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For teh hackz

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In case you haven’t heard, Nashville’s tech community is booming. With companies like Emma, Lonely Planet, Github and even Google leading the way, Music City is quickly becoming the Silicon Valley of the South.

This is great for people like me… a designer who writes code.

Web development is creative problem solving at its finest. When you finally manage to make something work, or fix something that’s broken in your code, the feeling of accomplishment is amazing.

That’s why I jumped at the chance to participate in Hack Nashville after hearing that ST8MNT principal Bethany Newman was part of the graphic design board there.

Hack Nashville is in it’s 5th year in our city, and it’s basically a 48 hour mad dash of web development, hardware builds, and general computer hackery. Participants create teams and have 48 hours to build some sort of web product, hardware mock-up, or whatever their computer nerd brains can come up with.

Here’s how 2014 Hack Nashville went down:
My team consisted of 6 of us. 3 of my teammates were fellow students at Nashville Software School. Brandon Lyons, Ruby on Rails protege now at Ferfco, Akshay Narang, a brilliant Ruby developer who until recently worked with Eliza Brock Software. We also had Zach Hendrix, the CTO of GreenPal. Along with the NSS grads, we also had Jonathan Gertig, a mind-blowing Ruby on Rails specialist, also at Ferfco. He brought along his buddy Joshua Clifford, who works as an ASP.net developer up in Kentucky.

Our project was to use Ruby on Rails, Angular.js, Bootstrap and jquery to create a responsive photo-scavenger web app game.

The game is called ISO (In Search Of). The rules are simple:

  • The players are given a topic, and 5 photograph objectives.
  • Each time a photo is taken, the user submits the photo to the other player. The other player must decide if the uploaded photo meets the objective. If so, the user accepts it. If not, the user rejects it. The first player to complete 5 objectives wins.

After 48 hours we had a working prototype. Naturally, there’s a few bugs, but it works pretty darn well considering we built it in 48 hours with a bunch of guys who have never had to work together in an extreme time crunch like this.

I focused on the logo and UI elements, and the other guys built the back end logic.

You can view a working prototype here: http://www.insearchof.photos

Besides our project, there were some truly amazing things going on at Hack Nashville.

One guy built a modular guitar effects pedal that would allow you to swap out different effects cartridges like an old school Nintendo. Another group built a web app which allows you to order food and pay for it at a restaurant from your table, bypassing the waitress altogether. And yet another group daisy chained 16 raspberry pi tiny computers together and ran them off of a solar panel.

There’s some really smart people at this thing, for sure.

We had a lot of fun.

Would I do it again? Maybe…

It’s a lot of work for a weekend, that’s for sure. I did, however, learn a lot.


…and Bethany gave me Monday off 😉

Here’s some photos: