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Vax 2.0 Wrap-up

We’ve been busy cranking, but wanted to share notes on the output of our Product Team hack week last month.

Vax 2.0 was a huge success. A total of 22 projects came out of the 4 days we were all in DC! On Sunday, the last day of Vax, various members from other parts of Vox Media joined the product team for a fine show and tell.

Justin led a team that explored the creation of a custom Roku app with some of Vox Media’s video content. Blake worked on a project called Dataclips that pulled little pieces of data—like post with the most comments, in order to help all the teams easily gather data about different aspects of their stories.

Warren and team worked on Voxomograph, a data-driven dashboard visualizer that reflected certain activities across all of our verticals in a beautiful, abstract way that intersects technology and digital art.

Tate and team worked on Ocupado, a meeting room scheduler/monitor that you can mount onto the wall outside of a meeting room. The average cost of a nice commercial unit is around $1200, the team made a functional unit that linked up to our Vox google calendar with a small monitor and a rasberry pi for under $100.

Lovitt and Skip gave Beacon a healthy dose of new features, including high traffic alerts, and big event warnings when scheduling a deploy.

Dylan and Uy explored opportunities to give a digital longform piece longevity while making the piece feel more intimate, incorporating non-intrusive sounds, video and graphics.

Dan worked on a Sass framework for prototyping in Chorus. He also started developing an inventory managing system for keeping track of our QA devices, Polygon’s video game library, and The Verge’s device library.

Ben did some refactoring work on JavaScript in Chorus and successfully condensed Chrous code by some 2,400 lines!

Brian (a first time Vaxer) and Scott created a real-time features design tool that allows a features designer like Scott to work locally, to quickly develop and iterate on features instead of coding blindly and having to manually trigger a preview in the browser.

Trei, Ted and Josh worked on evolving our tentpole feature products with a concentration in sports features for SBNation.

Jose used a Rasberry Pi to create an audio/visual light alert system that turns different colors and makes sounds if something has gone wrong with our server. It was great to see a hardware project, and the alert gave everyone an appropriate sense of urgency.

Kelsey and her team created a beautiful onboarding website for our HR needs, soon to appear on It makes learning about Vox and our various tools and information portals easy and visually appealing.

Guillermo integrated a Chromecast into features, for an experimental but compelling second-screen viewing experience.

DZ worked on rethinking how snippets are created and integrated into our longform features design.

James and his team prototyped a beautiful print magazine with longform content from all Vox verticals, intended to work as a possible quarterly magazine.

Chris and his team created Gif Oracle, a function that integrates gifs into our commenting system, much as like how Campfirebot currently does in our internal chat rooms. And their work was deployed to production!

Jake designed and developed a hilarious JS game, featuring members of our team exploring a virtual office, squashing bugz, and consuming the all important food that keeps us going: tacos.

Tate concluded the presentations with a prototype of a potential commuter dashboard to surface bus time tables, delays in public transport, and the weather to folks in our east coast offices.

We took a break and ate chicken and kabobs, our last team dinner together. While we ate, the editorial leads from each vertical and also heads of sales and video spoke about 2014 plans and left time for Q&A, a valuable chance for vision sharing and transparency between teams.

A good hack was had by all.