Open Hack Day Brazil – I don’t want to go back into the rain

We just wrapped up the second Open Hack Day in Sao Paulo, Brazil and this evangelist is still amazed just how much of a great event this was. Around 250 hackers with varying backgrounds and equipment (laptops, TV sets, LEGO bricks, Arduino boards...) came to join us in the Centro Universitário Senac and showed that with teamwork, ideas, and the right expert help people can amaze themselves with what can be built in 24 hours.

brhackday by  you.

Add the local weather, the amazing Brazilian food and the warmth of the locals and you have an event that will need a lot of weeks of dreary meteorological misery back in England to get me back to normal. The vibe of the event was wonderful. The university campus in Senac had all the necessary facilities and its cleanliness and organization meant that hackers hardly left anything to clean up behind. From a people perspective it was wonderful to see that there was not much competition - instead hackers were very happy to help each other out and build better things in the overall competition.

I arrived directly from Mix10 in Las Vegas to give two of the introductory talks - one on building web applications for the web and another on introducing the Yahoo! Application Platform. Other talks, delivered by local Yahoos covered YQL and YUI and Senior Director of Yahoo's Open Strategy, Cody Simms introduced the new things (yes, Facebook and Twitter integration) in the Yahoo! Open Strategy to hackers, the press and local content providers.

It seems that I had hit exactly the right note with my talk, as the hackers spent the next 24 hours working on projects and delivered great products by concentrating upfront on the use case and the data they wanted to display and make more understandable. The range of hacks delivered was pretty amazing. We had:

  • A full content widget generation framework
  • Automated tweeting and geo location with RFIDs on name badges
  • Various traffic hacks to allow you to avoid congestion or high crime areas
  • Chatroulette for Meme
  • Voting systems that allow you to compare politicians
  • Twitter relevance organizers
  • Robots remote controlled by Meme updates (directions, dancing and singing!)
  • HTML5 Video Puzzles (that worked, honestly, even when everything went wrong during the presentation)
  • The YQL console embedded into NetBeans
  • A fire-fighting robot extinguishing world fires in a simulated earth defined by QRcodes
  • A disease map of Brazil
  • A stalking application
  • and many more

I was especially pleased that a lot of hacks had a very local, political and "for the society's good" feel to it. You can see a list of all the hacks at Brazil Open Hack Day in our hack.trackr tool.

The connectivity at the event provided by Xirrus and Cennatech was outstanding and we had no long outages even when we needed to switch hubs and put the hackers on a DNS proxy to avoid abuse. The only thing we did manage is to get the whole IP range banned from the Twitter API for a while but a early morning phone call sorted that out, too.

In the end, the judges had to pick winners from the 48 submitted hacks and what we came up with was the following:

  • Keep it Local Hack - PlaceHacker by Maurício Maia - a copy of our Placemaker service that works much more accurate in Brazil and with Portuguese entries
  • Best Meme Hack - SlideMeme by Carlos Duarte do Nascimento and Vanessa Sabino - an integration of Slideshare into Yahoo Meme converting slides to animated GIFs and inciting the user to click through to the full deck
  • Best YQL Hack - Gas Finder by Eduardo Otubo and Luciano Camilo - a collaboration (actually presented as two separate hacks) of a scraped and cleaned up database of petrol prices in Sao Paulo and an Android Phone app that will lead you to the cheapest local gas station.
  • Best public good hack - Infraero BR parser by Danilo Bento - a converter and API for all the different flight and airport information in Brazil to allow you to find out much quicker when you need to catch your plane back
  • Best YAP hack - by David Ruiz and Ricardo Felipe Noronha Martins - a Yahoo Application that shows you local movie times in Brazil and allows you to invite friends to see them
  • Best in Show and Hacker's choice (yes, the hackers and the judges thought the same here) - F1 Results by Daniel Rodrigues da Costa Filho, Fabio Dan Dias Cardoso and Iraê de Carvalho Brasil - a wonderful visualization of the history of the Formula One based on the Ergast API and using Canvas, CSS3 and HTML5 for the rich interactions

All in all we had a wonderful time and everybody was very impressed with the passion and ingenuity of Brazilian hackers. Check out the Flickr photo pool to catch just a glimpse of what the event was like.

#brhackday winners!!! Now I deserve to go home and sleep :) by  imbertti.

Thank you very much for the organizers in Brazil, Guilherme Chapiewski, Antonio C. Silveira, Mayra Attuy and Pedro Valente who did a sterling job getting all of this smoothly off the ground.

Chris Heilmann @codepo8
Developer Evangelist, Yahoo Developer Network