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Microsoft a sponsor of Nevada City Hackathon

Tech wizards from the Auburn and Davis areas will converge on Nevada City for a hacking gathering next month.

Dubbed the Nevada City Hackathon, the event is not as malicious as it sounds. Microsoft is one of the sponsors, and the company is sending one of its more prominent developers, Matt Harrington, to speak with attendees.

“Hackathons are quite popular here in Silicon Valley,” Harrington wrote on his Microsoft Developer Network blog in August.



Sometimes called hack fests or hack days, a hackathon is a gathering of computer programmers and tech developers who collaborate intensively on software projects.

“People hear hackathon, and they think a bunch of people are going to get together and break into bank accounts or something,” said Robert Trent, executive director of Sierra Commons, a nonprofit organization that helps foster local businesses, which is hosting the hackathon.




To “hack” is to construct or create a solution to something that is inefficient or even unfathomable in an improvised manner that nonetheless works, according to UrbanDictionary.com.

“The term ‘hack’ has been co-opted,” Trent said, noting that in computing circles the word “hack” is similar to the phrase “jury-rigged,” Trent said.

Nevada City’s hackathon will be a two-day “cram session,” beginning at 8 a.m. and ending “late,” beginning Dec. 1, Trent said.

Primarily, the challenge before participants is to develop an app, but ultimately, the programmers can make whatever they want. They can recruit the help of others, join projects or work alone.

Projects will be judged in three categories: most marketable, attendees choice and the development that is targeted toward a well defined geographic group of residents or businesses. Prizes include a membership to Sierra Commons and an Xbox 360.

As development spans into the night, Trent said fuel, such as pizza and energy drinks, will be provided to keep brains pumping.

Before the cramming begins though, the hackathon includes a presentation on cutting-edge technologies from sponsors, such as Microsoft’s Brown. The event culminates with demonstrations of participants’ work and an award ceremony.

“After going to the iPadDevCamp 2010 hackathon and winning Best Open Source, I continued to participate in various hackathons,” said Benji Brown, owner of Studio B Flat Games and a Sierra Commons member, who is helping organize the hackathon.

“These events allowed me, over the course of just a couple days, to practice my rapid prototyping skills, meet and work with great talent and all the while working on building something from the ground up that was totally exciting,” Brown said. “It’s pretty fun having a cool idea become reality in just 48 hours.”

Entry into the hackathon is free, but Sierra Commons is asking for a suggested donation of $15 to $30, Trent said.

“Our hope is that we will build a strong community and network of software engineers who share resources to compete at a local level,” Trent said.

Trent is hoping for around 30 participants, but if more come, the event will be moved to a larger location. Until then, it is scheduled to take place at Sierra Commons’ headquarters, located 107 Sacramento St. on the cusp of Downtown Nevada City.

Alongside Microsoft and Studio B Flat Games, other sponsors include No Problem: Associated Techs, Clientworks, Environmental Consumer and qatab.

Visit http://www.nevadacityhackathon.com for information.

To contact Staff Writer Christopher Rosacker, email crosacker@theunion.com or call (530) 477-4236.


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