Hacksoton is on 14th April in Southampton.

It’s an amazing event that’s great fun regardless of how productive you are. However, with a bit of a plan there’s so much you can gain from our little event, here are five suggestions of what to tackle…

1 Learn React*

*Or any other thing you’ve been meaning to look at

At hacksoton, you’ll have up to eight hours of near-uninterrupted time to get to grips with something new. You could spend your first two hours watching video tutorials to grasp the basics, two more following practical exercises to get your dev setup right and become familiar with fundamentals. Then you’re left with the afternoon to build on what you’ve learned. Perhaps create a simple example project or dive into an existing open source project and make your own contributions. What’s more, you’ll have access to a huge talent pool with a variety of skills so can almost certainly find someone to help with any problems or questions.

Here’s a bunch of free video resources to get started with react.

This could lead to a great show and tell at the end of the day where you can share where you started, what you learned and show off anything you built. Highlighting what you liked and disliked, any gotchas you can help others avoid and what you think of the tech after a day-long deep dive.

2 Build a website

Whether you want to use a no-code solution such as Squarespace, install a CMS such as WordPress or build something from scratch, hacksoton offers enough time and support for you to head home with at least the foundations of a new website in place.

Maybe it’s the start of a new business venture, an online portfolio/CV, an opinion blog or a hobby site to share your adventures in flower arranging. You’ll have lots of support available and a room full of potential users for feedback.

To turn up in the morning with just an idea yet to be able to show off a brand new website in the show and tell at the end of the day is a great achievement.

3 Become a code editor Pro

Development tools offer lots of features and workflows and are always evolving. Most of us, from juniors to industry vets are often too busy using the features we know to find the time to expand our knowledge.

Hacksoton is a great time to do some reading, watching and playing with your dev toolkit to see what new superpowers you can unlock. Speed up your workflow by learning more keyboard shortcuts, discover and experiment with new plugins or even make your own to eliminate that awkward process you always get wrong.

Doing a demonstration of your new found skills in the show and tell is a great way to share your knowledge gained with the other attendees.

Check out some Visual Studio Code tips and tricks.

4 Do some market research

If you’ve been thinking of a business venture or project idea but aren’t too sure if it’s right for you. Market research can be a great way to help cement your ideas. Not only are you in a highly productive environment for doing some online research but you’ve got a room full of peers you could pose questions to and seek out ideas from.

The show and tell is a great opportunity to summarise your findings and do some last-minute show-of-hands surveying of the room.

5 Hack some hardware

Many of us were enamoured by the Raspberry Pi, Arduino and various other accessible hardware innovations. But it’s probably fair to say a lot of these devices have been sat gathering dust since their impulse purchase or at least it’s been a while since they were last experimented with. Hacksoton is the perfect chance to dust it off, update your firmware and see what the latest is in the world of hardware hacking.

Whether you manage to launch a digital snapshot of your consciousness into outer space or simply end up with a sole, blinking LED you will be well applauded for sharing your efforts.

Here’s a beginner’s guide for Rapsberry Pi by lifehacker.

Show and tell

presenting in hacksoton show and tell
@whatjackhasmade and @benjoy93 presenting their show-n-tell at their first hacksoton #prouddad

As you probably can tell, I’m a huge proponent of participating in the show and tell at Hacksoton (or any other hack/jam event). I know many people are hesitant to do so, or feel they have to share some insanely good project to warrant it, but sharing even the simplest achievement/learning is hugely valuable. Both for your own personal development and to help others who are also just starting out. Even a complete failure of a day offers valuable lessons to share (and can often make for an entertaining story) and Hacksoton is one of the nicest, safest spaces to do it in.

So grab a ticket, learn/make something, get up and earn your applause.

Sign up to Hacksoton (it’s free!).