My First Hackathon – Hella Hack!

This weekend I devoted my time towards hacking music at Oakland’s first ever Music Hackathon – Hella Hack. Besides writing my name in the history books, I have found this experience very rewarding and revitalizing. In my day to day activities I am constantly juggling work priorities, events and personal endeavors. It was a relief to be able to focus 100% on the goal of delivering a product in just over 24 hours. Before we get any further, I’d like to give a brief etymology lesson.

Hella: extremely (used for emphasis). “I was hella mad”;

a large amount or number of. “those songs don’t get hella airplay”

The whole event was focused around delivering a catchy demo at the finish line, in a short period of time. For us this was going to be 2 – minutes. I underestimated the importance of this time and took over 15 seconds to introduce myself and the internship program that I am on. My team mate wasn’t impressed. As a result the demo was somewhat hectic and felt like we didn’t get to convey exactly what we have made. I am an optimistic person and throughout the hackathon I believed we had a fair shot at some prizes. That feeling evaporated rapidly after our pitch.

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To my surprise we have been called to the podium twice!

It was an incredible feeling of relief, knowing that the decision we have made have bore fruit. What was even more pleasant, were the positive comments from the audience about the quality of our presentation and the air of professionalism we commanded.

I have never really taken the time to play with JavaScript before this event. It became very clear to me that it was something that I will need to practice in the future. It is fair to say that I have learned more about JavaScript during these 24-hours, with special thanks to Jeff from Rdio, then I have ever been able to comprehend in my entire career.

As long as we are playing the technical notes, here are the API’s we have integrated with:

  • Echonest – We used them to search for songs that had certain moods, energy levels or degrees of speechiness. Then we used those songs as seeds for playlist generation.
  • 7digital – We used them to retrieve cover art and the MP3 clips for the songs we got from Echonest.
  • Sendgrid – We used them to give you the ability to email your self a song that you liked. In the future we would like to make this into ‘Email a Friend’ type feature.
  • Songkick – We used them to tell you where the band was playing next. You could then click a little icon and go book the tickets.

I would like to give a shout out to my friend and team mate, as well as a fellow SVIP, Stewart Taylor. He is a very talented engineer without whom this hackathon would have been a wildly different experience for me.

Below you can see the presentation we gave at the final.

All in all, this was a good weekend.

P.S. Once the app is live and running on an actual server (rather then localhost) I will update this post with a link.

3 thoughts on “My First Hackathon – Hella Hack!

  1. nice one!! 🙂 I think the final year projects should start with a Hackathon element! Would probably end up in a better product (well maybe not in your case, you won the prize!)

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