Last week, 120 of the most acclaimed High School hackers gathered at Stack Exchange’s NYC office. No, they weren’t plotting to take over the world (although they probably could). They were gathering together to demo some of the amazing projects they work on in their spare time.

The meetup was put on by the “HS Hackers” Facebook group, which now boasts more than 1,800 members. We used a demo day format where groups of 3 – 4 hackers were given 5 minutes each to show off a recent project. In between groups we had some amazing guest speakers and delicious food (courtesy of MLH!).

Here’s a recap of three of my favorite hacks from the night.

Elementary OS Freya

Avi Romanoff, one of the founders of the HS Hackers group, demoed the upcoming version of Elementary OS – Freya.

As a member of the core team, Avi was able to provide insight into the humble beginnings and history of Elementary OS. His involvement in the project started in 9th grade because he was disinterested with his school work and wanted to build something useful that would help him study. Today, Elementary OS is a massive open source operating system with dozens of contributors. It’s amazing how simple side projects can evolve into much larger community efforts!


Avi demoed a ton of amazing features in Freya, but there was one that really blew my mind – CSS Customizable Application Windows. You read that correctly. You can use the same CSS you use in your browser to customize the way that applications on your computer look and feel. To demo this feature, Avi fired up a text editor and typed out some simple CSS keyframe animations. As soon as he saved the file, every window on the screen began morphing colors.

Download Elementary OS


As a developer, it’s often difficult to find specific examples of code when you’re learning a new language or framework. Bitshift, a project built by Severyn Kozak, Ben Kurtovic, and Benjamin Attal, aims to solve that problem.


Google is great at indexing web pages, but things aren’t so hot when it comes to indexing repositories and code. For starters, it doesn’t account for special characters, which are extremely prevalent in code snippets. There’s also no concept of languages or frameworks built into the search, so finding really specific examples is a challenge. To solve this, Severyn and his team indexed around 3000 code snippets from Github and created an interface for users to quickly find sample code for their projects.

For example, say I’m learning to use the parse function in Python, all I have to do is search “language:python” AND “function:parse” AND “author:Guido van Rossum”. Instantly I have the exact types of code snippets that I want to learn from. Bitshift was a really neat solution to a problem every developer has, and I’m excited to see Severyn and his team move on with the project.

Try it Now:


Have you ever tried to find parking in NYC? It’s not an easy task. Aaron Landy‘s hack, Parkour, makes it super simple and fast to find nearby parking spaces. The interface is a map with red and green highlighted areas, which represent restricted and permitted parking zones respectively.

The project was built using publicly available data silos released by the NYC government. Using this data, Aaron foresees some really cool opportunities like optimizing your driving route to search for parking.

The thing that I really enjoyed about Aaron’s project was the discussion that ensued. There were some really amazing ideas about where to take the project next and how to leverage it into potential businesses. This collaboration is the essence of the HS Hackers group and I want to see even more of it in the future. Stay tuned for our next meetup!

View the Source:

One Response