Archive by Author

Hacks/Hackers Austin: Tyler Fisher, NPR Visuals

Tyler Fisher of NPR Visuals joined us on Nov. 11 at the Statesman to talk about his team and their election coverage. Tyler is a recent graduate from Northwestern University with a major in Journalism. But Tyler has directed his career toward Web development and news applications.

In his talk, Tyler provided background on his team and the history of their election coverage. He provided a good dose of tech for the developers in the crowd, but handled the “how” and “why” questions for those who were interested in concepts and strategy. He discussed the strategy around creating a separate Chromecast device application for elections, as well. His presentation can be found at

Tyler’s visit and snacks for this meetup were provided by Texas State University as part of the TexasMusicViz project that was funded by the Challenge Fund for Innovation in Journalism Education, funded by Online News Association, Excellence and Ethics in Journalism Foundation, the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Democracy Fund and the Rita Allen Foundation.

Stay tuned for our next event, the Austin Holiday Web Bash, where we’ll join up with other meetup groups across town. Thanks to everyone for attending.

Hacks/Hackers Austin: Google News

The Hacks/Hackers Austin chapter was pleased to host a meetup featuring Google News. On October 20, Stacie Chan, a community manager at Google News, dropped by the Statesman to discuss various tools that journalists and journalism students can use. She also talked about the role of the Google News platform and how publishers can participate. Chan was in town wearing led shades for Texas State University’s Mass Comm Week.

Hacks/Hackers Austin: Tableau for Mac

On July 28, Jewel Loree, senior data analyst for Tableau, demonstrated the new Tableau for Mac. Tableau continues to make their tools more accessible and available, so that all journalists can add data visualization to their storytelling. Participants were able to check out new features and ask questions.

Hacks Hackers Austin: Post SXSW/NICAR Meetup

The gang from the Hacks Hackers Austin chapter got together with the Online News Association local on March 31 to discuss trends that emerged from the National Institute for Computer-Assisted Reporting (NICAR) and SXSW Interactive conferences. And, it was just a great excuse to get everyone together for some social interaction. Meeting at the Butterfly Bar at the Vortex, the conversation included talk of data, sensors and wearables and technology skills needed to succeed in journalism.

Stay tuned for upcoming meetups in the near future!

Hacks/Hackers Austin: Code With Me Workshop

Hacks/Hackers Austin was one of several organizations that helped bring the Code With Me Workshop to the Texas capital city on May 18-19. Along with the local Online News Association and the Austin American-Statesman, with generous funding from the Knight-Mozilla Open News project and Texas State University, Code With Me provided of HTML, CSS and JavaScript skills for journalists. The workshop is the brainchild of Sisi Wei of Propublica and Tom Giratikanon of The New York Times. The Austin event was the fourth they have done across the country, after D.C., Miami and Portland.

Using a combination of presentations and exercises, Code With Me is able to introduce a broad range of material in a short time. Their unique approach pairs groups of 2 students with a professional mentor to help them through each lesson. Mentors came from Texas State University, Austin American-Statesman, Texas Tribune and more. The workshop culminated with lots of focused work time and discussion of projects and future plans. Students worked on photo slideshows, data visualizations, FAQ sites and interactive games.

Check out the site for the Austin Workshop, which includes presentations and exercises. Additional photos, provided by Pete Karl can be found on Flickr and from Cindy Royal on Thanks to Christian McDonald of the Statesman who provided the venue for this event. And a special thanks to Sisi and Tom for putting together such an engaging program.

Hacks/Hackers Austin: Tableau Public

On April 1, Hacks/Hackers ATX (in conjunction with ONA Austin) hosted Ben Jones and Jewell Loree of Tableau Public. The pair went through the comprehensive offering that Tableau provides for data visualization.

The meeting opened with a presentation from Harsh Patel of MakerSquare, a new organization providing Web development training in the Austin area.

Many thanks to Christian McDonald for arranging this event with refreshments sponsored by Tableau Public. And we are always grateful for the usage of space at The Austin American-Statesman.


