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Hackathon Guide 2020: Learn All About Hackathon Events



Hackathon Guide

What is a “Hackathon”?

All across the world, hackathons are hosted by both corporations and students who are passionate about technology, education, and building.

Even absolute beginners can get involved – I, myself, got hooked on Computer Science while attending my first hackathon with no prior experience.

Contrary to what the name suggests, hackathons don’t involve “hacking.” Conversely, hackathons are make-a-thons that take place over the span of a few days. During the event, creative, motivated people of all backgrounds, ages, and experience levels come together to turn their ideas into reality.

Though the word “hack” implies breaking into systems and possibly doing something illegal, the “hack” in a hackathon refers to the project itself. Projects can segue from idea to actualization within as little as 24 hours. In this sense, the “hack” is a newly fleshed out idea – the code will not always be the cleanest, but it will provide insight as to how the idea can be further implemented.

Hackathon Term Disambiguation

  • Hackathon: A codefest where hacks are put together by hackers, a portmanteau of “hack” and “makeathon”
  • Hacking: “Hacking” is the action of putting a project together, not illegally breaking into systems
  • Hack: The “hack” is the project itself, ranging from a VR game to a machine-learning piano keyboard and beyond
  • Hackers: The term “hackers” refers to the hackathon’s attendees who are putting together projects

Learn Content for Hackathons

Many hackathons will host a series of workshops to kick off the event. There are workshops for those with no experience, as well as for experienced developers.

For example, VandyHacks at Vanderbilt University provides beginner introductions for topics such as web development and app building, but also offers more advanced topics, such as natural language processing and AR and VR usage. Many hackathons will also have mentors available throughout the event who can help participants with particular technologies and programming languages.

Hackathons are opportunities for communities to come together and bring their creative potential into expression. Learning from others is arguably the most fulfilling part of the process. The projects that come out of hackathons are manifestations of the ability for anybody, from any background, to build and create. The events themselves are a great way to learn how to code and how to develop ideas outside of the classroom.

Prepare for Hackathons

Experience is not required to participate and excel at hackathons. Many winners of previous hackathons have been teams that were composed of first-time hackers from varying schools.

Last year at VandyHacks, the grand prize winner was a hardware-based hack that was able to track where people were in a store through sound data. Even more impressive than the hack was the winners’ backgrounds: none of them knew each other before attending VandyHacks, proving they were a truly “hacked” together team.

Picking up some of the aforementioned skills, as well as acquiring foundational experience and securing app ideas could help anybody looking to rapidly ramp up at any future hackathon.

People do not necessarily have to come with ideas, but they should come prepared to learn, meet people, and build! Hackathons are all about connecting with people in a space where interaction is typically mediated over digital communication.

Form Teams at a Hackathon

There is no need to come to a hackathon with a predetermined team. While it’s arguably easier to start working together if you already know your team, hackathons are all about diverse, new people, of different backgrounds, combining their ideas to create something they like. As a result, hackathons typically host brainstorming and team-finding sessions that simultaneously help people begin work on projects and match up groups of people.

For example, a team with an idea to form a web application that helps people manage their pet needs might need a “backend” or a “frontend” team member. The backend is essentially the bulk of where the application does its calculations. The frontend is the appearance of a web app and is responsible for connecting the results of the backend to the rest of the app in a way that it’s accessible for users.

Not everybody needs to know how to program to make a successful project. In fact, diverse backgrounds are excellent for making a team. A hackathon team made up of graphic designers, project managers, or other titles can definitely be successful.

Our aforementioned hypothetical team may be really passionate about creating a database about pet needs to quickly connect users to the information they need, but is unsure of how they want to design or display it.

This team would need a frontend person to program the visual side to make their app easy to read and access. It could very well be the other way around, as well – the team may have a great design in mind but needs someone that’s more passionate and skilled in writing the backend. Hackathons are all about learning new things and trying on new hats. In the suit, it is common to form teams of people from different backgrounds simply to experiment with new roles.

Cool Projects that Come Out of Hackathons

Hackathons can be data visualizations, games, teaching tools, and applications that solve problems. Some apps that I’ve personally seen offer free eye tests using machine learning and computer vision, music games, and hardware to enhance businesses.

Others software projects include social media mobile apps designed for both Android and iOS operating systems. Innovation is embedded throughout technology, and hackathons are manifestations of creative energy.

