Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Sears Israel 2012 Hackathon

As my first hackathon, I must say it was quite awesome!...
For two days at work, everyone was crunching at their projects, trying to get as much of it done as humanly possible in that short period of time. I stayed pretty late those days, and even worked a little more on the weekend after, as some others did too.

Some of the projects included creating apps on top of the application framework we have on our site (which is kinda like building a facebook app - You are hosted in an iframe on the site and can work against the site's api).
I created a 'polyvore' like app - It lets you create a collage of products on a canvas for others to see (mainly intended for women's use).
Some other cool apps were games like "The price is right" for products on our site, or an item tagging compatibility game where you need to tag items identically with a partner to score points.
There were some actual features developed for the site, like a 'GeoFeed' - The capability of presenting a users newsfeed on a map, with relevant feeds in his area. Some people took the time to install or implement tools that will help us get our job done better daily, like a cool dynamic dashboard that can contain almost any information we want, or installing an IRC server that will give us a better communication channel for development issues than email.

Whatever the project was - I think it was fun for everyone working on them, and very thoughtful of the company to hold such an event...

Here are just some cool pics from the hackathon -

Me working on my hackathon app...

Our R&D VP working on his app...

The team in Chicago working on their app...

It's not a real hackathon, unless you have hackathon water!

...and lots of energy drinks!

...and a big hackathon timer on the hallway monitors :)

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Always wear sunscreen while maintaining a blog

Many people think that maintaining a blog is a lot of work. I think saying that is like saying reading the paper is a lot of work - You need to go out, buy it, free some time and actually read it. ...But that's not the reality of it, you just grab it during some breaks you have during the day, and read a little...
No commitment, no strings attached and nothing happens if you don't finish the article you started...

The same should go for a blog -
You don't need to make a fuss about it and you don't need to free any time for it.
Just start one, and whenever you have something on your mind - something new you learned, something you feel like expressing, then just jot it down.

Don't think about what others will think.
Don't think about what will happen if you never finish the post.
Just start typing...

Now, when there are so many easy to use and free tools to get the job done, it should be happening 100 times more than it actually is!...

Just write it for yourself. If someone else happens to learn from it, or connect to it in any way, well, then that's just an added bonus.
You'd be surprised by the amount of knowledge you'll be learning by publishing one on your own.
Even if you only ever have one or two good posts, it's worth having them out there for others to read, but that should never be what it's about.

Don't look at how many people read your blog.
Don't think you have to be an expert to start one.
Don't believe everything you read in other blogs, and don't think that every blog is written by some expert.
Read a lot of blogs yourself, and comment when you feel like you have something to say on the matter.
You'd be surprised by the amount of comments you'll be getting (or not getting) on your posts...

People don't start reading your blog just because you posted something. They'll read it because they were looking for something that you posted about. That might happen today, maybe tomorrow and maybe only in 3 years from now...
They won't stop reading it just because you don't post anything either...

It's all about saying what you have to say, whenever you feel like it. Nothing more.
So just do it, have fun doing it, and always wear sunscreen.