Diaries from Buildathon

13:59 We have arrived at Buildathon. After a couple of hours we have settled into an area and started exploring in a couple of possible project directions. They have several 3D printers which I’d like to give a try. I suggested to Rachel the idea of making a little wax seal with the 3D printer - so she made her last name which I think is pretty neat. Used an online tool called tinkercad, the people at the printers were very willing to help her. Meanwhile, I found someone talking about google tango which I was curious about, looked up, and then had to have one. Anyone who remembers my obsession with hololens will understand. I’ve been working on getting the sample code up and running, despite the horrible wifi.

14:41 After spending several hours debugging the tango starter project, I realized that instead of using Android Studio I was using IntelliJ. I feel like a dumbass. At least the bahn mi was good.

15:15 I have discovered that tinkercad will let me import images. This makes my seal making job much easier.

16:27 I was sucked into a talk because I overheard the speaker talking about ideas that have been bothering me for years. The talk was on how to create innovation at a company, and in particular he was on a slide discussing motivation. He showed two axis, one being “internal call to action” and the other being “ability to discern problem”, creating the four quadrants of problem solving. Low call to action with low discerning ability begats complacency, high call to action with low discerning ability is ‘misguided’, high discerning ability with low call to action is a blamer, and high call to action paired with high discerning ability leaves someone ‘overwhelmed’. The ideal spot is to exist in the middle of both categories: “constructive dissatisfaction”.

18:24 I have finally got my seal stamp finished, sliced, and queued. I almost killed a flash drive, had to ask like four different people for help, and was rejected by the makerbot over and over. But we’re finally in business.

19:00 Crushing defeat. The 3D printer obviously feels the my design is too tiny for it to handle, and ends up grabbing it and throwing it around, mercilessly destroying it. I will have to try again. After dinner.

20:09 Have reached a lull. Rachel and I have approximately decided on an idea. We’re going to port a twine to facebook messenger. It’s not anything amazing, but it’s something. We’re back to messing with 3D printing though. If the page would load…

22:33 Baited into trivia. They announced that they were holding trivia, and that all those who participated would be guaranteed boba, so Rachel forced me to go with her, but afterward it turns out they’ll have boba for everyone. Plus the boba’s not EVEN HERE YET

23:34 Boba arrived. Got boba once, then got boba again, plus some cheetos. Made forward progress on the bot, despite Rachel trying her best to break it. Got some cheetos.

00:12 Rachel is getting loopy. She has successfully queued up her 3D printed pusheen, and we are continuing to code, but she’s slowly getting crazier as she gets more exhausted. I fear for my safety.

00:49 By some miracle, we are making good, consistent, forward progress. Let’s hope I don’t jinx it.

08:51 It is now day two of the hackathon. At some point last night we drove back home, with me still working in the side seat. We got up at 7:45, drove over, just in time for breakfast tacos. I don’t normally like breakfast tacos, but god damn these are good. What we have left to do is to keep assembling the state machine, and hook it up to user input. Rachel is despairing our chances of placement. I agree, but you don’t just go to hackathons to win. Rachel goes to put queso on her tacos.

10:03 Our product appears to have hit an mvp state. Rachel is elated. There is more work to be done.

11:35 I have finished assembling the story, for the most part. The ending is rushed cause that’s the tricky bit, but it is fully playable through. We have set it all up, and Paul Choi is hooked. He’s going through it multiple times to look at all the endings. Rachel is considering charging him money.

11:47 Making Rachel a github. 13 minutes till submission. It wants to install fucking xcode developer tools. I hate macs.

12:22 It’s past noon, and the hacking is technically over. The organizers are not doing much to prevent people from working however. They have called people to the front, but not much appears to be happening. I edit the README, attempting to judge whether or not I could get away with doing a little more work on the actual project.

12:30 Some presentation has started. I’m not sure who it is or why I care. I catch up on my non-hackathon life.

12:46 We are free. Time for lunch.

13:03 I cannot get my goddamned item to print. The makerbot will just not load my flash drive.

13:33 As I have to read through this story again and again and again in order to turn it into a code representation, I feel like pieces of it are starting to sink in deeper. Like I get it more. I never really valued re-reading before, but this forced re-reading is doing something.

15:01 We have been judged. We have been judged as failures. We were not chosen as finalists. We were not really expecting to be chosen as finalists. The announcement still hurts. I continue improving the product. Rachel makes hot chocolate.

15:30 I continue to work on the story while they present the finalists. I do not care for their presentations.

Monday We left during the presentations. We didn’t owe them anything anyways. Rachel ended up having a good time, despite this being her first hackathon. She actually managed to build something. Next I have to teach her how to get it up and running permanently so she can show friends, and maybe publish it (!!). Dallas was a strange city. Miles and miles of alternating strip malls and suburban neighborhoods. Went to QQ, the boba was just ok. Went to 85 degrees Celcius, got some bread. Overall a successful trip.

Written on February 27, 2017

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