Phymata

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Whistle While You HackTX

19 Nov 2013

HackTX is the biggest hackathon in Texas. It’s a 24 hour annual hackathon hosted by the Hacker Lounge and Technology Entrepreneurship Society student organizations at The University of Texas at Austin. It’s made up of 500 hackers with $10,000 in prizes. By far, it’s the biggest hackathon that I’ve personally attended and I was pretty damn excited to represent Rackspace as a sponsor.

Kick Off

To kick things off, some of the sponsors gave a demo of their APIs (plus associated software development kits) and the kinds of things you can do with their services. I had a chance to demonstrate what the Rackspace Cloud could do for these hackers. I showed them how to use the Developer Discount to sign up for a Rackspace account that they could use during the hackathon and beyond without having to pay for anything. They could use that account to spin up a Performance 1 Cloud Server quickly that would be able to host whatever project they were hacking on. Finally I showed them how to use the Rackspace SDKs to make it easy for them to access other cloud APIs in the programming language of their choice. Knowing that Java was part of the curriculum at UT Austin, I focused on how to use the Rackspace Java SDK, powered by Apache jclouds.

Here’s a short video of the demo I did.

The Hackers

It was great to be surrounded by so many developers (mostly students) all geared up and ready to go.

There was no shortage of passion for coding and getting something cool built. When it came time to go heads down and really start hacking away, I happened to be sitting by a group that was constantly whistling. Sitting there in front of their laptops, coding away, and whistling at their screens. I didn’t think too much of it at the time except for occasionally cringing at an off key whistle.

Coda

It turns out I was sitting by the eventual winners of HackTX! They were building a web application that was “Guitar Hero for whistling” and aptly named Whistle Hero. Give it a try, it’s riot. I can’t pull off the Kill Bill Whistle Song but I can do a pretty good Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. Second place went to Relevant xkcd, which is always useful, and third went to an app called Alert Meet.

Congrats to all of the hackers who participated. It was a great hackathon and we hope to see you next year!