October was a rush and a blur. I did many things in the past month, but as the title suggests, one of the biggest “wins” was that I participated in my first ever Hackathon! (As a matter of fact, I participated in TWO!)
I have also been working on the #100DaysOfCode Challenge, along with beginning my #3090FitnessChallenge on October 1st. Along with continued Chemo Treatment meant that I had a really busy month, and not much time to sit down and flesh out a blog post.
I’ve been feeling a bit run-down for the past few weeks, so the comments you guys left on my last blog post and on Twitter were really heart-warming, and definitely cemented my resolve to keep on chugging along with the Blogging. I hope to be able to go around to read everyone’s newer entries and leave comments/return comments soon.
IxN Hackathon 2017
My first Hackathon EVER! was my company’s first annual Hackathon.
For some reason, the powers that may be nominated me to be the Hackathon Ambassador for our first ever Hackathon, and I happily accepted the role of “hyping it up,” along with a few of my coworkers.
My position in the company is unique in that, because I work in IT, I basically talk to everyone in every market, which means almost everyone in the company knows who I am, and I know almost everyone in the offices all around the country.
So I tried to do my Ambassador-y Duties, and hyped it up as much as I can when I was talking to people.
The Hackathon itself was a day and a half, and the second half of the second day was used for presentations and judging, followed by an in-office happy hour (because what company event doesn’t include happy hour?).
(My face got featured a few times in company newsletter and their blog post that week!)
I did make a project-idea pitch, but I couldn’t get enough people to join my team, so I ended up joining an already-established team. Since neither the project manager nor I could code up the back-end, we left that to the single software engineer, and we came up with the idea, and how to execute it.
I made a mock-up using Bootstrap, with my teammate’s help, made the CSS reflect that of our company’s website (marketing approved (TM) lol), and we handed it off to the software engineer to make the magic happen.
We did end up winning “The People’s Choice” Award, and Taco got to party with it for a little while.
Though our project encompassed a “need” in the company, it wasn’t as shiny or pretty as the other teams’ project, so we honestly didn’t think we’d win anything, so it was a great surprise.
I learned so much in the few short days (more like a day and a half) about Product-Designing and Product-Creation within the context of an interdisciplinary team. It was really exciting, and I’m really gad I got out of my comfort zone and said YES! to the Hackathon.
Hiro of few months ago would’ve definitely not said yes, because she was not “that kind of person in Tech.”
Also, I got a pretty awesome sweater, and got to look really sketchy in it with my mask, so that’s always a plus.
Empathy Jam: UX Hackathon
The second Hackathon I attended in October was Empathy Jam. Geared more towards UX Research and Design, I was definitely not prepared for what I was walking into.
“At one point or another, we have all wondered what the future will look like when many more jobs are automated. From cashiers and retail salespeople to waiters and laborers, many of our country’s most common jobs may be at risk — and nobody has a great answer for how we can prepare ourselves for the future.
Calling developers, researchers, designers, product people, civic activists, prototypers, data heads, and leaders of NYC! Are you looking for a way to make a difference and have fun doing it? JOIN US!
Come to the Empathy Jam, a research and design event that brings NYC residents and technologists together to collaborate on new ways to feel connected, supported, and excited about creating our future.”
Basically, the premise of the Hackathon was to find an issue in NYC, and then create a solution. We learned about the UX Research methodologies and concepts, and practiced these ideas to create our project.
I had absolutely no idea what UX Design and Research meant before the 28th, and now I had a small glimpse of it, and I’m at awe! Definitely not a field for me (WALKING UP TO PEOPLE ON THE STREETS AND ASKING THEM TO TAKE PART IN MY RESEARCH? NOPEEEEE), but it was extremely eye opening, and I’m so glad I participated.
As stressful as it was (because it was such a completely new experience for me), it was so educational, and I feel like I learned more from that 1 day of jammin’ than I would’ve with weeks of research on what it meant to be an UX Designer.
