Surviving the Hackaday Prize Party

What a week it has been. I’m in Munich, Germany along with [Brian], [Jasmine], [Ben], [Alek], and the rest of the crew who helped plan and guide the 2014 Hackaday Prize.┬áIf you somehow missed it, we announce the rank order of the finalists. It was SatNOGS that claimed the Grand Prize, congratulations!

We have a ton of content headed your way, but to be honest there’s going to be a bit of “recovery lag” before that hits the front page. We spent the entire day at Technikum in the Munich Kalturfabrik. It was originally some sort of factory complex (having to do with potato processing) which has since been turned into co-working spaces, restaurants, and performing arts venues. We felt right at home in the post-industrial, brightly muraled maze of buildings.

The official activities started with the Embedded Hardware Workshops which were packed! The previously assured “robust” WiFi immediately, and repeatedly, went down. Fortunately hackers being hackers everyone pooled their local copies onto one SD card and passed it around. We’ve segregated that piece of hardware in an evidence bag for future testing.

We pushed back the closing of the workshops by about 40 minutes since everyone was having fun. This marginally outraged the company who was handling furniture and food as we weren’t following the plan. They were pleasant enough about the issue but for me it was an interesting peek at the difference in cultures. During the switch we had lightning talks which I found both enthusiastic and interesting. We then moved to the major presentations of the night. [Jeroen Domburg] aka [Sprite_TM] gave a stunning presentation about reverse engineering the ridiculously overpowered microcontroller on a special lighted keyboard. We’ll surely have a standalone post about it. We then closed with a recap of The Hackaday Prize and the naming of the winners. That too will have its own feature.

DSC_0095After handing over the trophy, and taking a few photos the writers all rushed to the downstairs “backstage” area. I had previously written the announcement post and we spent some time getting the word out, first to all the finalists, then to the sites that are close friends, and finally started pushing the news on social media. All work and no play? Forget about it. The party was raging and the food and drinks were fantastic. They were, however, far outshined by the conversations with interesting people to be found at every turn. I spoke with people who had driven in just for the event from France, Austria, and of course all over Germany.

The venue was packed up starting around Midnight. You know it’s a great time when the crowd hangs out in the cold for another 40 minutes afterward. The point of the story? Any chance you have to spend time with the great people who make up the Hackaday community is a chance to jump at. Where to next?

Recap: Hackaday’s First Live Event

Packed house

Last Tuesday was the first time I know of that Hackaday hosted our own live event. There were some less official get-togethers associated with conferences and things like that. But we threw The Gathering to see if readers would rise from their lairs for a chance to interact with one another. We called, you answered, and I had an amazing time. Hackaday packed the place with over four hundred readers, and every conversation I had ended up being a fascinating interaction. Thank you!

[Brian], [Eliot], and [Mike] via [Mike's] phone an color corrected by [Hefto
[Brian], [Eliot], and [Mike] via [Mike's] phone an color corrected by [Hefto
[Brian Benchoff] and I returned to our snowy homelands the next morning. Surprisingly this was the first time we had met each other despite working closely on Hackaday for the past several years. I also had the pleasure of meeting [Eliot Phillips] and [Jack Buffington] for the first time. I’m sorry I didn’t have more time to hang out with them, but when you’re trying to say hello to several hundred people you’ve just got to keep moving.

Before I get too wordy I better throw the more tag in here. Join me after the jump for a blow-by-blow of what we did, what sticks out in my mind, and where we’re going next.

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