Zero Emission Hackathon Event Hosted By Nissan – Registration Now Open

APR 9 2014 BY GEORGE BETAK 14

zero emissions hackathon chademo

Don Christian shows off a CHAdeMO plug from Joel Clemens

zero emission hackathon

Jim Pollock, the author of LeafSpy, whiteboarding at OSIsoft

OK, zero emissions probably sounds like fun, particularly to InsideEVs readers. But what’s a hackathon, you ask? It surely must involve some nefarious activity. Believe or not, this is exactly what we heard from a hotel manager when we were negotiating a special event rate couple of weeks ago. Hacking apparently can have two meanings. One of them, the one that’s typically portrayed in popular culture, involves some type of unauthorized access to computer systems or software. Clearly, this type of activity cannot do much to help bring about a more sustainable future. Or can it? Well, over the years, hacking also became synonymous with creative and exploratory programming.

When you hear software engineers say that they “hacked” something, this usually means that they have implemented some functionality or fixed a problem in a short amount of time, and without taking all the necessary precautions. It’s often done just to validate a solution, to see if it would work. Think of a “hack” as the proverbial duck tape and chewing gum. In fact, MacGyver would likely want to be called a hacker these days. Hacks are not meant to be of lasting quality. They are supposed to help solve a problem quickly. As programmers will tell you, once they “hacked” something, they will always allocate more time to engineer a proper implementation of the solution they identified through hacking.

So what would a hackathon mean in this context? It’s a gathering of like-minded people determined to collaboratively and quickly identify solutions to problems. Not surprisingly, hackathons are often attended by software developers. The term itself was first used at an OpenBSD cryptographic programming event in Calgary in 1999. Contemporary usage of the word has grown beyond programming, and can extend to all walks of life. A parking hackathon could be an event held by a municipal authority to identify solutions for better asset utilization, more convenient billing or improved customer service. Conversely, a zero emission hackathon is about finding solutions to the most pressing challenges EV drivers face today.

zero emissions hackathon

Jonathan Zinck prefers to run LeafSpy on a Nexus 7 tablet

Zero Emissions Hackthon

Unidentified member of the “Black Ops” charging squad

A good example would be increased range confidence, which could be achieved by combining drive information with accurate geodata and some heuristics. This could lead to an interesting solution, which might not have been considered before. Another topic could be improved charging station utilization, including driver-to-driver communication. If you feel that any of the above resonated with you, and you had time to join a hackathon held in Sunnyvale between April 25 and April 27, then we would love to hear from you. Particularly if you happen to own a LEAF, and would like to help make it an even better EV.

Participation is not limited to LEAF owners though. We would like to bring together a group of individuals, who share a common passion for zero emission mobility. There are going to be both technical and non-technical tasks and challenges to be solved. If you would like to get together, and help address some of the most pressing problems in mobility, and bring about a greener planet, please sign up below. Be sure to use the promo code INSIDEEVS16. Discounted hotel accommodation is available as well.

The zero emission hackathon is organized by the San Francisco BayLEAFs. It has been long coming and many people have contributed to it already. While it’s great to talk about it publicly, it’s even more exiting to be able to invite everyone interested. The possibilities are literally endless, and we hope to spark a tradition, which will help advance zero emission mobility, and accelerate broad adoption of these vehicles. So come to surprise or be surprised. We need your skills and talent!

If you unable to participate this time around, we hope that you will find the event both inspirational and useful.

Eventbrite - Zero Emission Hackathon

*InsideEVs is a proud sponsor of the non-profit SF BayLEAFS organization.

zero emission hackthon

Main Event Partners

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14 Comments on "Zero Emission Hackathon Event Hosted By Nissan – Registration Now Open"

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Very interesting George. Looking forward to a report on the experience.

Thank you, Mark! The event has garnered a fair amount of goodwill, and we all hope for a positive outcome.

As an FYI, the term “hacker” started as you describe, a positive term for a creative software developer. I first heard it around 1980 in connection with a particularly clever program that had nothing to do with computer security.

