Went for Hackathon got Cheatathon.

I am a developer evangelist, not many hackathons happen in Bhubaneswar so when I heard about one happening at KIIT University was excited to participate in it. Hackathons help in simulating a pressure situation where one can learn a lot of things in a day or two, which in normal course will take about a month to learn. I decided to invite a couple of my friends who are volunteers of Google Developers Group, Bhubaneswar to the hackathon and because it was a weekend they agreed to come in to participate. We went to the venue on a Ola cab (heard ola is a client of hackmania ) all excited discussing ideas to work on in the hackathon. The venue was a seminar hall in KIIT University with no facility to keep the laptops or plug in to power. Slowly people started coming in and at about 11:30 am the hackathon officially started and we were asked to code up some thing that would help life of people in a smart city. Exotel among others was one of the sponsors of the event and they were giving out a cool delicious GoPro camera to the best app using their API in the hackathon. So apart from eyes on winning the hackathon we planned to be in the run to win Exotel’s GoPro too. We brainstormed many ideas amongst us starting from a IVRS system  that will do google searches for people who donot have access to internet, to an app that will give a victim’s exact location to emergency services. One of us had an idea to develop a system to deliver vital information like weather, traffic info, and prices of essential commodities to people of a smart city who don’t have access to internet.  This idea clicked with all of us as it targeted 2 sweet spots it had a social side to it and it was using Exotel API. We started working on this and after about 3 hours our computers were drained out, couldn’t find any charging points the only 2 we found were highup in the wall and for charging over there you have to hold your computer and stand. What an apt venue for a hackathon. We had already covered what we had planned for day1 so we decided to leave and assemble the next day( it was a 2 days hackathon). 

We arrived at 11 a.m the next day and we didn’t find anyone at the venue, after some phone calls we came to know that the venue of hackathon has shifted to a different hall. We got there  and started working after about an hour the app’s basic functionalities were ready, the was kind of working on the emulator but was throwing few exceptions on the phone and wiring the designed layouts to the app was also left to be done. So overall about 4-5 hours of work and we would be done I figured. And then out of the blue the organizers dropped a bomb by saying to wrap in all by 2:30 pm and then to pitch what’s developed to the judges. So, we had 2 hours in hand. We changed our plan and decided to skip wiring the designs to the app and will closeout after fixing the exceptions with the app and then do a complete test. We finished giving finishing touches to the backend as well and scrambled to finish the app. Post that we were the first team on stage to pitch out 2 days old baby KnowNet. An app which gives essential info to users even when they are not connected to the internet, we were doing through a smart way we had developed where we had come up with a code to represent various information and we were sending the code to users based on their location using awesome Exotel’s location and bulk SMS gateway. The app would then read the code and choose the images and info from a library on the app to put them on the screen. 

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After the presentation the judges and audience had some questions and suggestions, which we noted down to do in our next iteration. After this other teams presented and everything was over by around 4:30 pm. We were happy we were the only team who had done some project, rest of the teams were all at idea stage and hadn’t even started coding. And what made us even more happy was we were the only team who had used Exotel’s API, so were the default winners of the GoPro camera they were giving out. But then the results of the hackathon were announced and we were not the winners, one of those teams who had completed a 15 slide powerpoint won it. Ouch how’s that. Anyways lets look forward for our GoPro camera thats ours in whatever way you decide to look , we were the only team that used their API to build something. Noooo, Exotel decided not to give the GoPro camera as the person who was supposed to come and give the camera couldn’t come to Bhubaneswar. After the results it took about 5-6 mins to sink in that we actually came to attend a Hackathon but what we got was Cheatathon. Anybody else had cheatathon experience with hackathon’s orgaized by Hackmania please share your experience in comments. And my suggestion to the sponsors of such hackathon’s please make sure your brand is getting atleast some positivity with these kind of events. If you could cheat some developers in a hackathon for such a little thing as a digtal camera, people will assume you could cheat anyone. 

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