Hack Manchester 2018 — Best in Show

Something very exciting happened this weekend — a team of amazing talented women and I entered the 25-hour Hack Manchester 2018 hackathon, and we won Best in Show.

Apparently it’s the first time an all-female team has won, so that’s pretty cool. It’s a big event — 57 teams — so we (me, @LuceCarter1, @SalFreudenberg, @CynthiaHTL) are very excited and proud with our GoPro prizes.

We built a time machine, a deliberately ridiculous concept that allows people to click a button whenever they need more time in their day. Click the button, wait a specified time period, have a nap… when you’re done, the app will wake you up and reset your clock to whatever time it was when you pressed the button. So you can fall asleep at 3pm for twenty minutes, then wake up and it’s still 3pm.

Here’s the video we made in an attempt to present our idea:

Not only does it reset your time, it resets everybody’s time… by texting Greenwich and asking them to reset the clock. We thought it would be particularly useful if you were on a train running late: Click your button, enter the time of the delay (eg 30 mins), then in 30 mins, the app resets the clock and your train isn’t late any more.

We’ll conveniently ignore all the people standing on platforms waiting for trains that never arrive because the clocks keep winding back. Also the more people that use the app, the longer everybody’s day gets. In theory your day could never end… and the sun would start rising and setting at really odd times. Although there is some fun maths around the fact that if one person asks for time before the end of a previous user’s request, the day doesn’t lengthen by as much as you might think:

We used a puck.js IoT button to talk to an ASP.Net Core webapp linked to a .NetCore Web API. We originally planned to use Vue.js for the front end, but we had trouble getting it working with puck.js so we agreed to pivot and abandon that plan before we lost any more time. We aimed to have a rigorous TDD testing approach but after some pain in the middle of the night getting the tests running (solution here), we went into “Ultra Hack Mode” and hacked everything to the max.

The code base is available here: https://github.com/claresudbery/TimeTravelHack

We deliberately focused on self-care — even though it was a continuous 25-hour hackathon, we all went home to bed at night, with the natural owls staying late and the natural larks getting up early in the morning. We held hourly sprints with a WIP limit, kanban board and hourly retros followed by breaks. We used an MVP and story mapping to decide what to work on in each sprint. We mostly paired, finding we were more effective when we did. We committed our code regularly, holding it in GitHub.

We had a fantastic time, it was a really supportive and encouraging environment and we had enormous amounts of fun. I would highly recommend the experience.