RealTime IT News

Yahoo Gets Hacked And Likes It

More than 250 hackers descended on Yahoo's Sunnyvale, Calif., headquarters last Friday, but in this case, they were welcomed by the management.

The event was the first of what the company hopes will be many Yahoo Hack Days. Programmers came from all across the U.S. for a chance to pick the brains of Yahoo's developers, learn its APIs  and take part in a development contest.

The company started the day with the introduction of a SOAP  and JSON-RPC API, which will allow a developer to build applications that use a Yahoo  account log-in as the method of sign on.

This API will provide complete access to Yahoo Mail, so it's possible to program an application that takes full advantage of all of the features of Yahoo Mail, from any device.

The Hack Day event was designed to offer immediate interaction between Yahoo and programmers who want to use its APIs.

"For us, traditionally we post APIs on our Web site and get feedback over e-mail or in our forums. This gave instant feedback to the developers working with the APIs," Chad Dickerson, director of the Yahoo developer network told internetnews.com.

Alternative rock musician Beck provided a little entertainment. From there, the company kicked off a 24 hour contest to see which team could make the most innovative use of Yahoo's APIs.

One day later, the boys got quite a surprise. The judges, which included co-founder David Filo, chose a trio of women as the winners. Diana Eng, Emily Albinski and Audrey Roy, who flew in from New York, were declared the overall winner for their project.

The winning project, called Blogging In Motion, combined a Nokia camera phone, a handbag and a pedometer. Every 100 steps, the camera took a picture and uploaded the picture to Flickr, Yahoo's photo hosting service.

"That was really cool," said Dickerson, one of the judges. The winners were traveling back home and not immediately available for comment.

In total, 54 demos were produced in that 24-hour period, he said, although some people did get a jump on the project. "They weren't starting completely from scratch, some brought things they were working on," said Dickerson.

The runner-up turned a television into a dumb terminal that displayed RSS feeds. Instead of receiving a cable TV signal, the feed came through an IP connection. One of the stranger ones Dickerson said he saw was an application that randomly grabbed photos off Flickr and printed them out on a Sharp multifunction printer.

"I hope [the participants] will continue to develop and release these applications on their sites," said Dickerson. "It wasn't about us releasing new products on our sites, it was about seeing what third-party developers would do with them."

Yahoo hasn't decided when it will do another Hack Day, but it does plan on doing another one in the future. "My e-mail box is full of people asking us to do it again," said Dickerson."