Story of a first-time hackathon.

So, I took part in the COVID-19 Global Hackathon.

Long story short, I got excited at OCR and just went with the most challenging challenge - digitizing forms with handwritten text and checkboxes, ones which say whether you have been in contact with someone who could have Coronavirus.

And, unsurprisingly, it didn't work within 4 days. I joined up with 2 people, who both left halfway through - one announced, one silently - and another guy joined, said he had something working and then dissapeared.

We never settled on a stack - we started with a local docker running Tesseract, then Google Cloud Vision, then we found Amazon Textract. None worked easily.

Timezone differences were annoying too. There was a 15-hour difference across our zones. I spent hours in the Slack channel waiting.

We didn't manage the deadline, and the people who set the challenge needed the solution withing 10 days, a deadline we also missed. We ended up with a basic-bitch Vue app to take pictures with mock Amazon S3 functionality, empty TDD in Python and also some OCR work.

tbh, that stuff would've worked if we had 4 weeks. I understand why everyone left.

I guess the lesson from this is not to be over-ambitious with hackathons. And not to over-estimate computers' detection abilities.

  • 3
    The COVID-19 global Hackathon sounds like some biohacking challenge where you hack the virus. :D

    Wish you better luck next time.
  • 1
    @sweetnothings I agree - they would've made an app out of the digitized data so people could see whether they'd come into contact.
  • 3
    15-hour difference is practically just 9 hours
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