This week, Monetate’s engineering team held its first Hack Days event of the year.

We were given two days to work on a project of our choosing. Many of the hacks were directly related to Monetate — such as improvements to existing products and internal tools, or proofs of concept for new features — but some were simply efforts to learn a new programming language or API, or to expand one’s skillset in some other way.

Although there’s no guarantee that anyone’s Hack Days project will eventually make it into the product pipeline, many of the projects from previous Hack Days have indeed “graduated” and have dramatically changed the way we do business.

At the end of Hack Days, we presented our projects to everyone at Monetate headquarters. Below are short summaries of the presentations.

  • Shaun Gallagher used Phonegap to build an Android dialer app targeted to senior citizens.
  • Jeremy Clewell used an Arduino microcontroller and four microphones to build a telepresence unit for video chats. Essentially it uses sound localization to detect who’s speaking, and it turns a video camera to face the speaker.
  • Ashley Sheppard built a magnifying glass tool for product images that can be deployed on clients’ sites.
  • Kris Molendyke, Jeff Patti, and Patrick O’Brien worked on an algorithm to interpret browsing behavior on retail sites.
  • Jon Aldinger recorded a screencast explaining how Monetate’s script gets inserted on clients’ sites.
  • John Warner built a lightbox that displays a grid of products.
  • Becky Hernandez-Cuebas created a training video for clients: “How to successfully test your Action Builder campaign.”
  • Ram Parthasarathy created userinfo.js, a standalone Javascript technographics library.
  • Gil Raphaelli built “HipCat,” a utility for piping messages to HipChat, using our internal authentication credentials instead of HipChat tokens.
  • Tom Janofsky completed work on a data visualization app that he had started during a previous Hack Days session.
  • Steve Galvan sharpened his CSS and Javascript skills by working on a website redesign.
  • Geoff Young created a dynamic image action for email campaigns.
  • Kim Killaly dug deeper into Javascript by writing a function that generates the Fibonacci sequence.
  • Mike Bewster built a browser-based monophonic synthesizer with programmable filters using the HTML5 web audio API.
  • Mary Beth Gombola used CSS to create eye-catching animated buttons and banners.
  • Tristan Hoffman created an Intranet site for the delivery engineering team.
  • James Minshall and Theresa Monaco created a responsive-design version of the Monetate homepage.
  • Luke Walker, Eric Heydenberk, and Geoff Johnson created a tool that makes it easier to create targeted campaigns on client sites.
  • Chris Conley experimented with using Amazon’s Mechanical Turk to generate structured data.
  • Dave Riley created a UI for documentation about actions that can be used in client campaigns.
  • Chris West built a targeted slideshow action.
  • Anthony So created a simple visualization of a string parsing solution.
  • Jeff Patti and Mike Hand created 3D objects using a MakerBot Replicator 2.
  • Rob McGinley created backbone-components, a fork of backbone-ui that provides a component hierarchy model and allows easy creation of forms via an object dispatch method.

Below are some photos from the Hack Days presentations:

Finally, as a refresher, check out these wrap-up posts from previous Hack Days:

December 2012

September 2012

May 2012

December 2011