Camp Volta Hackathon — FOAMfilter

Going to put this one out there, hackathons and working full time aren’t the greatest mix in the world. But if I’m going to hit a dozen this year (my new goal) I can’t skip out because I’m working, but yeah, I was a bit tired at work today. Anyway, into the recap! Camp Volta was at Volta (obviously), the Halifax startup house and the location of most of the hackathons I go too (recently the Open Hackthon and the Global Game Jam). This time though, there were four opportunities to win. Three companies (Zora, PACTA, and The Rounds) pitched ideas for prototypes they wanted for their business, each offering a $750 prize, and then there was an overall $500 prize for the Most Commercializable hack (presented by Lighthouse Labs).

I did an app (by myself) for The Rounds, a company that (in simplest terms) is creating different software to connect the medical community. There pitch for a product was “to create an app that can scrap several FOAMed sources and aggregate it into a singular data structure that can become useful to those who want to leverage FOAMed to learn/grow”. FOAM is “Free Open Access Meducation or otherwise known FOAMed (Free Open Access Medical Education) is a term that is picking up steam across the world to help open access within the public realm to medical information and education”. So, I did that, except for the whole part about multiple sources thing,FOAMfilter, my app, only searched Twitter hashtags/searches for medical (FOAM) related tweets and displayed them.

FOAMfilter

Positives

First things first, this was a great hackathon for me personally. Up until this hackathon, this was the first time I’ve ever made a plan and been able to accomplish everything I had planned in the time frame. FOAMfilter was exactly like I wanted it to be, and then some. Because I was working in a language I was familiar with, C#, and with Xamarin (which I have become very comfortable using thanks to an unannounced project and Productivity Tracker) I felt comfortable, confident, and very productive. Also, two other positives were I placed first for The Rounds and won Most Commercializable. So that was pretty great too, I think I’m going to buy a non-squeaky computer chair.

Negatives

Although I’m very happy I chose to work alone I do still regret it a bit. I enjoy hackathons for the social aspects, and this one was a bit lacking (I did talk to a lot of people, mostly the other groups around me, but not having a team prevented me from forming any relationships). The reason I opted to go solo was because I was in a group with two other women around my age but they were both web devs, doing a project in Javascript and I really wanted to contribute this time, I wanted to hone my skills. And it’s kind of hard to contribute to a project when you don’t know the language (and tbh I really don’t want to learn Javascript because web dev doesn’t interest me much). So those were the only real negatives, oh, and this random dude was being a major asshole to me for no reason. Haven’t figured out why yet.

Conclusion

I’m really happy I chose to work alone, FOAMfilter lived up to all my expectations, I made $1250, and I learned some of Twitters API. All in all a very successful hack. As a slightly unrelated note, I’ve applied to a bunch of hackathons across Canada/US (that offer travel reimbursement) so hopefully there will be some flights in my future! Now, here are some silly pictures.