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August 22, 2012

Summer 2012 Hackathon Round-Up

You wouldn't believe what Veracoders can do in just three short days.

Heck, I just watched us do it --again-- at the Summer 2012 Hackathon, and I can barely believe it myself.

As you may recall, the rules of our Hackathons are simple: you have three days to design, prototype, test, refine, build, and present anything you like, provided it's legal and within our "Veracode of Conduct". Your hack does not have to relate to security, or computers, or Veracode -- but many people do use the Hackathon and their own inspiration to propel the company forward in new and exciting ways.

More than fifty Veracoders took part in the Summer 2012 Hackathon, and together we invented, we tinkered, we created, we hacked. Along the way, we also laughed, and shared ideas, and played loud music at all hours in the office. We didn't all sleep (Tom), but we all had fun.

Finally, after three days of this madness, it was show time, and we presented our hacks. For two astonishing hours we marveled and cheered as hacks were unveiled. By the end of that very evening, three of the new hacks were already in use at Veracode:

  • a live searchable map of our new office,
  • a simple mobile app to help with developers agile scrum, and
  • a configuration enabling Windows "domain logins" on our Linux machines.

There were at least dozen useful hacks that will come on-line across the company as we wrangle them from the outer wilds of Hackathonlandia back into everyday life, including:

  • a fantastic new UI for our dynamic scan queue,
  • a search engine for the Veracode Help Center, and
  • a new Visual Studio 2012 version of the Veracode plug-in.

Special note goes to Ethan's hack of using our own static analysis engine to help generate dataflow rules automatically; using our flagship technology to accelerate our own development is beautiful and brilliant.And lest you think that all the hacks were computer software, take a look at these non-computer hacks:

  • Anne Neilsen created a great new cocktail using Szechuan buttons,
  • Tom Hickman invented a way to make his bike helmet more aerodynamic,
  • Ben Greenwald coaxed more than 160 volts out of a single double-A battery with a circuit of his own design, and
  • Sarah Gibson not only threw a ponies-and-cupcakes party in the office on Wednesday, but then on Thursday she also revealed that the whole thing had been a science experiment exploring the artificial synthesis of happiness!

Everyone who presented a hack was recognized with an award and a prize. The proud hackers who presented their accomplishments were: Jeff Beckwith, Brian Black, Stephen Braverman, Chuck Butkus, Jeff Cratty, Rob Curtis, Isaac Dawson, Melissa Elliot, Ethan Feller, Christopher Field, Ken Freeman, Hetal Gaglani, Sarah Gibson, Thomas Goff, Ben Greenwald, BJ Herbison, Tom Hickman, Haiyan Huang, Tim Jarrett, Sean Kennedy, Brad Larsen, Bill Lizano, Miao Lu, Paul Lussier, Chris Lytle, Anne Nielsen, Ryan O'Boyle, Thomas Pappas, Nisit Patel, Nick Pawlowski, Bobby Phillips, David Power, Karl Puder, Christien Rioux, Stephen Roebuck, Stacy Thayer, Jim Waldrop, Doug Waters, Jay Wilkinson, and Tobias Work.

Special honors in this Hackathon were also bestowed upon the Veracoders who were not able to participate due to immediate and pressing needs of running the business.

Overall, the Summer 2012 Hackathon was a roaring success. Veracode benefited both directly, and indirectly, in ways we're still trying to tally up completely. The participants learned new skills, connected with each other, had fun, and took justifiable pride in presenting their creations.

My personal thanks go to the Hackathon team: Janette Lynch, Anne Nielsen, Jim Lynch, and Chris Lytle, and also to the Veracode execs who embrace this powerful, energizing, and fun part of our company culture!

We can hardly wait for the next Hackathon!


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Mark Kriegsman, Director of Engineering, is responsible for leading the development of Veracode’s flagship static binary analysis system. In addition to providing direct technical leadership, he also works closely with Veracode’s Research and Product Management teams to refine and improve Veracode’s product offerings. Mark is a lifelong innovator and entrepreneur, with over twenty-five years experience in advanced software and systems development.

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