Hack Arizona

I spent the weekend stepping over bodies - both real and virtual - at the Hack Arizona event in Tucson. As part of the Microsoft sponsorship team, we flew down (bringing the rain with us, you're welcome) and gave demos, talks and prizes to the hard-working sleep-deprived hackers who were spending 36 hours bringing their projects to life. It was genuinely wonderful to see the passion of this > 900 crowd of designers and developers, working hard to make their dreams into reality in exchange for fame, glory and (for some!) really good prizes.

One of the discoveries which surprised me the most was the number of Windows laptops in use. I was expecting there to be more glowing Apple logos to be perfectly honest, and it was refreshing to see Windows being used as the OS of choice.

We had a fun time showing off the HoloLens, and our Surface Books, and just chatting about Microsoft with so many interested and interesting students. It did leave me with a few thoughts:

  • Windows 10 would make life so much easier for many of the hackers. Having access to the Bash shell without various hoops would just simplify things so much.
  • Microsoft has so many development tools (Visual Studio, Azure, Cognitive Services) that would have made the hacking projects just that little bit easier to get going. We definitely need to get the word out!

By Sunday, everyone was exhausted and yet excited enough to make some really great demos for us to judge. There was an amazing array of projects, from apps designed to improve society, to VR training sims and even a beer-pong score keeper (hey, it was an a university ;-) But no matter the project, the enthusiasm of the teams and willingness to put in 36 hours of effort was very impressive. Students slept on floors, passed out from sheer hard work, and woke up again with possibly dangerous levels of energy drinks in their bloodstream to get right back to work. It was amazing! Well done to everyone who took part.