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Picture from session on “Running Civic Coding Hackathons and Why They (Continue) to Be Important” at 2019 Code for America Summit in Oakland, California

I recently attend a discussion on hackathons hosted by Kirsten Wyatt from the GovLove Podcast at the recent Code for America Summit. Laura Biediger from the City of Durham and Code for Durham and Amin Mehr from Code.gov shared best practices and lessons learned from hosting hackathons. Here is a list of insights from the panelists:

Laura Biediger

  1. Narrative: The language we use to describe hackathons is important. Laura said that an “ideathon” sends a different message than “hackathon.” People who might be turned off by a “hackathon” might feel more welcome at an “ideathon.”
  2. More Seats at the Table…


Stephen Peyton and I recently developed an algorithm for calculating which pixels of a raster intersect an arbitrary polygon. The following is a high-level overview of the algorithm.

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A raster image of pastureland with a polygon of Ireland’s borders. Raster data is from the Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN). Basemap is from © OpenStreetMap.

Basic Overview of Algorithm

  1. Create a horizontal line for each row of pixels in the raster image
  2. Calculate intersections of the horizontal lines and the polygon’s edges
  3. Group edges by intersection
  4. Determine whether edges pass completely through their horizontal lines
  5. Take pairs of intersections where edges completely cross a horizontal line
  6. Create Horizontal Lines

Rasters can be thought of as as a table of pixel values. This two-dimensional organization makes iterating over…


Serendipity, God, and Google Now

This article is about how Google Now and similar artificial intelligences could start playing a role we often attribute to God or “the universe.”

If you randomly bump into your friend on the street, would you say that this is just random coincidence or serendipity? What if it wasn’t….

I was just having a conversation with two friends about Facebook’s Nearby Friends feature, which alerts you if a friend is close to you. The idea is that if you know that a friend is nearby, then you would walk a few blocks to meet up…

Daniel J. Dufour

Open to Opportunities :-) | CEO @GeoSurge. Builds geotiff.io & geoblaze.io. Co-organizes @geodcmeetup. Contributes to @codedotgov. Led development of GADAS.

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