Hackathon! Saturday, 9/19 from 2pm on, in SOCH 307!


HCS will be running a hackathon in our office, SOCH 307, from 2:00PM onward tomorrow. The idea is to follow up our introductory meeting with real, hands-on work on our many projects to help people get involved (otherwise, we don't normally meet quite this often). If you came to the intro meeting, or even if you didn't, this is a great way to see what we're up to, to start getting your hands dirty with interesting technology, and to build something that will actually be used by thousands of people at Harvard, and maybe even beyond. You don't need experience or an idea for a project to come, just enthusiasm about technology and particularly about using it to make life better.

Hackathon: Saturday 9/19 @ 2:00PM in SOCH 307.
Bring a laptop.

If you can't make it in person, contact us and we'll help you attend remotely.

In case you're still on-the-fence about coming tomorrow, here are some FAQs we often get about our hackathons:

Q: What is a hackathon?
A: The term hackathon is a portmanteau formed from the intellectual slang hack and the word marathon.

Q: You stole that from Wikipedia, didn't you?
A: Maybe. And by maybe, we mean it comes from this article. This proves we aren't completely crazy.

Q: OK, but seriously, what's a hackathon?
A: In the context of HCS, it's an event where we all get together to work on projects. Each project might be worked on by anywhere from 1-5 people. We ask each other questions when we get stuck, help each other figure out the best approaches, and give each other ideas about the ways in which a project or its features can be most useful. Projects involve everything from inventing new software to doing complex systems engineering (examining failure modes and failover, for example, or finding the safest, easiest, or most efficient way to manage our user-supplied data) to simpler scripting to knit pieces of software together or make administration easier. We'll have snacks and at some point we'll order dinner. We'll also have a list of hackathon-sized projects for people to work on or you can bring your own.

Q: I'm new around here and I've never done anything like this before. Is that OK?
A: Absolutely! We don't require that you have any experience, but you do need to be excited about whatever you come to work on. Whether it's a project we've suggested or just something about technology at Harvard (or technology in general!), you've got to be interested enough in it to see it through from a pipe dream to a real application. Even if you've never programmed or never worked with our systems, we should be able to teach you what you need to know or at least point you to the right resource to learn what you need to know.

Q: Should I bring anything?
A: A laptop. Power cords for that laptop. Ideas for projects. Your CS problem sets (maybe not).

Q: Do you "hack" things at hackathons (that is, break into them)?
A: Not really. But if security is one of your interests, we have a ton of security-related projects that you can work on. Also, we tend to talk a good game about actually deployed security systems, which is fun to do since so many of them are poorly designed. This got us in trouble last year. You should ask us about it (unless you came to the intro meeting, in which case you heard the story).

Q: Really? No hacking?
A: Various three- and four-letter agencies have informed us that we are not allowed do this sort of thing.