First Hackathon

I attended my first hackathon tonight. One of my instructors told me about it. The goal was to solve problems using Python. You were actually allowed to use any programming language. But they encouraged you to try out Python. I started learning it earlier this year until I found out I needed to look for a new job. Only wrote one program at work in Python that ended up only serving as a prototype. Luckily I did work through some problems on my own. Was just a little rusty.

My instructor and I were unsure what to expect from the night. Normally you would think some company would try to get you to develop products for them for free. Yes there was a corporate sponsor. Yes they provided pizza and soda. No we did not have to develop products for free. We had a bunch of problems to solve. The problems were from a web site.

The problems were grouped by difficulty. I could not finished all the easy ones. Never even got to the hard ones. You would receive more points the harder the problem was. There were a bunch I attempted but failed at. There was no penalty for guessing the answers. However if you guessed too much, they would limit the time you had to wait to enter another answer.

I had some initial trouble because I could not get my laptop to connect to their free WiFi. They started the contest when I could not even log in online. I ended up using one of the desktop computers they had. Luckily it had Python 2.7 installed on it. Had to download Notepad++ to inspect some data files they provided.

My score got me into the top ten for a good portion of the night. But the new kids on the block stepped up their game during the last few minutes. I bombed my last question and got power passed, leaving me out of the top 10. So I did not qualify for any prizes. My instructor thought the best strategy was to attempt the difficult problems and claim the big points. The only problem was that he got stuck on the first hard problem he tried. His score suffered.

The prizes were things like tee shirts and Python programming books. Top prizes included Rasberry Pi kits. Not too shabby. The handle of the dude who won first place was GOD. He looked like he belonged at the top of the hackathon. I might do one of these again in the future. Got to mix up my own strategy for maximizing points achieved.