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Hackday London

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Hackday London was fantastic – a most memorable weekend for many reasons. It was clear we were in for a good time when Alexandra Palace was – now-infamously – struck by lightning (see this video for the moment of impact) resulting in the roof vents opening and letting in the rain. A Dunkirk spirit swiftly developed as everyone – laptops, beanbags & all – was moved into the Palm Court atrium to recommence hacking without wifi or power.

Jeremy already had a huge team set up for his game hack so I joined forces with my esteemed ex-colleague Andy Hume to create a hack. Once the roof, power and wifi were re-enabled we, and 400 others, settled down to 24 hours of hacking.

The Hack

Screenshot of Get Us Organised

Somehow Andy and I managed to design and develop a web app called Get Us Organised. It was based on an idea by Graham Carlyle which we extended to integrate with Upcoming. The basic premise is that, in order to add an event to Upcoming you need to already know the venue and the date. These can be two very hard questions to answer if you are trying to cat-herd 15 people from around the country to agree on an amenable venue and a convenient date. The app attempts to find a consensus based on which venues and dates people don’t want (thanks Norm) and their preference from what’s left. Once that’s all decided, the organiser can click a button and the event is automatically added to Upcoming, along with the attendees.

We Won!

Our prize - a black iPod Nano engraved with Hack London

Like all the teams, I was required to present our hack to everyone in 90 seconds. It was incredibly tight (and bright) and I went over a teeny bit, but at least 90 seconds is so quick there’s no time to be nervous! Anyway I was told I did a decent job, and the feedback seemed good. So good, in fact, Andy and I won the award for Most Useful Hack! A fabulous end to a brilliant weekend. Yahoo! and the BBC did themselves huge credit by putting on this event, and I can’t wait until the next one.

Incidentally the Get Us Organised hack is at proof-of-concept stage at the moment, but we intend to get it to such a state that we can launch it as a proper web app as soon as time allows.

Update! You now can sign-up to a notification list so you’re first to hear when Get Us Organised is available for use.

Some other Hackday memoirs of note