We won the AT&T dev hackathon AWS challenge

June 9 is a special day, because after more than 2 years I made myself go to a hackathon in AT&T Foundry, Palo Alto. The previous one was Google wave in 2009. June 8, Friday was the opening day of the “AT&T hackathon – Education” for networking and pitching the ideas. I myself did not have any idea but was open to teaming up with anyone who had a good one.

Opening session and ideas pitching

The pitching sessions opened with the keynote from AT&T developer evangelist Alex Donn. He mentioned about a recent report that one in four students drop out of high school. This hackathon produced by AT&T was supporting the cause and encouraged developers to bring out something good for the kids to motivate them to continue school and graduate. Alex Skidanov & Maria Skidanova from MemSql pitched a great idea of building Math and logic puzzles for kids. That way kids learn the subject and compete with each other over a game. I was very impressed with the idea. I went up and spoke to them after the session. Harshit Chitalia, a friend mine also agreed that it was a great idea. We quickly formed a team and decided to build the puzzle game for the hackathon the next day.

We all met in the morning on June 9, Harshit had grabbed a big nice table for us to work together. The discussion about the game design started. After some rigorous brainstorming we decided on the design. Now to implement it we wanted to use all the cool applications that were demoed at the hackathon – Tiggzi, Usergrid from Apigee and Mongolab. But we had to let that go with our design constraints. HTML5 and Javascript was in our minds for front end. So we scribbled the design on the paper towels and started working on the front end code. Alex fired up the base code and hacked an awesome animation to cause damage to the opponent when the opponent loses. Maria, Harshit and I had to work on three puzzles – Set difference, Linear expressions and Boolean logic. It was already 2pm, when we realized that we had very less time left and lot of unfinished work. Hacking the code for each of the puzzles began.

Hacking away the game
Hacking away the game

Coke, Gatorade and Red-bulls flowed with sandwiches and nachos. People asked us about our game. Larry McDonough from Blackberry promised us play books if we could make it work on BB playbook. We managed to push the puzzles code to Github by 4pm. Then we hit a roadblock, we needed a server to push responses to two clients who participate in this two player game. Alex hacked a quick PHP / MySql server on Amazon WebServices within 30 min. The code was integrated, minor glitches were fixed and it was all set for the submission – “ENGAGE!” , as Alex claims when everything starts working, our app ATTHACKGAME was ready for the demo at 7pm.

Screen shot of the game - ATTHACKGAME
Screen shot of the game – ATTHACKGAME

After several apps, they called us on to demo. Harshit and Alex did the talk, while Maria and I demoed the game on the big screen live on iPad and Blackberry playbook. That was the best part of our game, it worked on several devices thanks to the compatibility of HTML5 and it was live. It rocked on Blackberry playbook and iPad. The audience responded with an applause, but we felt we could have done better. After nearly 2 hours of wait at 11 pm,we were announced winners in the AWS challenge category. The other winners are here.


One Comment Add yours

  1. Harshit says:

    Good one Vinay 🙂

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