Of course, one possible activity for a “hacker” was to figure out how to break computer security protections. As the non-computer world slowly started to learn about things like breaking computer security (popularized by the 1983 movie War Games) most of the public and media first heard the term “hacker” in that context, so it stuck.

Good point, and I have to agree. I think “hacking” originally described a creative prank, and it only garnered negative connotations later, mostly due to the portrayal of hackers in popular culture.

A “hacker” originally meant semi-competent writer. In computers, it means playing around with existing hardware or software. A person who attempts to break into systems or subvert them is a “cracker”.

The meaning of “hacker” as nefarious was an invention of the press. The idea that “hacker” is a term now gaining respect is also an invention of the press. It is more like the popular press waking up to the way hacker is used by… well, hackers.

Thank you for the comment, Scott. I wasn’t aware of some of the connotations you mentioned , but that’s not surprising. There is a lengthy Wikipedia article on the definition and etymology of the term, which is a bit controversial. As noted below, the main focus of the article was on the term “hackathon” rather than “hacker”. This was borne out of the observation that many conversation partners were simply not familiar with it or the event format it represents.

He didn’t write hacker was coined in Calgary in 1999 but rather Hackathon!

Excited to see what can be done. There are some androin apps that try to estimate range more accurately by inputting temperature, speed of travel or efficiency in km or mile/kWh, number of passengers, and some use google maps elevation data when you plot a route to beat the guess-o-meter!

Yes, thank you for that! The focus of the article is indeed on the term “hackathon” and not “hacker” per se, although they are interrelated. There is a lot of excitement around this event already. We all hope for a positive outcome and a repeat.

Wow – this is all very interesting…I never heard of the term “hacker” having a positive connotation until I read this article.

As recently as the 1980s, a “hack” was someone who isn’t very good at what they do, typically a perjorative for mediocre writers.

I wasn’t aware of the term “hacker” until the early 1990s when it was used to describe rogue programmers who “hacked”, or achieved unauthorized access to, databases of sensitive content.

Funny how slang can change so quickly…

Thanks, Tom. Yes, this is my impression also, and it reflects what I have heard from several others as well. That’s why I wanted to focus on the term “hackathon” in the article. Although events of this type and format are becoming commonplace in Silicon Valley and elsewhere, there appears to be a significant disconnect about the meaning of the term itself.

They want me to pay $16 so that I can donate my time to help them. Ridiculous. They should be paying me to come instead.

The stated goal of the event is to help accelerate the adoption of zero emission mobility, and not to turn a profit. The schwag alone will be worth a multiple of the admission price.

Tickets are being sold at a price to ensure that the hackathon attracts the right audience, and that there is a modicum of commitment.

If you believe that you have something to contribute, the organizer is more than willing to consider a issuing a complimentary ticket to you.

Although the ultimate outcome of a hackathon is never 100% assured, substantial prizes will be awarded to compensate participants for their time and effort.

This event is about creating goodwill, not counting dollars and cents. You might want to consider all the voluntary contributions so far before assuming other motives.

The term “hacker” originally meant an unskilled golfer whose wild swings at the golf ball “hacked up” and damaged the turf.
Such a player has plenty of enthusiasm and strength but not as much accuracy or discipline.

An old saying is “sometimes even a hacker shoots a hole-in-one”.
A first interpretation is, even idiots can occasionally get lucky.
A second interpretation is, as long as the ball is shot down-range accurately, it doesn’t matter if the turf gets hacked up a bit. In other words, new methods can sometimes seem sloppy. But do not write off methods that may seem untidy or unconventional.

Most applications of the term “hacker” in Silicon Valley today are informed by this second interpretation.

This sounds like an interesting event. I wrote this article about 3 Ways to Win a Hackathon. The main points are:
1. Find an awesome team member
2. Get found by an awesome team member
3. Do a lot of business development and a prototype

To read the rest go here: http://www.tomordonez.com/blog/2014/04/23/3-ways-to-win-a-hackathon/