I went to NwHacks 2020 and submitted Vite Parking

To be honest, they were willing to reimburse $200 of my flight to Vancouver and I jumped at the chance to travel. People with I interned with at Zenefits (Jeffrey and Andrew) had gone on travel excursions of their own. Jeffrey had just recently gone to Japan and Andrew had an exchange in Denmark which included travelling extensively around Europe. I had just gotten back from doing the LinkedIn internship and I was basically just sitting at home in Toronto. I had pretty much “retired” from hackathons at that point. The last hackathon I had submitted a project to was MHacks11 in 2018, and the only hackathon I attended in 2019 was CalHacks, where I didn’t even submit a project. Nonetheless I decided to go and see what it was about.

Vancouver

Vancouver is great. I arrived on the Saturday cause I had no place to stay if I went in on the Friday. I planned to sleep Saturday at UBC and then present Sunday.

What I saw

UBC is great and Vancouver is great.

NWHacks Photos

Hackers

There were so many designers. I had never seen so many product designers, UX designers, UI designers in my life at a hackathon. And maybe that speaks something cause I had been to a lot of hackathons. But everyone was really into UI/UX. Maybe this was a UBC centric thing.

Maybe this was my fatal flaw in designing the project but some teams had 3-4 designers and there product looked really nice but it didn’t so much as a proof of concept. I usually try to focus on some code with a wow-factor in the project and get some code running but I guess my forte is not having a UI/UX focus. In short, my code runs but doesn’t always look the nicest.

Events

I didn’t attend too many events this time around because I was hard at work on my project but I liked the smash tournament. I got to top 16 in bracket then lost last game last stock in best of 3 matches of smash ultimate. (not melee) Setups were a bit jank with all-DLC, partial-DLC, no-DLC but small gripe.

3.5/5

Venue

Building/area was pretty small considering the amount of people (~700) It wasn’t flat out bad, we had area to hack but space was precious.

3/5

Food

Yeah I dunno what to say. Food was subpar. We had rando midday pizza and kinda small portions on meals. The banh mis were actually good. We had midnight ramen but had one kettle with boiling water so it was kind of short supply. One of the volunteers got mad at me when I tried scooping my own rice.

0.5/5

Judging/Project

One thing I didn’t realize was a huge component was how the project looked. Our project had to overcome some technical hurdles technology wise (setting up server to process images, linked to react native mobile app, updating mongo db with image) and I could argue was my most technical hackathon project ever. Despite that I think why it didn’t do as well with judges was because it wasn’t as pretty as other projects UI with more people solely focused on UI. This is not a knock on our UI, or people that did our UI, but it is hard to compete against teams composed of 2-4 designers solely making a project look good that maybe doesn’t work as well.

RBC came by and did some API endpoint DDOS as part of their sponsor prize and tbh we weren’t prepped for it at all. I think I signed up for the API prize but totally forgot to even prep for it. One team member had configured Google Cloud Platform to use a scalable instance with a serverless api endpoint. Remarkably our endpoint didn’t go down due to GCP’s scalability for the endpoint. (They sent ~1000 requests in 5 seconds or something crazy like that)

He explained our process for selecting a serverless api endpoint on GCP and RBC seemed impressed. I think we were pretty close on winning this if I had prepped a little more. (That’s my bad)

Overall

Honestly the hackathon was not bad. The only thing I’ll really knock it for is the food. It wasn’t Qhacks or UofTHacks bad, but I expected a little more. Definitely second behind Hack the North, but also falls outside of the USA level hackathon tier.

2.5/5