Thursday, June 4, 2015

Last Minute Prep & What To Bring To Hackathon

Time for doing a couple last minute preparations before Saturday's "DHMN Civic Hackathon/Appleton 2015."

First thing is to make a list and pack your laptop bag or backpack.

  1. Laptop. Pretty much everyone participating in the civic hackathon will bring a laptop. Charge the battery Friday night.
  2. Laptop charger. Depending on how long your battery lasts and how long you plan to hack, you probably want to bring your charger.
  3. Power strip. The city of Appleton will bring some power strips and Lawrence University might provide some. But if you want to be sure you can plug in, stick a power strip in your bag or pack. If lots of people bring one, yours might not get used. But better to not get used than to need it and not have it.
  4. Laptop accessories. Most people won't bring accessories for their laptop, but if you're a hardcore coder, you might want to bring a monitor so you'll have a second screen. Or a mouse if you get tired of the touch pad. A long ethernet cable if you want to be able to get hardwired internet access so you're not limited by wifi. Any other tech cables, connectors or equipment you normally use for extended work sessions.
  5. Phone charger. No need to put 'phone' on the list; everyone is pretty much glued to their phone. But bring along whatever you need to charge your phone if you're going to stay at the hackathon a long time.
  6. Water bottle. There may be some beverages provided, but I'm not sure what will be available when. Probably makes sense to have your favorite water bottle along. There will be lots of places at Lawrence to refill it.
  7. Non-water beverages. You'll be able to buy various beverages in the Warch Campus Center, including coffee, but if you need your Starbucks, Mountain Dew or Red Bull to start your morning out right, bring along one or more of your favorite beverages. In a cooler if you want to keep them cold.
  8. Ear buds or headphones. If you're doing some serious coding, you'll probably want your ear buds or headphones at some point for your favorite tunes.
  9. Munchies. Lunch will be provided by the hackathon sponsors, so no worries about that. Some morning and afternoon snacks are scheduled, but I don't know what those snacks will be. So if you want some instant energy or just something to occasionally munch on, bring your favorite nuts, fruit, bars, veggies or other edibles.
  10. Altoids, chewing gum or breath neutralizer. If you're going to eat, drink and work on a civic hacker team for more than four hours, you might want to bring your favorite breath ameliorator.
  11. Stress balls, soft frisbees and other creativity aids. At some point, your creativity may need a boost. Or you just need a break from working on civic hacks.
  12. Cash. If you're going to buy beverages or snacks at the Warch Campus Center bring along some cash. Cashiers no doubt take plastic or smarphone payment, but vending machines might want cash.

Things that won't fit in your bag or backpack.

  • Hackathon goals. You're spending part or all of your Saturday participating in a civic hackathon. There must be a reason, probably more than one. So make a list of those reasons so you'll be more likely to achieve those goals. And at least one of those goals should be to meet and get to know three or four new people at the event.
  • Creativity. Bring along some creativity and an interest in learning new stuff. Civic hacking is new to NE Wisconsin, so pretty much every participant will be learning new stuff.
  • Some idea of what you'd like to work on. You may change your mind when you hear someone else's idea of a good civic hack, but at least come with a bit of an idea of a civic hack that you'd like to see happen. If you don't already have a civic hack in mind that you plan to
    work on, read over the post, "DHMN Civic Hackathon/Appleton 2015: Top 10 Hacks." If none of those appeal to you, read through some of the past posts on this blog or use Google to find out if anyone has done civic hacks for topics, data or issues of interest to you. Look around on the city of Appleton website to see if there are topics or data you think are worth hacking on.

If you know what civic hack you want to work on, do a bit of research on it so you'll be better prepared for getting lots done on Saturday. Make a Google Doc with all the pertinent links you find so you don't have to track them down again.

Note regarding the "Directions" link on the Eventbrite email I sent out earlier this week to all registered participants:
Apparently Eventbrite has some issues reading a map. This civic hackathon is taking place in the Esch Hurvis Room of the Warch Campus Center at Lawrence University, 711 E. Boldt Way, Appleton, WI, 54911. But for whatever reason, when you click on the Directions link in the Eventbrite email, it brings up a map showing a location somewhere around Copps grocery store on Wisconsin Avenue. Don't go to Copps. Go to Lawrence to the Warch Community Center. Just enter 711 E. Boldt Way, Appleton, WI into Google Maps or your favorite mapping service and it will show you where the Warch Community Center is. See also the maps below.

Parking will be challenging. Lawrence students are still on campus for spring semester. A map is below showing some parking choices, but the three options are (1) on-street parking with various restrictions or meters, (2) the city parking ramp or (3) Emmanuel United Methodist Church parking lot, if spaces are open there. If possible, give yourself extra time to park and walk to the Warch Campus Center. If I can find out anything about handicapped parking for the Warch Campus Center, I'll post it on the blog tomorrow. If you need handicapped parking, you might also want to call Lawrence University,920-832-7000, although the Warch Campus Center webpage says "a few handicap spots are indicated adjacent to the building."


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