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30 Of The Coolest Hacks From Hack Week Winter 2016

Last week, BuzzFeed’s tech team hacked on projects (48 in total!) from all corners of the United States and across the world. We had a great time and produced some awesome work!

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1. Humans of BuzzFeed

Humans Of BuzzFeed is a way for BuzzFeed employees to learn a little bit more about each other's rich lives and the interesting stories we have to tell. The spent the week interviewing and photographing employees. Check it out here!

Team: Sabrina Majeed, Hammed Kohistani, Rituja Donadkar, Tanya Carroll, Walter Menendez, and Brandon O'Dell.

2. Video Binge

Video Binge is a Netflix-inspired video bingeing web application. The idea is to load the app, pick a channel and just let it play. The application pulls "channels" and videos from the Hive API

Team: Harry Green, Emily Brick, Ruslan Piliuta (sp?) , Patrick Carey

3. One Search

The two goals for this project were to improve the BuzzFeed search experience by making all of our posts and assets searchable using the Hive API, as well as adding a layer of discovery with an engaging drop down menu that suggests content based on your search. The results page lets you filter results by type, which includes articles, images, GIFs, videos, and authors. The future of One Search also includes an advanced search feature, that lets you drill down even further.

Team: Allison Chefec, Salim Rekaibi, Edgar Sanchez, Jesse Shapins, Ovi Stateina, Yeny Santoso, Ted Andricos

Award Winner: Best Transformation Of An Old Product

4. Flux Capacitor

View this video on YouTube

Flux Capacitor is a Webapp post share event visualization from our PixieDust data stream. It's an interactive data visualization of the BuzzFeed users sharing BuzzFeed content. The intent is to surface the real-time sharing events so we can optimize our content for sharing and translation. Using Flux Capacitor any of our staff can see in real-time where sharing is occurring and what posts are being shared.

Artyom Neustroev - Front End Developer
Dan Meruelo - SysOps
Walter Menendez - Data Engineer

Award Winner: Most Likely to Get Flagged By The NSA


5. BuzzFeed News Mobile

View this video on YouTube

BuzzFeed News is already a successful app for both iOS and Android carefully curated by a talented team of news editors. Currently, web users don't have access to that same designed and curated news stream. My Hack Week project was to build a web facing, mobile-first platform for the BuzzFeed News app. I wanted to show that design and development for a BuzzFeed News mobile website can be done with minimal new investment while also achieving many of the same product features as in the apps including native notifications and offline caching.

Team: Mark Shuster

6. Speedy Meter

Speedy meter is a component within the CMS that displays post performance metrics after save/publish. It's intended to give feedback to the editor to help inform content optimization.

Its built using Tornado Web Server and PhantomJS to create an API that returns a HAR (HTTTP Archive) file for a provided URL. Once the post is saved in the CMS we send that URL to the API and get a HAR file as a response.

We then analyze the data and display a relative score to the user.

Hacked by Nick Hedberg and Benjamin Stockwell.

8. BF Hack Week Tech Takeover on Snapchat

View this video on YouTube

For BF Hack Week Tech Takeover on Snapchat, we wanted to show our snapchat audience that BuzzFeed is not only a media company, but a tech company as well. We wanted to get our users excited about the awesome products that we build and give them a backstage view of what it's like to work in tech. We hope to have inspired some young minds to think about this as a possible career path.

Team: Alp Ozcelik & Arielle Benedek

Award Winner: Most Likely to Go Viral


9. Bulletin

Bulletin is an internal Craigslist for BuzzFeed. When people want to sell something (concert tickets, furniture, an apartment sublet), they usually e-mail the entire company, which leads to people replying all and it becomes a huge thread. Bulletin allows people to post listings of items they would like to sell. People can go on to browse what is available and contact the person directly if they are interested in buying the item.

Team: Adrienne Fishman and Sabrina Majeed

10. Erlang Fun()

I decided to teach myself the programming language Erlang. Its quite different from what I normally use at BuzzFeed, Python. It's a functional programming language designed for concurrency and availability. One of the coolest features is that you can "hot swap" code.

