Overview…BattleHack Stockholm and Turtl

What? Turtl – a mental health help button, built using the Flic API at PayPal’s BattleHack Stockholm

When? 12th – 13th September 2015

Where? Stockholm

Who? Me, Mari Ana, Tomas Kronvall

What About It?

At BattleHack Stockholm I formed Team Turtle who developed a web application that aimed to use the Flic buttons as a sort of panic button for people when they are feeling depressed that would automatically send messages to all their friends asking for them to come and help, as it is often difficult for people when they are mentally ill to reach out to ask for help. We built the back end in Node.js and Angular.js and integrated the Braintree API so that if friends wanted to respond to the cry for help by buying them something to show they cared then they could – if we had more time the idea was to incorporate some sort of shop front for this.

I formed the team when I was there, but had come with a vague idea, of course it was based on my own personal experience over the course of 2015 and so I had given it a lot of thought.

I got off to a great coding start as my dual-boot Fedora Linux had stopped working, as had Oracle VirtualBox and so I was left to use the strangely stripped-down version of Ubuntu in my CS50 course’s VMware which provided of course a fun delay in getting started. However once I had spent a few hours sorting this all out I was actually going alright – working on implementing the Braintree API and Mari Ana working on the Flic API and Tomas on the front-end.

As ever with me though, it all went horribly wrong when we discovered at 5am that Tomas hadn’t written a single line of code for the front-end and indeed didn’t know how to and then sloped off to sleep after announcing this. Of course we went into something of a panic mode at this point and sought the official help of what to do in this situation. The most frustrating thing about this situation was probably that we could have been able to get him started on learning the front end at the beginning of the hackathon if he had mentioned it then, and wouldn’t have taken any real issue with that, but telling us only a few hours before our rehearsal pitches to the judges meant we were left with virtually no time in which to do much. When he woke back up Tim and a few others helped to teach him and get him to write some code to contribute towards the project just in time for final submission but of course, the final thing was nowhere near what we had been hoping for. I suppose we should have noticed the distinct lack of Git commits from him at some earlier point.

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Team Turtl harassing Tim for the camera

Unsurprisingly we didn’t really win anything with the final overall project presented – it looked like something of a disaster, especially compared to the intensity of the competition. However Flic very kidnly approached us afterwards and gave us a few Flic buttons each to acknowledge the work that had been done! I’ve got quite a few ideas for what to build with them, so watch this space…

Overall I much preferred BattleHack Stockholm to BattleHack London, I think because of the difference in size and possibly the slight differences in the choice of challenges available. I think that having attended one BattleHack already did make a huge difference in knowing what sort of thing was expected of us from the judges, how much they valued the projects’ aims to make a difference, and of course experience in using the Braintree API. I think I got more experience of using Angular whilst working on this.

As ever, being a BattleHack, it was an incredible overall experience from the food, venue, people, to the projects themselves. I am sad that there is a good chance I won’t be able to go next year to the BattleHack’s as I will have exams and probably (hopefully) a full time placement but I feel I definitely made the most of the two I could get to this year.

 

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