AngelHack Paris is the first “hack day” I have every attended, so I didn’t really know what to except. Early on Saturday morning I found myself in a slightly run down area just outside the “peripherique” road that marks the boundary of Pairs. The event was hosted at “cifacom” a colleague for digital design and art, I was quite sure what to make to their campus, about half seemed to swish lectures theaters and the rest seemed to have been basically left as the old warehouse that it was before it is was converted.

My objectives for the weekend were to learn some new technology, I wasn’t sure what, so before the kickoff presentations I experiment with a little node.js, but became a little frustrated when a tutorial just died with cryptic errors. During the kickoff presentation I learn that the prizes were much better that I had originally thought, I’d just assumed that the weekend objectives were to build something for the fun of it, but I found out 1st prize was a trip for the whole winning team to go to San Francisco, and not just to enjoy the sites, the organizers would arrange meetings with venture capitalist who might be interested in the project. Other prizes were on offer too, the event several sponsored by several large tech firms and most of them were offering prize for the best use of there technology. When I learned to that Amazon was offering a Kindle fire for the best app on it’s Kindle I decided to that it was time to try out Xamarin Studio and make me an Android app. I join a team on the basis that I could do a front end on the Kindle for their web application. The winners of all prizes would be decided by a 2 minute presentation given by the team.

After the kick off presentation we basically found a quiet corner and began to shape our project. I installed Xamarin Studio while we discussed the project specs and who would do what. Setting up the dev environment took a little longer that I hoped and it was only really about 7pm that I was in a position to start coding. I had to head home just after that, but many people left in the early hours of the morning and some stopped around all night. The organizers did a great job in providing things developers like. There was a ready supply of sandwiches, pizza and beer. There was also a masseur providing back massagers and toy helicopters and foam dart guns. Sadly, people were just starting to turn there attentions from their projects to the toys as I was learning, and apparently after mid-night there was a period of full blown urban warfare. I only saw the photos.

Sunday morning was cold and bright and I got up early again to the 7:11 train, only to find that didn’t exist on a Sunday. So I sat coding and shivering on the platform till the 7:41 eventually arrived. I made much more progress Sunday morning and by the 2pm deadline I had a kindle app that I thought at least demonstrated the idea of our project. The rest of the team had done a good job on assembling the web app, datastore and a well polished presentation. At 2pm sharp we assembled in the meeting room to give our presentation and see what the others had done. This was one of my favourite parts of the weekend. There were many projects who’s presentations I enjoyed watching. I was very impressed by the Loopifive app that won the competition, the concept is interesting, a platform that allows musician’s to share and remix there compositions and their presentation was very slick. I did win the best Kindle prize, but it was a bit by default as no-one else built a kindle app.

Here’s a photo of us presenting our project:


Then there was still an ample supply of beers for the post event party. I’m glad I stuck around as it provided and interesting opportunity to meet people dissect the weekend, which had been a bit lacking during the competition as everyone was concentrating on there own projects. A fun weekend, I’d definitely do it again.