Hackagong 2012

Over the weekend just past Hackagong was held at Wollongong University. Over 30 hours, close to 90 people, in 27 teams competed to see what they could create. It was a great mix of designers, entrepreneurs and coders, all in one space.

I had the pleasure of working with a great young developer creating a fun little toy, Infinite Small. It’s an exercise in live data calculations and interface – trying to look at a new way to display interactive data. The judges liked it so much we were honoured to win the prize for ‘Best Business Potential’ and will both hopefully have desks at Startpad (Wollongong’s incubator) over Summer.

It was a really great time, and I thought I would share a couple of my thoughts from the weekend.


It was so great to work with someone with a different skillset (with a few overlaps) to mine. We could never have come up with what we did if we hadn’t been working together – it took a combination of our skills and abilities. The whole weekend seemed to be great for that – bringing people together to create things they couldn’t have done otherwise.

New Things

Both Rhys and I were trying out a few new things with this project. Rhys had never really worked with Ember.js before so it was a good chance to run it through it’s paces. For me it was the first time I’d used Git for anything more than just versioning my own work. Collaborating meant that we were really using git for what it was made for. It was a little bit of struggle for me – but well worth the experience.

I’ve used CSS preprocessors in the past, but this was the first time I had tried using nested styles. I was hoping it would make my life easier, but in the end it resulted in me having more trouble than usual finding selectors in my CSS. It also had a lot more specificity to the code than I would have like. I think both of those things would be nullified by more practice using nested styles – I’m yet to decide if it is something I will stick with.

Responsive on a tight timeline

One of the major features of our project was that it be fully responsive so that it looks beautiful on any device. And it does – go check it out. This fell well within my comfort zone, so I was all set. What DID throw a spanner in the works was that the tight timeframe meant the features and functions were changing almost the entire time, which meant a LOT of layout tweaks, multiplied by the need to make sure it worked at all sizes. This made things a little frantic at times. I think, however, this was just a symptom of the timeframes involved, and is all part of an event like that.

Wollongong FTW

The major thing coming out of Hackagong for me – is the wealth of talent we have in the design, entrepreneur and tech communities down here in Wollongong. There was an array of great and talented folk working on some amazing ideas. On Monday we also found out that 4 of the 20 startups that made the final round of Startmate were from Wollongong – that’s astounding. We’re going to continue to see great things coming out of Wollongong.


The winning entry on the weekend was a great idea called Kickstart Kristmas. It’s essentially a kickstarter-style site for buying group contributed gifts. It was well conceived  (mostly) functional, and beautifully designed in less than 30 hours. An amazing achievement.

As far as I am aware, the folks involved in the project are going to run with it, and try and get it up and running full time, so keep an eye out for them.

So that was Hackagong – I had a blast, and can’t wait for the next one to roll around.

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