Christian Heilmann

Yahoo Open Hack Day India 2010 – here are the winners and some hacks that impressed me

The third open hack day in India is over and here I am in my hotel room waiting to be picked up for dinner before flying back to London. The last three days were a blur. I talked a lot about hacking, explained technologies and saw a massive avalanche of interest and questions and people taking photos of me.

Describing the hack day would be such a collection of superlatives – it is almost untrue. There will be an official list with all the cool numbers, but let’s just say we crammed the hotel with hackers and broke the records of all the other 12 open hack days. The amount of hacks delivered were more than last year’s India hack day and the London one together!

As a passionate speaker and trainer, I have to say I was very happy coming here. Events like these show that there is still a lot of drive and innovation in the idea of hack days. After 24 hours of hacking and a few hours of judging, we had the winning hacks of this year:

Here are a few other hacks that stood out for me. There were a lot more but as the hackers failed to submit real links for me to check (even after I pointed this out repeatedly in the keynote) I cannot verify if they really work.

If copying is the best kind of flattery then I must be very flattered: Awesome Image Search is an image search clone of GooHooBi and Mobile Hack 420 was re-publishing the FIFA 2010 hack with mobile phone and price data. Nothing to it – I told people to use what works. :)

You can see more at the list of all hacks. If you read through it, you will see that there were a few patterns emerging: a lot of hacks dealt with traffic, the elections in India, language translation and transliteration and speech recognition and synthesis. The latter of course is triggered by the Windows 7 APIs for these tasks and sadly enough all the hacks showed that the success rate of these technologies is still abysmal. It was also pretty funny to see a lot of presenters speaking into their laptop cameras – most laptops actually have the microphone next to the keyboard and not on top of the screen :)

There were a few hacks that tried to simplify the YQL language by mapping it to simpler key:value pairs or a “natural language interface”. This is such a classical developer thing to do. The sad truth is that all of these systems will soon run into restrictions or have to become more complex again.

All in all I am a bit beat now, so maybe more later – I just wanted to get this list out to you.