Last weekend, I was at AngelHack hackathon at Palo Alto. It was a whole new experience for me since it was my first time hacking and staying at a hackathon till it ended. There were four members in my group: Eva, Bill, Geetha and me. Among them, three of us just started learning coding. Our project is to build a web application called PairBubble where couples can log in through Facebook and share their memorable moments.
It was very frustrating at least for me. First of all, I knew what I needed to build, but I had no idea how. I have learned some Java, C++, HTML, CSS and Ruby. There was nothing much I can do with the knowledge I have. My first duty was to figure out how to use Singly API to extract users’ information from Facebook. I couldn’t just say give me an another task to do because I don’t know how to do it. Oh hell, if I had to say no to everything that’s new to me, that’d be all my tasks I was assigned. So, I told myself I’m there to learn. I felt like I was a big baby there and needed help with everything I needed to do. It was definitely hard. All I have learned so far is how to deal with arrays, hashes, and write functions. While I was trying to figure out how to extract information from Facebook using Singly API and complaining to myself why the basic concepts I know have never been applied, I found out that user informations on Facebook are stored in arrays and hashes. And my mind went “Ding”. Finally, there is something I know how to do. But, it’s more complicated than normal beginner’s exercises since some of the information is stored in hashes within an array which is in hashes within a big array. I just gotta get used to dealing with more complicated situations.
Next, be prepared to be awake the whole time when you are at a hackathon or be ready to sleep anywhere you can in any position. I managed to sleep for about four hours during AngelHack. I couldn’t find any place to lie down, so I just lay my head on the table and took two separate naps, and I woke up with a massive headache. FML.
If you ask me if I still want to go to a hackathon, I’d say I do but I prefer to go home at night and have a good night sleep even if it’s for a short time.
Now that I have stayed at a hackathon from the beginning to the end, I know exactly what to do when I go there again. I will post a blog post about hackathon 101 tomorrow.