Willson, Herb and I attended the HackVan event at Mozilla Vancouver on Saturday. When we first arrived at 9 a.m. we were greeted by a handful of friendly organizers and given breakfast -- a great start. Other developers started to trickle in; I'd say about 35 to 40 in all. Once everyone was settled, Leila Boujnane (CEO of TinEye.com, and one of the founders of HackDays.ca) gave everyone a quick overview of the day's activities. Each API sponsor had representatives at the event, and they were all given 5 minutes to pitch their API to the room. At about 10 o'clock we were let loose. :)
Our team had discussed some ideas the day before and had already developed a plan before the event, which gave us a bit of an advantage over other teams that were just starting out. We immediately split up the work and started coding. By noon, we had a pretty barebone prototype of our idea, and took a small break for pizza before getting back at it. All the teams at the event (about 15 in total) were fairly involved in their work all day, and there wasn't much chatter going on during the event -- all teams were focused on finishing their applications before the 5 o'clock deadline. After a few more hours, our web application was fairly polished and when presentations started at 5 we were ready to go.
Team iQ was the second team to present. With Herb working the projector, Willson and I debuted PitStops.ca, a website that, given a start and destination location, will figure out appropriate places for you to stop for gas, food, and even hotels during your road trip (using the Yellow Pages API in conjunction with Google Maps). Our presentation went really well and was well received by the judges (one of whom was our very own Boris Mann). Other teams presented some pretty cool projects as well: There was a telephone-based translation app, a photo scavenger hunt, an iPhone app that played paper-rock-scissors against you using the camera, and several others. After a long deliberation period, the judges announced PitStops.ca as the third place winner!
The hackathon was a great experience, and I would definitely encourage any other devs who get a chance to participate to give it a try. It was really fun working with Herb and Willson on a brand new project, and definitely a challenge coordinating ourselves to get the most done in the six-odd hours we had available to us. Free beer at the event certainly helped as well :)
I've also volunteered to help organize a HackDay in conjunction with HackDays.ca in Regina some time in the New Year, so keep an eye out for that!