I'm participating in a Hackathon!!!!

I'm participating in a Hackathon!!!!

Well, kind of...

After several days of heavy procrastination. I finally decided to build some actual stuff. Instead of pestering you with daily ramblings :D

Syed Fazle Rahman kindly let us know about the Hasura Hackathon. That by today still has 19 days to go.

I won't lie. I'm terrified.

Rubric for the Hackathon

The announcement lists the following criteria to be used when judging the projects:

  • Product thinking: Usefulness of the project in the real-world. And completeness of the features.
  • UI/UX: The look and feel. Color, layout. As well as ease of use.
  • Code Quality: Clean code, naming conventions, linting, best practices.
  • Completeness of the article: The blog post should cover all aspects of the project. As well as motivations, problems solved. Should explain how it was built.
  • Comprehensibility: Avoid jargon. Write clearly using simple language.

My goal for this Hackathon

I have some very specific goals for myself.

For now, I don't expect winning any prize (although a mug or a t-shirt would be really nice). There's just no way I can reasonably expect to actually win.

That's not my lower-than-what's-healthy self-esteem talking. It's just an honest and clear-headed assessment of my current abilities.

  • First of all, I want to have a project I can personally be proud of. That is useful in the real world. And that addresses my personal needs (more on that below).

  • Second, I want a real-world-useful project for my portfolio. Because, I when I'm done I want to feel confident enough to apply for a real job.

  • Third, I want an excuse to keep writing my daily posts! I am pleased to announce that I have some updates for my blog!

All these three goals will guide my choices during this adventure. From coming up with the initial ideas, to architectural decisions, to the ways I will choose to showcase my project

I'll share with you how I am initially planning to proceed. Based on each point of the rubric.

The project's motivation and theoretical underpinnings

I have ADHD. And I have always had a very hard time keeping focus for extended periods of time. In a perverse twist, often I have an even harder time unfocusing.

In 2020 I got covid. And the symptoms got even worse. Thats not a one-off occurrence. For better or worse, I don't really have access to medication treatment right now. (I'm fine with that, don't worry)

So I end up wasting hours of time either because I can't stop getting distracted, or I can't stop doing something when I should be doing something else. <- like that, whatever it was.

Willing my way into "being disciplined" (as I've been told since I was little) is just too mentally taxing.

Luckily, I have two things going on for me.

  • First, I'm an actual psychologist (at least that's what my otherwise-useless university diploma claims). So I won't be mislead by any random "psychological" advice on the internet. I come from the academic world, so dry experimental papers are like cocaine for my brain :D

  • Second, I have some books at my disposal. Written by medical experts and written for the general public. And I will now share one of them with you!

Here's the sound psychological advice I can leverage. Drs J. Russel Ramsay and Anthony L. Rostain from the University of Pennsylvania wrote an evidence-based Cognitive-Behavioral-therapy-informed manual for adult ADHD. The Adult ADHD Tool Kit presents specific strategies for adults coping with ADHD.

The target audience of the book is adults with ADHD. It is not a technical clinical manual. And it attempts to help readers implement such strategies in their daily life. It also is very user friendly.

I have been implementing some strategies already. Let me share two of them.

  • The pomodoro technique.

I switched the way I mentally frame my work. From thinking in terms of todo-list with work items and tasks (which can be ironically counter-productive even for neurotypicals). Into thinking in terms of "pomodoros". So my only "todo" is "do a pomodoro". It sounds dumb but has been a life-changer for me.

  • A monthly pomodoro grid.

A monthly each-day-a-row 25-minute cell grid on a notebook. After I finish a 25-minute "pomodoro" I fill a cell. I try to fill a 12-cell row each day.


The problem

Those techniques are really nice and useful (along with others I didn't mention). But there's a problem.

Look at my notebook for February's monthly grid.


It is not that I didn't do much. It's that I just plain keep forgetting to mark down completed pomodoros. And to set my timer before starting to work. So there is time I do work, but is unaccounted for. And I need feedback to figure out of I am being productive or not.

Because notebooks cannot give out attention-grabbing notifications! The one time I actually want to be distracted!

Thus this project. As simple as it gets. A digital version of my system. With some extra features aimed at helping me avoid forgetting to use them! And a heavy focus on making it as simple as possible.

I know it's not fancy. Nor feature-full, as most software. The thing is, I can't use Trello, or similar software (I've tried). They are just too distracting. They have so much stuff going on. Competing for attention.

It may sound dumb, but it is important. For me.

Hopefully, you can appreciate how UX begins with user's real needs and ends with quality and value for the user. Google's UX motto: "Focus on the user, everything else follows" (paraphrased)


Well, for this one, I am my own user.

The blogging excuse

I can't keep my daily writing AND work on this app. So to kill two birds with one stone. I'll keep you updated on:

  • My daily progress working on the app

  • Stuff I learn on the way and I think can be useful for others

  • Other things that may come up

I may take longer than the Hackathon's deadline. But hey, that's fine by me. But I'll try to meet the deadline.

Again, my goal is to end up with a nice portfolio project that I can be proud of. Thus, I will now present a new series I will be working on while building this app.

Titled "Will Code for Food" XD


Again, one of my goals is to build a portfolio. To feel confident applying for jobs.

YOU can help me!

Do you want me to succeed?

Well, that's really nice of you! Thanks!

Here's what you can do. It is really encouraging to get some feedback. Or even some words of encouragement. That is the very best thing you can do to help me!

You can also help me reach the upper echelons of internet popularity. Share my stuff with people that you think may benefit from it. I share all my posts on LinkedIn, but you could help me by sharing on Twitter. I don't like spam though. As I believe in what some may call "organic" growth.

But only share if you think YOU can benefit from sharing. And if you believe someone else can be benefited because you shared!

Of course I will make it worth your while. All my posts have the explicit purpose of bringing something useful for my readers. And I try hard to make it so. So you may learn a thing or two!

Speaking of which...


Even this post is aimed at providing value for you my dear reader!


If you made it this far let me share with you something that will absolutely blow your mind. I have a purpose for this, trust me!

A life-like system can emerge from a simplistic particle motion law. A dumb differential equation can give way to the emergence of life-like behavior. During grad school I used to toy with the idea that this may be the very root of what we call creativity. I am certainly not alone on that.

Complex systems self-organize; bottom-up. And from such self-organization, choices emerge, as if they gained some sort of higher-order consciousness. (Mind you, I am being very lax with my use of such big words)

How does this has anything to do with anything?

Well, this is a complex system. Just as in our brains and societies, in our internet and software. Dumb rules, simple interactions and minuscule changes can, and often do, result in enormous consequences .

I think a way better term for "organic growth" would be bottom-up growth.

That's why I asked you to share, in a particularly specific way ;)

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