Life of Kevin

My first hacking experiences

So lately I’m been off the blog and I apologize. I’m still an it engineer student, but sometimes, I feel that we learn much more on our own than just hitting some books and doing tutorials like making a simple UI. Don’t get me wrong, I love studying and what I do in school, but I see that I learn much better and retain the information for a longer period when I try to get it by my own.

What I’m been doing lately is hacking. Hacking is such a strange word for what I did. When I say hacking to people, they then start thinking of me, behind a computer, trying to get into a bank account or something like that. I did hacking in an hackathon which is, in a few words,  an event in which people collaborate to develop a software, this include people like programmers or sound designers. Hackathon can have a theme and teams must follow this theme while they’re creating their software and sometimes, it’s open.

Why do people go there ? It’s my personal opinion that there’s no better to upgrade your skills and validate your current set of skills. During an hackathon, you need to get your hands dirty, you need to get creative, you must be wired into your software and don’t let too many things distract you from your goal.  Usually, you’re never ready for the theme or the given subject, and that’s the fun in it. Why would we want to go there and not challenge ourselves? That’s exactly why I went there. To have some fun, but mostly, to challenge myself.

So yeah, I did challenge myself and you know what? I completely hit a wall. And it was really fun! Don’t get me wrong, I don’t like losing sleep for nothing because yeah, hackathons are not long usually and you must dedicate your entire time to make sure you meet the deadline. Exactly like the way pros would handle a client project when they’re getting closer from the delivery date.

For my first hackathon, I had to make a game based on the theme “What do we do?”. So, my team and I came up with this game where users (4) would have to eat to stay alive or otherwise they would die. Food are separated in two categories: Healthy and fast food. Fast food increases your life and score faster, but it makes you slower and vice versa with healthy food. That’s not the fun thing about our game. There’s this AI, a ninja which happens to be a bear (we found the idea funny and stuck with it) which can attack different kind of players in the game. Sometimes, the attack won’t occur. Most importantly, users have the ability to call him to attack another player if they get to a certain amount of points before the end of the game. This project was not completed on time, due to integration issues on the end, but was a fun project. We met up later and continued to work on it and it’s way to be completed,

My second project made me learn Android development under 24 hours, which was not particularly easy from the get go. Having prior experience with Java made it just a tiny bit easier, but I wish that I would have made my project which what I already knew (Windows Phone 8.1). But I went there to challenge myself and learn new things so I’m not going to complain.

What I want you to keep in mind is that hackathons are a fun thing to do, at least once. They give you a tremendous experience about what’s going on in the outside world.  You have to consume information really fast and perform to the best of your abilities and even beyond that to get things done. More than that, they help you to have a realistic vision of how you have to manage the development of a project under a minimal amount of time. Basically, you’re going to have to lay down core fundamental things that have to be there, be realistic with your set of skills and make sure everything that needs to be there there before you start adding unnecessary stuff.  For myself, hackathons opened my eyes on some things and mostly, on the way I work on my projects. What I remember from all this, my best work is not done when tired. I took a few days and went over my work to correct many mistakes that I made.

Kevin

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