Prior to heading out to MHacks I envisioned having the time to catch up on some tech and non-tech reading over the course of the event. However, this was not to be.

(And no, I’m not disappointed in the slightest that I was occupied the entire time)

I spent a majority of my time helping and mentoring teams participating in the event. I had volunteered to answer any web development related questions. Here are some of the problems I helped solve and technical concepts I explained:

  • How to architect a website that used in-browser video conferencing as a key component. I suggested using WebRTC as it is something that I’ve used in the past. The team chose to use the excellent PeerJS library as an abstraction over WebRTC.
  • How Ajax + callbacks work in JavaScript. The team’s algorithm needed nested callbacks (3 levels of nesting if I recall correctly) because of dependency issues, and the phrase “callback hell” did come up.
  • Given a set of documents, how do you determine, for a particular document, what are the similar documents? This is the problem of semantic similarity. I also explained some basic NLP concepts to the team.
  • How to create a website so that it has a responsive design. My suggestion was to use Bootstrap (I love this framework) and have it do the almost all the heavy lifting.
  • How to use Flask to build backends that are not coupled to the frontend (web v.s. text message)

This was probably the most mentoring I’ve ever done at a hackathon. It was a great experience, and I would definitely do it again.


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