Coast To Coast: Hanging Out at CodeConf & HackNY This Weekend

A Weekend of Code at Github’s CodeConf – Rahim Sonawalla @rahims

5599935396_ac3614d28b This weekend Github threw its first conference, CodeConf. The theme was social coding, and 300 developers came from all over the nation to meet and talk about everything from CSS optimization to the the debate over whether code is literature.

The speakers were varied in their field of expertise, but all of them were united in their intensity for their subject—almost like a TED for code. We learned about hacking space exploration, the importance of documentation to your open source community, and the value of having a diverse team. If I had to pick my favorite talk, it would have to be the closing speech by Wil Shipely, who reminded us about the importance ditching the hype that often comes with running a startup and cousing on building a polished project that people find long term value in.

CodeConf was two days long, and at night we got to hang out with our fellow developers informally at dinners. Engine Yard threw a fantastic dinner that included an informational whisky tour that included tastings and historical tidbits. What developer wouldn’t love that?

CodeConf was also a chance for us to meet our community of developers and hear what they’re working on. If you’re ever at an event and see someone in a red Twilio track jacket, be sure to go up to them and introduce yourself. We love hearing stories about how developers solved a problem in their lives using the Twilio API. If you didn’t get a chance to go this year, I highly, highly recommend going to next year’s—it was a fantastic mix of food, code, and ideas.

[Photo by Github]


University Students Compete at HackNY – John Britton @johndbritton


Over the weekend I attended the HackNY college hackathon. Tech@NYU holds the event every semester as part of NYU Startup Week. The Spring 2011 edition was the third in the series and the third I’ve attended. I’m looking forward to many more, it’s one of the best hackathons in town. The competition was limited to college students, although there was one exception made for Alex Godin, he’s still in high school.

Students came from all over, I was really happy to see familiar faces from NYU, Columbia, UPenn, and Rutgers. There were students that I met when I gave guest lectures at NYU ITP and at Columbia DevFest. A handful of students came up from Philadelphia. I met some of them at PennApps, some at Philly Startup Weekend, and a few were at both. It was a pleasure to meet the hardcore hackers from Rutgers that hosted HackRU a few weeks prior too.

The event kicked off on Saturday afternoon with a API demos from prominent NYC based startups. After the API demos, ambassadors were introduced and then the hacking began. Students worked through the night subsisting on a diet of falafel and energy drinks. They hacked and hacked right up until demo time on Sunday. Everyone was impreessed with how committed they were to their hacks. I think Rob Spectre from Boxee said it best: “Thing I learned at #hackNY: There are a thousand kids behind you willing to shoot free throws til 5am. Get to work.”


First Prize – Etsy Shopping Network by Adit Shukla and Doug Fulop from NYU and Eric Seidel from City College. They created a Boxee app for browsing Etsy on your television. I definitely prefer their app to the Home Shopping Network.

Second Prize – WebGL Filters (source on github) by Evan Wallace from Brown University. It’s a nifty webapp to adjust photos in your browser in real time.

Third Prize – COME @ ME BRO by Abe Stanway from Rutgers University. This Twitter app suggests who you should fight nearby based on your taste in movies. He uses Hunch to build taste profiles of the users.

I really wish my school had something like this when I was enrolled. I would have loved to find myself involved with the startup community earlier. Fun Fact: HackNY is more than a hackathon. After the event some students are paired up with NYC startups for internships to hone their coding skills.