Tech for the Holidays
Donny and Oren Kanner had always wanted to go to a hackathon. But since the events tend to fall between sundowns on Fridays and Saturdays, the brothers—both observant Jews who honor Shabbat—were never able to attend.
“As observant Jewish people, we wouldn’t be able to make it until Saturday night,” Donny, an agile project manager at the Hackerati, told Betabeat. “I’ve attended portions of hackathons, but we’ve never really had the opportunity to go to the beginning of one.”
So Donny and his brother Oren, a PhD candidate in robotics at Yale, decided a few months ago to create a hackathon that catered to their religious schedules.
The one thing more depressing than spending your weekend nights alone in bed watching Sherlock is falling asleep before you even find out how he solves the murder, amiright?
Some Netflix employees have figured out a possible way to solve the highly pressing problem, The Week reports. At an internal company Hack Day last week, a team of five Netflix-ers presented their invention: a customized FitBit wristband that detects when you’ve fallen asleep, pauses whatever show you’re aggressively binge-watching and replaces it with a friendly “Looks like you’ve fallen asleep!” message. When the user returns to Netflix (presumably after a night of Benedict Cumberbatch-filled dreams), they can resume their show from the point at which they previously dozed off.
Hack Hack Hack Hack It Apart
Could our culture be any more saturated with hackathons? Now even the publishing business has latched onto them. [The Atlantic]
The creator of the GIF insists it’s pronounced “jif,” and no one will listen to him, not even the Oxford English Dictionary. Also, the dancing baby is still one of his favorites. [New York Times]
The immigration reform bill is headed to the Senate floor, which means FWD.us finally racked up a victory, of sorts, instead of just accumulating bad press for throwing the Alaskan caribou under the bus. [AllThingsD]
Microsoft just debuted a new Xbox, in case you were wondering what your spoiled nephew would be demanding for Christmas this year. [Wired]
XX in Tech
On October 19th, Onswipe is holding its first ever 48-hour hackathon at the company’s Union Square-based HQ. The startup assures us, in bolded font, that there will be beer. The theme of the hackathon is HTML5–unsurprising given Onswipe’s own underlying code infrastructure.
The Third Degree
If you’ve ever been to a hackathon, you’re probably well-acquainted with the fact that the majority of attendees and participants are usually dudes. The paucity of gender diversity in tech is a controversial issue, but one that probably won’t be solved by responding to the over-saturation of Y chromosomes with an all-female hackathon. That’s where Hack’n Jill comes in.
Sponsored by Appnexus and hosted at the company’s headquarters, Hack’n Jill is a weekend-long summer hackathon that will bring together 50 men and 50 women in an effort to “create an environment where both genders feel welcome to build cool things together.”
Alley vs. Valley
After years of reading Ryan Tate’s piercing coverage on the free time and foibles of Silicon Valley’s demigods at Gawker, Betabeat finally had the pleasure of making his acquaintance the other night. Spoiler alert: He might be the nicest dude in tech blogging, despite what the press releases regurgitation factories would have you think. Mr. Tate’s former pen pal Steve Jobs probably put it best: “He’s no dummy.”
We also had a chance to peruse his new book “The 20% Doctrine: How Tinkering, Goofing Off, and Breaking the Rules at Work Drive Success in Business,” which takes its title and subject matter from Google’s much-admired practice of letting employees spent a fifth of their work week building whatever they want to. Like, say, multi-billion dollar revenue streams like AdSense or lifelines like Gmail.
Greentech is so firmly associated with the West Coast, we’re not even going to bother with the jokes about hippies and solar panels. But if Mayor Michael Bloomberg has anything to say about it, that’s not going to stay the case. Today the mayor presided over the opening of energy-efficiency software company Efficiency 2.0’s snazzy new Flatiron offices (in the same building as Tumblr, no less), where he made it clear that New York City’s tech scene will not be ignoring the cleantech market, thank you very much.
If you were disappointed about missing out on Hype Up Weekend, the vaporware hackathon in San Francisco, here’s an event for you: Tilt, a “brainstorming competition” where participants playing the role of “founders” will design product ideas around an assigned theme. The “startups” will be evaluated by participants playing the role of “investors,” competing to get the biggest portfolio and speculating via an internal stock market that will run on the participants’ smartphones. A real, live New York venture capitalist–exactly who will be announced on the date of the event–will make an appearance. It all takes place in one Saturday afternoon on April 21 in Tribeca.
You might be tempted to call Tilt a hackathon, but the event expressly forbids hacking. “This is about business ideas and their viability,” the event advertises. “Design skills, production, marketing and branding are as valuable as software development.”
“At some point, the hackathon bubble has got to pop.” That’s what Betabeat wrote 11 months ago in a story we called “Welcome to Hackathon Central!” about the astonishing abundance of these developer sleepovers, which now occur on a bus, on an island, with massages (all real examples!) and in increasingly shorter periods.
We don’t know about other “startup hubs,” but New York City is bonkers about hackathons. They’re social. They’re a great place for recruiters to meet developers. It’s a way to promote your brand new API. It’s a great place to slap your corporate brand and attempt to appropriate a cool DIY thing. Etc. There’s at least one every weekend.
We figured at some point, the people who attend these events would start to feel burned out.
Were we wrong? Is the hackathon bubble indestructible? A pair of Internet snarksters have launched an Eventbrite page announcing a new flavor of hackathon: the kind without a product.
Last weekend’s hackNY Hackathon at NYU’s Courant Institute culled some of the best young engineering minds from the East Coast to compete in a 24-hour code battle to the DEATH (okay, not really). But still–intense! The main project criteria for this hackathon? “Awesomeness,” obviously.
“For seriously this is not a hackathon about building something with a huge market or a ‘minimum viable product’ or something,” reads the Hacker League page. “Build something that blows away the judges with creativity and skill, either in design or technical winning.”