Company News: Two Mindflash Developers Win Rackspace Hackathon

What do you get when you combine Instagram, Robert Scoble, and Google Streetview? A first-place winning app called “Creepagram,” designed by Mindflash engineers Matt Smith and Jon Sullivan.

 

Jon and Matt won the big prize at Wednesday’s Node.js Hackday and Party at Rackspace, a day-long event where developers gathered to talk about the node.js platform and compete to build applications.

Node.js is a relatively new platform that allows you to code in JavaScript, a language that has been around since the mid ’90s. Says Mindflash VP of Engineering Cameron Gray, “Node lets you build extremely powerful, small applications very quickly. Perhaps the best thing about node is the community that has built up around it and the amount of modules people have developed that you can leverage to build amazing things.”

Jon, Matt, and Cameron had already been curious about node.js, but their interest was piqued at the NodeSummit event this year.  Back at Mindflash, they used their new node.js knowledge to build a much-needed internal analytics tool that Cameron says would have been impossible to build any other way.

When the Rackspace Hackathon was scheduled, Jon and Matt were ready to put their new skills to the test. Says Matt, “the really exciting thing for me about node.js is the potential to build amazing things quickly and easily. We have lots of crazy ideas, but in the past it's been so difficult to put together any sort of prototype that most of our ideas never get explored. With node, it's easy to pull a quick prototype together and really test things out.”

The inspiration for Creepagram came from Jon and Matt playing around with creating panoramic images. Says Jon, “Hackathons are a great time to do something creative (since there's no business pressures) and we wanted to find something fun and engaging. We accidentally stumbled on the combination of Instagram (so we could get location data) and Google Street View (to build something from that location).  The first time we saw the two images side by side it instantly creeped us out — hence the name!”

While the privacy implications for this type of thing are serious, Jon and Matt found that, for many of the pictures, the context of where they were taken made them much more interesting.

For example, here’s a look at the first-place Creepagram in action:

First, they took pictures they liked from Instagram, like this duck.

Took a picture

Then they used the geolocation data from the Instagram pictures (you can choose to turn the sharing of geolocation data off in Instagram) to pull up the Google Streetview images from the place the photo was taken.

geolocation data

And finally, they created panoramic images to show the entire surrounding area.

panoramic images

Very cool!

Jon and Matt were chosen as the winners of the Rackspace event by judges Robert Scoble of Rackspace, James Halliday from StackVM, David Pacheco from Joyent / Joyent Cloud and Mikeal Rogers from Pouch. Lucy Mendel, Rackspace Hackathon Organizer and Programmer, says the guys won not only for their code, but also for their energy and enthusiasm. “Matt and Jon had a cool idea, executed on it, and gave a demo that was both interesting and funny. I hope they come back next month!”

Congratulations Matt and Jon!

Congratulations Matt and JonMindflash champion developers Matt Smith and Jon Sullivan.

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