The Hackettes

The Hackettes

Saturday morning I woke up early and left the house at 7 to meet Julia at Lyndhurst to catch the 7:57 into the city. We signed up for this programming contest for girls, The Hackettes, sponsored by Spotify.

She wasn’t at the train station when I got there, but she was very close. I bought the tickets, the train came, but Julia wasn’t there yet. They asked me if I was getting on, I said my friend’s not here yet, I’ll wait. Julia got there less than a minute after the train left. The next one wasn’t coming for an hour. We decided to drive to Seacaucus and catch the next train from there… Which was in 35 minutes. So we ended up about an hour behind schedule.

Things went more smoothly once we were in the city. We picked the right subway line and we didn’t have much trouble finding the place, so we still got there on time. Good thing we missed the train or we would have been very early.

Julia and I were put on a team with one other girl, Ophra, who turned out to be pretty awesome. We settled down, got some breakfast. They did a good job of catering to everyone’s dietary needs. Julia was very excited about the vegan yogurt.

They also gave us nice goodie bags. We were like, you know what, even if we come in last, these t-shirts are awesome.

After breakfast, they revealed the challenge. We’d be creating hockey teams using their API, that would battle against each other. We named our team the Ice Hockettes and colored our players magenta and black. And of course, we named them after Disney princesses.

We looked at the sample code and read up a little on hockey. We made Pocahontas our center forward. She’d pass the puck to a teammate if they were closer to the goal than her, otherwise, she’d shoot it herself. Aurora and Cinderella didn’t pass, they just shot if they had the puck. Mulan and Jasmine were our defenders. They would try and get the puck if it was near their goal, otherwise, they’d go after the closest opponent. Belle was our goalie who hung out in the middle of the goal and shot the puck in the other direction if she had it.

The three of us worked together on my laptop since I was the one with Java installed already :) I was only the only one who programs in Java on a daily basis, though the code was very simple, so I don’t think that made that much of a difference.

We at lunch in the middle of coding. Again, good stuff. Many vegetarian options.

We made changes, tested, made changes, tested. We worked very well together and everyone contributed ideas. In our last iteration, I noticed one of the other teams skated with the puck before they shot it in, but the other goalie always blocked the shot because they were too close to the goal when they tried to shoot it.

We changed our players to skate towards the goal if they had the puck and shoot when they were still a bit back from the goal. This seemed to increase their odds of getting the puck in the goal. Our team wasn’t very good, but we didn’t have much time left, so we submitted and decided to work on our banners.

They had really great arts and crafts stuff, and well, you know Julia.


We listened to some talks about Spotify and, oy, Agile. I have nothing against Agile, I’m on the Agile bandwagon, just a little sick of hearing about it.

Then our teams battled it out! They split us into four divisions with 3-4 teams playing against each other in the first round. Surprisingly, we won the first round! We celebrated with beer and hotdogs. Good hotdogs! I didn’t try the beer, Julia didn’t like it. They had wine too, but I was already sleepy and dehydrated.

Then the next round, we won again! And then again! We couldn’t believe it! We made it to the finals and would at least get second place! We had to sit through a torturous game where the two runners up battled for third place and then came the final round.

We scored, they scored, we scored again and then a third time. We won! We actually won! We were absolutely shocked.

We had our choice of prizes. There were iPad minis, wii u’s, ticketmaster gift cards and experiences, like facials and helicopter rides. All three of us went with the iPads.

Then we won again! For Julia’s banners :D We got nerf guns.

It was a pretty amazing day. The event was so well organized and everyone was super nice. I feel obligated to buy a Spotify account now :D I can’t believe all of that was free. Hope we can do something like it again :)

4 Responses

  1. Haha, everything happens for a reason (missing the train).

    Oh WOW!!! CONGRATULATIONS ON WINNING!!! You guys are SMART!! :) Congrats on the iPad mini!

    Wow, so the contest itself was free to enter too? Amazing!

  2. I think it’s funny to have a hockey team AI as the coding challenge for mostly women. Awesome how you researched hockey and built a sensible team. Nice way to figure out improvements.

    It sounds like it was fun, not too stressful and definitely worth the trip and the investment (free is best!). I’m glad to know 2/3 of the winning team.

  3. Oh my goodness!! I can’t believe you won! Congratulations. That is so cool :D Very impressed. It sounds like an awesome time!! I especially love that you used Disney princesses as your team. Yay. What generous gifts you got to choose from! I would have chose the ipad too!! Whoot. You rock.