The clever and beautiful island.

A Hack of an Event

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Two days passed, and I’m starting to recover from our event. Note to self: next time less coffee and more coding…

First and foremost thanks for appWorks and the Fandora team for hosting us. Otherwise this evern really couldn’t have happened!

Lots of things worked out quite different from what I have expected, and still have to think about those a bit. Many things to improve but also many things were better than I have thought.

Getting people in the beginning to come up with ideas was more tough than I’ve thought, some had none, some had too specific (too close to what they were working on otherwise) but in the end we had enough teams. Getting good teammates is very important, keeping up the motivation for the whole day, learning from each other, sharing information. It also helps if the members have some specific knowledge and don’t start from scratch, though that might work as well, depending on people’s attitude. Oh, and next time I have to remind people to bring their laptops, there were too many people who came without a computer, and a hackathon without computer is like….. well, it’s tough to solve that problem. Funnily enough, the people this time did solve it and worked out very well.

I have some favorite parts:

  • Mentors forming a team and for the first time working together
  • People trying something completely new technology to see what happens, because they have an idea they are passionate about
  • Make an electronics project work even when things broke in the process, that is perseverence.

And finally I’ve started on the little tool that I’ve been planning for a long time, hope to do more to it later.

"Demo time"

See the rest of the pictures in this photo album.

From the feedback I got it seems that people are interested in doing this again, so hope to see you next time. For future news check this page, or the World Creativity and Innovation Week Taiwan. Have a creative week!

We Are Rolling

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Since it is almost 11 o’clock, it’s good to check in what are we doing. So far we have about 10 people, participants and mentors together from all different background. It was a bumpy start until we got some ideas out, but finally it’s on the way.

We have 3 teams right now, and since I’m an “outsider”, I’m not totally sure of what they all are working on. But a little teaser:

  • One team is working on better visualization and supervision system for the Taiwanese power grid
  • Another team has their first adventure into Android development
  • One more team of mentors are working on a web notification service called SpamMe

I myself are doing a timelapse video of the things, writing this blog, and maybe get my “I thought we were friends” app working finally.

Countdown: 5 hours, 45 minutes

Ideas and Tools

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Tomorrow’s the day for the first Hack+Taiwan, and to make the most of the available time, the best is to come prepared - with ideas and with tools. This short article should get you started on both a little bit.

Project ideas

This is of course the difficult one, coming up with a project idea, or many ideas. Think of things that are bothering you these days, and how would you fix them? Some of my ideas here (probably quite bad, but it’s a start):

  • Taking Taipei live bus data, and displaying in some more user friendly way (better site, map…)
  • Find friends who are free (guessing from their social network activity) and connect with them to go out together
  • Cafe database, with additional information such as “good for reading/studying”, “can hold activities”, “delicious food”, “specialty coffees”
  • Social games, that help to know each other better: music/photo/movie recommendations to each other, “guess which one I preferred”
  • Visual guide for preparing traditional Taiwanese food, or food that commonly found in night markets
  • Location-aware audio tours throught the city
  • Inverse-online store: looking up something online, what department store sells it in the city? Products or brands in general
  • Activity nearby: what activities are in the vicinity that you can get to? “A cinema 15 minutes walk away? What film is could I catch 30 mintues from now?”

Don’t be afraid if your ideas sound too big. Just have to start on them, and you’ll see how it goes. The hackathon is not necessarily about finishing, but definitely about starting.

Tool ideas

You can use whatever tools you like, here are just a couple that I collected for quick reference at the moment:


APIs are the interfaces given you by other sites, so you can use their data and services in different ways. There are loads of web services that you can connect to and combine them together to make something completely new. This is a very well used approach for hackathons, and people make many useful services by combining existing ones.

Or look around in the API directory.

Have more ideas? Add in the comments!

And just come and have fun…

Your Turn

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Everything is on track for our first Hack+Taiwan event, this post is to give some more info for it.


The overal schedule is outlined in our previous post, basically we start at 9:00 in the morning, and go till 18:00 in the afternoon.

There’s an entrance fee of 300NT, that will cover all the food and drinks for the day.

Location: appWorks (Map). 台北市信義區基隆路一段180號5F / Keelung Rd., Sec. 1, No. 180, 5F.

Best way to get there: Taipei City Hall Station, Exit #1, turn right, cross the street and turn right again, till you see the sign for the event. If you got lost, call me on 0932192631.


For the next two days, you should start to think about project ideas that you would like to create at Hack+Taiwan. What interests you? What things could be done better? What new things you could create in a day? (You will be suprirsed how much can be done in a short time:) Dream big, it does worth it!

Also, check out the tools, languages, software that you will plan to use, refresh your knowledge and get to know them better. And can leave a comment here about what’s your favorite techology.

Otherwise, see you on Saturday.