Hacks/Hackers Austin: Innovation in Media

Tim Lott, vice president of disruptive innovation of Cox Media Group, met with Hacks/Hackers Austin in a joint meetup with Online News Association on Jan. 28 at the Statesman to discuss the activities of his team. They are working on TwelveApp, but are also pioneering in new ways to approach innovation. During the talk, Tim discussed the lean startup process, working to develop a minimum viable product (MVP), that can be implemented and tested quickly. This process relies on iterative development and quick prototyping. Tim was joined by other members of his team, Zach McGhee and Rocky Medure.

There were several questions. Rob Quigley of The University of Texas asked what students should be doing to stay on top of innovation. Tim said students should “read a lot and practice creative confidence.” He went on to explain that a focus on making things that allow people to communicate and solve problems will be critical.

Another question had to do with risk around the sharing of ideas, with concerns that an idea could be “stolen.” Medure said, “There is enormous value in sharing ideas. It synthesizes new ideas.” It is unlikely that someone has the passion, commitment and resources to execute your idea, but your likelihood of success is much greater if you talk to more people.

Refreshments were sponsored by the Austin American-Statesman. Stay tuned for details on a February Hackathon. We appreciate the time that Tim, Zach and Rocky spent with us!

Hacks/Hackers Austin: Intro to Programming for Communicators

Twenty-four members of Hacks/Hackers and the Online News Association community in Austin attended Cindy Royal’s workshop on Dec. 3 at Austin American-Statesman:  Intro to Programming for Communicators. This 2-hour workshop was meant for people with no experience, to introduce them to the most basic concepts of programming. Royal used JavaScript as the platform, but emphasized the concepts that were common amongst most programming languages.

Topics covered included:

  • Why do I need to learn to program?
  • Programming languages
  • The Document Object Model
  • Strings and numbers
  • What’s a variable?
  • Math and concatenation
  • Methods
  • Alerts and prompts
  • Booleans – true or false
  • If Statements and Loops
  • Functions
  • Arrays
  • Events
  • HTML integration – getElementById()

Check out the presentation above and the handout below.

Cindy Royal is an associate professor at Texas State University in San Marcos, just south of Austin. She has been teaching Web design and digital media concepts for more than a decade.

Hacks/Hackers ATX: Music and Racing

The September and October meetings of Hacks/Hackers ATX (in conjunction with the Online News Association local), focused on topics around important parts of Austin culture. In September, the group talked about Music Apps and Blogging, featuring Daniel Senyard and Shannon Delaney of Vivogig and Ian Morales and AJ Miranda of Red River Noise and Austin Vida. Vivogig is a photo-sharing app focused on concert experiences and Red River Noise and Austin Vida are music blogs covering important aspects of the diverse music scene. Maira Garcia, formerly of Austin American-Statesman but now at The New York Times, organized the panel and moderated.


The October meetup focused on Covering the Circuit of the Americas. This is a new event for Austin. Taking place Nov. 16-18, the international crowd that enjoys Formula One racing will descend on our city. It is expected to draw 200,000 race fans and onlookers, bigger than both SXSW and Austin City Limits Festival. Kevin and Kerri Olsen of the blog Austin Grand Prix and Dave Doolittle of Austin American-Statesman discussed their plans for covering the inaugural event.

Both talks were held at the Austin American-Statesman, with the Statesman sponsoring the September meetup and the UT School of Journalism sponsoring October.

Stay tuned for our last meetup of 2012, Intro to Programming for Communicators.

Hacks/Hackers Austin: Innovation at the Texas Tribune

On August 20, Hacks/Hackers ATX, along with the local ONA group, got together at the Texas Tribune to discuss innovation. Rodney Gibbs, Chief Innovation Officer, and developer Noah Seger discussed the progression of Texas Tribune since it’s inception in 2009. Over the past three years, the organization has developed some of the most popular and heavily visited data projects including the state government salaries database and most recently, the Public Schools Explorer. It was a great group of professionals and students, and a lively discussion ensued.

Refreshments were sponsored by longtime member and UT Ph.D. student Lewis Knight. Thanks Lewis!

We’re working on some interesting topics (music-themed and Formula 1) for the next couple meetings with ONA. Stayed tuned to the meetup site for more info.