Three projects walk into a bar – a company re-brand, an automatically refilling Keurig coffee machine, and a trend-line overlay system allowing users to forecast future data points. “Oh,” the bartender says, “Did RJMetrics just finish another hackathon?”
The good news is that the hackathon projects weren’t nearly as bad as that joke. In fact, they were astoundingly good. Our latest edition had 15 teams competing for the prize of $500 and the one caveat that it must be spent in one night.
Team Members: Matt Monihan, Yiannis Nicalaou, Bill Piel, Nate Vecciarelli
Mark Twain is commonly credited with the saying “lies, damned lies, and statistics,” a commentary on how easy it is to force data to tell any story the teller wants it to tell. The RJ Figure team was out to solve this problem by making raw data easily accessible, and therefore less susceptible to abuse.
RJ Figure is designed to easily turn raw data into sharp visuals:
But just as quickly deconstruct data so readers can check the raw data and assumptions of the writer:
The team still has some additional development work on the idea, but they hope to eventually make this tool publicly available.
Lock Up When You Go
Team Members: Todd Davenport
When it comes to security it’s people – with their unique ability to make stupid mistakes and take risks – that pose one of the biggest potential threats. As an operations engineer at RJMetrics, Todd wanted to build a clever solution to model good security practices.
What he came up with is a screen auto-locker. This useful hack uses an Android Smartphone with NFC capability and an Arduino microcontroller to detect when Todd’s phone is nearby. Too far away, and the computer locks up.
What’s Not In a Name
Team Members: Sharon Pan
While a rose by any other name will smell as sweet, a dimension called by another name can be quite confusing. The RJMetrics team has doubled over the past year, and with the rapid growth came the challenge of maintaining consistency across all naming conventions.
To address this challenge Sharon built a comprehensive nomenclature style guide to create consistency and clarity across every metric, dimension, and dashboard. A note for future hackathoners, Sharon’s presentation also won points for its Savage Chicken/Shakespeare theme.
Second Place: Bob Hackamano
Team Members: Shaun McAvinney, Tristan Handy, Jake Stein
We’ve had the same RJMetrics demo for a while and it was time to make it more comprehensive. When the sales team was getting on the phone with people, they were unable to show prospects the things that they wanted to see. This is what the Bob Hackamano team set out to change.
Working closely with the sales team, Bob Hackamano created a demo that tells a compelling story about how RJMetrics helps businesses make better decisions. Changes included new data generation, showing the testing capabilities of RJMetrics, building dashboards that focus on answering ROI driven questions, and taking advantage of all the new features RJMetrics has rolled out over the past month. The sales team was thrilled.
The team also won points for having numbers ready on how higher demo-to-trial conversion rates would impact sales. When presenting to data nerds, it always helps to bring data.
First Place: Admin +
Team Member: Brian Sloane
The admin panel is used by all of RJMetrics’ analysts and account managers and is known for being less than accommodating. While we put a lot of tech resources into building a product that is easy-to-use and visually appealing for our clients, the same attention hasn’t been given to the back-end of the product. Until now.
Brian set out to build something that was super useful and could be shipped immediately – which involves making minimal changes to the code base. What he came up with was a package of tools to improve the admin experience. Brian created a sleek interface, cleaning up messy code that was creating daily-annoyances for admins:
Next, he built a chrome extension. The extension makes it super-easy for admins to navigate to client information that lives across several platforms, they just need to “follow the y-fronts”:
The final challenge is to figure out how to spend the $500 in prize money. Brian’s top ideas are currently:
- A day trip to a city in the U.S. to chase down the equivalent of the Philly cheesesteak. Think Memphis bbq, oysters in New Orleans, or fish tacos in San Diego.
- A day spent buying coffee for strangers in Philadelphia.