Hack at the AngelHack

It was the busiest time of the semester and moreover I was in a state of depression after watching Avengers Endgame. So I decided to go to AngelHack Chennai 2019. I am not a big time hacker but I do love attending hackathon because of various reasons like meeting new people (*trying to be good*), swags, spending great time with friends, learning something new and food ofcourse! This time the reason was to get over the sadness of loosing Iron Man 😜 This story is just about to get better so keep reading!

Okay let me talk about this exciting 32 hour hot bowl of hack! We were at CoWrks, OMR, Chennai for AngelHack 2019. Honestly to say the venue was so cool!

Around 26 teams like us and better than us were present. They were here with different ideas and this is what came to mind when I looked at every faces! 😝

Just for joke (ignore if disliked it!)

We checked in and we got Idly, Pongal and Sambar (Namma Chennai style la) for breakfast! Although that was satisfying I had my heavenly food from my mom, so I didn’t eat except the vada I stole from my friend!

We settled down and had some sessions introducing about the event and regular things which event organizers do. A special mention, the regional manager of AngelHack Harish Kotra was rocking.

Main Story

We all started our hack while I just tweeted with our team picture saying “Hands on hot code in a cold place”. Well that literally turned out to be true. Ajai Danial’s laptop adapter just burned! Yes we’re on fire for the hackathon 😆

The one who is taking the photo here is Ajai Danial (the marvelous coder). And what’s common with all of us in the team? We all wear spectacles but we are not nerds okay!

After successfully burning the adapter we tried to adjust with remaining four laptops. We had an idea in our mind to build a medical assistant which would tell the medical condition and kind of first aid for the symptoms users provide.

Spoiler: Now it was time for lunch and we had a nice meal. Not adding the picture here 😛

Amazon was one of the sponsors and they had given us AWS credits to build something using their Amplify framework and trust me it screwed us badly! We quickly setup the backend process and the part to predict disease based on symptoms. And we made a dialogflow agent in parallel and trained it. We were very serious of our hack and were at full hype! But then we decided to chill for sometime. So we had a coffee and took a small break and continued. The hack continued and at around 8 PM we had dinner and since the dinner didn’t satisfy our stomach we went out to eat something which our stomach liked! 😆

Now getting back after some relaxation. We continued and continued and continued. (Some lame story had to be cut short to keep it readable 😅) Me and Ajai Danial were in full action. Others did their part and were helping us at some point in training our agent. Codingpanther was at full swing clicking pictures and had more pictures than the photographers took for the event 😝

We didn’t feel any Day 1 or Day 2. We never knew how time passed by!

At around 12.30 AM there was a talk on “How to pitch in 2 mins”. After this we had our mid night snack.

So here comes the technical story of our hackathon.

Finally when all the noise in the room has settled down and few slept and many others were busy building their ideas. We were now figuring out a way to use Amplify framework but we were not able to do it. Around 10 hours we tried configuring it and since it didn’t work we decided to move on with Firebase. The AWS Lex was confusing. I had really bad time with slots and intents. So we decided to forget Lex and use Dialogflow. But now we had no idea of using Dialogflow with Amplify framework. And we replaced Amplify with Firebase now.

Here the challenging part was to get data from dialogflow into the backend and send back the data to dialogflow. It was stealing our time and we even thought if we can move on to plan B. But then we thought we can ask someone for help. We asked one of the participants who used dialoflow and firebase before. He offered us some help. Then we even asked Harish Kotra for help and without directly telling us the issue he guided us in the right path. But the mistake we made was so silly! Instead of returning response parameter we were returning the request parameter and we broke our heads for more than a hour…

Although fixing it didn’t work. We were about to give up. At this point I did something to the code and it worked! Surprise at 2 AM! And we all dozed for a while and resumed to work. We were almost done with the our work when there was 8 hours for code freeze. We decided to take a power nap and that 2 golden hours we found different places to sleep around the office.

By 6.30 AM we all got fresh, had some tea and resumed to finally finish of the work. We were actually seeing our hack coming to life. After another round of training and few tweaks, we tested the bot and everything seemed to work as intended. We had our breakfast and returned to finally polish the bot but we were not serious in making it more better. We had issues with making a UI for the app but we were not able to do it. We settled for the interface dialogflow provided us.

We then made a video for our hack and made our submissions on the portal. We thought of calling the bot Medi assistant but then we were all Marvel fans. And in tribute to Iron man we named the bot Jarvis! ❤️

It was code freeze at 1 PM and now we patiently had our lunch and then collected our Tshirts and swags. By 2 PM we had to Pitch and we were happy of what we did. The judges were happy and appreciated for our team being very diverse. Our team had 1st, 2nd and 3rd year students. After the pitching we had to wait for our results. Meanwhile the Judges evaluated the teams we were playing few games and had fun. They gave a cutlet and coffee for snacks at 4 PM and I don’t know why they gave exactly “ONE” cutlet 😆 After eating it we continued with our games.

Now that’s our team, from left to right Sruthi Chandrasekar, Sandya Jalesh, Codingpanther, Ajai Danial and myself Naveen S. After all the head buzz, we decided that we need a photo of our team and took one. So here’s Team Jarvis. Yay!!! 😝

The results were announced and congrats we were not in the top 8. But wait Codingpanther (Devasen Datha) won the CoWrks Social Media challenge! He was given CoWrks goodies and swags! Now we all decided to call him Shutter Panther 😆

Do take a look at his profile. His pictures are really brilliant!

And the story ends here with happiness that we did learn a lot here and in short time we did something we thought we never would do! Just like us other teams too rocked and made awesome things. With weary eyes we managed to get ourselves to pack up and go back home.

I decided to not use the AWS credits which they gave during the hackathon. I had this in mind that I should somehow develop an interaction based app on Amplify. I never knew what makes it look difficult. So motivation kicked in when Amplify didn’t work out for us to build our web app.

Things I learned at this hackathon are, don’t give up, keep thinking till you have time, take lot of rest, take photos. The tech stuff was I learned to use Dialogflow webhooks with Firebase, Amplify framework.

Special thanks to my team mates Ajai Danial, Sandya Jalesh, Sruthi Chandrasekar and Codingpanther

Now it’s time for event credits! This year’s AngelHack Chennai hackathon was amazing. And CoWrks venue was stunning too! After a long non stop sleep I just wrote this blog and here ends the story…

That’s all Folks!!! And congrats to the winners Juhi Singh, Malavika Venkatesh, Saikiran Sondarkar and Harshrajsinh Solanki

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Naveen S

Naveen S

Your friendly neighbourhood Infosec guy

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