Best birthday present ever

Giff Constable Uncategorized

This year I turned 40. To celebrate I disappeared into the Catskills for a private hackathon with a few close friends. Playing in the mud, making stuff — it was the best birthday present I could have asked for.

Aging is a funny thing. Some people get stuck in a rut. I feel like my learning and creativity is only increasing. The computer is my canvas, sometimes for serious purpose and sometimes just for fun. I do have children now, which consumes a lot of time, but somehow I feel like my next decade will be my most productive ever.

So what did we create? Well, we needed a project that would be both fun and achievable in a weekend. We decided to make a personal timeline that pulls in one’s twitter, foursquare, instagram, tumblr and feeds. We call it “ohai it’s me!”

Here is mine.

The design was fun to work on — I wanted a clean look that could scale nicely from phone to computer — and I got to play with some new CSS techniques.

If you want your own timeline, you can set up and host your own on heroku. The code base is on github and the detailed instructions are here.

The build team was Becky Carella (back and front-end dev), and Ryan Buskirk (back-end dev). myself (UI design and front-end dev), Chris Carella also joined us (working on an iOS project) and contributed inspiration and ideas (the timeline was his and Becky’s idea). Frida Lovelace (the star of the photo at top) was our creative muse and a fierce squirrel hunter.

Over the next several weeks (as spare time permits), we might add Facebook and Flickr feeds, as well as some more profile and navigation features (and auto-loading) so that it becomes a more effective personal home page. It would also be fun to build a bookmarklet tool so that it becomes a personal Delicious.

p.s. this was just a fun pet project for us but I think there is a nugget here that could be interesting for someone to run with. What I want is a social media backup tool that also gives me an awesome visual front-end. Services like instagram and foursquare allow me to lifelog but if they get bought and shut down then I lose all my data. I already lived through having Magnolia shut down and losing my bookmarks and that sucked. I want an external tool that sucks all my data in, stores it separately, and lets me export it at will.

Our “board” by the end of the weekend. A satisfying foundation!