Yahoo! Hack day Europe 2013

The hackathon was held on Saturday 27-Sunday 28th of April; the mighty Pimlico Hackers (Ernesto, Blanca and me) met at their quintessential operations base (Pimlico Fresh), and from there we travelled to the conventions centre where the event was held, and where David was also already waiting for us. Sadly Belén couldn't join us, but we tried to make up for her absence.

We listened to some of the quick API intros and then after lunch we continued brainstorming prior to getting our hands dirty with code. If you've never been to a hackathon, this is how it works (roughly):

  1. IDEA
  2. HACK
  3. ????
  4. PROFIT!!!

Planning time

Then we built Plan My Trip, a service that allows you to plan your next trip (clever, eh?) in a quick and visual way.


It is also the Mother of All Mash-ups, as the back-end integrates data from several different APIs. Foursquare, YQL, Flickr, Wikipedia... I mean, just have a look at the require's:

require 'rubygems'
require 'sinatra'
require 'haml'
require 'json'
require 'yql-query'
require 'yql'
require 'httparty'
require 'flickraw'
require 'redis'
require 'securerandom'

This caused one of our members to say a memorable sentence:

I'm like one of those brogrammers that only uses gems

(he also asked to remain anonymous, so I oblige).

We had grand plans but as usual we had to trim them down in order to finish and present something. We didn't win but... ah! those crazy conversations about movies from the 90s that look pretty silly now, fuelled by sleep deprivation! Priceless! And what about sleeping on bean bags? Crazily absurd. Just as bizarre as the guy baking pancakes and doughnuts, cart and all, at 3 AM, while the chocolate fountain rolled and rolled. Mental, I tell you.

What I didn't like: the 'robot'. I hated every minute of it. It just reminded me to the Ed 209 scene from Robocop:


At the beginning it was mostly annoyingly loud and silly, but when it started cornering women and making sexist jokes it turned to highly disturbing. Please. I mean, at least bring a real robot that we can disconnect when it gets boring, and reprogram to throw paper balls to people who do commits that break the code. Now, that is exciting.

That sour note aside, it was funny to meet old acquaintances again (hello Jason!) and make new acquaintances (hello Mar!)

So good job everyone, organisers and hackers!

PS Am I the only one who gets amused by the fact that hacker is a 'cool word' nowadays?

--- Extra, extra! UPDATE! ...about three months later ---

I found a yahoohack.txt file in my desktop with the notes I took during the quick API intros. Here is it:

  • - not yet released to the public, private beta accessible today with some user and password that do not work anymore, and the bbc subdomain is still not accessible two months later. LALALALA...
  • planvine what's going on on the UK -
  • Expedia: "something something hadoop" turns into a CSV dump. And this: 'you can make some fucking money with our apis' (applause)
  • - learns the page structure, extract as table columns