Yackathon post-mortemSun, Feb 15, 2015
We can really feel winter is the hackathon season, in the past few months I’ve been to quite a few meet-ups, Startup Weekend Sherbrooke, Startup Weekend Quebec, skipped on attending Startup Weekend Education Montreal, just been to Yackathon and am going to Hack McGill (21-22 February) and Startup Weekend Trois-Rivieres (27-1st March).
As you can figure out I like attending to those kind of events. For me they are great occasions to eat good food while hacking away super concentrated, plus, meet and teach to nice people all while learning new things cause it’s really a nice occasion to push the limits of your knowledge, use that new technology you don’t get to use at work.
But, most importantly, it’s a great occasion to have tons of fun. And fun must be the goal you come in with and the priority you keep all weekend long. Then if you get to win, improve and be productive, great!
What’s is the Yackathon
Yackathon was the fist hackathon organized by Yelp to be opened to the community. Yelp has had a strong hacking culture from the start and has already done 15 hackathons internally and now they decided on trying it out with the community of hackers out there.
And so they happened to choose Montreal, where I live at the moment, as a test bed for their first! Even though they don’t have an office over here. Our tech community must have positive press, :) I hope we didn’t make them regret their choice.
What went well and what didn’t
So having done a few of those in the past year I am getting to know what to keep in mind and focus on but hey perfection is an illusion, I still have to work on few things.
On the plus side
- I had a blast, all weekend, talking with Yelp engineers, learning/improving on a few technologies dear to my heart, meeting peeps.
- Had enough sleep, because this event was in my home town (first time this happens) I got to go back home for good nights sleep, the latest I went to bed was 2:15am and got up at 8am both days
- Learning (it’s one of my quite high up goal for hackathons)
- I go to write a CLI program and API using Golang but more importantly explore concurrency patterns with it on top on sharpening my general skills with the language
- Used MongoDB to store the whole dataset provided by Yelp and learned a ton on more advanced MongoDB queries like
groupand Geo-spatial queries, indexing
- The event was quite well organized, the food was super good (all coming from local businesses) and in abundant quantities, they also had tons of swag which is always welcomed (even more in startup weekends where you pay for attending)
- I got to socialize quite a bit cause I was so focused and stressed by my project (read up on why on ChallengePost)
- I mentioned stuff I got to learn, I also practiced and sharpened my skill with familiar technologies like React.js, Front-end UI/Stylus, API building in Go
On the downside
- Not winning? Is that even a down side? I mean I would love to and strive for it each time I participate in a hackaton but it’s far from being priority #1.
- Our team struggled on thinking of a good, solid idea from the start and stick to it and I think I played a lot on focus and final product quality. I should really keep in mind planning and thinking about the project in depth before firing up the code editor.
Is there a difference between a Hackathon and a Startup Weekend?
Yes, there is one! And quite a big one, in fact, I’d say the biggest difference is that a Hackathon is a lot more technical and focused on the outcome, the final product as a Startup Weekend welcomes all kind of people including a good quantity of non technical folks which leads to projects rarely getting finished and pitches with slides are the main results of those weekends. Nonetheless both are worth attending and interesting for programmers out there.
Although, now I have tasted to more technical focused events, I think I’ll try to prefer those over Startup Weekends, and attend to more of them. I feel like I accomplish more my goals being coding oriented.
- Hackathon’s technical and I love attending them
- You always get to use cool tech and work hard (I love Golang and MongoDB)
- On the flip side hackathons are about crunching a lot in 48 hours so using old tech you are used to makes you tons more productive
- Priority 1: Having fun
- Priority 2: Focus, iterating really fast
- Priority 3: Socializing
- Priority 4: Winning the damn thing! (yet to happen)