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Hack Night got hacked

Tasha Schroeder

Each month, we open our doors for a Hack Night, inviting others to join us as we experiment with and work on various technologies.

For the August Hack Night, we sharpened our focus and added a little more structure. For the first time, we posed a challenge to those attending: Could they hack our RFID door reader to allow our chat robot to open the front door of our office?

The answer is yes. Highgroovers Zac, Brian, Charles and Stafford joined forces with a few others from the community. Together, with an Arduino board, a power drill and Ruby, they achieved success.

Project progress

Other Highgroovers also made progress with their projects:

  • Andy tackled syncing his Fitbit through the Linux-based Raspberry Pi, despite the lack of an official Linux client. After installing Python and pip, he was able to use libfitbit to get syncing working for any Fitbit in range.

  • Don improved his Body Boss app, which creates workout challenges based on users’ fitness goals. After Hack Night, users can create and rearrange workouts for themselves or others, including setting the number of reps and amount of weight used.

  • Steven used some CSS wizardry to build a responsive search UI for his favorite side project, Brewdega.

  • Patrick and Tomer worked on a dependency management system for homebrew that allows developers, with a single command, to install all of the packages required by an application.

And it wasn’t just Highgroovers who made headway:

  • Emily worked on a mobile web app using the Ravelry API. She released v 0.0.2 of her omniauth-ravelry gem and got authenticated API requests through OAuth 1 working in the app.

  • Laura created forms for her blog, unpunctuated life.

  • Sarvagya improved VocabWhiz, an app where users can learn vocabulary by reviewing new terms and then quizzing themselves.

A new direction

In the past, we’ve encouraged folks to bring a variety of projects to work on, and we’ve also focused on open-source projects. We’re planning to bring a variety of challenges to the table in the future. Some ideas we’re throwing around include:

  • Themes: Participants might be asked to program for a charity, or work on something that improves personal productivity.
  • Physical hardware hacking: We’ll give Arduinos to three teams and see what they produce.
  • Iron Chef style: We’ll propose a theme ingredient for programming, and all projects must take advantage of that element.

Join us

The next Hack Night is planned for September 10. RSVP on Facebook to join us. And let us know–what kinds of challenges would you like to see at upcoming Hack Nights?

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