Back in San Francisco this morning at PARISOMA, I continued hacking on my project for this weekend. They had an assortment of breakfast food and more orange juice than one could drink in a month.
A teammember from the HP Anywhere team came over and helped determine a nasty race condition during the rendering process that only happened on the mobile device and not the laptop version of HP Anwhere.
Lunch was served by another food truck, Brass Knuckle. Instead of waiting outside for the order to be ready, I returned to put the final touches on File Drop.
Even with all the hackathon presentations I have done, and all the people have presented in front of, the nervous feeling was present as my turn approached. If that wasn’t enough, the remote Windows instance my code was running on went to sleep and required one of those really long and complicated passwords to wake up. This kind of last minute technical glitch isn’t new, but after having experienced several of these occasions in my hacking “career”, this was the easiest to overcome.
Bringing my sense of humor, which at times I admit can be confusing even to myself, to the start of the demo got it off on the right track. As I was practicing my pitch, I had spotted a book in the middle of the table. I had brought it up with me, to the confusion of people standing next to me in line.
With the mic in one hand and the book in the other, all I remember is letting it go as I said “bring digital documents into the physical world.” Bam! The book hit the floor with a loud thud on the hollow stage floor, catching everyone’s attention and literally breaking the tension.
The rest of the demo went fairly well. Having so many different ways to use this technology and concept, it was hard to focus on just one.
In fact, the judges had a bunch of questions on how it would be used, what kind of security measures it would use, and even mentioning new ways that I had considered by didn’t pursue because of time constraints. I have to say this group of judges asked questions that felt really engaging, unlike other hackathons I’ve been to who would rather be writing emails.
The remaining teams demoed their ideas, in all about 15.
As the judges met behind closed doors and made their decision, several people approached me interested in my idea. It is an idea that could be used in a number of scenarios.
The judges reconvened and the winners announced in reverse order. After the two honorable mentions were announced, it was down to the final three places, 2nd runner up, 1st runner up, and winner.
A common issue with creating names for projects is that you may forget what you have called it in the heat of the moment. As I recalled the name, I heard it out loud. Shaken out of my trance, I stood up and saw the name of the project on the huge check.
While it is great to win first place and second place, third place isn’t all that bad either.
One of the people running the hackathon noticed I was leaving with the huge check and kindly confirmed that I knew “I couldn’t cash [the big check]”. Yep, that was pretty obvious, but how many times do you get a big check? In my case, this was worth the effort to get it home.
So what do you do with a huge check, a bike, and a ticket on Caltrain? You get a little creative. I couldn’t find a slot big enough in the Caltrain ticket vending machine. And the Bank of America ATM wouldn’t take it either. So it went home with me. I tried asking the Caltrain ticket agent if they took checks, and he at first became annoyed before he realized the joke.
Where do you put it on the train? Well, I just so happened to sit in an emergency exit row. You know, in case I need to evacuate, I can take the check with me.
The conductor came down the aisle, spotted the reverse side and asked if “I was bored?” Oh boy!
Okay, so I was cheap and didn’t upgrade to first class. But really, they have to work on the amount of legroom.
Before long, we (the check and I) arrived at my stop and I made my way to the exit as the passengers looked confused at what the hell the big board was all about. Look, I made the day a little more interesting for fellow Caltrain riders.