Life at Yahoo!

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Southern California Hack Day 2011

Posted: 16th of September, 2011

Originally posted on the WIT blog.  By Karen Bruner.

Yahoo! has been hosting company-wide Hackdays two or three times a year now for several years, and while Yahoos in the Southern California offices were welcome to work on hacks, they didn't have the support of an organized local event. That changed for Summer Hackday 2011. The SoCal chapter of Yahoo!'s Women in Tech group, with funding from the Yahoo Developer Network, put together a great environment for local hackers to collaborate and concentrate on their hacks.

hackday idea lunch

Prospective hackers listen to pitches over pizza

A week before Hackday, potential hackers came together to pitch ideas and find interested hackers. Hacking wasn't limited to engineers who fit the traditional definition of computer hacking. The Southern California offices have a large proportion of people in the advertising and business side, but they still have many of the necessary hacking skills: ideas, aesthetic input, and enthusiasm.

By the time Hackday rolled around, 19 hackers worked on several local projects that had come together. Hacks ran the gamut from ideas that could someday appear on the front pages of Yahoo!'s sites to internal tools that would make the behind-the-scenes run better. While most hackers were local to the Burbank office, Yahoos from the Santa Monica office also came to join the hacks. WIT volunteers kept them energized with drinks, munchies, and pizza.

SoCal Summer 2011 Hackers

For another first, the teams in Burbank got to present their hacks in the Friday afternoon demos via teleconferencing with Hackday HQ in Sunnyvale. Several dozen people, hackers and supporters alike, crowded in a boardroom over pizza and beer to watch the local demos. The enthusiasm and excitement from everybody was tremendous. Second-time Burbank hacker Srikanth Bangalore said this was a big improvement over his first Hackday, when he worked from his desk and had to record his demo so it could be replayed in the Sunnyvale demo session. Doing the demo live and having an energetic audience made for a very different experience.

Burbank hackday demos teleconference with Sunnyvale
A first: Burbank Hackday demos teleconfereced live with Sunnyvale 

Mariena Quintanilla's hack was related to her day-to-day work, a monitoring tool she had been needing for awhile but hadn't had time to work on. Hackday gave her the perfect chance. She found another would-be hacker to help out, and her tool will have an immediate impact.

With one successful Southern California Hackday under WIT's belt, the plan is to make this a regular event, allowing local Yahoos to tap their hacking talent more easily, which can only benefit Yahoo as a whole.