Another 48 hours

Author: Andy Hartwell

Last year I organised and took part in a socially-aware hackathon called Hackitude, with the idea of building something cool in 48 hours. Last weekend I competed in Django Dash, a 2-day contest for Django developers.

I didn’t have the best of starts.

The rules of the contest say developers can plan and mockup, but can’t put any pixels on-screen until 12am CDT. When converting this into GMT, I read that as 6pm on Friday evening, and it wasn’t until I got to about 20 minutes to 6 without hearing anything from the organisers’ Twitter account, that I realised I’d made something of an error.

So I got a good night’s sleep, and started proper, at 6am the following morning.

Then things started to pick up a bit.

I chatted with fellow Djangonauts on IRC (an old and well-established Internet chat system used frequently by developers), and got my head down into some serious code. The next thing I knew, it was 6pm and I’d been working almost straight, for 12 hours. I turned in at about midnight, got a full eight hours of sleep and cracked on again for the final stretch on Sunday, after refactoring whole swathes of code.

My final hunk of code, with around 2,600 lines of Python was submitted with minutes to spare before the final 6am Monday deadline, at which point the energy that had taken me through around 18 hours of solid work, evaporated and I poured myself into bed just before 7.

So what had I made?

Transphorm, a site that helps members “make one change” in their lives, track and share their progress. It could be used for anything from losing weight, to stopping smoking, to spending more time with the family. Members can create goals, then setup actions that they can log each day (like “walked the kids to work” or “substituted a cigarette for a nicotine patch”) and ascribe points to each action. The more positive things you do, the more points you gain. You can then reward yourself, set milestones and get comments of encouragement and support from other members, and your friends and family. Each plan has its own page, so people can get in touch easily, and share what they’re doing on Twitter and Facebook.

There’s loads more that I’d like to do, and ways to make it fun and competitive. Because members can take part in goals other people have set, there’s potential for a leaderboard for those who want to take part. I’d also like to build in support forums, and give each goal its own page, full of blog posts, tips, articles and maybe sponsored rewards, whereby if you can’t think of anything to reward yourself with, you’re given suggestions and perhaps a discount.

I’m proud of what I’ve managed in 48 hours, and will await the judges’ decision with baited breath. The winners are announced at the end of the month, and while Transphorm isn’t a project that pushes Django to its limits, I think it’s something worthwhile.

It were a reet good laff too.