Having fun in the pool and writing code at the IETF 102 hackathon

Experiences Aug 26, 2018

One thing hackers.mu does fantastically is organizing hackathons that are simply unforgettable. IETF 102 was my 3rd IETF hackathon with the team, and it has been no exception to the rule.

For 4 days, we stayed over in a nice baz (Creole slang for spot) in Pointe aux Piments. Initially I was thinking of coming over for only one day and doing the rest of the work from home - I had tuition during the weekend. Logan however, informed me that wouldn't be enough time for the task he'd planned for me. Convinced, I decided to use this marvelous opportunity as an excuse for escaping the classroom.

I packed my stuff on Thursday morning, met with Nigel at Port Louis and eventually Logan & Nitin moved us to the HQ. Upon arrival I was surprised to see new faces (by new, I mean peeps I'd not seen in previous hackathons) :

  • Loky Jagveer
  • Avishai Poorun
  • Nathan Sunil Mangar (a.k.a Chromico)
  • Veegish Ramdani
  • Jeremie Daniele

After talking a bit over some pizza, Logan explained that there would be two teams: One would work on upgrading open-source software to use TLS 1.3, and the team I was on would test inter-operability between TLS 1.3 implementations/libraries like OpenSSL, WolfSSL, etc...

The team at work

Okay, what did YOU do?

Well, to be honest, this time was a bit different in the aspect that our goals were constantly changing. What I wanted to do was compile all the different software we were testing beforehand and then provide that in a VM to everyone else so we don't have to install the same thing over and over again, then move on with the testing. Along the way, plans changed. I'd already compiled the software beforehand, so I sped things up for everyone else by acting as a helping hand. Some of the libraries that we had on the list wouldn't compile/ didn't support tls 1.3, I helped flag those.

What I think was the most productive output during this time for me was pair-programming with Muzaffar to track and fix a bug in httperf. Turns out, A certain variable being used to enter an if statement was never set to true. Because of this, httperf never used the ssl protocol version specified by the --ssl-protocol parameter. The feature didn't work ever since it was introduced back in 2015 😅. Logan was right when he said: "Always have Wireshark running.". I also realised the importance of unit tests - with them, this would've been caught way earlier.

So at the end of the day, what did you guys accomplish?

  • We abused the pool. We jumped into it even when the water was freezing cold and poured hot water to keep ourselves away from hypothermia.
  • Chromico somehow managed to lock himself in the bathroom - and was only saved because he brought his phone with him to listen to music. I don't know how but he had the incredible idea of using the removable cover of his phone to unlock the door.
  • We missed Codarren's cooking but had some great food nevertheless.
  • Jeremie was the one filling out most of the spreadsheet. Kudos to him!
  • We had interesting...talks
  • Chromico learned why you shouldn't mix boiling & ice-cold water together in a glass cup.

Just kidding. Nitin a.k.a tunnelix.com made a nice series of videos where each participant talks about their work. Go check it out here.

I leave you with this picture of the ever-growing team of participants:

RTL Top: Nigel, Nathan, Avishai, Logan, Loky, Jeremie. RTL Bottom: Rahul, MaskyS, Muzaffar, Veegish, Nitin


Kifah Meeran (MaskyS)

Hi, I'm Kifah, a creator from Mauritius. I read code, books, and people. I'm also passionate about cogsci, design, programming, and life in general. More about me on https://maskys.com

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