Expedia Hackathon (Part 2)

Expedia Hackathon (Part 2)

The next day started early, and we found ourselves back at Expedia's headquarters before 8 AM. We were well on our way with our application and were quite relaxed when we were settling back in. Our fingers picked up programming right where we'd left off, and when a member of the Expedia team asked us if we'd be ready to discuss our demo around 11, we said yes with utmost confidence. Of course, that's when it all started to go wrong. Suddenly, the information we were seeing in our application wasn't matching up with the information from yesterday.

 

How many programmers does it take to – nope, can't think of a good joke

It's important to stay calm in such a situation. Nerves of steel are important for any programmer, especially when taking part in a hackathon. So we put on our best poker faces (can be bought everywhere in Las Vegas) and kept typing as if nothing was wrong. Any panicking was kept strictly inside.

Luckily, we both have extensive experience when it comes to finding and eliminating bugs in our system, and after some digging and creative thinking we were able to get everything running again. It left us a bit short on preparation time for the demo we would have to give in just a few hours, so we spent the rest of the hackathon in our little corner, muttering through the dialogue we'd decided on.

For the record, we are both mentally sound. Talking to yourself is a sign of genius, right?

Around us the Expedia team was busy setting up the room for the arrival of the judges. Once they'd finished and everyone had settled down, the demo round began.

We got (lucky) number 13. This didn't make us worried at all.

It was interesting to finally see what everyone had come up with. We'd interacted very little with the other teams other than a couple of brief conversations over a few slices of pizza. And as the teams stepped up one after the other to showcase what they'd come up with within 2 days, it became clear we were up against some stiff competition.

I don't know how other programmers experience this, but neither of us feels very comfortable when it comes to public speaking. So when we were asked to step up for our presentation, both of us felt a little nervous. Or a lot nervous.I still remember having to type our destinations into the application we'd created and watching my fingers shake enough to cause a few typos – visible to everyone because it was being projected onto a screen, of course. Our hearts skipped a beat when we pressed the button that would show the magic – would the fix still work? But then the results appeared neatly on the screen and we could breathe again. Crisis averted.

The rest of the presentation went off without a hitch, and we shuffled away to watch the last demo. After that, it was up to the judges, and a difficult task it looked to be too. But it was out of our hands now, and it was clear we all felt it. The past few bus rides to and from the Expedia headquarters had been very quiet, but the bus was full of chattering people when they drove us back to the hotel for the celebration party. It made for quite a merry ride back, and the mood carried over into the Pink Taco, the stage of the celebration and where the winners would be revealed...

By Basil January 14, 2016