Getting The Most Out Of A Hackathon

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The Basics:  A hackathon goes by many names – hack day, hackfest or codefest. Essentially, a hackathon is a design, build and demo sprint-like event where you get random people to team up and collaborate intensely, usually for 24 to 72 hours. The skills required are typically in software development, graphics or human centered design; user interface and user experience design, project managers, and domain or subject matter experts.

The organizer will provide some challenges, and the participants will form teams and try to come up with their best ideas/solutions. Eventually, the team(s) who presented the best ideas/solutions will get to win some cool prizes. Prizes can be cash or some gadgets.

Here are some thoughts about how to make the most of your participation in a Hackathon.

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MTN Uganda & Nokia Lumia 920/820 Launch

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Am not in the business of Device reviews, let alone, lay in bed with Microsoft, BUT, here i found myself in the same room as a Windows 8 Phone, that’s being taunted as the “best innovative smartphone”, the Nokia Lumia 920.

I stayed away from the OS, and so you can imagine how hard that has to be for the General Secretary of a pan-african FOSS organization. Still, i delved right in, to try to feel the hype that MTN Uganda and Nokia East Africa have raised about this phone – see #MyNokiaAtMTN.

First off, as a parent of a tech-enthusiast, i was impressed with the KIDS CORNER – a place where my little gal can scratch and play, without my worry for how much data she will blow, or calls she’ll mis-dial. Its tailored for her – music, videos, games and other apps. The Kids Corner can be password locked, for the teen facing age-mates.

Detailed Specs by Nokia: Here; And the usual Spoiler: Here

The Lumia 920 comes running Microsoft’s Windows Mobile 8 on a Qualcomm Snapdragon processor of the 1.5GHz dual core variety (Krait with 1GB RAM) – thats powerful. With a 768x1280px 4.5in screen, your eye will not miss the detail, but as a heavy user, i went about figuring out how much content i could use with this phone – 32G on the device, 20G  on Nokia Drive and another 25 with Microsoft’s SkyDrive, and the optional DropBox App, makes good even for the NYT Editor-in-chief!

So you can get contacts and SMS from your old phone (via BT) and cloud save your SMS, Photos and files…you have multi-lingual support for soft keyboard , and with PureView, Optical Image Stabilization means, you can take that late night shot, and still get worth yo money. 120,000 Apps in the Nokia Store, and yeah…, but these are still considered basics in a Smartphone – until you land on the Nokia City Lens app, which allows you to move your phone in an 8 sequence and it will pop, right on yo screen, all the hand outs, bars, shopping malls, and even gas stations by combining feats with GPS and Nokia Maps. Now that i found cool.

Then there is the hype of “fatboy” – a housed contact charger, that is being billed as ‘Wireless Charging’. Little wonder @albertmuc contested it. But it sure works, especially if you think that your JBL Speaker system can stream jazz into your dreams, while charging, the entire night. I thought that was good piece of collaboration.

So for 1.625M UGX (608USD, 454EUR ), and 2.225M UGX (837.5USD, 625EUR), you can get your hands on the Nokia Lumia 820 and 920 respectively, from your nearest MTN Service Centre in Kampala. MTN Promises to bundle some 300MB of data on there for you to get started in style. Steep if you ask me, and MTN should really think about a phased pricing plan.

Verdict: if you are so ‘lame’ as to stick with Windows, and Microsoft (pun intended, blame my trusted loyalties), then this phone will do you the world of a carefully crafted business and communications integration. With this device, you get a really great camera, decent battery and a great mapping software. If that’s what you’re interested in, the Lumia 920 satiates your needs.

If you want more, go open source… Seriously!