HackWeek 2019

Last week team Thinkst downed tools again for our bi-annual HackWeek. The rules of HackWeek are straightforward:
  • Make Stuff;
  • Learn;
  • Have fun.
We discussed HackWeek briefly last year:

Our HackWeek parameters are simple: We down tools on all but the most essential work (primarily anything customer-facing) and instead scope and build something. The project absolutely does not have to be work-related, and people can work individually or in teams. The key deadline is a 10-minute demo on the Friday afternoon. The demos are in front of the rest of the team, and results count more than intentions.

We pride ourselves on being a “learning organization” and HackWeek is one of the things that help make that happen. It’s always awesome seeing a software-developer solder their first board or seeing someone non-technical write their first lines of python.

Project highlights this year:

Az used the SimH simulator to run an obscure Soviet Mainframe (the BESM-6):

Eventually, he had the mainframe pushing the keys on a Pokemon game running in a simulator using Fortran (because, of course!). Along the way he had to deal with Russian manuals and, uh, learning Fortran.

Mike built “Incubator” to manage our stock of Canary raw materials:

Riaan threw in a physical hack to make sure fewer cars were scratched when parking in the basement, and built a physical status monitor for our support queues:

Keagan decided to combine ModSecurity hackery & testing to add in extra protection onto our new flocks consoles:

Haroon took a crack at some d3 fiddling to create art (and inspectable graphs) with our customer logos but sadly this can’t be shown 🙂

Quinton used an Arduino and some jury rigged hardware to keep better tracking of scores for the indoor cricket games held in the Jhb office:

Jay used the incredible work by the openDrop people to create a fake Airdrop service on our Canaries.
So, configure it through our Canary console:

Once the bird loads, it becomes visible to people in its vicinity using Airdrop on their Macs or iPhones:

After an attacker submits a file, the Canary alerts as usual:

Donovan flirted with Flask and Python to make another interface to download Canarytokens.
Danielle dived into Verilog to get her Quartus II FPGA to voice-print individuals:

Marco embedded draw.io into our Phabricator setup to allow us phriction-phree-phlowcharting:

Max broke out Unity to build a game for the Occulus:

Matt wrote a game for his Nintendo switch:

Bradley attempted to give Apple designers aneurysms by affixing a travel LCD to his laptop for a MacGyver’d screen extender:

Nick and Anna paired up to create a hardware/software combo. They used RaspberryPi’s, a pack of blank credit cards, stepper-motors and toothpicks? to create a 9-digit split-flap display for the CapeTown office.

(I would have totally given it the prize for “most soothing sound made by any HackWeek project, ever”.)

Adrian combined the Canary API and his nostalgia for CLI interfaces to make a lo-fi Canary Console:

Yusuf built an app/bot that could be summoned on Twitter to compile tweet-storms to blog posts (and learned the harsh lessons of unforgiving HackWeek deadlines.)
“A fun time was had by all” ™

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