First SF Hack and Tell Recap

First SF Hack and Tell
(article by g33ktalk contributor Ishi von Meier)

I had the pleasure of attending my first ever Hack and Tell Meetup last week and I must say, it pleasantly surprised me! It was about as cool as show and tell in elementary would be if everyone was allowed to bring samurai swords and ninja stars.

Hack and Tell started in the offices of Meetup (NYC) in 2010 and then blew up internationally. (You can scope the video of the first ever meeting here.) As the Meetup page says, the group is essentially show and tell for hackers. There are strict 5 minute presentations followed by 5 mins of Q/A from the group. No commercial projects and everyone is strongly encouraged to participate.

Being the newbie that I am to the tech scene in general, I was expecting to be in over my head in tech jargon and coding syntax of languages I’m not familiar with. While I can’t say there wasn’t any of this, it was presented in a hands-on way that was very accessible even to a n00b like myself. The lineup was as follows:

• Max Weisel - Video Destroyer
• Takashi Mizohata - JQuery imageloader hack
• Mark Reeder - Git/music productivity app
• Yosun - motion gesture interface hacks (from the recent Intel Perceptual Challenge)
• Randall Leeds - Chromify extension
• Michael Fuery & Angelo Hizon - Edu In-Motion (from LAUNCH Hackathon)

As soon as Max Wiesel started blasting dubstep over StumbleUpon’s speakers, I knew that I had come to the right place. Max’s hack was this awesome little iPad app that mixes looped clips of songs on Youtube. He DJ'ed with four iPads at at once, 4 videos each and filled the room with some filthy wobbles. I’ll definitely grab that one when it hits the App store.

Takashi Mizohata took the floor next with his JQuery imageloader hack. This presentation was on the very border of my tech understanding, but it seems like it was basically pre-loading images in a certain way in order to enable smooth scrolling. As much of a newbie as I am, it seemed like it had some serious potential. If you can make an everyday process just a little more efficient, it adds up fast. Next up, Mark Reeder showed us an app called Songactive that uses GitHub and FitBit to give us productivity stats for songs we listen to. Another brilliant idea, definitely looking forward to taking this one for a spin. Yosun and Michael Fuery & Agelo Hizon showed us motion gesture interface type games; Yosun’s looked more like an RPG while Michael & Agelo’s was an educational game for the developmentally disabled. They were both innovational as all hell and each was awesome in its own rite. Randall Leeds showed us his Chromify extension which again tested the boundaries of my tech savvy, but as the website says, it “creates more native Webkit notifications on Linux Operating Systems which use the notify-osd notification framework.” Basically looks like a really useful tool for developers that use Linux.

Overall, it was a killer turn out, great presenters and some brilliant hacks. I’m proud to say I was a part of the first run of this brand-new SF chapter. Big shout out to all the presenters and to StumbleUpon for their hospitality, hooking us up with a space and keeping us well nourished with food and beer! If you couldn’t make it, you won’t want to miss next time: http://www.meetup.com/SF-Hack-and-Tell/