Team: Andrew Yang

11. Spatial Predictions With BuzzFeed Pageviews

I explored the question "where should BuzzFeed translate next?" from a spatial statistics perspective. Using ordinary kriging on pageviews for one of our popular articles, I found that we could predict, to some degree, where the post would next blow up, and therefore which language we should translate to. For example, for this article, my model suggests that we should translate to Italian German next.

Check it out here.

Team: Anita Mehrotra

12. BuzzFeedTV

We wanted to use the new Apple TV apps platform to create the best experience for watching BuzzFeed Videos. We used the work done on the upcoming BuzzFeed Video iPhone app and created an new user experience tailored to a big screen. The success of this project was also a validation of our app architecture on the Video App that is built

out of reusable components and not tied to a particular user interaction model. We are proud of what we’ve built and feel like it is near App Store ready.


iOS devs:
Joshua Walker
Sebastian Celis
Pete Walters
Ryan Inman

Hammed Kohistani

Award Winner: Most Likely to Get Integrated Into Production


13. Neural Nets

We created an interactive title optimizer that translates post titles into "clickier" ones. We used the neural networks library Tensor Flow, as well as our historical title and click-through-rate data.

Team: Laurence Giglio, Peter Karp, Adam Kelleher, Rebekka Roerden, Lucy Wang

Award Winner: Most Interesting Implementation of New Technology

14. Sage

Data source abstraction layer focused on security, auditing and sharing through a single service. Built on AWS Lambda, the focus of Sage is on providing a low cost service where developers can get more/faster access to staging/qa/production data sources in a monitored/controlled environment.

Sage advice from this project? Never present at hack week in the form of a silent film...

Team: Steven Gemmen, Raymond Wong

15. Elmventory - Building a BF Inventory Management Tool with Elm

Elm is a strongly-typed functional programming language that compiles to JavaScript and can therefore be used for front-end development.

We wanted to do some coding with the new language Elm. We had two developers and a product manager on the team. Elm is fairly well documented but we had to quickly getting our heads around the functional programming paradigm. We made it through the tutorials and began work on Elmventory, an inventory management tool for BuzzFeed products.

Team: Peter K, Ricardo S and Dot G.

16. BetaMax

The BetaMax team created an application that converts listicles and articles into videos. The application uses assets from a selected piece of BuzzFeed original content, and arranges them into a customizable video template. A user can remove, rearrange, or modify each section of the video via text overlay, duration, transition, etc., and then can save and convert to a playable video.

Team: Chuck Lee, Jon Morehouse, Erick Yellot, Gerard Orozco, Francisco Albarran, Jen Greenwood, Sean Gilbertson

Award Winner: Design Most Likely To Get Approved By CJ


17. Gamechangers

The goal of the Gamechangers project was to build responsive canvas games in pure Javascript. BuzzFeed works to create native advertising for a range of brand partners, and this project was meant to show that canvas games are an unexplored format for brand advertising. We worked to create a basic platformer game that could have interchangeable assets. The assets can be customized based on the brand partner, and we created six different prototypes for various brands.

The result is a fun, engaging and lightweight brand experience that works equally well on mobile and desktop. It can be easily shared via url or embedded into a page, and dev time start to finish for all six games only took a week!

Team: Jeff Revesz, Andrew Metersky, Polina Giralt, Greg McLeod, Agustina Varela, Greg Thompson Jr., Rituja Donadkar, Alp Ozcelik, Lindsey Maratta and Swara Kantaria

Winner of the Most Likely to Earn BuzzFeed A Bunch of $$$$ award!

18. Pensieve

Implements a neural network embedding to automatically tag images and videos that get uploaded into the Buzzfeed CMS so we can compare them for similarity, implement topic searches, and implement recommendations based on topics better in our posts.

Team: Andrew Kellher, Adam Kelleher, Fred Diego

19. Error Scarer

Catches javascript errors our teams experience in and sends them into a database so we can debug them more easily.

Team: Andrew, Chris K, Laurence, Nelsen, Sean

20. BuzZonic

An application that turned into a musical instrument utilizing the Web Audio API, and auto-generated a song based on the content. We weren't able to able to completely finish the project, but we were able to at least make some noise.

