2009 Taiwan Hack Day

Dessert first: Here are the winners!

  • Golden Award: “Location Plus” by Happy Summer. A location-aware Java app which used many Yahoo! APIs to return a "hot topics" on places in Taiwan
  • Honorable Mention 1: “Hacking the Router” by Y2D. This hack inserts a discrete toolbar into all web pages, via a D-Link router, and also enables photo upload to Wretch and directly to a digital photo-frame.
  • Honorable Mention 2: “Wretch Babe Bomber” by Jiu-bao Digital Poultry Co., Ltd. This also won the "Hacker's Choice" award
  • Best Wretch Hack: “My Social Photos” by MPCLab
  • Search Hack: “isGoodJob” by TaipeiDev
  • Connected TV award: “WeeePhoto - phototrading in flickr”
  • Best Mail Hack: YA! Mail by We are Hiiiro
  • Judges Special Award: YusReader by Cloud Online
  • Judges Special Award: yikipedia.net by d41d8cd98f00b204e9800998ecf8427e
  • Judges Special Award: Talkative by b94

This was our second visit to Taiwan, and we were really looking forward to coming back to see the passionate Taiwanese developers.

This year's Taiwan Open Hack Day didn't disappoint, and the event got off to a shining start when local Yahoo! leaders Rose Tsou, Peter Lin and Joy Chan, together with Yahoo! Chief Technologist Sam Pullara lit up the hack robot.

IMG00239.jpg

The big theme of this weekend was the launch of the local Wretch APIWretch is the number one blogging and photo sharing site in Taiwan, acquired by Yahoo! in 2007, so the new API gives developers access to a wealth of social data.

Together with a thorough grounding in the local Yahoo! Taiwan APIs, Saturday morning saw tech talks on global technologies, including YQL and Blueprint. We were also honored to have Thomas Sha, YUI founder, to speak with the hackers about YUI3.

By Saturday evening, Taiwan Hack Day 2009 was well under way. We had thirty-eight pre-formed teams (and 14 judges!). Hardware-level hacks are usually popular at the hack days here, which makes sense considering the huge computer hardware industry in Taiwan, but this time around we only had one, as well as plenty of mobile hacks.

Almost everyone stayed the night. Many slept face-to-keyboard.

sleeping hackers

Breakfast was served at dawn: breakfast sandwiches, juice, and coffee from McDonalds for the adventurous, and more traditional fare (rice, fresh, delicious soy milk and crepes) for those, like me with queasy stomachs.

And then – one of the highlights of the trip – early morning calisthenics, en mass, with champion exercise coaches, literally. It was like playing Dance Dance Revolution live with a hundred or so people. It was awesome.

After the aerobics, the mood grew intense; a deadline approached. At stake was 100,000 New Taiwanese dollars (NTD) for the top prize and two NTD50k runner up prizes. Any time lost during the night hours had to be recovered. Delirium was no excuse.

At noon on Sunday, it was time to present. The hack presentations were much more formal that at other locations. All of the presentations used slide decks, and each contestant was given a hard two-minute deadline, which everyone stuck to impressively, having had "Rehearsal is King!" drummed into them throughout the weekend.

The judging panel comprised Yahoo! executives, senior Taiwan academics and representation from last years’ winning team, as well as Wretch Chien, founder of the aforementioned social website.

After a musical interlude by Yahoo! rock band "Mr B", the anticipated prizes were given out and many photos taken.

Thanks Taiwan for making us feel so welcome.

Erik Eldridge
Yahoo! Developer Network

PS - It'd be a shame not to mention a few of my favourite hacks/presentations:

  1. Team Hunter created “Wake Up in the Morning” to encourage morning exercise, and had a very funny presentation complete with synchronized movement.
  2. The “Imexpert” hack provides documents to prove you're an expert on any subject you can come up with a keyword for. Their presentation was very funny, and they had a business plan!
  3. Team “b94”’s hack “Talkative” is a conversation helper that analyzes your instant messages and suggests topics to talk about.
  4. IMNA created “Social 2.0”, a mobile app to facilitate social skills improvement
  5. “Synker” was built on Yahoo!’s Contacts and Wretch APIs, and used image recognition to try to find pictures of a user from his/her friends’ albums
  6. Team “Mob” created the “Crazy Hospital” social game. Their suggested strategy of offloading patients to your friends’ hospitals so your hospital stays healthy drew a big laugh.

Photo credits: YDN team