Christian Heilmann

Posts Tagged ‘yahoo’

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

Monday, July 26th, 2010

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.

Open Hack Day Bangalore 2010 by Christian HeilmannOpen Hack Day Bangalore 2010 by Christian HeilmannChristian Heilman by Balaji Narayanan by Sourav BasuOpen Hack India 2010 by Subramanyan GuhanOpen Hack Day Bangalore 2010 by Christian HeilmannOpen Hack Day Bangalore 2010 by Christian HeilmannOpenhackday by

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:

  • Github Badges (source) by Brian Guthrie, Tejas Dinkar and Mark Needham are a collection giving warcraft/xbox style achievement badges for github achievements.
  • Quizr by Prateek Dayal and Hemant Kumar is a quiz generator using Wikipedia and Flickr. The generated quizzes get pushed out to all the computers in the room live via HTML5 WebSockets.
  • FlickrSubz by BabuSrithar, Sudeep Nayak and Parashuram enables realtime closed-captioning in multiple languages for videos on Flickr. The hack utilizes a speech recognition engine (Julius for linux, WSAPI for windows) to display subtitles in the chosen language (translate API) for videos on Flickr via a GreaseMonkey script.
  • ChromYQLip (pronounced as Chromy-Clip) by Markandey Singh is a chrome extension for page scraping. Select some text on a page and click the extension icon and it will populate the URL and xpath of selection. Click “getmashup” to get a lightweight page which loads your content. A Sample URL and XPath for advanced mashup building is URL=”$1” Path=”//div[@id=”image-”]/div/div[1]/a” which results in $1 to become a form field to enter the TwitPic user name.
  • Communicator by Mohan Gupta, Sri Ram and Roshan is an API to include a real-time communication widget on any webpage. All the users viewing that page can discuss , talk and collaborate on the content of the page in real time.
  • Chirpshire by Preetham Venkky, Rohit Talukdar, Puneet Jaiswal and Mohd. Amjed allows you to gain belts and grab badges for tweeting regularly and without using automation apps. Businesses can use this service to spread a meme. This could be a # hashtag or a physical location check-in.
  • Shop Green by Nidhi Chaudhary and Anurag Jain is an interesting concept to allow sellers to print 2D barcodes for their products and buyers to simply scan them with their mobile phone and pay on the phone. No need for paper bills any longer. All the payments are made with PayPal.
  • Democracy Tools by Ankur Patel, Ankur Gupta and Yatin Kumbhare did quite a job of scraping all kind of government sites to collect data to answer the following questions: Who is your Leader? Where is your Constituency? Is there a government Website Search Engine? What is Media’s Opinion about your Leader? Another hack that did something similar is RepMeter
  • How Much Time Will This Landmark Take Me? by Susheel was a terribly clever hack that analysed the EXIF data in flickr photos to see how long it took people to take photos at a certain landmark. That can give you an insight into how long it will take you to look at that landmark on your next trip.
  • Nirvana – your late night path back home is a mashup that allows people to tweet where the police currently does alcohol tests – in case you want to avoid that driving home.

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.

  • PixMos by Adarsh Ramamurthy and Amod Kumar Pandey creates photomosaics from Flickr photos in PHP -
  • HCards++ is a hack to create online business cards with validation of user’s identities.
  • Find me a teacher! is an app to connect teachers and students and do all the payments with the PayPal API. The danger is that will sooner or later be used for prostitution I guess.
  • Bird on a mission by Prashanth R, Sumanth J, Tabrez Pasha and Umesh Rao Nis a simple way to alert people of problems in certain locations by sending a Tweet.
  • The five minute mentor by Antano Solar John, Niranjan Prithviraj and Ravishankar is an impressive neurolinguistic analysis tool for texts
  • HackerBox by Saurabh Narula, Akash Mohapatra and Abhinav Mehta is a competitor for our Hack Tracker written in Flex allowing hackers to upload and showcase their hacks.
  • Flickr Commerce by Lakshman, Ashok, Shabda and Javed is an app to take your Flickr photos and offer them for sale using the Paypal merchant API. This is such an obvious thing Flickr lacks and it is very professionally done.
  • SetFlickrLocation by Charul Modi and Janak Chandarana is an interface that adds location information to Flickr photos when the user hasn’t geolocated it by analysing the title and description. This would be much cooler as a GreaseMonkey script – I might have a go at that.
  • EZCraig by Amit Agarwal and Prateek Agarwal scrapes Craigslist and offers it as interconnected dropdowns instead of clicks and reloads.
  • Unlock your code by Saurabh Narula, Akash Mohapatra and Abhinav Mehtais a Downloadable OSX application that allows you to take screenshots from code and annotate it. It then creates a PDF from the annotated code for documentation purposes.
  • The Path Finder by Sreenidhi, Richie, Ullas
    and Suhasis a very clever way to get walking directions from maps when you don’t have a GPS enabled phone. You can send an SMS to a service and it does the map lookup for you. Clever.
  • Prettylicious by Manish Agravat, Baljeetsingh Sucharia and Ramjee Ganti is a more beautiful interface for delicious that adds content from Google to links when there is no description. Also check the domain – how win is that?
  • Trialtool by Parashuram, Babu Srithar, Suryanarayan and Santosh SRis a JSFiddle style sandbox for trying out JavaScript live in the browser. For this hack, the makers imported all the YUI examples. You can see it in action on GitHub
  • SearchItIn by Vivek Rp.
    and Shyam S. is an interface for people who are not savvy of the options in Yahoo Search to search the content of files like XLS, DOC and FLV. The thing that annoys me with the hack is that it only shows Yahoo in a lightbox on submission. If you wanted to create a new experience show the results as Word icons with the description next to them instead. Using Ajax and BOSS this can be easily done.
  • HTML5 gets Flickry are some nice Canvas and HTML 5 demos using Flickr output and Yahoo image search.