Team: Dominic Hanzely, Andrea Handevidt


21. Fλvicons

Fλvicons is a Massively Multiplayer Online Game (MMOG) built to run on an exciting platform on Amazon’s Cloud knows as AWS Lambda. AWS Lambda lets you run code without provisioning or managing servers. You pay only for the compute time you consume on a per-invocation-basis. With Lambda, you can run code for virtually any type of application or backend service with zero administration.

Team: Dang Vang, Nick Bauman, Raymond Wong, Nate O’Brien, Benjamin Stockwell, Elizabeth Wehner, Dominic Hanzely, Curtis Thompson

22. Teach Karmabot To Learn

During Hack Week we updated karmabot so it can remember things (`?learn @cap super cool guy`) and recall things (`?cap` => `super cool guy`). Karmabot can learn multiple things about the same subject, and will recall one definition randomly when asked.

Karmabot-next (the next version of karmabot, from the future) can now create GitHub gists on demand, search JIRA, list cards in JIRA sprints, and create cards in JIRA. These features are still in testing and will be released in the future.

Team: Sean Gilbertson, Cap Watkins

23. Hogwarts

Hogwarts is an Instagram-inspired feed of the latest stuff in Hive — the place where all BuzzFeed content lives. You can like or comment on each piece providing valuable feedback and helping editors discover the best content across all of our teams.

Team: Tom Harman, Clém Huyghebaert, Sam Balinghasay, Kevin Merritt, John Cleveley, Lyubomyr Rudko, Khrystyna Ivanchuk, Radyslav Liaskovskyi, Borys Usov, Volodymyr Romaniuk, Volodymyr Bezkostnyi

Award Winner: Team Most Likely To Beat The Avengers In A Duel

24. Dynamic Native App Install Ads

We made a dynamic ad for getting people to download our mobile apps. The ad pulls in our top trending article and encourages readers to check out that article in the app. Using a service called branch, we then immediately open that article automatically after someone installs the app.

Team: Wolasi Konu, Amir Shaikh, Igor Demo, Will Kalish


25. BuzzFeed Data Guide

The goal of this project was to create a destination to share knowledge and insights about our content performance, platform workings, metrics and tools. People throughout the company can go to our Data Guide to look up the latest research on how our content is performing as well as find definitions for our internal metrics. It's meant to make data and tools more easily accessible and understandable!

Team: Jane, Lyle, Arun, John, Ailin

26. Kookabura

Content creators often look at comments on videos and posts one-by-one or as simple ngram counts on a per-video or per-post basis, all to help guide their creative process and iterate. Kookaburra lets users see what are trending words and phrases in comments over time and across all content.

Team: Ben Weinryb Grohsgal, Matt Semanyshyn, Jacqueline Yue, Fred Diego

27. Captionary

Captionary is a real-time multiplayer web game where players submit captions for a random image. After all the captions are submitted, one player gets to choose his or her favorite. Whoever writes the best caption each round gets a point!

Team: Phil Olson

28. Honey - Hive discovery app for iOS

Honey is intended as a tool that helps to expose the vast amount of content available though BuzzFeed's Hive API. Through a simple and familiar interface, content and media can be quickly scanned and then inspected in greater detail. Hopping between tags, creator, and content type gives the user an interesting and up-to-the-minute finger on the pulse of the deluge of media generated throughout BuzzFeed.

Team: Joseph Bergen


29. Show Your Work: A Hack Week Podcast

Show Your Work is BuzzFeed Tech's first internal podcast.

We hosted a series of interviews with some of our teammates across BuzzFeed Tech. We edited and produced four episode and released the podcast internally to our teammates.

Hosted and Produced by Chris Tindal and Elaine Dunlap

Award Winner: Most Likely To Make People Laugh

30. BF Kiddies

New app using existing BuzzFeed Videos and Posts content targeted for kids under 5. We also introduced a new StoryBoard format (with sound!)

Team: Tara Wilson, Lindsey Maratta, Phil Wilson, Swati Vauthrin, Kseniia Komarchuk and our friends from BuzzFeed Parents Mike Spohr and Morgan Shanahan

Winner: Most Likely To Appear on Shark Tank