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Hackday

The idea was that 100 developers, 50 designers, and 50 “others” would all get together Friday night, team up and develop a phone or web app to make life better in the city of Boston.

Each team would have until 2:30 Sunday afternoon to get something demo-able. Then they would present and be judged.

The Team

Friday night was a bit of a social mixer with drinks, food, and mingling up until about 7PM. Then, anyone with an idea was asked to come forward and give a 30 second pitch. Those that didn’t could then go stand with the idea they liked best.

We decided to team up with a Harvard Business School student who wanted to help her Mom get less parking tickets. The issue was that the signs were so confusing in Boston, that she didn’t know she couldn’t park there.

We picked up a designer and a rails dev and got started.

The App

We created CanHazParking which aggregates your location, the current time, and the many confusing parking laws in the area to give you a simple “can haz” or “no can haz” answer.

The app was written using ruby on rails and jQuery. We used a few open APIs, lots of jQuery, html scraping, and one nifty email hack to get the parking information.

I focused mainly on the Snow Emergency logic and helped out a bit with Street Cleaning (I determine if even addresses are on the right or left side of the vehicle).

Throughout the weekend we had varying levels of functionality with some unfortunate breakages just about demo time (pretty sure I contributed to that, sorry guys).

Despite these issues, we took the prize for “Best Boston-centric” application. For this we get Blue Man Group tickets as well as blurbs in the various boston.com articles about the event. The first of such articles can be seen here.

Many thanks go to my team members: Beth, Dave, Kara, and Ken. Certainly couldn’t have had so much fun and been so successful without such a smart and easy-going team.

28 Feb 2011, tagged with