Hackathons are sometimes themed towards a specific goal, such as open-source or social good. These types of projects often aim to solve a problem in the world, benefiting others through technology. Other hackathons, such as those hosted by video game companies, are meant for people who are passionate about a certain product and wish to improve it.

Devpost has many projects that were submitted to hackathons across the world. Many of these projects are open-sourced on GitHub, a platform for coders to make their code visible for anyone to see. Here, you can see the results of peoples’ creativity, energy, and time during a hackathon.

Other Activities at Hackathons

There are tons of mini-events that organizers create for their attendees. From karaoke to scavenger hunts, there are plenty of things to do other than hack!

People at hackathons are the best resources to understand the variety of activities that the hackathon provides. Other attendees are oftentimes excellent resources for those of you who are aspiring careers in the Computer Science field, simply looking to debug particularly tricky bits of code, and also wish to make friends and mentors.

What Makes a Successful Hackathon?

Learning! Producing just a minimum viable product, or MVP is an incredible achievement. MVPs are essentially a proof-of-concept of your idea and are used all the time in the actual software development process. Computer programmers are always making incremental changes, and hackathons are excellent ways to get initial knowledge about a topic in which people have interests.

Even after the event ends, the problem-solving techniques learned through debugging challenging problems amid hackathon projects can continue to be useful in fields beyond and beyond computer programming.

Tips for Your First Hackathon

  • Don’t stress!
  • Ask people for help. Organizers, mentors, and sponsors are all here to help you succeed. After all, everybody was in the same beginner state at some point.
  • Google anything and everything, and feel free to use Wikipedia! Oftentimes, someone else will have had the exact same problem at some point in life, and it’s probably on StackOverflow
  • Have fun!

What Do You Bring?

  • Laptop
  • Mobile devices
  • Chargers
  • Water bottle
  • Headphones
  • Pillow
  • Sleeping bag (certain hackathons have a sleeping room and/or provide sleeping bags)

Hackathon Logistics

Hackathons can be anywhere from local universities, high schools, and corporations to purely virtual spaces.

Typically, hackathons are completely free! The spirit of hackathons is to provide everybody with a shot at making whatever they want. Food, swag, and prizes are all at no cost to hackers. The only potential costs are transportation to the hackathon, though many hackathons offer travel reimbursements, as well.

Organize a Hackathon

If there are no hackathons in the surrounding region, the best move for you may be to organize a hackathon! Several organizations help new budding hackathons in the form of funding, workshops, and assistance.

For a comprehensive guide that breaks down all of the portions that we couldn’t cover in this article, check out this step-by-step hackathon guide. There’s tons of information on how to attract sponsorship, how to cultivate a community, and prepare potential attendees for hackathons.

Get started and good luck!

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NCC Orders Implementation of Harmonised Short Codes



harmonised short codes

By Aduragbemi Omiyale

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has directed mobile network operators (MNOs) to commence implementation of the approved harmonised short codes (HSC) for providing certain services to telecom consumers in the country.

The Director of Public Affairs at the NCC, Mr Reuben Muoka, in a statement on Monday, said the unified short codes were approved in line with its consumer-centric approach to telecom regulation.

According to him, the use of harmonised short codes is aimed at achieving uniformity in common short codes across networks.

This means that the code for checking airtime balance is the same across all mobile networks for the same function, irrespective of the network a consumer uses.

With the new codes, telecom consumers using the over 226 million active mobile lines in the country can now use the same codes to access services across the networks.

Already, the agency has set a deadline of May 17, 2023, for all mobile networks to fully migrate from hitherto diverse short codes to harmonised codes.

The period between now and May 17, 2023, is provided by the NCC to enable telecom consumers to familiarise themselves with the new codes for various services.

Under the new harmonised short codes regime, 13 common short codes have been approved by the NCC and include 300 for Call Centre/Help Desk on all mobile networks; 301 for voice Mail Deposit; 302 for Voice Mail Retrieval; 303 for Borrow Services; 305 for STOP Service; 310 for Check Balance, and 311 for Credit Recharge.

Also, the common code for Data Plan across networks is now 312. In line with the new direction, 321 is for Share Services, while 323 is for Data Plan Balance. The code 996 is now for Verification of Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) Registration/NIN-SIM Linkage.

The code 2442 is retained for Do-Not-Disturb (DND) unsolicited messaging complaint management, while the common code, 3232, is also retained for Porting Services, otherwise called Mobile Number Portability.

