Alpine Hackathon Reportback

A guest post by meskio on 22 Oct 2013

My cell phone used to be a black and white Nokia until a couple of weeks ago when I decided to enter in the smartphone world. Now that there are more mobile devices connected to the internet than computers, I think it’s time for me as well to discover the possibilities of this technology. During this few weeks I’ve been playing with my new toy, checking how to secure it, and seeing what free software is around to use cryptography on it.

Someone on the IRC told me there will be a hackathon of Whisper Systems not that far away from my place. I couldn’t miss this opportunity to get my hands on Android development and try to do something useful. So there I was in Zurich, after three hours of travel, sleeping on a couch that a friend of a friend has lent me, anxious to hack with the Whisper Systems hackers.

A sign reads: Open Whisper Systems Alphine Hackathon 11-13 October 2013

Colab is a great place for hackathons with a great sound system (when you manage to make it work), tables with electrical plugs everywhere and comfortable sofas to change your place when you are tired of the table. But the most important of everything, they have a fridge full of drinks with club mate.

We’ve been 6 people on the hackathon: Christine and Frederic hacking on the iOS version of TextSecure, Desiree, Kashif and me learning while coding for the Android version of TextSecure and Moxie trying to have something done on the server side while we all ask him questions.

Whisper systems hackers in action.

Kashif and Desiree couldn’t stay for the whole weekend, but they were full of energy and pretty productive. Kashif wrote some lines about the weekend:

It was my first hackathon, and it was great to experience a different culture of coding/hacking as compared to my daytime job. Also, the pros who were there were very kind and helpful. Overall it was a great experience and I’m pretty sure I’ll be going back to future hackathons.

Christine took care of the organization of the event, welcoming us, providing food and bringing us to good places for beers. When Frederic was not concentrated behind his screen he was taking pictures of the event. And in the breaks Moxie amazed us with his stories.

Frederic, ever-elusive

Corbett rocking the NASA logo laptop sticker.

Time passes fast when you are focused on something. I have the feeling that the weekend was really short and that I didn’t have time to accomplish much. But I have few commits merged on the main repository and I learned a lot. I’m glad I went to the hackathon.


Zurich, Switzerland

22 October 2013