A hackathon in the times of COVID
My name is Aiyush Dhar, and I work in the Engineering team at Fyle.
Who is Aiyush Dhar, you ask? Here are some anecdotes that aptly describe my existence.
- People at Fyle refer to me as Dhar, and I'm almost certain most folks barely remember the Aiyush in my name!
- People associate Dhar to writing irritatingly long Pull Request comments or narrating tales of when he used to do MMA some three years ago.
- I am also most notoriously known for adding "getting married" Slack updates in unsuspecting laptops.
In short, I have reached a skill level where I can do all these things without even looking.
We, the people of Fyle, got scattered suddenly due to the Coronavirus outbreak. A bunch of us got stuck in Bangalore, and some were able to get back home before the lockdown started.
But life goes on as usual for the people of Fyle.
Our chai breaks got converted into Skribble sessions & group PUBG matches. Our random chats got translated into full-blown Slack conversations.
Many of us didn't notice much of a difference (except having to cook for ourselves - which is a pain, I must admit.) Work from home just seems like an extended vacation + work type of scenario.
Our product has matured over time to become something awesome - with features our customers love, multiple new under-the-hood implementations, and robust machinations that make the application solve every pain point that there is to expense reporting.
And every single one of us has had ideas on what we can build upon in our application.
Building on a platform such as Fyle was always very tempting - especially with the viral enthusiasm that the Fyle culture pampers us with.
A few samples of the ideas that streamed in:
A few samples of use-case diagrams:
Customers: Fyle stopped working!
Engineering: Repro step? Screenshots?
Here are a few pictures from that day!
Almost everyone, from all our teams, came together and participated. This resulted in us making a huuuge number of prototypes. This also helped us create a solution proposal we always fantasized about but never had the time to turn into a reality.
After everyone had their prototypes ready - we did an internal demo where everyone showcased their work.
The hackathon didn't have a policy of winning or losing - the idea was to show off what you can do when given colleagues as brilliant as we have to support us.
Ideation was the prize we all gained.
For a long, long time - I have had a keen interest in Philosophy. A particular branch of philosophy that interests me is called stoicism.
Stoicism has essentially one teaching - You can always turn a disadvantage into an advantage.
While you may think this means resilience, its more of what Nicholas Taleb defines as being Antifragile.
"Some things benefit from shocks; they thrive and grow when exposed to volatility, randomness, disorder, and stressors and love adventure, risk, and uncertainty. Yet, despite the ubiquity of the phenomenon, there is no word for the exact opposite of fragile.
Let us call it antifragile.
Antifragility is beyond resilience or robustness. The resilient resists shocks and stays the same; the antifragile gets better."