GroupMe Announces its Windows Phone 7 App

GroupMe

GroupMe just announced the release of its Windows 7 app, developed in part by our 2011 hackNY fellow Michael Bartnett.

We’re grateful to Microsoft for helping us kick off this app’s development at Mobile Acceleration Week. Furthermore, this app wouldn’t have been possible without our awesome HackNY intern. We’re proud to participate in HackNY’s stated mission of “federating the next generation of hackers for the New York innovation community,” and even more proud that we’ve produced something awesome together.

Read more about this at GroupMe’s blog at: http://blog.groupme.com/post/7579242268/groupme-preview-for-windows-phone-7-is-here-were

hackNY Summer Series Lecture: Chris Poole (a.k.a. moot)

Chris Poole

In this post 2011 hackNY Fellow Akarshan Kumar describes the hackNY Summer Series lecture with Chris Poole

Your point is moot.
On 7th July, 2011, history was created. The hackNY class of 2011 met Christopher Poole a.k.a. “moot”.

Barely 20, Chris is the creator of 4chan and Canvas, has his own Wikipedia page, has delivered a TED talk, and was voted Time Magazine’s Most Influential Person in The World in 2008 (thanks in part to his 4chan fan base). This picture describes him perfectly:

Moot

The session went well over 2 hours. Chris started off by talking about how he created 4chan (and for how long his parents didn’t know about it ;)), and how he came out about it. He talked about his move to New York and his experiences raising money for his new venture, Canvas.

Creating Imperfect Experiences. Intentionally.
moot talked about how he thought it was important to create experiences that were not necessarily perfect – in fact, experiences that are imperfect and intentionally so. He talked about how Canvas was such an experience – something between Paint and Photoshop – and how this imperfectness makes people comfortable creating content on it.

Target Fixation
moot spoke about target fixation and why it was important to aim higher than where one actually wanted to reach.

A Network of Angels
He talked about building a syndicate of angels. According to him, it’s important to optimize for the right firm. He spoke about how the board’s not (supposed to be) your friend, but its good to have someone who supports and pushes you.

If your prospective co-founder wants to sleep with you, don’t sleep with him
moot talked about the importance of having a co-founder and said that one shouldn’t choose someone over-eager to be one’s co-founder as their, well, co-founder. He said we should choose a co-founder who we would have to fight to get to work with us.

Start your own company
moot strongly advised us to start our own companies, as doing so can lead to invaluable experiences and learning opportunities.

hackNY Fellows Workshop: Unix Command Line and iOS


In this post 2011 hackNY Fellow Misha Ponizil describes the lastest student workshop, in which Fellows teach each other tips, tricks and skills they know and are learning through their internships. 

HackNY Workshop #2 began with a quick rundown of cool tips and tricks for using the command line. Fellows Eitan Adler (ShapeWays) and Aditya Mukerjee (Foursquare) each presented a list of their favorite command line tricks. They both encouraged the other fellows to dig into the command line for greater productivity and efficiency.

Then we had Aviary intern Andrew Chien give an intro to developing for iOS. Chien is currently working on Aviary’s mobile app that will give user’s the ability to quickly and easily manipulate photos on their mobile devices.

Chien began with an overview of XCode and the default Objective C code that is provided in a new project. We wrote a couple lines that generated a button within the app, and then used the Interface Builder to attach an additional button to a notification event. The presentation concluded with copying and pasting a short script Chien had prepared that resulted in a free draw app.

hackNY 2011 at the July New York Tech Meetup

In this post 2011 hackNY Fellow Akarshan Kumar describes the July 2011 New York Tech Meetup

On July 5th, hackNY Fellows were invited to attend the New York Tech Meetup. The demonstrations at this month’s meetup included:

Sonar – An iOS app to connect with others at the same venue through mutual acquaintances

LocalBonus – A web app that attempts to make earning and redeeming loyalty points from local merchants easier

VivaLaPlaylist – A way for people to watch the same YouTube music videos with friends across multiple devices

Watchlr – A plugin with a slick visual interface used to bookmark videos for later viewing

CityPockets – A virtual wallet to keep track of daily deal coupons from across various sites

Skillslate demoed too, with a very innovative gig – they had a dance group perform for them (which they found through their own website), and the audience actually ended up interviewing the group members on how hard (or easy) they found the site to navigate! Video below:

The coolest demo, though, was Bio Digital Human, a mind-blowing interactive rendering of the human body, designed to aid in the study of human anatomy and systems. The project could be an amazing tool for medical students. The site is uses OpenGL, and apparently appears in 3D when viewed with 3D glasses. Yes, 3D within a browser. Given the talented team, we’re sure it’s been done well.

It was a great event, and we felt a little sad since this was hackNY’s last NYTM together. But the important impact of the meetups on us is that they have motivated us to stay more tuned into the NY tech scene. Overall, it was an evening well spent, and to cap it off, we headed off to Stand Burger for dinner.

Here’s the video of the entire event. If you do watch it, keep an eye out for how the host boos an audience member for asking a business model related question but later gets booed himself for doing the same! Also watch out for the City Pockets demo, where one of the presenters uses his own account to demonstrate the daily deals aggregator and, much to the delight of the audience, it’s full of massage and spa-related deals around town!

Whitney Hess Discusses User Experience Design

This post is by 2011 hackNY Fellow Cemre Güngör, who interns with Etsy.

Whitney Hess is an independent User Experience professional, speaker and blogger who lives in New York City.

Whitney Hess joined hackNY at the New Work City coworking space to talk to us about the field of User Experience and working as an independent professional. Having suggested her as a speaker, I was very excited to get to meet Whitney. Only two of this year’s hackNY Fellows identify as designers, though all of the Fellows showed an overwhelming interest in Whitney’s talk. Whitney inspired many Fellows to learn more about design and user experience, which made her talk a success.

Whitney started her talk by telling the story of how she ended up in the field of User Experience. She told us that her empathy towards users was the most important thing she learned in the Human-Computer Interaction program at Carnegie Mellon, and having studied professional writing helps her express her thoughts clearly, which is a very useful skill in her profession. “User Experience is more than a collection of methods”, Whitney said. “It is a philosophy about how to treat people”.

The most informative part of Whitney’s talk was when she walked us through a recent project she worked on. We got to see the process in its entirety, starting all the way from user research, interviews, defining personas, planning features all the way up to designing wireframes and running usability tests. Seeing a systematic approach to getting to know the users and defining the product helped us understand what doing User Experience entails.

One Fellow asked Whitney what she thought about companies like Apple and 37signals who claim to design products for themselves, as opposed to researching what their customers want. Whitney said she thinks this “designing for yourself” philosophy is just marketing, and that “people like Steve Jobs and Jonathan Ive constantly observe society”.

We also heard about what it’s like to work as an independent professional. Whitney talked about the difference between working with startups and big companies, coworking communities, and how she pitches clients and paces her work.

While she likes having different projects and working with different companies, she pointed out that one downside of being an independent is that one doesn’t always get to see projects finalized. Whitney told us she’s very lucky because she gets to pick her clients. “I’m not in the business for convincing companies to care for their customers,” she said.