OCTOBER 13, 2008

CMU Hack Day Results
Posted by Kent Brewster, hackday.blorg, October 13, 2008

Susan LinCarnegie Mellon's 2008 Hack Day was our largest and best-attended University Hack Day ever. We wound up with 29 entries and a very full house for demonstration time, thanks to the inclusion of Hack Pitch--in cooperation with the Tepper School of Business--in which hackers teamed up with MBA students to produce business plans based around working hacks.

Because there were so many entries and so much enthusiasm throughout the night, the judges conspired to add a few Honorable Mention awards not given at other events. Here they are:

Hackiest Hack:

Susan Blog, by Edwin Shao and Susan Lin. This hand-drawn travelogue captured our hearts and brought in many interesting images from Flickr, and the presenters learned an important lesson about not assuming that everyone's screen runs at the same resolution that yours does. Especially the projector you're going to present your hack on. :)

Head First No Prisoners Award:

Local Event Mapper, by Derek Kozel. The author had no programming experience of any sort, or even a laptop to hack on, and yet he managed to quickly glean enough knowledge to bring local events from many different services onto the same map, courtesy of the biggest, most complicated set of Yahoo! Pipes we have ever seen. Ever.

Guts and Determination Award:

Upcoming++, by Ashutosh Chauhan. Before the presentations start, you really want to make sure the machine you're going to present on will talk to a projector. After five (count-em FIVE) attempts, Ashutosh's effort--an interesting mash-up of Upcoming and Maps--finally came alive, to rousing applause.

Category Awards

Search Monkey Prize:

TwitterSearchMonkey, by Paul Shen. TwitterSearchMonkey amplifies the search result for a Twitter user's profile page, including the user avatar and ten most recent tweets in the advanced search bar.


BOSS : How We Like, by Kyle Sun and Ruojian Yu. This hack used BOSS to run multiple searches on a person's name, analyzed the results for emotionally-charged terms, and gave a percentage of "how we like" it. Running it on the judges' names during the demonstration was a brave--and highly amusing--move that helped to seal the deal.

Sorry, no URL available.

Hack for Good: Panorama, by Donald Cober and Nirava Patel. Kids around the world are beginning to acquire One Laptop Per Child machines; this hack makes it simple for them to create a 360-degree panorama of where they live, stitch it together, and upload it to Flickr. The vision is to allow children around the world to share their surroundings with each other. If you visit the hack's page, you'll see the actual image the authors captured when they demonstrated their hack:


Overall Winners

Third Overall: GeoComments, by Steven Hillenius and Sam Hashemi. Even though this one used (ahem) a competitor's map API, we could not ignore the technical sweetness or the bright idea: a simple implementation of geo-located discussion to find the best food in the area. Click the map to visit a spot near CMU; add comments or read those left by others, or click the magic Food button in the top right to see where to eat on campus. Steven and Sam even had a portable version which ran on a jailbroken iPhone, which used your current location to instantly find food near you.


Second Overall: Eagle Eye, by Mattt Thompson and Dan Sibley. Eagle Eye was a very nicely-done interactive photo scavenger hunt, using FireEagle, Flickr, GeoPlanet, and Yahoo! Maps. Players see photos and do their best to come closest to the spot where the photo was taken, by uploading a matching geotagged picture.

Sorry, no URL to share, but we hope it will be along shortly.

First Overall: The Inhabited Web, by Chris Harrison, Bryan Pendleton, Julia Schwarz. This hack took top honors for several reasons: it was a technically sweet implementation of one of those slap-your-forehead-it's-so-simple ideas: a real-time visualization of how many people are currently browsing the same page you're on, and approximately where they are. The demo is currently live here:


... but we imagine it will be visible everywhere soon, since it also took first place in Hack Pitch.

Thanks to all who participated ... next stop, San Diego!