4 weeks into my internship at SocialCops, we realized that the office had too much hardware that wasn’t being put to much use.”Let’s organize our own internal hackathon” was a random idea that someone suggested and, with that, Hackathon #1 was organized right here at our basement office in Malviya Nagar. Then came the 1st of July, and our checklist had one check each next to Google Glass, Raspberry Pi, NFC Reader, Parrot AP Drone, a lot of screens and laptops, and 5 people ready to stay up the next night and code. And loads of caffeine!

Having never attended a hackathon in my life, I was too excited about the upcoming one. My mind was overclocking on a lot of thoughts — “What sort of munchies will we have tonight? What if the Raspberry Pi never boots? Will we really ever be able to ship anything by tomorrow morning? It’s really important that I’m not the first one to fall asleep…” But finally the clock struck hackathon-o-clock, and we sat down and started brainstorming ideas. We decided to make three groups and deliver three projects by the next morning. Yes, trying to make a robot that can get you coke from the fridge sounds fancy. I even came up with this idea, but then I realized the obvious need to build something REALISTIC with respect to the deadline and the hardware present. Our main aim was to develop meaningful projects that would address everyday minor/major challenges faced by us in the office or faced by the general public.

We zeroed in on three ideas:

  • Having a common jukebox, where speakers would be connected to Raspberry Pi, and a common playlist would be playing in the office.
  • SocialCops app for Google Glass, where you could click a picture of a broken street light, and post on the cloud, or view other images.
  • NFC for Indian Railway Tatkal, where all important information will be saved in NFC token. The booking would become faster as the data has already been saved once.

We were forced to remove the Parrot Drone from our list because the timeline didn’t allow us to work on flying the drone.

Everyone started downloading the required softwares and IDEs for their projects, which was followed by one of the most delicious dinners ever. I was working on the common playlist project. I started with making a basic song downloader, where you put in the name of the song, and it will return you the download link. Meanwhile, my partner was busy trying to provide the Raspberry Pi power supply using an Ethernet cable connected to the laptop. (That’s funny, I swear.) It took us a while to figure out Raspberry Pi. But the moment we were successfully able to boot OS on the Raspberry Pi, we were ecstatic and wouldn’t stop clicking pictures of the million lines of code flashing on the monitor.

Midnight had passed by, and we realized we weren’t anywhere close. That is when you could see the necessary RedBull at every work station. A few hours later, we were able to make a decent playlist provider. By the time, the other two groups were also able to ship the basic prototype of the projects they had in mind. This was followed by FIFA matches on our beloved Playstation, where everyone forgot what sleep is and had their eyes wide open to play the game.

The day ended on a good note, where we implemented our general “Work hard play hard” saying. But also we learnt three new technologies and stayed up the entire night as a team, sharing knowledge and helping each other in any way possible. I believe this “collaborative computer programming” was one of the most important things we did that night.