MacHack: Judgment Day for the Hack Contest

by Chuck Toporek

The nerves are frayed and everyone's on the edge of their seats, waiting for the results of the Hack contest here at MacHack.

As Friday came to a close, the night didn't kick into high gear at MacHack 17 until shortly after midnight (so that would be Saturday morning, right?) when the attendees queued up to present their hacks -- hardware and software -- before the masses.

Mind you, there were 65 Hacks and the showing of said Hacks didn't start until around 12:30 a.m. What better way to spend your evening? Well, okay, you could be in bed, sleeping, dreaming of fluffy bunnies floating in the sky, but then you'd miss all the fun.

Amid a flury of flying Twinkies and Little Debbie Snacks, odd video snippets, retro Apple ads and commercials, and a heavy dose of sarcastic remarks, the night was quite entertaining.

Some of my favorite Hacks of the night included, but not limited to:

  • Dock Invaders, by Travis Hicks and Paul Scandariato. This Yoot-developed game takes the icons from your Dock and puts them in alien formation, similar to the classic arcade game, Space Invaders. Rather than having a goofy space station to shoot from, Moof shoots bones at the icons to knock them out of the air. Very cool.

  • Airport Extender Blender, by Troy Benjegerdes and Tom Zerucha combines an iBook, some Lego MINDSTORMS, an alluminum can rigged as a wireless extender, and a blender to make you a frothy drink. The wiring was a little scary, but this was a pretty cool hardware hack.

  • Apple Video Saver, by Justin Bakse and Joshua Walton (sp?) takes a live video feed (via FireWire) and converts the image into colored Apple icons. (I have to say, this was my favorite.)

Two crowd pleasers were a redo of Monty Python's Dead Parrot sketch, as a final send-off for Mac OS 9 (take note, Steve, you should invite these guys to redo this at Macworld New York), and the "Hack Park" animation (ala, South Park) by John Ardussi. Both were pretty damned funny. (Mostly because one of the characters in "Hack Park" gets squashed by an O'Reilly bookshelf.) ;^)

When all the Hacks had been presented, and all the Twinkies tossed, I looked at my watch with my "crack eyes" (thanks, John), and came to the realization that it was now 4:30 a.m.-ish, and I had a 20-30 minute commute back to the folks' place ahead of me.

The drive home was pretty easy, probably because there's hardly anyone on the road at that time of the morning. I managed to get home around 5 a.m., got three hours sleep, and dragged myself back in. Sure, I've had about seven hours sleep in three days, but this has been a lot of fun.

I know how I've voted, but what would Brian Boytano do? ;^) Can't wait for the results of the Hack contest to be announced at tonight's final banquet.

Where you there? If so, comment on what you thought were some of the best Hacks here at MacHack.