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SusHack #2

This past weekend was the second SusHack. Following on from the success of the first SusHack there was some demand for a second one, so a little later than planned (I had promised an April SusHack!), on the 28th of June SusHack #2 happened.

{% include figure.html src="MDjuJCT.png" %}{}

Organising the second SusHack went a lot smoother than the first. I had my planning document and a checklist of what needed to be done, and just simply flew through it.

We decided against using a Django-based website this time, and instead used a static Jekyll site hosted on GitHub Pages. To sign-up to SusHack #2, potential attendees had to simply submit a pull request with their information.

This pull request sign-up method provided some nice benefits:

  1. It ensured that people who would be attending had a GitHub account
  2. It served as a quick primer for using GitHub and pull requests
  3. If any user data was wrong, people would be empowered to correct it

For attendee information, we used Jekyll's 'data' feature which lets you define an arbitrary set of data which is then accessible from inside Jekyll's templating system.

An example, attendees.yml:

- name: Max Glenister
  github_username: omgmog
  twitter_username: omgmog
  email_hash: cb137dcc8b625d24ff5743a37075c839

- name: Gil Goncalves
  github_username: lurst
  twitter_username: lurst
  email_hash: 43d7035caeafc49de5d7568cbf73175e

And to use it in Jekyll:

{% raw %}{% assign gr_url = '' %}
{% assign gh_url = '' %}
{% assign tw_url = '' %}
<ul class="attendees">
  {% for at in %}
        src="{{ gr_url }}{{ at.email_hash }}.jpg?s=100"
        alt="Picture of {{ }}"
      <span>{{ }}</span>
      {% if at.github_username %}
          <a href="{{ gh_url }}{{ at.github_username }}">
      {% endif %}
      {% if at.twitter_username %}
          <a href="{{ tw_url }}{{ at.twitter_username }}">
      {% endif %}
  {% endfor %}
</ul>{% endraw %}

You can see the full source for the SusHack #2 homepage over at GitHub.

We didn't use Mail Chimp this time, instead using Twitter to ramp up buzz for SusHack, and keep people informed of how planning was progressing as we led up to the day.

For collecting project ideas before SusHack, we used GitHub issues to allow people to submit their ideas. GitHub issues worked quite nicely, and let people really flesh out their ideas without feeling "on the spot" in front of everyone at SusHack.

On the day we transferred the titles of the ideas to a white board, and then each person explained their idea in a brief detail for everyone to decide if they wanted to work on it.

SusHack #2 was held at the 2degrees offices in Summertown again, a really nice space with plenty of desks for people to split in to teams and work on their projects, while still being able to talk to other teams.

The teams worked on the following projects:

  • Do - A "habits thingy", a tool for socially recording daily habits, such as cycling to work rather than driving.
  • Drupal site for recording thermal imaging data - The start of an application for a local community to schedule thermal imaging camera visits, and record the data/observations.
  • Wild Swim Quality - A presentation of water quality data overlaid on a map, to make it easy to locate water that is safe for wild swimming.
  • Oxford Air Quality Monitoring - This application allows to see Oxford air quality measurements with advanced visualisation.

You can read more about who was in each team, and the technology used over on the SusHack #2 GitHub repository.

Lunch was burritos from Mission Burrito, with a nice 25% discount.

This time around we had t-shirts provided by GitHub, and some Arduino books and kits provided by the Oxford Flood Network. As we didn't have many teams, and they all created such awesome projects, rather than giving the t-shirts and things as prizes we just randomly distributed them.

SusHack #2 went well. Better than I could have hoped. We had some familiar faces, and some new faces to! So a big thanks to everyone that came long.

I'm looking forward to organising the next SusHack, perhaps early next year.