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.

Geo this! A Chrome plug-in to turn any web site into a map

Wednesday, July 21st, 2010

I’ve just started playing with Google Chrome Extensions heavily inspired by Mark Wubben’s talk at SWDC and of course the first thing I build is something to do with geographical locations.

Geo This! adds a little Earth icon to Chrome that, when pressed, analyses the page and shows a map of the locations it found in the text. If you highlight a part of the page first you only get the locations in this section. Click the screenshot below to go to the download site:

Geo This! A chrome plugin to turn any web site (or highlighted text) into a map

You can also see the extension in action in the following screencast:

Under the hood the extension is more or less a port of my addmap.js hack which in turn works most of its magic by using Yahoo Placemaker and YQL. The source code of the extension is available on GitHub.

Things that will come in future versions are:

  • Fixing the problem that Google Maps only numbers the first 10 markers on the static maps APIv1.0
  • More details on the found locationsv1.0
  • Ability to save the map and locations as an image
  • Better icons (anyone can paint me one?) – right now I am using one of the Project Icons by Mihaiciuc Bogdan and cruelly resized it in Skitch

What do you think?

Paypal and Yahoo developer challenge – over $160,000 in prizes

Friday, July 9th, 2010

I am right now working with Paypal on setting up a developer evening in the next few days to talk people through Paypal and Yahoo’s APIs and systems to build something cool for the Paypal X Developer Challenge. All in all the contest has prizes of $160,000 with $100,000 being the main prize and $10,000 prizes sponsored by different Paypal partners.

If you register your product idea by the fourth of August you also enter a special sweepstake for one of 10 iPads.

So what are you supposed to build for this? Mainly a product that uses Paypal’s payment APIs in a new and innovative way.

While PayPal, the external judges, and the X Award sponsors may select winners at their sole discretion, here are some of the general guidelines that they will use:

  • Innovative and “buzzworthy”: Innovative concepts that are able to capture the public imagination will be viewed more favorably than concepts that reflect existing ideas.
  • Viable business: The judges will favor viable business concepts over those that are less likely to succeed.
  • Newer applications favored: We welcome applications that have been built previously, or that have been entered into prior contests, but the judges will tend to favor newer applications and ideas.
  • Merchant integrations are less interesting: While it is possible to enter an online store into the contest because it meets the requirement of using PayPal’s products, classic ecommerce applications are unlikely to win the judges’ hearts.  Tools and services that “change how we pay” will be much more interesting for the judges.

In addition to this we have the X Awards:

We’ve set up some special awards offered by both our partners and us which are designed to reward innovation in key areas. These X Awards are judged independently and a single team could, in theory, win multiple X Awards and/or the Grand Prize. To be considered for an X Award, you will need to meet the eligibility requirements for the overall contest as well as any additional requirements for the X Award(s) for which you are applying. The top X Award entries will be invited to exhibit their applications at the PayPal X Innovate 2010 conference October 26th and 27th in San Francisco.

The Yahoo special award is tied to the following ideas:

Yahoo! Developer Network X Award: Yahoo! Developer Network is excited to participate as a sponsor in the PayPal Developer Challenge. Our prize of $10,000 will go to the application that demonstrates the most useful and inventive integration of PayPal and Yahoo! Technologies. We’re interested in apps that combine PayPal’s open platform technologies with the Yahoo! Application Platform (YAP), our social platform APIs (YOS), and those that use YQL (the Yahoo! Query Language) to access and manipulate web data from multiple sources in combination with PayPal’s transactions platform. Show us apps that solve real world problems in creative new ways; that make it easier or simpler to get transactions done; that enable transactions in new contexts; that create “wow” experiences for consumers, or help us create new business opportunities around the world. Entrants in this category must agree to the Yahoo! Developer Network Terms of Use, located at, and the Yahoo! Query Language Terms of use, located at   By entering an Application in this category, Entrants agree that Yahoo! may feature your Application in the Yahoo! Developer Network website.  Also note that PayPal remains the sole legal sponsor of this X Award.

I’ll be working with Paypal the next few days to set up an event in London, so watch this space.

Yahoo Placefinder – and an explorer interface for it

Thursday, June 24th, 2010

Yesterday Yahoo released another geo API - Yahoo Placefinder which is gives you street level information about the world.

The API is pretty straight forward and has some cool features like street crossing information and nearest airport features. To give you an idea of what the API returns, I created a small explorer hack:

Placefinder Explorer

You can download the explorer on GitHub in case you want to play with it yourself.

La Red Innova – Yahoo – opening the web for you

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

I am currently in Madrid, Spain for the La Red Innova conference. My talk was a hybrid of explaining the social graph and Yahoo Firehose and showing off some of the free technologies Yahoo has for publishers and bloggers.

I’ve recorded the audio of the talk and will publish it once I checked the quality (the stage was very noisy so I am not sure if it worked out). I’ll also upload the official Yahoo slide deck once the connection here is a bit more stable.

Here are my slides and links:

The slide deck

Yahoo – opening the web for you

Notes and links of the conference

Blogs I write for: