Annie Hsieh

Ruby developer & aspiring entrepreneur

© 2014 Annie Hsieh All rights reserved.
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AngelHack Postmortem

About 2 weeks ago I participated in the Austin stop of the AngelHack competition and I've been thinking a lot about my experience since it was my first public hackathon. I thought I would jot down some thoughts and couldn't think of a better way to share them than to start a blog.

I was a bit nervous about going into the weekend without an idea or team, but I was quickly able to find a group who had developed an idea on the spot and needed help from a Rails developer. The end product was PepTalk, a service that connected to your Google Calendar and would make a wake up call to you in the morning with the day's schedule.

After finding a team, I started worrying about whether I had the technical chops to help develop a product from the ground up in such a short amount of time. Once we started hacking, I realized my worry was unfounded. I was even able to contribute some to the front end and gained a better understanding of good Git workflow. As the final deadline was approaching, the other developer and I began to pair program. I have to admit, as someone who was previously skeptical of the benefits of pair programming, I did notice that it did help us code faster.

I also learned how helpful a developer evangelist can be. We had decided to use Twilio to make the phone calls as it seemed the quickest way to get that function working. It was my first time using Twilio though and I was getting increasingly frustrated trying to get it work in the app. Just when I thought about looking for a different service, I decided to tweet something about my frustrations. The Twilio developer evangelist based out of Austin, Keith Casey, replied and helped me sort out some things. While I wasn't able to get the Twilio part of the app working completely before the deadline, they definitely gained a regular user.

To sum up the weekend, even though my team didn't end up winning anything, I had fun and enjoyed getting to know my team members, who had driven from San Antonio as part of a group from the coworking space Geekdom.

Best of all, the hackathon helped me find my love for coding again. Due to some personal and work circumstances, I had been feeling burnt out lately and was unsure if I really wanted to devote a weekend to coding. Damon, the Austin AngelHack organizer, encouraged me to attend though so I signed up not expecting much. Little did I know that this hackathon was just the spark I needed to find my passion again.