Portland is one of my favorite cities. There’s amazing beer, ridiculously good coffee, a variety of awesome restaurants and food carts, a great public transit system, and a bunch of friendly people. There’s also a solid tech scene that is growing with the help of incubators like PIE. It’s easy to see why companies and their employees might want to start in Portland or relocate there, and that makes it a great place for hackdays.
I was lucky enough to travel to Portland twice in recent weeks, once for NodeConf, where some of the best minds in the node.js community came together to discuss the future and demonstrate the present. Last week I was back in town as we kicked off OSCON with API Hackday. API Hackday does what it says on the tin: a bunch of API-focused companies get together and encourage developers to hack around with all manner of API platforms. After about ten hours of hacking, prizes are awarded to the coolest hacks.
Tuesdays are not an easy day for hackers and designers to take time off from their normal projects to work on hacks, but we had a great turnout of about 30 people, and we had a lot of great hacks come out of that group, resulting in 9 demos. We were also lucky to be joined by several members of Code for America, who did a great job representing that organization’s skills at the event. Everyone was competing to win an iPad, a Nexus 7 tablet, and variety of other awesome prizes inlcuding a literal stack of cash from MapQuest. Neil from Mashery has a video of Mick Thompson making it rain with 500 singles, which I will share once I track it down.
All of the demos were great. The overall winner of the event was a hack called Return2Me by Chris Foster. Return2Me uses Twilio to generate phone extensions for customer service reps, giving customers a temporary number that they can call to resume their conversation if they become disconnected. It was a great hack: it had a clear focus on a problem to solve, and the it was functional. Congrats Chris!
It was a tough contest to judge and everyone did excellent work; we really couldn’t ask for more from a hackday! Here’s a quick rundown of the other great hacks from API Hackday PDX:
Meta4 – “Apples to apples” inspired game for the web, by [Alex Swan](http://twitter.com/boldbigflank)
Route Near – Find a route between point A and B, and execute searches along that route, by [Mick Thompson](http://twitter.com/dthompson). [Try it out!](http://routenear.com)
Hamburger Helper – SMS your location, receive nearby burger joints. From [Serena Wales](http://twitter.com/gangleton)
gitGong() – Make a git commit, receive audio verification via a recording of a gong. From [Ben Sheldon](http://twitter.com/bensheldon)
Mappit – Draw and share maps. Winner of the SendGrid prize, a Sphero! By [Dan Revel](http://twitter.com/nopolabs) and Mackenzie Revel
Actions – Similar to ifttt, but open source. By [Tyler Gillies](http://twitter.com/tylergillies) and
OnThe.In – “Carfax for where you are” – provides inside information (including the ever important bar:church ratio) about any address, to help renters and homebuyers make decisions. From [Jake Carpenter](http://twitter.com/jakecarpenter)
SMSified – A Python API wrapper for Tropo, by [Zach Williams](http://twitter.com/zachwill)
I had an amazing time in Portland this summer, and as always I can’t wait to go back. Thanks to everyone that came out and participated, and thanks to the Portland tech community for making us feel welcome and supporting all of the hackers. We’ll see you next summer!