Hackathon 2018: Wednesday

8 minute read

The week has gone by insanely fast, as always. As Wednesday was our last full day to work on the project - because we’re aiming to publish at noon on Thursday, and because we’ve managed to generate a huge amount of recycling that needs sorting out before leaving very early on Friday - we all knew it was going to be another big one.

Gravitywell developers

9.30 standup

After a mammoth day yesterday, everybody slept well. Up, fed, caffeinated, and in the living room ready for the fifth 9.30 standup (‘sit down on comfy sofas’, more accurately), we quickly ran through what we needed to accomplish by nightfall. We all pretended to forget that it was Jesus’ birthday, knowing what was coming later.

Although the demo on Tuesday night made it feel like we were very close to finished, the reality is that all the tiny details and 5-minute jobs are going to become apparent and stack up faster than we can cross them off the to-do list. Time is tight and we’re going to have to make some hard decisions. Thursday we need to be testing, fixing, and deploying.

Sam on his laptop

As far as the devs are concerned, Wednesday was really a continuation of the (many) tasks started on Tuesday. It became very apparent that we had one big blocker which was now starting to affect several threads of work: video delivery. Though Jesus and Luke made several mini-breakthroughs on Tuesday, it still wasn’t done in the time everyone had hoped. We agreed to set a noon deadline on this piece, before finding a workaround so other features can move forwards. Fortunately with so many smart and articulate people in the room, we’re always going to have options.

Henry coding

Matt’s goal for Wednesday was to design and build a marketing website for Gaku by the end of the day, based on the structure, copy and photos generated over previous days. Services like Squarespace and Wix are ideal for this kind of one-pager marketing website, turning out good looking sites in no time at all, and we made the decision to go with Wix in this instance as it gives us more design control. To round this off we need to make sure our new domain (gaku.app) is correctly linked up to the marketing site as well as the instructor app for account creation/login.

Laura had quite a lot of jobs on for the morning, before planning and helping shoot some example pilates exercise videos in the afternoon.

Apparently, Simon is going to be dressing up as a merman. In glittery spandex.

Photoshoot #2

In the afternoon, Simon ‘relocated’ (hid) in the annexe, ready for the merman shoot with Laura. Turns out, he actually did wear glittery spandex. We all thought that was a joke.

Simon in spangly tights

¡Feliz cumpleaños!

As Jesus was tucked away in the Library in his favourite Chesterfield armchair (he’s been there all week, it’s definitely his chair now), we quietly snuck an Oreo birthday cake into the kitchen and gathered round while Laura lit the candles and Simon wrapped the rum and wine that we all bought for him. With an urgent tone, Jack summoned him into the room to an (almost) record-deal making rendition of Happy Birthday.

¡Feliz cumpleaños!

We got the feeling that he was starting to suspect the direction the evening might take.

6.30pm demo

The end of the day came fast, and it was already time for the daily demo.

Sam and George ran us through the instructor app. Everything’s working now, with instructors able to sign up for a new account, upload videos, invite/add clients, create and assign lessons, and even reorder clips in a lesson with a smooth drag and drop interface. It’s starting to look really polished, and yet easy to use - which was the brief exactly. The only doubtful thing in the demo was Sam’s example video titles: “Rabbit Pilates”, “Weird thing”, “Rabbit and thing”.

After finishing the instructor app demo by inviting a client to the service, James then took the hotseat to demo the client mobile app, picking up from where Sam left off. After tapping a link in the email invite, James shows us how the client user would be asked to set a new password, before landing straight on the Lessons list from an instructor.

The video player is fully in and now the app is receiving the real uploaded instructor videos (though all the videos are the same because “George has no imagination”), everything on the phone screen matches the lesson just created by Sam in the instructor app minutes ago. Once the first clip finished, the app automatically moves on to the next clip in the lesson.

Luke and Jesus explained that because of their transcoding excellence, the app is intelligently loading in the right video for the internet connection the phone has at the time, which is why they were so quick to load - even over Admiral House’s century old copper cable. Slick. Really, really slick.

Overall, the client app is looking highly polished, with only a few tiny things left to tighten up. We really are nearly there.

We ran through everything again, just to make sure we had a comprehensive list of to-do’s for the little time we have remaining on Thursday morning. The last day really is going to be the mountain of tiny details.

Confidence was still high that we’ll be able to push to live tomorrow, although possibly a bit later than noon.

Simon then took the stage and presented the marketing website to the group. It’s a simple but effective site that explains what Gaku is, how it works, and how much it costs (nothing!) all on one page. Luke and Laura of course feature heavily. It’s been great to see how rapidly this has been produced, right the way from the photography brief on Sunday, through yesterday’s photoshoot, and edited and on the marketing site. The site looks remarkably finished, though we spotted someone else’s image being used on a shot of a phone by mistake. Whoops. That one needs to come out!

This was the first evening demo where just how much work the small Gravitywell team can produce - across so many different disciplines - really started to shine through.

Simon unfortunately couldn’t wriggle out of sharing a few shots and outtake videos of the merman shoot. Shiny silver tights… Enough said.

Seafood and Steak

Boats in Fowey at sunset

Furthering the birthday celebrations, we went out for a much needed break and meal at a seafront pub in the centre of Fowey. A few pints outside to the backdrop of a glorious sunset, accompanied by Cornish steak, cod and mackerel, and before long it was time to head back to the house.

…for Tequila! Of course. Luke did bring four bottles of it, after all. This quickly led to lots of beer, gin and tonic, whisky, rum - Jesus’ prized Appleton - and basically any other liquid in the house.

By 11pm Simon had cracked out a PSVR. He and Henry were happily playing “Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes” while everyone else decided to dance around Simon while he had no idea.

PSVR sets

George was up next and impressively mastered the fantastic indie game “Thumper”, having never even seen it before. Luke took over for “Accountancy Plus”, which is one of the most bizarre gaming experiences anyone in the room had come across, complete with Rick & Morty voices. Jesus started getting loud and violent in the virtual world of “London Heist”, trying to steal diamonds and shoot people. After lighting many, many (virtual) cigars. Hilarious.

Madness

Laura ended up chucking popcorn across the room which George - remarkably - was able to repeatedly catch with his mouth.

Through all of this noise and chaos, James quietly machined on, getting the app built for Android (serious stretch goal!), along with the fundamentals of push notification functionality.

And that’s all this author remembers.

Read more about Gaku and the Hackathon 2018