Sunday, July 24, 2016

What's on world June 2016?

Lot's of things happen since the last time I wrote here. I participated in two hackathons, then I gave my first university tech talk representing Google! My purpose now is to share some cool news I've step by in the internet.

Sweden and Japan did a boost in electric transportation
Japan reached 40.000 electric car charging points! Read more here.
Sweden created the first highway for electric trucks! Read more here.

Samsung's new Smart fridge?
Samsung recently launched a new U$D 5.800 refrigerator. The obvious feature we all come up with is having a big tablet embed in the door (21.5 inches), but that's not all. But Samsung went a little bit further and used Android and developed some cool apps. Also, something that might not be the first time seen, is a set of cameras that allow you to look inside the fridge remotely, so If you don't know how much cream you have, you can take a look remotely ;)
Also, you can buy groceries directly from the tablet by using MasterCard's Groceries app.

How far are we from having the fridge automatically order our food based on availability, fresh organic markets nearby, and by our next events like diner with friends next Friday?

Boeing's laser field?
Some people say this is just marketing, but truth is Boeing made a patent for a force field made of lasers. I'd love to see if this becomes real soonish.
Read more here or just Google it.

The interesting question I'm waiting for is: What will happen with Yahoo?

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Red flags in hackathons

As a participant and mentor of hackathons I felt the need to put some tips together. This post is intended to be for participants but also hopefully mentors/organizers can earn some insights as well. Some of the things may sound silly or really obvious but trust me, I have seen this happen many times.

Be inventive

Don’t hack on something that’s already done in the market. Try to think out of the box rather than picking up an idea that’s in the market and briefly adapt it to your problem. Think on the problem you want to solve, define a boundary (sometimes cool ideas arise in hackathons but they are enormous and can’t be tackled in few days), then apply technology to solve it.

Don’t login/register

Spending time developing a login screen as well as presenting it and actually going through the registration flow during a demo is a waste of time. Login/register is a really well known flow by everyone and it doesn’t add any meaty parts to your presentation. This can be mocked and start directly with a story.
That brings me to: tell a story! Be prepared to present your app with context, not just explaining the features. This makes it easier to explain what you are doing and why.

Document your repo

Add a README file to your repo explaining the problem and listing team members, and possible screenshots or a YouTube video demo. Also, links to presentation or anything else valuable.

Be ready to present

Do a mock presentation and try your demo at least one before showtime. Have your laptop ready with the slides open and the emulators if any already loaded. Be sure to use all the screen, that the content is visible and well displayed.

No mic fights

When presenting and answering questions, give your teammates some space. It doesn’t matter if they are kind of struggling with it, if you go and interrupt them or show a completely opposite point of view of an answer it’s not cool at all.
Also, don’t retain the mic answering all the questions. Maybe another team member is more keen to certain questions, so before start talking, shortly deliver who want’s to answer.

Moderate your language when presenting

Don’t use bad words neither cursing when you are presenting in the stage!

For organizers of hackathons

Now I’m going to be a little bit arrogant and share some tips I’d like organizers of hackathons to take into account. I’m not the most qualified person to critique this, but still I’ll share my vision.

Avoid conflict of interest

If you have several stakeholders represented by the same person/company, this creates a conflict of interest. Roles like mentors and judges are antagonists and can’t be the same physical person.

Do judge and announce a winner

There are some hackathons that are only collaborative, and after intensively working for one to three days no winner is announced. I think there should be always a winner announced, and this does nothing to do with making the ambiance thought or closing the doors to cross-teams collaborations. I have been in hackathons where there is a first price with money, but still mentors have the clear goal to collaborate with others. After all, the event is to motivate students to come up with cool solutions and also make them learn how to move in an extremely fast environment. “Keep the eyes on the price” but if there is no price I have seen students getting disengaged after the second day if they having a hard time.

Conscious mentors

Be sure that the mentors have great soft skills. Otherwise it can happen either:
  • They don’t properly know how to motivate students and push them to do work.
  • Push students too hard and make them feel anxious or even panic.
Also, if applicable, be sure to stand clear that mentors are not enemies and can collaborate with each other for a greater good.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

A new hackathon, a new adventure

Glad to be writing back :) I spent this last weekend in Abu Dhabi in a Hackathon for the Social Good. It was four days of collaboration, ideation, coding, pitching, coaching, roaring! This was the first time I join as a mentor. It was hard! I had to round-robin my time to help students and contribute solving their hardest problems, they mostly were freshman and sophomore of Computer Science. The hackathon was a competition but also a collaboration for mentors. We were encouraged to contribute to other teams on the things we are proficient on.

People from 36 countries attended the hackathon.
Ali Aldarwish from United Arab Emirates, Fabricio Ph from Argentina.

Our topic was education, and the team came with the idea of encouraging kids from the Arab world to read. Some studies showed that in average, a kid from affected areas reads 1.000 less than in other countries. But kids have smartphones, or at least there is a smartphone per family at home (I’m not sure what’s the source for this). So we designed and implemented a mobile app using hybrid technologies to make reading fun, interactive and engaging, so kids will see the long term benefits that reading has. We also developed a server that does crawling and curation of content in the internet from special sources for kids content.

The team!

Places visited.

Fortunately I got my MI band (fitness tracker) right before going to the hackathon, so I ended up tracking my sleep and wanted to share the statistics here:

Sleep history for the hackathon week.

I discovered that after I moved to Switzerland I stopped collaborating in public projects (except a hackathon I attended back in CERN Sep 2015) and also not writing anymore here. Truth is that there are lot’s of things going on, but I promise to be back ;)