HackDay (and more) at IBM

I blogged about my HackDay projects last night, kinda assuming that everyone would know what I was talking about, and what “HackDay” meant. But so far not a single friend or family (outside IBM) has understood, so I’ve had to try and explain it a few times.

As with many times where I get to explain about things that I get to do at work, people have been impressed and surprised with the variety of stuff that goes on at Hursley.

Even just this week, whether it’s the presentation I gave last Wednesday to a group of NEET young people on how to write CVs (as part of a mentoring program that I got to start with Hursley’s support), or going up to Bransgore in the New Forest for a day this week for a team environmental volunteering challenge, I like that I can feel proud of what we do. And that doesn’t even include the big annual things like running a National Science Week educational event for hundreds of local school children.

We do some cool stuff. Friday’s HackDay was no exception.

HackDay is not a new idea – I think it was started by Yahoo. Basically, IBM labs around the world all get to take a day away from our day jobs to try something different. The challenge is to try and come up with an interesting idea and take it from concept to prototype in one day.

It’s a chance to try something new and learn something different. For my HackDay, I got to leave the WPS development office for a day and join the other Hursley hackers down in the depths of B block.

I got to play with a bunch of things like trying to access a cameraphone camera device in C++ native code, writing regular expressions in Java to translate different markup languages (eurgh), learning about web service APIs from flickr to WordPress, writing GPS code, learning about encoding and decoding EXIF metadata in images, creating a new interface to update contacts in my phone’s address book, designing an offline-wiki-editor (like Windows Live Writer but for wikis), finding out how to change hardware settings in Windows Mobile by editing the registry and more.

I also got to meet some new interesting people, and see some interesting other projects be created. For example, the guys I were sat next to put together a really neat widget for making your clipboard more useful.

It was a fun way to spend a Friday 🙂

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