Planning the Day

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Wanted to draw up a provisional schedule, so that we can have some feedback about the plans. Since it is a single day event, the time is limited. There should be enough time to create something new and cool, though, even with those limitations. That probably means early start (and loads of coffee), but not too late finish. People will be exhausted pretty quickly with that much brainwork, will probably make an interesting Saturday night afterwards.

Overall scedule for Hack+Taiwan on April 21

Location: AppWorks, 台北市信義區基隆路一段180號5F (click for map)

  • 9:00 - Doors open
  • 9:30 - Kick off, intro
  • 10:00 - Team formation, ready to rock
  • 17:00 - Presentations of the day’s results, voting, winners
  • 18:00 - Closing down, some networking, mingling time

Kick off

Starting early (for Startup Weekend Taipei we had to be there 8am sharp) is not a bad thing. Will check to arrange some breakfast and some pick-me-up for people. Might open the doors earlier than 9am, and see how people arrive. Whatever happens, should get on the way pretty soon, not to waste valuable hacking time

Intro, team formation

I’m still figuring out the exact format of the day. Likely will take the all bets are off shape: whatever’s your language, whatever you want to hack on, team up with a couple of other people (maybe 2-3 people teams, that should be small enough but inspiring, but people can work on their own too), and get on with it.

During the day

Planning to invite some technical mentors, who might be useful to give some ideas, feedback and motivation. They can maybe join the teams here and there for a while before moving on another one. Only thing I’m worried about is that it might be a too small scale event, don’t want them to get bored. At StartupWeekend the mentors were doing a lot of standing around, that’s not a valuable use of their time.

For the rest of the time between 10:00-17:00, besides having a giant countdown showing somewhere, will have some food and drinks to keep everyone happy, and will see what other problems we (organizers) will have to solve.


Depending on the number of teams, every team will have about 3-5 minutes to present their idea and progress. Whether they got far, whether they got stuck, all is interesting. Just share and give us some feel what inspired them. Everyone who’s present can vote for the best hack, and hoping to have some technical judges who can give out titles in their field or choose their favorites. This time no prizes for winning, though I’ll definitely be spreading the word that you kick ass if you do. You know what, if you get as far as the presentations, I’ll spread the world that you kick ass.

Closing down

This whole day is just as much about people as about creating new things, hope to bring a great and creative coding community together, so after the presentations and votes finished, hope we can stick around and know each other a bit more, until next time.


Any feedback is welcome, so far we are winging it, let us know if something could be planned better. Cheers!

Hack+Taiwan Application

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There’s plenty to do since only 9 days left till we should get on the way. For any hackathon, the most important ingredient is hackers (duh!), so currently I’m focusing on getting people interested in this event, if we have a good crowd, everything else will almost take care of itself (I imagine/hope).

Application form

Very important: To apply, please fill out the application form at http://goo.gl/SrvBc, and pass the address on to others who are interested as well. It’s not enough to just click “join” on the Facebook event page.

So far I’m reaching out directly to different groups as well, for example the Startup Weekend Taipei folks we had an awesome event with two weeks ago, and to the Open Source Developers’ Conference OSDC.TW people who seem very well suited for this. Any more ideas who to approach? Just leave me a message, any feedback is appreciated.

Other things

Things to take care of at the moment:

  • Find technical mentors / judges
  • Find technical sponsors
  • Figure out catering (pizza+coffee, anyone?)
  • Set up infrastructure, tools for the day
  • Get a timetable for the day
  • Let the event info out to the media to build some buzz

At least the venue I don’t have to worry about, AppWorks kindly let us use their inclubator space, should be nice, downtown Taipei.


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Everything starts somewhere, though not everything has this little time to prepare for that dramatic event of “coming into this world”. Next week - or rather in a few days, from this Suday - it is the World Creativity and Innovation Week, between April 15 - 21. Looked like a fun thing to do, and my friend suggested that we could do something for Taiwan as well, despite the short notice.

Sure, I like a challenge, so came up with two events, one of them being this one, Hack+Taiwan - a Taiwan-themed hackathon.

The idea behind this event is that while I feel Taiwan is very advanced in terms of computing, mobile phone, TV, internet connections, general computer literacy, the services provided on the net are lagging behind quite a lot. From the US and other places we have many interesting and useful services, people often create lots of small projects as well that are immensely useful, in the meantime in Taiwan most companies are running websites with very old and inconvenient technologies, data providers hardly heard of APIs, and things often more complicated to do than they should be.

We can change that, we can tie things together to enable people to do more, and make this island an even more fun place to be. There are plenty of good developers, plenty of opportunities to improve, just people need that little push. Let’s show the world that Ilha Formosa is not just beautiful but very clever as well!

It’s a very short notice event (I know I have said that already), so not sure how it will work out, but will give it my most and should be a fun time.

Will post here a sign-up sheet, and more information shortly. For additional info, you can see the Facebook event page as well. Spread the word and let us have a blast!