Hackathon Chicago, Nov 10-12, 2006
Hackathon-Attendees-HOWTO: Revision 24

Hackathon-Attendees' HOWTO

This document is an attempt to gather suggestions and recommendations so that people coming to their first Hackathon so can more easily hit the ground running and have a better Hackathon experience in general.

A fair number of the Chicago Hackathon participants were attending their first such event. While hopefully everyone had a good time and felt like their appearance was worthwhile, the impression I got was that a lot of folks could have had an easier time 'getting started', as it were.

Whether you're a hardened Hackathoner or someone who just attended your first Perl Foundation event, you surely have some tidbit of advice to share. Please contribute freely and edit ruthlessly.

Pre-Hackathon preparation

  • Pick a project: Have a look at the projects list and pick one that you might be interested in working on. (Better yet, pick two or three). If time permits before the Hackathon, check out the source code, build it, and muck around with it a little bit. Having a basic feel for how the project works will let you work on more interesting things once you're actually at the Hackathon.
    • If you don't have time, or have trouble building from the sources, don't worry about it -- there will be plenty of folks at the Hackathon who'll be more than happy to help you get up and running.
  • If you'll be travelling any appreciable distance to the Hackathon, consider trying to find out who else is going from your area. You may be able to find a travelling companion to speak Perl to on your trip instead of having to listen to the guy in the next airline seat drone on about his colon surgery.

Stuff to bring

  • Laptop: Obviously, you'll want a computer to work on, and a laptop is most convenient for this sort of thing -- not only because it's easy to bring to the Hackathon, but because it lets you easily move around and join the impromptu sessions that tend to spring up around the pool or in the hotel lobby. A desktop could probably be made to work, though, so long as you're willing to lug it back and forth from your room each day, and as long as it has...
  • WiFi: most hotels these days provide internet connectivity only in wireless form. While there'll certainly be someone around who's nice enough to share an ethernet port, if you can manage to get a hold of a WiFi adapter your networking will be much more convenient.
  • Miscellaneous things: Think it might be useful? Bring it along! At Chicago, we had more than enough networking and power cables, but more never hurts. Other things that turned out to be useful were networking gear and spare laptop power adapters. Things we missed included a projector and a proper bottle opener.
  • Your comfy coding clothes: If you'd rather lounge around in slippers and pyjama pants than shoes and khakis, by all means bring them. I left my favourite fuzzy blue socks at home, then felt a bit foolish when the guy across the room was coding in pink monkey banana pyjamas.


  • Geeky shirt: If you own a Perl-themed shirt or something else that makes it obvious you're a Hackathon attendee, consider wearing it to the Hackathon, especially if you'll be showing up at the Hackathon early and if you've never met the organizers face-to-face. It'll be easier for your fellow Perl hackers to pick you out.

At the Hackathon

  • Don't be afraid to ask questions. Nobody will look down upon you for calling out "Hey, can somebody help me compile X?"

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