At Applover we love a good challenge – and what is more challenging than a problem and only a few hours to solve it with software? With several major Hackathons behind our belt we made the next logical step and organized one ourselves. We set up a jar in our office kitchen and asked everyone to chip in ideas for hackathon challenges. Besides a lot of inside jokes we got some interesting problems to solve.
Problems to solve
- How to deal with noise in open spaces?
- Vanishing office keys
- How to trick Hubstuff? (time tracking app)
- Our own internal UberEats.
- How to make our office sink clean again?
On Friday we finished all work projects early and by noon we were ready to start coding. Ania, our HR manager divided us into 5 groups of 5 people (3 developers, one Graphic Designer and one PM). According to Shift Job philosophy most of us had roles they never had before. For example a Front End Developer could see themselves in the role of Project Manager or an Office Manager tried out a role of Graphic Designer. This was done not only to challenge ourselves but also to find out hidden talents among our group. Teams were also built in a way that integrated people that haven’t worked with each other before so we had an opportunity to get to know one another a little better. Each team had a different approach and managing style. Some teams did everything to put out a functioning prototype of an app early others cracked open a beer and put a lot of emphasis on presentation and humor. We only had 6 hours to complete our projects. Very little time considering how ambitious some projects were. This meant we had to do our best to communicate clearly and avoid any distractions and background noise.
Noise in open space
You know that feeling? Trying to concentrate and a loud laugh or someone talking over someone else is screwing up your focus. It’s a typical open space dilemma – how to get work done but remain social. One of our teams took on this challenge and built a prototype of an iOS app that could be a solution to this problem. A sound meter scans the surroundings and triggers the alarm if the level of noise surpasses the set value. An alarm sounds via a connected Bluetooth Speaker and an integrated Slack bot sends a message to a specific Slack channel asking members of the team to keep the volume down. In 6 hours the team was able to build a functional iOS app with Slack integration. Pity that they forgot to turn it off and alarm was sounding off during our office party. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Technology: iOS Swift
Office keys tracker
Who has the office keys? It’s a question we ask ourselves daily. Miscommunication in this area can result in closed office doors in the morning, or not being able to close up the office by the end of the day. One of the teams had to find a solution to this problem. In just 6 hours they built functional iOS and Android application that lets user request and check who is in possession of office keys. As the only App that was fully functional after 6 hours – this project won our Hackathon.
Technology: iOS Swift, Android Kotlin, RubyRails, Vue.JS
Tricking the time tracking app
It’s one of the dreams of every employee working around the clock. How to trick the time tracking app? One of the teams devoted their Hackathon time to resolve this issue and now… Well, we’ve got an app for that. Their solution? Android and Desktop app that lets employee choose how many hours of work he/she wishes to imitate. Then, the desktop app takes control of the mouse and the keyboard – moving the cursor and writing code veeeeery slowly. It is safe to say, it wasn’t the most popular project among our Project Managers and Members of The Board.
Internal Food Delivery App
Food is fuel for any organization. Hungry dev is a grumpy dev, grumpy dev writes low quality code – and we cannot have this. So to avoid this problem, team No.4 prepared an app that acts as our own Uber Eats. Using the app everyone in the office can vote for the cuisine of their choice to convince others to split the delivery fare. When enough people agree, they can choose the meals in the app and an SMS with the order gets sent to the restaurant. When the cook confirms the delivery, everyone gets a notification and their bellies start rumbling. No more hungry developers!
Technology: Android Kotlin, iOS Swift, Ruby, Twilio
Not all projects created during our hackathon were merely software solutions. One team build a prototype device and integrated it with our Slack channel. The device, based on Raspberry Pi, takes photos triggered by motion sensor and stores them in the cloud. If any employee notices a dirty sink one can type in a command in the designated Slack channel, after which Clean Sink system will publish photos showing the last person to have used the sink. Developers also thought out a way to automate the system with dirty sink and face recognition thanks to which the system would personally inform the perpetrator to clean up his or her dishes.
Technology: Python, Ruby, Raspberry Pi 3 B+
After 6 hours of coding every team had to pitch the idea in front of the rest of the group. Developers had to try their best in roles of a sales person – and amazingly they did a great job.
“I was amazed how much every team were able to do with so little time. Most of the teams had working prototypes, and those which haven’t, made up with sales pitch. It was a confirmation to me of what a great team of people we were able to gather, and what a great organizational culture they created.” – Radosław Bułat, CEO, Applover Software House.
The Hackathon was an exercise in team building which resulted in a lot more connections between employees, which has streamlined the communication process. Even with the Applover Hackathon finished, the suggestions jar in the kitchen stays as a sort of inbox, a book of ideas, where everyone can pitch in.