make a game in Lua using a framework called Love. It didn’t work out and we didn’t end up submitting.

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QHacks

We had some habit app on Android. I didn’t know Java at all and I was getting carried.

I remember they were feeding us tiny food portions (like half a subway sub for lunch). Then the final meal was this all you can eat buffet at Leonard Hall one of the residence cafeterias at Queens. Our team and some other people pigged out on food there.

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MHacks 9

In my return to Michigan I was determined to try and make a winning project. We tried using a neural net to produce images. Training that locally is pretty difficult (due to CPU constraints). It didn’t really work out.

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HackPrinceton Spring 2017

I wasn’t accepted to HackPrinceton but I decided to go on the bus anyways and hope they would accept me in-person. I had travelled on a bus ride for ~8 hours and it was a gamble. A gamble that paid off as they let me.

Used the IBM Watson API to create an AI that learned based on your movements. This was more complex than I thought having to deal with real-time requests using the IBM Unity SDK (which at the time had incorrect documentation AND broken Unity SDK.)

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Fall 2017

PennApps XVI

My first time going to UPenn and PennApps. PennApps is the first hackathon ever so I was excited to go. It was a little longer bus ride than Michigan at ~8 hours one way. Mhacks modelled their hackathon after PennApps with their high production value and overall quality of the hackathon.

I distinctly remember trying to code the backend for the project using BlackRock’s API and it passed data with time in epoch format. At the time I had no idea why it was giving me this huge number as the time, but I ran with it and plotted it in a graph. Judges asked me what the large value was and I was so exhausted from sleep deprivation I said “I’m not sure”. I would later read the documentation and learn it was the epoch time.

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Hack the North 2017

My team disbanded so I made a simple to-do app with Ajax Javascript. After the demo with judges (which included Charlie Cheever) I’m pretty sure they had a look of confusion of why I even demoed and how could a person even demo something so bad.

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MHacks X

This was a legendary hackathon. This was my 13th hackathon and I had never won anything at any of the hackathons prior. I remember I met Alex at the team formation session after everyone had left and we teamed up. I found it was much easier to work in a smaller team where roles were clearly defined, we knew what we were working on, and specialized accordingly. We were able to win the best use of WolframAlpha api and MixMax api.

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ETHWaterloo

This was a legendary hackathon. Vitalik came for the event and crypto was blazing hot at the time. I teamed with Kaustav who I knew from the Velocity residence and met two other people at the hackathon.

Basic Identity token is a project that wanted to utilize the decentralized nature of cryptocurrencies and use it as a login to websites, such as Facebook. It used Facebook auth and was able to log you in after verifying your token from the blockchain.

We won the Storj api prize. I demoed the project to the Storj people and we got 3rd place out of the 3 teams that presented. Then we found out that the 2nd place team cheated/had pre-written code so we got bumped up to 2nd place. We each got 200 Storj tokens and a writeup on the Storj site. Link

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PennApps XVII

I was a hackathon bus coordinator once ever (probably for good reason). I think I was the bus coordinator for this one. I realized being responsible for 20-30 university students on a bus travelling from Canada to the US and back was a huge responsibility. I don’t think I’d do it again. Being responsible for 20-30 undergrads travelling across the border, making sure we don’t forget people, and being logistically “in charge” is a big burden.

I tried using NLP to parse crypto whitepages and explain them in an easy format. This project I tried to carry the team and the idea itself was a bit flawed both from UI and overall execution. Sometimes ideas flop and that’s ok.

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HackPrinceton Spring 2018

I got accepted to HackPrinceton this time (unlike last time just jumping on the bus). I can’t remember where I met Jimmy but we teamed on the project and worked in the Princeton library.

One thing I love about Hack Princeton is that you don’t sleep on the campus, they pair you up with Princeton students and you get to sleep on their couch or mattress while at the hackathon. It is much better sleep than sleeping on the floor.

I skipped the cs350 a3 (page table implementation I think worth ~15% of my mark) and just went to hackprinceton instead. Not a good decision in hindsight but I passed cs350.

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RedBull AdrenaLan

I was interning at Okta at the time and I wanted to go to RedBull AdrenaLan. Despite the small amount of participants it was actually not bad. It was at a convention center in Missisauga and was essentially a hackathon placed in a tournament. They had gaming setups galore for people to just game on, there was a raffle where people got free headsets, keyboards, GPUs, etc. The hackathon was pretty small but I ended up getting $150 USD in Amazon gift cards so that was pretty legit. Not bad for a weekend.

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PennApps XVIII

Honestly, I don’t remember too much of this hackathon.

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MHacks 11

I went to this hackathon in basically a chill trip to Michigan. I had just finished interning at Okta over the summer and didn’t want to take the hackathon too seriously. I met up with Alex who also interned at Okt and I had teamed with at Mhacks 10.

I teamed with Joseph, Igo, and Gabrielle. Igo and Gabrielle were high school students who said they knew iOS development so I trusted them to do that part.

I mainly did graphic design for this project. Which looking back was extremely chill but also I stopped doing art class in grade 8.

Igo had a Wish coding challenge and he asked me to do it for him. I aced it. I’m saying this cause I know Wish probably won’t ever send me anything due to my marks, so yeah. It was an easy coding challenge too.

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TerribleHacks XII

We don’t talk about this lol. We tried organizing it and ~100 people signed up. Only 3 people ended up showing up.

CalHacks 6.0

I was interning at LinkedIn in Sunnyvale at the time and wanted to go to UC Berkley. I travelled out to Oakland from Sunnyvale which took ~2.5hours by Caltrain + bus. I also had work on Friday so I didn’t get in until Saturday. I was so exhausted I didn’t even submit a hack I just talked to sponsors and got free swag.

I was talking to a company called Sonder that was like Airbnb but leased out like WeWork. At the time WeWork was under financial investigation and litigious trouble. I was talking to them and I asked if their company was “like airbnb but leased out like wework”. They did not like the association of their idea to wework.

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NWHacks 2020

First time I got to fly to a hackathon. Vancouver is nice.

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