There's no doubt that Jordan has one of the most thriving developer communities in the Middle East region. Just under one year ago, Yahoo! ran its first developer event in Amman - "A morning with YDN". At this event, local developers heard for the first time about some of Yahoo!'s great developer technologies, like YQL and YUI. Now, one a year later, the Yahoo! HackU program has made its Debut at the Princess Sumaya University for Technology - PSUT, one of the leading and most well known technological institutes in the region.
The event kicked off on Wednesday, 2nd of November with a cool introduction by Prof. Jalal Atoum, Dean of King Hussein School for Information Technology at PSUT. Following this, Anil Patel, YDN Marketing Manager, gave an overview of the HackU program, how it works, why students should participate and how to they can get the most out of the event.
Jeremy Hubert, Prototyper and one of the Yahoo! technology specialists stepped in to explain to the audience how to think like a hacker (and not a cracker). How hacks should be done? What should be focused on? How to use Magic to make the hack work in just 24 hours.
After appetizers, what should be next? The main dish for sure. Jeremy started a list of Tech Talks that covered YDN as an open platform for developers, with a lot of cool and very useful technologies and tools that makes our life -as developers- a lot easier. Yahoo! Query Language YQL allows developers to access and shape data across the Internet through one simple language, eliminating the need to learn multiple APIs. Students -and even teachers- were shocked with the flexibility, portability and open ended technology and functionality that YQL could provide, if it is used in proper way.
Following this, Y! Product Manager Adel Shehadeh gave an engaging overview of the products and achievements that have followed the Yahoo! Maktoob.com acquisition 2 years ago.
Information security is incredibly important for Yahoo!, and this was conveyed clearly by Ala'a Mubaied, a Yahoo! Security Specialist based in the Yahoo! Amman office. He presented some of the hot and top security threats & trends for web applications.
With a closing wrap up, everybody leaves the "Friendship Stadium", fully charged, waiting for the next day to start the competition.
Gathering at the Stadium, teams were prepared to start their Hacks. 14 teams show up with their hacks and the 24 hours timer started. During the competition, Yahoo! and wi-tribe teamed up! we had a full internet coverage during the event sponsored by wi-tribe, one of the well known internet service providers in the region. Not to forget to mention that wi-tribe also sponsored to serve all the food, coffees, cookies and energy drinks during the event which was cool!
After 24 hours of hacking, with many of the teams staying up all night to finish their projects, we closed the working session and prepared for the series of presentations. Each team was allowed 90 seconds to present their hack to a panel of judges, made up of three Yahoo! employees and two representatives from the university.
The presentations included a number of interesting ideas, but as always in a competition, the winners needed to be chosen. Once the presentations were done, the judges compared notes and determined the following three winning hacks:
- First Place: Opal, a service that can extract the musical chords from YouTube videos to help people learn how to play their favorite songs. By Ahmed Jolani, Husam Abu-Gharbieh, and Mohammad Mteir.
- Second Place: Home Automation and Control, a combination hardware and software hack that allowed you to control the lighting and heating in your house over the internet. By Alaa Abzakh, Lina Masarweh, and Nart A.Schinackow.
- Third Place: One world One Language, an extension to web based messenger that allows you to seamlessly translate your messages into the other person's preferred language; With full support for Arabic! By Ali Douglah, Khaled Maayeh, Yousef Saafin, Yazan Abu Hamideh, and Yousef Al Husainy.
Congratulations to all of the hackers who participated in the first ever Jordanian HackU event. We hope you all had a good time and learned something new. We will see you next time!