Hack Day 2 – playing with the SDK!

…in which we finally get to hack on the product we’ve been building for months.

We’ve been working nonstop on our new product for months now, and it was about time we gave ourselves a break. So last Monday we geared up for the second in what will be a series of internal Hack Days: for each one, we band together across the company (and the country!) into small teams that each have a day to make something cool with stuff from the Temboo ecosystem.
One thing that made this Hack Day special was that it represented the first time that non-engineers in the company got to play with our new toy, the Java SDK. As a Java dabbler myself, it was really something to be able to actually use the product we had spent months designing and building out. Spoiler alert: it’s awesome.

Without further ado, here’s what we made:

Team 1 – Temboo Demos
JB, Reid, and Joaquin mocked up a “Demos” section of the Temboo Library that would feature sample applications based off of the APIs and shortcuts in the Temboo Library. The interface would break down demos by function (Search, Back up, Convert, Provision, etc) and provide our users with simple skeleton scripts they could riff off of.

Team 2 – MARTHA, the Choreo-executing Campfire bot (PLUS a button of the co-founder)
Mark W., Nick, and Noah (your handsome author) decided to add some life to the company’s Campfire room. Not only did Nick roll his own version of a Campfire chat API out of the Temboo PHP SDK (which, ahem, Nick also wrote), but we added an extra-special feature for our co-founder: we gave him a physical button he could press anytime he wanted to say hi to our non-NYC colleagues. Noah cobbled together the physical interface with an Arduino+Ethernet shield and some discrete components…it was actually doing a lot more earlier in the day, such as alerting people in the NYC office when there was increased activity in the chatroom, but he ran out of ROM space about a half hour before the gong sounded 😦

Team 3 – Geisty, the trend-summarizing agent
Matthew, Jason and Brian went all out and rolled their own fully-fledged “river of trends” that summarized what was hot on the web at the moment. They took the various “trending” methods from Google, Twitter, Youtube, and Instagram (all nicely normalized via our Library’s API abstractions), and served them up automatically to a nifty Tumblr site.

Team 4 – How Rotten Are You?
Tim, Trisala, Aaron and Grant mashed up the Netflix and Rotten Tomatoes APIs to make a site that would analyze your Netflix queue and then tell you, on average, how your taste rated on the Rotten Tomatoes scale. The team used the (under construction) Temboo REST API to execute a series of simple cURL requests to get all the needed data, then served it up in a spiffy jQuery interface. They lost a little time dealing with XSRF woes, but what would a demo be without a few hacks?

Team 5 – Trip Butler
Risa, Bob, and Monty took a pragmatic approach and made themselves a tool they actually needed: their custom Choreo helps them prepare for our upcoming all-hands meeting in the New York office. They used our in-development Twyla application (which lets you author custom Choreos) to absorb the Google Calendars of everyone on the trip (taking into account meetings, travel time, etc) and create a spreadsheet full of events and venues that were highly-recommended on Yelp, foursquare, and Google Places.

Team 6 – Sleepy Heads
Devon, Gina and Jimmy outclassed us all by coming up with an Android app AND a roadmap outlining future development for their idea…way to make us look bad, guys! The concept was a riff on the “smart” alarm clock trend exemplified by the UP and the WakeMate. This alarm takes a more pragmatic approach, using your schedule information combined with local news, traffic, and weather to make a smart estimation of the offset you should add to your normal wake-up time. For example, if the Giants win the superbowl and make everyone late, your alarm will go off early enough for you to still be the first in the office. One exciting direction this could also add would be a social aspect…the ability to bug you when your friends are already at work, getting stuff done, and you’re still in bed.

Takeaways

OAuth may be the single most common headache we all ran into. They may call it a dance, but between the confusingly inconsistent implementations, the difficult-to-automate processes, and the sometimes-nonexistent documentation, it’s definitely still more of a slog. Never fear, however – we have something in the works that will make this dance a breeze!

Harnessing the Power of Shame: At several points during our demos, we realized how much many social interactions are influenced by a fear that others will judge us…from quantifying movie tastes to a social alarm clock, it was very interesting to see this little-addressed social motive emerge as one of the more prominent design themes this time. Perhaps we should look deeper into this for the next round of hacks; but you tell us: what would you like to see us focus on next Hack Day?