By Katie Hunter •

Learning a Hack or Two on Parallax Hack Day

They say the only thing that’s constant is change and nowhere is this truer than in the land we inhabit; the land of the ones and the zeroes, the constantly evolving technology landscape.

At Parallax, we dedicate a day each quarter to what we know and refer to as a Hack Day. A day for the whole team to step away from their current projects and delve into something they want to learn more about. Whether work-related or something completely off-topic, it’s a time to add a few more tricks to your skillset.

We’ve had some epic experiments come out of hack days, Facebook Live comment-powered remote-control cars, virtual reality games and unlocking doors from our phones. And, it’s safe to say, several members of the team have shown off their talents in other areas that we knew nothing about (sometimes, neither did they). That’s what you call a win!

Why do we do it?

It’s simple, really. There’s never a bad time to improve your knowledge. We spend most of our time at work, learning new things for our specific role, but we don’t often have the opportunity to look into something outside of our scope. We believe everyone should continue learning in whatever field they want, and this should not only be encouraged but rewarded, too.

At the end of Hack Day, we put together a big presentation deck so the whole team can show off what they’ve been working on and the discoveries they’ve made.

What did we get up to?

Here are just a few of the projects that the Parallax team dived into on our last Hack Day:

Personalising a Parallax Integration

Luke took the opportunity to look into one of the internal tools we use daily. We’ve integrated our time tracking system, Harvest, with our internal communications system, Slack. As with anything, a couple of bugs have appeared over time and they were bugging Luke enough to have a gander!

As well as fixing some of the issues, Luke also added some personalised emoji’s, which sync up with tasks on Harvest, meaning the whole team can now quickly see when someone is on holiday, poorly or away from their desk.

Luke also successfully solved the issue of another team member appearing as if they’re on holiday… for the last year and a half! Haha. Nice work, Luke!

AfterEffects – Learning Animations

Liv used the opportunity to upskill in AfterEffects, an Adobe Video Software that she hadn’t had much experience in but wanted to know more about.

Liv had a look into:

  • Different types of keyframes
  • Speed Graphs
  • Shape modifiers
  • Text animation
  • Effects and building a gradient

The results were pretty special – Liv ended up with a smooth clock animation, some cool text animations and a funky gradient with Radial/Directional Blur.

Delving into the world of 3D CSS

Joe spent the day looking into React + CSS 3D with the aim of making it easier to create complex 3D objects without learning 3D programming.

Joe started with a cube component moving its way around a 2D room and ended up with a complex 3D cat, moving each limb and wandering around the screen – some pretty powerful 3D movement, all in a days work!

Blog writing

Katie turned her hand to a bit of content creation; blog writing. Katie wrote a three pager about health and well-being. Blog writing isn’t usually a part of Katie’s job role, so to be able to give this a go and add some new skills to the bank is a great win!

The blog is now live on our website, here, which you can have a read of.

Another hack day over and some excellent new skills learned throughout the team. We look forward to our next one and can’t wait to unearth more of the teams’ talents in a matter of 8 hours!

Great work, team.