— Hiro in LA ✈️ (@nishimurahiroko) October 28, 2017
So, how’s that 100 Days going? Well, I’m on D51, and I’m now officially more than half way through!
I don’t know if I’ve ever kept up something for this long, every day? I’ve missed 3 days (mostly by accident), but taking the advice of the wise sages at #100DaysOfCode, I made sure to not miss that 2nd day in a row, which makes it harder and harder to get back on track. So here I am, still chugging along!
Because of the challenge, I’ve been able to tackle quite a few projects last month, too. And it was honestly one of the biggest reasons why I even had the courage to join the Hackathons last month.
It’s one thing to be in front of the computer and be “coding” for “an hour a day” and participate in a challenge, but it’s another thing entirely to go out there in public, and participate in events that require you to embrace that persona. While I knew I can’t help with anything I don’t know about, these Hackathons were valuable lessons in how in product and project development, “coding” isn’t all of it; there’s definitely a need for different talents and different backgrounds.
And hey, if it can’t be for my coding skills (TM), I definitely have a very original background and knowledge set to bring to the table!
Burgundy for Life
The first website that got a facelift-re-haul as part of my challenge was Burgundy for Life‘s main website. I had a WordPress theme on it before, with horribly outdated information, and I’ve been meaning to give it a facelift for years, but never got around to it.
So with my new Bootstrap/HTML5/CSS3 knowledge, I got to making a new web page for it on October 1st. It was Day 22 of my #100DaysOfCode, so I will probably go back near the end of the challenge to tweak things up and make it look nicer with my 80 extra days of knowledge.
This page is basically the “landing page” for visitors to find links to all of the resources we provide.
Project Hope @ Burgundy for Life
One of the big projects I was working on for October was to reflect on #AVMAwarenessMonth by bringing Our Voices to the public. Very often, patient and caregiver voices are pushed away, and no one really gets to hear what we have to say. A lot of rhetoric and words are used to describe us and convey what we supposedly feel or think to the public, but most of the time, no one asks us what we really think.
This also is true when it comes to advice and support we would like to give ourselves and each other. While I was going through my medical fiasco as a college student, I found it very difficult to find a place where I can “recharge” my HOPE for my future and my recovery.
So at the end of September, I began soliciting my followers on my Facebook Page to fill out a survey for me. At the time, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do with the answers, or how I could best frame the narrative. I just knew I had some questions that I wanted real, raw responses for, and I’ll figure out what to do with them later.
Ironically, though it was the most difficult part of the UX Research Hackathon, I was naturally doing it on my own! Going out to find the problem by asking questions!
While I did spend a month tossing around the idea of a “Random Quote Generator,” I was not sure how the execute it. I tried to find ways to code it myself, but where I stood at that time with my #100DaysOfCode journey, I didn’t have enough man power to make it a reality. On an off-chance, though, I found out that Lysianthus was offering a “Text Randomizer Script” to her visitors.
The discovery was all I needed to devote a Sunday afternoon to creating the webpage and embedding the script and the lines of advice I had from 90 responses to my survey.
The project that I have been spending the majority of my time on has been revamping my personal site/portfolio. I began working on it on Day 8 of my #100DaysOfCode Challenge, and have been working on it for the past month and a half.
I finally uploaded the framework to the domain, but there’s really not much “content” to it (ie: the actual portfolio part). Honestly, I uploaded it in a frantic because Empathy Jam was the next day, and I didn’t have an updated business card, so I created a really rough “main page” for my old portfolio at http://hirokonishimura.com and uploaded this one.
I’ve been going through the frustrations and excitement of “Fix one thing and it breaks something else” dilemma of coding world for the whole time I’ve been working on it, and I can only hope that by the end of the 100 days, I’ll have something complete!
Edit: Now it actually has a portfolio for projects!
Oh Yeah… And Happy Halloween!