"Hats off to the students of PESIT who organised the Ayana12 Event"
When I logged into Facebook the other day, I found an invitation to Ayana. Normally I get annoyed with invitations on Facebook (Who doesn't?) but I click on them normally to see what they are. I was pleasantly surprised to see that it was an event that was being held in PESIT. I read on and saw that it was a Hackathon. My first experience with Hackathon was perhaps 8 months back when Yahoo had organised one at Bangalore. It was a very nice experience then and I was sure I wanted to participate. But a college fest? I thought let me first check if I was even eligible. I found that it was open to everyone.
What is a hackathon anyway? A hackathon is basically an event where people come from different places, and code (or do some electronics projects) continuously for 24 hours. A lot of exciting projects normally come out of these events. You can see a lot of different ideas from different people - some of these hacks go a great way in the long run.
It was being organised by students, so normally you expect glitches along the way. When I was at the Yahoo Hackathon, one major issue that was faced was that the internet was not continuous. They had provided a wi-fi connection which was really problematic in the beginning. They eventually gave us LAN cables. Ayana was modeled along the same lines as the Yahoo hackathon. Except, there were no internet problems! There were some minor issues in the beginning, but they resolved it immediately. This was one of the first things I liked about the way in which it was organised.
The crowd was mostly full of students. There were some professional developers too. Well as far as I was concerned, I was nostalgic about just being in college. There were some tech talks that were arranged, but we didn't attend them. Some people go to Hackathons with ideas in their minds, and use stuff they already know very well to build them. We had gone with no preparation and decided to build with entirely new technologies. So the 24 hours, a lot goes into studying and learning things from scratch. Frankly, that's where the thrill is - an engineering student knows the value of last minute preparation when you start getting highly efficient.
We decided to build quite a few things - like I said, unplanned. And then my friend and colleague Amod was busily reading Twitter API docs. I didn't understand why, he wasn't even responding when we called him. Subsequently we saw what he had done. He had written a small hack that would pick out a random statement from http://www.whatthecommit.com and then hashtag Ayana12 with it and tweet it. This happened every 5 minutes. In the end, he won the prize for most number of tweets and got two pen drives :P Cool huh?
Meanwhile I was busily reading about jQuery mobile and Phone Gap, and ended up building an app called Vaat-o-meter, which is basically an app to complain against erring Auto Drivers. It also allows you to calculate the correct fares for a distance, and directly place a complaint to the authorities from a list of complaints. An email gets sent. This I did for Android.
Then I also worked a bit on some code that I had quite some time back - You can say it is a pet project for me. I added a new feature where data can easily be represented as graphs. I don't want to explain more here - It's been put up on Github. It's basically inspired by Oracle ADF, and will allow you to represent data as a table or form or chart very quickly. I call it JS_Grid
I got a 4 GB Pen Drive for getting a quiz question right. They had organised a nice quiz, a cool boy-band came and played some nice songs as they strummed away, there was a crossword with stick pages (Post It notes) and others. Delicious food as well, though I believe there was a bit of shortage there.
Two stalwarts also spoke - Richard Stallman and Yukihiro Matsumoto. It was fantastic what other people had done. What we ultimately presented was an app that was location aware, and would give you ads depending on your choices - a highly customisable app. But the judges said that it was the same as Foursquare (Which I have never seen) and didn't even see the app :P I guess they were running out of time since we were the last people to be seen. We don't know what the heck is Foursquare except that it was a location aware service. Well nothing to worry about - we thoroughly enjoyed tweeting and coding and learning. In fact I came out greatly empowered because of the aggressive learning that I went through.
But all in all, the event was a great success. Ayana was trending at number 1 in Bangalore and number 4 in India. Hats off to the students. At one point, we were hungry and we tweeted, and they actually brought fruits for us! Perfect hosts. And cleanly organised. I am really hoping that we have this event growing bigger and better as the years come by. PESIT has done a great job organising the event as well, and there is now a PES Open Source community as well. For those of you who missed out on the event, don't worry - be sure to attend it next year.