At some point in the beginning of my internship, Michael connected me with Kevia Cloud, a former kid from the hood who got his life together doing CS for the military. Kevia is now back home and wants to make his community better, which I think is a fabulous goal. He started the first ever Hackathon here in Tacoma, and Michael asked me to be a part of it so we could suggest ideas for future ones.
I first got to know him and the rest of the team at the pre hackathon meet up over some amazing bulgogi courtesy of his girlfriend. There were only 6-7 of us, but I enjoyed chatting with everyone, and we got along great.
The Hackathon itself started around midnight on a Friday and was planned to go until midnight on Saturday. Because there were so few of us, we all worked on one idea. The idea was an app that could take a picture and then place where you took that photo on a custom map. Initially this could be used to take pictures of graffiti for removal. But this concept has many other applications such as in police work and giving showing people where all the really cool street art in a city is.
This meant taking a picture in the app, sending the picture metadata up into the cloud, and having a computer retrieve the metadata and place it on a map. We could also optionally build servers that could process the data to learn more clues from it. But the minimum viable product we wanted to finish in 24 hours was to be able to take a picture on a phone and have its location show up on the map.
Since my coding skills are garbage at best, I began working on the optional server part with some other folks. I learned how to turn on my local server so that things I typed would show up on there, and we began the process of downloading a million different packages in order to turn that simple server into something that could actually process data. Needless to say, we didn’t get very far on that, but the rest of the team did manage to achieve their MVP! Of course since the hackathon went from midnight after a full work day until midnight the next day, we were so tired for the majority of it that I at least felt pretty useless. But it doesn’t matter, I learned a lot and made some new friends, and isn’t that what hackathons are really all about?
What’s up everyone, I know you’re looking at this huge jump in dates between the first two posts and this one and going what the hell? Is this guy such a total bum that he can’t even keep up with a blog? The answer to that is yes. Like the title says, I’m only doing this because my boss makes me. Tons of things have happened since I last blogged, and there’s no way I’ll be able to talk about all of it. Does that mean you’ll never get to hear about some of my experiences? Yep, I guess it just sucks to be you. Let’s get into it.
What you last heard was that I helped set up a Space Elevator exhibit. I wasn’t there for the fundraiser, but I heard it was pretty sweet. Our exhibit intrigued tons of people from all different walks of life, and many put down their information and asked to be kept up to date on our progress. Market test number 1 of the Space Elevator Museum concept can be considered a success.
Market test number 2 was to set up a display in 5 large windows on Broadway St. here in Tacoma. The idea was that since it was right next to the Broadway Farmer’s Market, in theory it would bring around 5,000 people each Thursday right up to our windows. This is a great time for a phrase I’ve heard hundreds of times from my Dad, “sounds good in theory”.
First, there were problems with the location. While it is very close to the Farmer’s Market, the Market stops just short of the beginning of our windows, and everyone stays within the confines of the market. So there’s a huge crowd of people that you could hit with a rock if you threw it from the windows, but you couldn’t force them to come look at our display.
Then there were problems with the space itself. More than half of the windows were being renovated so there were contractors in and out every day doing internal demolition and asbestos removal. Not exactly a place to be putting art up in. But at first we had one window to work with that the contractors said they wouldn’t touch, so we spent a good bit of time printing posters and hanging them up there. Lo and behold, after we put everything up, the contractors changed their minds and said they needed to do work in our space. All the work that went up, came right back down and went into storage. Just proof that things don’t go your way all the time, but hey that’s life.