TheCoffeeLog, My Rails Rumble App

Posted 29 August 2009 under , , ,

Last weekend, I participated in the Rails Rumble, a 48-hour web application creation competition (and thus ends the rhyming portion of today’s entry) for the second year in a row. This year, my teammates and I wanted to build something simple, clean, and focused. In response to the stumbling blocks of many of last year’s attempts, we avoided requiring a large user base in order for our app to be useful and bypassed the traditional signup system. We decided on a simple feed reader that uses email as its primary interface. Users send the URLs they want to follow to a designated email address, and we send them their updates every morning. The app lives (and will continue to live) at

Participating in the Rumble this year was an incredible experience. I especially enjoyed getting the chance to work with former colleagues and building something that I hope will have value well beyond the competition. Major thanks to Mark and Clinton for their work streamlining the application and server setup processes.

Judging the Judging

For reasons I don’t quite grasp, the organizers decided to break the judging process into two phases for this year’s competition. All completed apps were to be graded by four members of the “Expert Panel,” after which the top twenty or so apps would go on to public voting. Our application only received three scores; our first two judges rated us highly, while the third gave us low marks across the board without leaving any commentary as to why.

Our application was certainly modest in scope compared to some of the other entries, so I didn’t expect us to win any prizes, but I’m frustrated that the same judge gave similarly low marks to Append — an app my friends made that I thought really had a chance at a top spot — again, without leaving any commentary or even signing up. I hope they continue to refine the judging process for next year; I think the expert panel should either be required to comment in order to leave scores or removed from the competition altogether.

About Me

I’m the Development Director at Viget in Durham, North Carolina. I’m also an avid reader, traveler, cyclist, musician, coffee fiend, and friend of birds.