Why major social networks should fear collegiate hackathons

I attend many collegiate hackathons as part of my job at Intel. I also frequently document the interesting projects that are produced and teams that I meet along the way. As a result, I often ask developers for their social media contact information so I can tag them in my posts.

This habit has resulted in a sort of “informal” demographic survey of college student hacker’s social media activities. Here are my non-scientific findings:

  • The majority of college hackers I meet don’t have a Twitter and seem to have no idea why they would ever want one
  • Many of the college hackers I meet don’t have a LinkedIn account and only plan on creating one as part of their overall job application process later in the year

Lets dig deeper…

Red Flag Alert: Students view LinkedIn as something they “need to get around to doing eventually” and only because they are being forced to do so.

Thats all fine and good, but lets combine this information with some of my other observations about college hackathons in general:

  • Students often attend numerous hackathons across the country prior to graduating (many hackathons now provide travel reimbursements to attendees)
  • Students often post their projects on sites like Hacker League (owned by Intel), which act as a sort of informal “LinkedIn for hackers”
  • Hackathons are an environment in which viral effects are very powerful – one student may meet thousands of other students across the country and spread the word about products they enjoy along the way

If you are reading these bullet points and your brain is replaying the genesis story of Facebook and SnapChat (social networks who strongly benefitted from the network effects present on college campuses), you are not alone. Hackathons are a potent new way for social networks and products to spread…

LinkedIn Beware! Possibly Facebook too…

Most of the students attending hackathons are studying some form of engineering or user interface design. It is no secret that students in these occupations are some of the most sought-after candidates by numerous companies. Advertisers, “platform companies” and recruiters are lining up around the block to appeal to these students and several major hackathons now command hundreds of thousands of dollars in total sponsorship dollars.

It isn’t a stretch to think that convincing student hackers to assemble into a new form of social network around their hackathon activities would be extremely valuable.

  • What will happen if students decide that they don’t really need to “Get around” to creating a LinkedIn anymore?
  • What if these students realize that their college hackathon portfolio site of choice is the only professional (and possibly even social) network they will ever need?
  • What would happen if students where to decide that their “hackathon social network” of choice makes a lot more sense than Twitter?

If I were LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter I would be thinking carefully about questions like these.


SXSW Journalism Hackathon @ UT Austin

How to stream audio via Bluetooth with Intel Edison

I apologize in advance, these are working notes I took during a hackathon from a developer who got Edison working as an audio source via Bluetooth. Some steps may be missing. If you find anything wrong with this please tweet me: @rexstjohn.

First, install PulseAudio via opkg if not installed and unblock Bluetooth (see rfkill instruction below). Install drivers for Bluez etc. There are some steps over here.

$ rfkill unblock bluetooth

Next, put your audio device into pairing mode. Then, on your Intel Edison do this:

$ bluetoothctl (opens the bluetooth agent)...
$ agent
$ set agent KeyboardDisplay
$ default-agent
$ scan on

Locate the audio controller from the list:

$ pair xx:xx:xx:xx (with the audio controller you get from scan on, your Bluetooth speaker)
$ connect xx:xx:xx:xx

On the linux terminal, now play the file

$ pactl list | grep -A1 SUSPENDED | grep Name (show list of devices suspended)

Scroll through the list and find the “sink.” Hint: Look for thing that says “State suspended”, find the “sink” that is suspended.

It will look like this: bluez_sink.[your mac address with colons as underscores]

$ pactl set-default-sink bluez_sink.[yourmacaddress]

Now use PulseAudio / mplayer to play your audio file. Copy a wav file into Edison (probably using scp), then play it like this:

$ “./mplayer youraudio.wav"

Hanging out with Mark Cuban and hackers at HackDFW

Using Nide to turn Intel Edison into a web-based IDE


I have been thinking for some time it would be fantastic to be able to edit code files directly on Intel Edison via a web browser over the local network. Fortunately, I discovered a powerful and elegant Node.js based web IDE called Nide which makes this workflow completely possible and easy to set up!

Installing and using Nide on Intel Edison

First, open a terminal to your Edison and install the Nide using NPM:

$ npm install -g nide

and then, in the directory where your code is located, call:

$ nide init
$ nide -b

Note: You must append the “-b” option. Nide’s default behavior is to open a web browser in place (which Edison doesn’t have), resulting in errors. Adding the “-b” flag indicates you want to run Nide without a browser.

Next, you will see something like this:

Nide running at http://localhost:8123

Assuming your PC is on the same network as your Intel Edison, you should be able to navigate to the IP address of your Edison (which must be online for this to work) and append the port (in the above example, 8123) to see the Nide editor.

Note: If you are unsure of your Intel Edison’s local IP address, run “$ifconfig” in your Edison’s terminal and look for the IP address associated with “eth0.”

Once you do that, you can edit your Intel Edison project code directly via your web browser, no need to deploy code, it saves automatically in place as you edit!

Intel IoT Roadshow Seattle Highlights

Intel Edison and Cylon.js Guide

It is absolute necessary to update libmraa before running the Cylon.js examples

echo "src mraa-upm http://iotdk.intel.com/repos/1.1/intelgalactic" > /etc/opkg/mraa-upm.conf
opkg update
opkg install libmraa0
opkg upgrade

The purpose of this guide is to provide a working Intel XDK IoT Edition project with snippets to help you use 10 of the useful sensors which are packaged by default in the Seeed Studios IoT DevKit.


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Highlights from VTHacks

Solving “Partition failed – Couldn’t unmount disk.” When Flashing Intel Edison on OS X



The getting started instructions for Intel Edison instruct you to open a terminal and delete the contents of /Volumes/Edison. Unfortunately, if you leave the terminal window open while attempting to partition your Edison ,you will see this error. The solution is simple: Close the terminal before trying to partition the disk!