At a time of year when many are focused on finding the perfect gift and finishing any last minute shopping, the Monetate engineering team temporarily shifted their attention from holidays to Hack Days.
Hack Days, held several times a year at Monetate, are an opportunity for members of the engineering team to work on a project of their choosing. In the past some Hack Days saw improvements to current Monetate products, a few turned out to be concepts used in future Monetate features, and others simply offered engineers a chance to look more closely at a topic of personal interest.
While some may question the practice of temporarily tabling current demands in favor of new pursuits, many Hack Days projects have proved to be the spark that ignites an idea that otherwise may not have been discovered. They also give everyone involved an opportunity to think differently for a few days and return to their ongoing responsibilities refreshed and ready for the next challenge.
The final Hack Days of 2013 took place from Dec. 17 through Dec. 19. At the end of Hack Days, everyone presented their projects to their peers at Monetate’s headquarters in Conshohocken, Pa. Below are summaries of the presentations.
• John Peeler created unit tests for Amazon Redshift.
• Shaun Gallagher created a tool that allows a user to select multiple elements on a page and find a CSS selector that matches those elements.
• Chris Conley made an open-source version of our Monte Carlo simulator and published it to various media outlets, including Hacker News. At the time of the presentation, it had received 2200 project views.
• Jeff Patti explored the functionality of the new Amazon Kinesis to compare conversions between accounts.
• Peter Caisse created automated error alerts to send out email notifications if a newly deployed script produces errors in production.
• Tim Visher and Kris Molendyke gave Emacs the ability to connect to a MySQL server on a dev box directly.
• Jeremy Clewell worked on a haptic feedback device with a Leap Motion controller.
• Jon Aldinger, Tressley Cahill, and Doug Roche re-skinned and optimized the look and feel of the Monetate user interface.
• Eric Heydenberk created a tool that allows Photoshop .PSD files to be uploaded into a web-based image composition tool and separates the file into usable layers.
• Anthony So created a campaign finder that allows Monetate’s users to create a new campaign based on similar campaigns that were created previously.
• Karl Shouler created “Monetate Rewind,” an undo button built into the UI that can undo changes made to multiple campaigns.
• Manuel Hakimian created a product test automation script that logs into Monetate’s user interface, creates a campaign, activates it, pauses it, and then deletes it.
• Mike Brewster and Geoff Johnson created EventChainer, a feature that allows users to create single-page experiences with multiple steps by linking together actions.
• Pat O’Brien created a “View As Role” option button in the user interface. When clicked, the button changes the user’s permissions locally so that they can view what account features another user has access to while remaining logged in under their own account.
• Dave Scarlatella solved two pain points for the operations team by building one tool that can automatically archive an account and another that can add and edit locations and phone numbers for accounts.
• James Minshall and Brett Statman created a “Select my IP” Chrome extension that allows users to select their IP address for testing campaigns to target only themselves.
• Eric Zrinsky and Christie Houser came up with some new screencasting techniques and additional functionality, including hotspot links and user-controlled closed captioning.
• Chris Finney built an action template creator that allows a user to build an action template quickly and easily for uploading into the user interface.
• Kris Molendyke had some fun with Monetate’s Git repository and connected comment history to a synthesizer so that repo commands play various sounds, including cowbell.