The old and new harmonised short codes will run concurrently up until May 17, 2023, when all networks are expected to have fully migrated to full implementation of the new codes.

harmonised short codes1

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Bitfinex Lists CryptoGPT to Revolutionise Approach to AI




By Adedapo Adesanya

Cryptocurrency exchange, Bitfinex, has listed the first-of-its-kind CryptoGPT token ($GPT) in what has been touted as a revolutionised approach to artificial intelligence (AI).

The CryptoGPT, a cryptocurrency token built on an Ethereum platform, is the first-of-its-kind multi-value gas token and has the necessary demand as fuel for network transactions. It is topped up with value funnels from validator staking, cash flow from core products, and power of fee treasury which can be deployed for liquidity events like buybacks, burns, and/or expanded yield.

In a statement, the company said CryptoGPT token would revolutionise the world of AI by decentralising the data industry and giving billions of users across the world, including Africa, full control of their own AI data and freedom to monetize such data as they live their daily lives, creating a sustainable income stream.

CryptoGPT is a dedicated layer-2 blockchain built to create trillion-dollar data and power the AI revolution. The blockchain hosts apps with 2+ million active users, placing it as one of the biggest blockchains at launch. This innovation uniquely merges blockchain technology with AI and offers an ecosystem that treats data like an asset class.

The rise of artificial intelligence (AI) is bringing drastic changes in the technological fields around the world, where if implemented, it automates systems for more efficiency and performance.

From the comfort of a mobile phone and in multiple fields, AI is continuously providing high-performance and accurate system work with efficiency whilst playing an important role in helping humans work better without the help of humans. Since its inception, there is no doubt that the algorithm and success of AI is data-driven, and currently, many big tech companies and players like Meta, Google, and Amazon make billions and trillions of dollars by monetizing users’ AI data.

By creating an ecosystem that incentivizes users to earn crypto tokens and avoid constant inflation, CryptoGPT lets users capitalize on their data through its versatile $GPT token.

“No matter how much CryptoGPT ultimately decentralizes data, the $GPT token is a good investment because users can amass significant quantities of it by using the ecosystem’s apps and making referrals. This makes CryptoGPT the first sustainable ‘to earn’ ecosystem that pays users for contributing data that is then sold in the global data marketplace,” the company said.

CryptoGPT, unlike most participants in the AI boom, entered the marketplace with a compelling value proposition setting itself apart.

Currently, AI is used for different purposes and in different fields like virtual assistants or chats, healthcare agriculture, security and surveillance, logistics, shopping and fashion, agriculture, and farming. The CryptoGPT has an ecosystem of millions of daily app users with over 20+ apps in these fields as well as lifestyle, music, dating, travel, and gaming.

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Nigerian Fintechs Mull New Registry to Tackle Fraud




By Adedapo Adesanya

Financial technology (fintech) companies in Nigeria are reportedly working on a joint strategy that will help create a new registry to tackle fraudulent transactions within their networks.

A report from the publication revealed that three people familiar with the development said the registry had been stylised as Project Radar.

The registry, when public, would enable companies to pool details, including banking and government identity data, of individuals and groups that have attempted or made fraudulent transactions.

The report revealed that representatives of more than a dozen companies — including payments processor Flutterwave, digital banks Kuda and Branch, and savings app Cowrywise — joined a call on Monday (March 6), to come up with the move.

It was reported that the most vocal appeared to be Mr Olugbenga Agboola, the chief executive officer (CEO) of Africa’s most valuable startup, Flutterwave.

This could be tied to recent happenings around the company after news broke that Flutterwave was hacked for N2.9 billion ($6.3 million) in over 60 transactions in February.

Court documents showed the company filed a suit in Lagos against 16 commercial banks to freeze over 100 accounts suspected of receiving proceeds of the reported hack.

Business Post later reported that Flutterwave denied the hack, saying it observed an unusual trend of transactions on some users’ profiles, and it quickly took action.

The company said, “We want to confirm that no user lost any funds, and we take pride in the fact that our security measures were able to address the issue before any harm could be done to our users.

“Our commitment to keeping our users’ financial information safe and secure is why we invest heavily in security initiatives such as periodic audits, certifications, and licenses such as the PCI-DSS & ISO 27001. These are in line with global best practices in information security management.

“We want you to continue to trust us and feel secure using Flutterwave for your business needs. Our commitment is to enable your business growth while keeping your financial information safe and secure.”

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