Hackday was some days

19 June 2007

It’s been a couple of days since hackday now, and I want to record my version of it. In summary it was the most fantastic weekend I could ever have hoped for. I had a feeling I would enjoy it, but it exceeded every expectation in every way.

And it was bloody hard work.

When Richard mentioned he had an idea for a hack that he wanted to do, I suggested we build it in Django. In hindsight that was a bit of hideous error, because it meant we didn’t have as many programmers at our disposal as we would if we’d chosen PHP. In fact, it meant we had me. And I’m not really a proper programmer. It was about 2am in the morning when I realised I might have bitten off more than I could chew, and that 2 hours was about as much sleep as I was going to get that night.

In the end we just about got away with it, and it allowed Rich to create a really fantastic UI and prepare a succinct presentation that really nailed the essence of what the app was all about.

Anyway, our hack was just one miniscule part of the whole experience. I’ve many memories and emotions from that long weekend. The incredible venue, with it’s panoramic views of London. The dark, misty atmosphere during arrival and the opening presentations. The venue being struck by lightening. People sitting under umbrellas as the rain poured through the open roof. Drinking Guiness with friends while watching hackers emerge from the West Hall into the foyer, dragging bean bags and laptops behind them. Lying on the floor watching Doctor Who with 300 hundred people applauding the Doctor’s blogging gag. The incredible, buzzing, crackling atmosphere of people coding through the night. John, Richard and Colm showing up at 10am on Sunday morning, and laughing “Have you two moved in the last 20 hours?” (we hadn’t). The crunch last few hours before presentations when we had to cut out half of what our hack did to get something to demo. Thirty minutes before Richard’s presentation when he turned to me and said, “It doesn’t work. It just doesn’t work!”. And finally, winning the Most Useful Hack award.

Without getting too emotional about things, it was one hell of a weekend which will stay with me for ever.