Photos: Yahoo's Open Hack London 2009

We spent the weekend with over 200 hackers at Yahoo's Open Hack 2009 -- a 24-hour hackathon in London's Covent Garden, exploring exactly what Hack Day is all about

Nate Lanxon

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Some 270 hackers and developers from the UK, Sweden and all over Europe came together this weekend for an uninterrupted 24-hour hackathon. It was Yahoo's Open Hack 2009 and it was in London's Covent Garden.

Spotify's CEO Daniel Ek, Mozilla's Pascal Finette and even Yahoo co-founder David Filo came to the show. The idea behind it was simple: you've got exactly 24 hours to hack together the most interesting, innovative, useful or fun piece of software or hardware, using developer tools from Yahoo, or anyone else for that matter.

Some amazing ideas came out of Hack Day this year. Some of our favourites included They Work For EU -- a translation service that brings the multi-lingual debates held on the European Parliament's Web site into your native dialect; Cristiano Betta's Should I Backup My...? -- a Web site that monitors news about cloud-computing companies to determine whether they're at risk of going out of business and taking your data with them, and DrunkenTweets -- a small Web service that aggregates and archives Twitter messages that appear to have been written by the heavily intoxicated (and sadly isn't online).

In addition to the caffeine-fuelled codefest and developer tech talks, Open Hack Day was a social gathering of like minds, where everyone seemed to have 1,000 ideas a second, and over 1,000 minutes to discuss them with each other. One developer -- Jim Purbrick -- told us that although developing a great hack may win you a prize, the weekend was far more a social gathering than anything even remotely competitive.

After two days of walking around the conference, talking to some of the teams and individuals taking part from all over Europe, we were convinced. It was like the campsite of a music festival, where everyone wants to talk about the favourite band they saw that day, or their favourite songs. Only instead of a favourite band, it was a favourite PHP syntax. And instead of a favourite song, it was a different PHP syntax.

Since no-one at the event managed to develop a method to pedal back through time itself, a photographic tour will have to suffice. Over the next few pages of photos, hopefully you'll get the general picture of what Hack Day is all about, and why, if you're a developer, you should really look into going next year.

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One of many teams at Open Hack. Not content with either using a chair or a bean bag, one member decided the right way forward was to combine the two.
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This is Jim Purbrick. He was developing a 10-piece iPhone orchestra, with Wiimotes linked via Wi-Fi to his iPhone and laptop, where their movements were translated into drum beats.
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Some collaboration going on here. Oh just look at them go!
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There were, at a rough guess, about a billion Yahoo bean bags at the event. Few went unused.
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By 4pm, Hack Day was well underway.
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Building some sort of robot. Both the build and the subsequent programming had to be completed within the 24-hour period.
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A legacy technology being used here. Apparently it's called a 'whiteboard'.
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Some more legacy technology here: 'paper'. Also, a horribly misguided t-shirt with, if you look closely enough, a man inside! He and his team were working on a project they described as, "A real life version of the Mornington Crescent game made famous by BBC Radio 4 -- part adventure, part real life, part random noodles."
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A group of Mac developers working on their project around midnight on Saturday.
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Yahoo co-founder David Filo watching the hackers from the shadows.
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The youngest hacker at the event was 6-month-old Nemi. Her hack mostly involved biting her mum Thayer Prime's iPhone.
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Arr, a pirate! Avast, etc.
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Some of the t-shirt action at Open Hack was inspiring. Also, hilarious.
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These Yahoo bikes had a GPS-enabled camera (actually, it was a Nokia N95) mounted on the handlebars, powered by a solar panel over the rear wheel. Every minute they took a photo, geotagged it, and uploaded it to Flickr, so you could trace your journey using an online mapping service.
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This is Andy 'Bob The Builder' Brockhurst. He works on the Yahoo homepage, and brewed the delicious open-source beer you can see in the background. It was... strong, to say the least.
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As the night progressed, Yahoo co-founder David Filo had inflatable balls thrown at his face. He seemed remarkably content.
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Having just hurled a ball at David's head, Yahoo employee Amber makes a dash for another. Little minx.
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It's early morning and this hacker is exhausted.
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Everyone gathers together for the final presentations. Each team has two minutes to present their hack, which are then voted on by a panel of judges.
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The presentations get underway.
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Judge and Spotify CEO Daniel Ek listening intently to one of the presentations.
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Using only iPhones and software hacked together by conductor Jim Purbrick, the iPhone Orchestra performs the entire Dr Who theme to the audience.
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Probably the most appropriate t-shirt of the weekend.
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Finally, Mozilla's Pascal Finette congratulates a developer on winning one of the 12 awards of the weekend.

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