This week I competed in my fifth Hackathon: HackMIT! It was by far the best, most enjoyable, and most productive in both learning and networking of any hackathon I have been to so far despite it being online! Some of you may wonder if the lack of sleep from two hackathons one weekend after the other is getting to me. The answer is: yes!! Yes it definitely is!! Oh well. It's the life I signed up for.
I partnered up with four students: one from UCLA, one from MIT, and one from Bits Pilani Hyderabad (an Indian university). We tried (and mostly failed) to design a platonic tinder! The idea is that it's really hard to make friends in college during COVID. But if you have a friend tinder you can find people and hang out with them (hopefully with masks and if any of you are hanging out without masks you are horrible people)!
I was the only person on the team who could do HTML and CSS, which are the two languages you use for making your site look the way you want it do. So I did that, and I also set up the site as a subdomain on my pi! That means that for two days you could have found a very bad site hosted at mentormatch.burningsilicon.dev. It wasn't all that hard, all I had to do was change up the apache configuration file a bit, and add another DNS record. I'm probably going to add some subdomains to the site now that I know how to do it because that was a ton of fun! Unfortunately the subdomain is gone now because I didn't want broken code on my server and don't suspect that i'll have time to fix it. But the GitHub is here if you want to see the code.
My teammates were some of the smartest people I've worked with and were incredibly fast learners. Some of them did some really cool stuff using flask that I would never have figured out! I'm really happy about the amount of networking I was able to get done despite everything being 100% online. They did such a good job at facilitating it! Everybody posted their linkedin profiles in the chat once it was done which was really useful.
Unfortunately, it didn't really work very well. It worked sometimes, but not all that often. I don't know if it was my code or my partner's code, but something was off (I want to find the issue at some point but I haven't yet). I suspect it was on my end because my partner's plot was accurate, so I'm planning on solving the issue 'at some point'. The code is here if anybody is interested.
The main difficulty that I faced was figuring out how to take in the user input data and store it. I'm not to familiar with how to work with backend web development which made this very difficult. Luckily I had a team that was really good and eventually we figured out how to use flask to take the data and store it in a SQL database. After that though, we faced the issue of getting flask to not screw up the CSS, and how to get an Apache2 server to serve flask, both of which were quite difficult. Since we had a team member in India, we were able to stay up very late to make some progress on it because we had one member who was awake and lucid while we were all exhausted. So while we did not finish I had a good time!
MITHacks was so much better than PennApps it felt they weren't even the same type of event. At PennApps, there were teams other than us who were not judged, and when anybody mentioned it they told us we weren't in the correct meetup app when the judging time came. When people at HackMIT mentioned that they were not judged, their complaints were addressed and they ended up being judged! The vibe at MITHacks was much more competitive and enthusiastic, and the hackers were more interested in networking. The organizers created a website to facilitate the networking called the 'playground' where you could move around your avatar and talk to sponsors and other hackers! I had a fantastic time at both, but HackMIT was much better.May you be ever victorious in your endeavors.