Lack of sleep and a light hangover – courtesy of last night’s drinking session until the wee hours of the morning – made waking up today agonizing, to say the least. I checked the time; it was a quarter to ten. Making my way to the shower in as lazily a manner as possible, I began the long, arduous journey of readying myself for the coming gathering.
Minutes later – 30 or more to be specific – I find myself walking with my girlfriend to the Asia Pacific Institute of Technology and Innovation, known to many by its shorthand APIIT. After a pleasant walk, we arrived at the foyer to be greeted by student volunteers helping out Tandemic – organizers of the Facebook Developer Garage KL - with registrations and such.
For those who want to check out the full agenda, head on over here!
A speedy registration, a quick chat with some of the volunteers, and a rush up the stairs saw me seated during the last few minutes of Scott Rafer’s talk. The agenda listed the title of his presentation as “Get In, Get Big, Get Out”. One might surmise that his speech was targeted at the budding Entrepreneurs in the audience, effectively telling them – in a nutshell – to “Get In” to a business as fast as you can, accelerate it’s growth to “Get Big” payouts, and to “Get Out” while the going’s good – somebody correct me if I’m wrong. I wonder if he handles his relationships the same way, sounds like a player to me!
Perhaps I should follow him on twitter and exchange pickup lines? He is a sexist pig, I shall not follow in his footsteps out of respect to women. My girlfriend made me write that did not make me write that.
Aizatto began his segment on the Facebook Graph API and it’s various applications with a brief account of his background and current involvement with Facebook as a developer. He explained the significance of graph theory, and how Facebook uses it to represent their community of users and their respective social ties. Some mosaics he generated using data pulled via the Graph API were showcased during his presentation; unfortunately, the lighting in the auditorium made them rather difficult to see. A volunteer’s attempt at switching off the lights led to a short-circuit – hilarity ensued immediately after as we were all blanketed by a shroud of darkness. The audience, ever-so vigilant in scrutinizing the ill-fated attempt, did not have to wait for long as Aizat resolved the power failure in a jiffy! The talk resumed, with a slight interruption by APIIT staff arriving on scene to fix the power issue – akin to the over-played cliche of late arrivals of authoritative forces in various films!
Colin “ByteBot” Charles spoke on the importance of application scalability. Planning ahead is crucial when one develops software to serve an increasing volume of users – he emphasized the 7 Ps (Proper Planning and Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance), a common phrase in military nomenclature. He goes on to share various optimization techniques and the dangers of premature optimization, some of which I already know and some of which I didn’t – I personally found this part of his talk most intriguing. Despite the technical nature of his presentation, he was not without his jokes – and pokes – at proprietary software giants and those who are in favour of them instead of open-source. * Breaks a window in support *
Lunch was served in the APIIT basement. Being down there brought back some memories from my college years: taking the stairs below to the cafeteria to check out the food and whet my appetite, going back up immediately having lost it given the dull variety. Thankfully, this was not the case today – phew!
After lunch, Clayton Narcis from wootfood spoke about developing iPhone applications using the Facebook iOS SDK, using his wootfood application as a case study. He discussed development issues he had faced, and potential privacy issues regarding the data one can acquire from Facebook users subscribed to your application. On behalf of wootfood, he mentioned that his outfit is looking to hire developers – someone asked if being bald is a necessary criteria. Clayton and his business partner – both practically bald – laughed along with the crowd in response to this. “Great, we have something in common!”, I thought to myself – I’d definitely make it as far as the shortlist! Those interested in doing so can follow him on his twitter.
Next up was the Hackathon ideas pitching session – BUT first, a few words from Tandemic’s partners in crime!
An APIIT UCTI lecturer reached out to students, asking them to band together and write software that will benefit both the university college and its students. Hang on, I think I heard a bird go “cheap … cheap, cheap … cheap, cheap”
Christy Lee, executive director of Virtuous Investment Circle (VIC), graced us with her presence – encouraging aspiring entrepreneurs to opt for VIC when looking to raise funds. Listeners were told that VIC would be waiving the nominal application fee of RM500 for all business proposals submitted that day!
Women:100 spokeswoman Ngai Yuen attempted to rally support from the audience for the cause she represents – the empowerment of and equal opportunities for women. Check out the website here!
Back to the Hackathon …
It wasn’t long before Hakim Albasrawy and Kal Jofres – the guys from Tandemic – started inviting people out front to participate in the Hackathon. Students, developers and non-techies alike stepped forth to give us their 30-second sales pitch. From event aggregators to online educational quizzes to facial recognition applications to Groupon clones making use of the Facebook Graph API, the floor was literally spilling forth with ideas – all that’s left was recruiting team-members!
I was overly surprised by the level of engagement of the attendants; one would not normally expect such involvement in a Malaysian setting, where listening without questioning is commonality – perhaps there’s hope for us yet! I made my way over to the front to join in on the fun; soon enough, I was embroiled in conversation, discussing with the participants as to how their ideas should be approached and what technologies one should use.
Unfortunately for me, I had to leave before the actual hacking started – in order to make due on prior engagements. I will, however, be heading back tomorrow for Day 2, which focuses specifically on the Hackathon itself – as groups race against time to make their ideas a reality and win the micro-investment prize!
I woke up late, as per my usual Sundays. Showered and ready to go, I head out for APIIT. An afternoon stroll is not as pleasant as a morning one unfortunately, thanks in no small part to the scorching heat of the sun. As I approached my destination, I wondered as to whether there was any point in having taken a bath earlier.
I walked into what was practically a deserted foyer, save for the APIITians tasked with recruiting new students and the minions of Tandemic manning the registration booth. Today’s registration came with goodies in the form of Facebook Developer Garage KL shirts, so I grabbed two – one for me and my girlfriend
On the first floor, one could see groups of participants hacking away on their computers – on what I presumed at that point to be their Hackathon projects. Not many people turned up for Day 2 as they did for Day 1, but no matter – a hackathon should be more coding and less talking anyways! I decided to carry out my own walkabout and check in on the contestants and their projects.
Of the various ideas, I found On Time UCTI – a Facebook application that shows APIIT UCTI timetable schedules based on intake code – to be the most progressive. Simple, clean and straight to the point – hands down, a definite improvement over the current timetable!
Other ideas included a market place application to trade amongst Facebook friends and a birthday reminder that sends customized images and messages – both of which are somewhat alterations of existing Facebook applications.
One team was looking into friend discovery via facial recognition – a promising idea – but only if you work for Facebook! *cough* suggest it Aizat! *cough* All kidding aside, it’s not entirely true – one could build such software as a third-party application, but a severe limitation would hinder its popularity. The very fact that you can only access public data of users subscribed to your application as well as their immediate fans deters the very purpose of this idea – to find people you don’t know using only pictures! One might consider releasing a viral application of sorts that would gain a lot of traction to pull the necessary data to feed this idea with – but that is a story for another day!
Aizatto dropped in an hour later – finally :p The Facebook Ninja set out to offer his wisdom to those in need – to steer them on the path of the elite coder! As fervent as he was in desire to help, it wasn’t long before he succumbed to earthly needs – FOOOOOOOODDD!!!!!
Not one to exclude myself from a meal, I tagged along to dine amongst fellow geeks. The grub was delicious – the fact that it was free made it even more so! I spent the next two hours or so engaging in random conversation, before departing; no disrespect to the event, its organizers or participants, but I wanted to spend the remainder of my day doing what I do best on Sundays – lying in bed doing absolutely nothing. Ahhhhhh, the pinnacle of perfection!