The Transient Spell

Although I do not have a large enough reader base, I have been poked multiple times inquiring about a second blog, if at all. Blog 2 starts here….. a month+ later? Yes (As you can see)! First of all a big thank you all who read the previous blog and/or talked to me about it, and to the people who wanted me to continue writing (why???). I still don’t know how infrequent these blogs will be but we will find out together I suppose. My aim was to have at least one blog each week which was more of an unrealistic expectation than anything else and I completely attribute that failure to the school work. Yes yes excuses excuses (tell me your ways to be productive. Happy to learn), but this draft was started a week after my last one and I just have not been able to finish it (still not going to be great).

So why the exotic title (kinda? no?) for the blog? Well one, because it looks good. Also, this title comes really close to describing my feeling about something that is/was really close to me. What is the blog really about? Its about the weekend, Feb 19th -21st, I spent at University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign. It was not really a “Weekend”, it was a hackathon over the weekend. For my non CS inclined friends, a hackathon is a place where a bunch of coders and designers meet to create something amazing (with technology of course) in a fixed amount of time and no we do not do anything illegal (instance- hacking bank accounts, big no no). Hackathons are most commonly structured in a competitive format where some ideas/teams win certain prizes.

University of Illinois (Venue of Closing Ceremony)

Over the past 2.5 years I have spent in Madison, I have probably attended 15+ hackathons across the country but just 2 in the past 8 months. Between my full time job as a house fellow (RA to some) and the full course load, I could not spend entire weekends out of Madison. The HackIllinois weekend was a much needed break from the monochromic school work to explore my own creative side. With all the excitement, this was a very different trip than my last trip(s) to U of I. In the past, I was the new guy, the freshman or sophomore kid who did not know much. My coding skills were very limited and excitement was immeasurable. I believed in walking around at the hack venue and coming up with ideas on the spot. Meeting new people, new teammates, and learning something so crazy for which I would not get the time or motivation to otherwise. It was the most improvised thing in my life and I absolutely love spontaneity.

HackMIT (Fall 2015)

This time around, things were different. I knew people on the bus, lots of them. I had had classes with many, hung out with some, and just know some randomly. I could comprehend things being spoken around me and I could actively contribute and help other. I had an idea this time that I really wanted to execute, I had a team that stuck with me throughout the hackathon (SO to Steve and Richard). I had aged in the realm of the hack bus. Tell me that an year back and I would have laughed the idea off.

But so far everything is pretty much the opposite of a transient “spell”! I still believe that hackathons are amazing because you get the of the time you need away from all the other 1000 problems you have or things you have to do and focus on your interests. The best thing for me when I get involved in programming is that I enter a new dimension where every instinct takes a back seat. I am able to go 10–15 hours with pure frustration and internal struggle to solve a problem or create something to quench a need to finish something. Everything that can make me procrastinate just becomes a white noise. This had not changed. I still managed to work pretty much non stop for long shifts on a couple of hours of sleep stretched the entirety of the weekend.

Post submission pass out is a common occurrence. Sums it up.

It is beyond belief how rejuvenated I felt after 3 days of not sleeping, taking in way more caffeine than I should (only 11 redbull cans this time), and eating strictly unhealthy food. I look back at the weekend and even though I could have saved me some academic “rush” the coming weeks and maybe gotten another blog out sooner, but I will take that. It also spurred a series of creative ventures that I hope I can tend to in a much better way than this blog so far. This feeling of motivation to do new things and not be afraid to fail is what the spell is all about!

To the reader(s) that made it through (Hi Mom): I will actually make this a frequent phenomena and perhaps get more order into it. Keep pestering me to help other people, make new stuff, and share it with the world. A very special thank you to all the people I have worked with, past and future!
Follow my life on Snapchat @ritvikupadhyaya (try scanning again if the image gives error, or just enter name manually!)

Update from Blog 0.1/POST SCRIPT

  • Helped ~2 people every day from the first Blog date to 12th March, 2016.
  • This blog took ~20 days to completion.
  • Writing quality went down
  • Still Not Structured.
  • Be more engaging.
  • Proof Read!!!!
  • Next one should be sooner.
Like what you read? Give Ritvik Upadhyaya a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.