I host a meetup now


Well I co-host  the meetup but that’s perfectly fine.

I was just an attendee of the meetup till about 3 weeks ago. One time, the regular hosts couldn’t make it and they asked everyone if someone would like to host it, I said sure why not? I mean how hard can it be?

Next thing I know, I am part of their inner circle, attending their planning sessions and what not.

House of Code used to be called FreeCodeCamp Auckland. It is a technical meetup which was aimed at mostly beginners and newbies but the hosts decided to grow it. Now, they ( we? ) are planning on building this fully fledged web app ( Techincal Language: React app ) and I am one of them.

As to how hard can it be? Not so much. It involves lots of explaining and talking but I can do that when I have something to talk about. Plus, I am talking to people who have a similar interest which is always a nice icebreaker.

There is one thing that I noticed in the last few meetups where I was the host. Usually, at these events I have a partial knowledge of what is happening. I don’t know who is talking about what or who knows what.

As I hosted the meetup, I realized that I knew everything that was happening. Who is good at the language we are going to be using, who is enthusiastic and who is trying to steal our idea.

Of course, I may be wrong about them but usually this just makes the entire meetup really exciting. I always have something to do, someone to talk to, something to talk about.

Plus, all of the hosts are going for Star Wars: Last Jedi midnight show so I would say that I trust every one of them.

 

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GovHack 2017: My First Hackathon


We had approximately 48 hours to use open data and create a hack (web app/ mobile app). This was never going to be easy considering:

  1. I don’t know data science
  2. I didn’t have a team when I registered

Luckily, I knew the language I was going to work on: Javascript. In addition, I sporadically dabble on FreeCodeCamp’s online coursework ( Javascript ). FreeCodeCamp’s meetup group in Auckland are people like me, ones who are code newbies working on the same coursework. I met them prior to the hackathon to talk about project ideas and we came up with a few. But the meetup group was huge (12+) so we split into two teams and they used their idea (youtube presentation).

By Friday evening I was in a team of 6 people. Three developers including me, and three non developers.

A: Choosing a Project

This was the hardest part. It took us 8 hours during the hackathon to decide. The biggest mistake that we did was we assumed that data would be available (more on that later). My team started talking about the issues we were dealing with: transport, immigration (due to the changes proposed), housing prices etc. One of us dropped a bombshell and said let’s make a game. Suddenly I didn’t care about dealing with problems: I wanted to make the game.

I always wanted to make games but I don’t know much about it. Plus, I don’t have a clearer picture of where I wanna go with the game development so I haven’t tried it yet.

Our idea was simple: You start the game about 15 years prior. You start buying houses and earn money and in 15 years time you should have certain amount of money to win. Brilliant (and typically the premise of every tycoon game) idea. We knew it worked. To implement it we needed open data of house prices in the city/country.

We don’t have to work on the data at all. We just had to use it as stepping points. All of us loved the idea and even before we found the idea we started working out the mechanics of the game.

Turns out Auckland has no housing data of any kind. Sure we could find data related to renting or number of people in the city but house prices? Nope. This is an important point because there is a house price bubble in the city: housing prices are going up.

On Saturday afternoon we dropped the idea. I wanted to make that game but without data it wouldn’t be eligible in the hackathon. We had another brainstorm and finally settled on looking at the employment statistics.

B: Our App

His idea was to look at how industries are distributed and how many people are depended on it. This way we can tell predict which economies are vulnerable to decline in that particular industry. We planned on using a heatmap to show all the districts with varying colors depending on the distribution.

We found the data fairly easily.  We needed three components: a heat map, piechart for further distribution and lastly a slider so that we can see all fifteen years. We used C3 charts and Here API for creating the heatmap and pie chart (FYI: use C3, they are super easy and look amazing). I worked mostly on the layout and the slider.

Here is the finished product presentation and you can try it out here.

The Weekend

I haven’t seen this much work done in such a short amount of time except in university when the assignment is due. Neither one of us were willing to settle for anything less than what we had envisioned.

My friend also wanted to come but didn’t because he didn’t know coding. What he didn’t know was coding was only 50% of the work and the easier bit. We had to make a video on our project and the skills required for that is rare. All of us occasionally gave feedback to one another, encouraged one another. I ate all the food because someone has to.

There is something amazing about working straight for 36 hours. Sure I was tired, I still am a little bit. But if I was doing everything alone in my time, I would probably take couple of weeks for this, if I didn’t give up on this in the middle by frustration.

I was lucky enough that my teammates were amazing, accommodating to the fact that I don’t know more than the basics about Javascript. I am looking forward to next year, when I get to do this again and maybe by that time we would have better open data available.