This Slide Rule Hack That Rules Them All

Last Fall I had the chance to participate in our University Hack Day program. It's a bit of a twist on a typical college recruiting visit. Instead of simply setting up interviews and buying some pizzas, we decided to bring a little bit of Hack Day to the campuses.

Here's how it worked: modeled after our internal Hack Days (and our public Open Hack Day), a group of Yahoos acted as judges while a number of students (individuals or teams) presented their hacks to an audience of their peers and professors. Of course, there was music, lots of junk food hacking fuel, and a fun atmosphere. The only real rule was that each Hack had to involve some sort of Yahoo! product, service, or API.

I was blown away each time by the sheer diversity of hacks presented. All told, I saw hacks that involved Messenger, Maps, Music Engine, Search, Widgets, Flickr,, YUI, and others I've probably forgotten already.

Last week, we (and by "we" I mean "our excellent recruiting team") invited the winners from the various schools to the Yahoo campus for a few days for a final University Hackdown. Our esteemed judges and a collection of interested Yahoos gathered in a room to participate in the final round. The hackers presented, the judges judged, and a winner was chosen.

Greg Schechter (pictured with the judges above) from UIUC walked away with the trophy. His slide rule widget (yes, slide rules) and entertaining presentation style put him at the top of our list.

Here's a quick video of Greg's winning presentation, thanks to the new YDN Cam and Matt McAlister's Jumpcut editing skills. The widget itself is hard to see, but you'll get a good feel for its capabilities and the thouroughness of Greg's hack.

Congrats to everyone who participated. I look forward to seeing several of the hackers back as Yahoo interns later this year.

Jeremy Zawodny
Yahoo! Developer Network