Yahoo! Hackday lessons


Lessons learned at Yahoo!'s Hackday '06

  1. Geeks cannot give demos.

    Not quite completely true, but mostly. Granted, the focus on here is more for the technology, so presentation shouldn't be a top priority, but it's still an issue.

  2. Geeks can develop some really cool shit.

    Completely true, but not necessarily everyone. Some of the projects were fairly lame, or not very exciting; others were entertaining; and some were fabulous. The presentation, however, affected my opinion of the project.

    My favorites so far are the useless color picker gadget, Ben's print posters selected from flickr photos tagged with keywords (the keyword typed into the printer's interface, and voila, pictures!), and Jordan's

  3. I need to think smaller when I work at these things

    My first idea was to create a new event finding utility for the UPA's Where to Play events page. I thought that would be uninteresting to most of the people here, so I opted instead to build a AJAX driven, Wordpress theme generator using the YUI CSS class.

    Anyone else see the problem with this project? If you said, "inexperience with all three of the technologies selected," you win a prize. I managed to get about 30% of the way done last night, working until about 3:30.

    When I arrived back here at Yahoo! this afternoon, I managed to get about 40% of the way done with the first project in the half hour I worked on the maps for the UPA.

    So, here I am with two unfinished projects, and no project to submit to the demo. I should have just gone with the one that was best for me. I really need to think smaller.

  4. I need to watch my voice.

    I write as I think. What I read here tomorrow, next week, next month, next year is my voice of today. I can't say I particularly like what I'm reading these last few weeks. My voice seems harsh, even to me the day after I've written the words.

    I'm guessing it has to done with my general unhappiness with where I am in life right now, and my current inability to move beyond the blockers. Various health issues (my eye scar is itching, which isn't helping my general worry) are also becoming concerns. Good news with that, though, is that I managed to lose 2 pounds this month. Yay, me!

  5. I need to be more outgoing.

    I'm convinced Kris is clueless when he says I'm a social butterfly. Maybe at ultimate, but not at places like here. I know various people, but for reasons unknown to me, I'm unable to meet new people recently. I suspect it has to do with the previous item.

I'm sure there are more lessons. There always are.

Yahoo hack Day continued


The day has been full of very interesting workshops. For the most part, they've been YahoO! centric, but not all of them have been completely so. My favorite events have been the hands-on workshops. The hands-on part hasn't been building anything huge, but it has been enough to kick start the use of the various APIs.

At the beginning of one of the hands-on workshops, one where the presenter provides files for the attendees to update and modify, following along with the presentation, a guy three or four people away from me asks the presenter to pause, he lost his wifi connection. The presenter immediately offered to copy files from his USB card to the attendees computer, if only he could find the fob. He started looking around, when the attendee offered to use his USB drive. The presenter said sure, and proceeded to plug in the device.

This exchange struck me as quite entertaining, mostly due to Windows viruses that can be transmitted via USB fobs, some more insiduous than others. The whole event smacked me as a clever social engineering hack attempt by the attendee to get access to the presenter's system.

Later in the day, during Cal's presenation, I noticed an artist drawing Cal. The picture itself was quite good, though the angle I had meant I couldn't really see if the likeness was strong. Later in the evening, after dinner, but before the Beck concert, the artist approached me and asked if he could draw me. Wow, I thought. Of all the people here he could draw, many of whom I think are more interesting than I, he chose to draw me. Cool!

A photographer took a picture over his shoulder of me, and then asked the artist his name and email. David Newman is his name, we'll see how the picture turns out. After looking at his website, I need to provide the disclaimer, I was fully clothed when he drew my picture, thinking, don't move, stay still, give him something real to draw. That, and don't stare back at him.

During the day, I saw Terry Chay, who I went to college with, wandering around. I've seen him here and at his presentation at OSCON last month. Vernon from VA Software (four years ago!) recognized me and said hello. He has an 18 month old boy, still lives in San Francisco.

I've been thrilled that there are more women here than most technical events. I suspect it's because there are actually women here at the company, making the number at the event greater. Not all of them are programmers, but that matters little to me: they're here, that matters.

Now, if only I could figure out a non-ultimate related hack.

Yahoo! Hack Day


Tomorrow is Yahoo!'s first open Hack Day. They've previously had company wide hack days, where employees spend a day hacking away on projects they want to work on, typically using APIs or other internal libraries to create a project outside the typical work tasks.

Kinda like a corporate BarCamp, or Super Happy Dev House. Speaking of, the next SHDH is November 4th, which is the day before Kris and I head off to Australia.

I'm looking forward to the event very much. Even if I do have the feeling it may become a subtle Yahoo! recruiting effort. I mean, what better way to find talent than by inviting hackers over and watching them work?