Monday, April 30, 2012


I made two promises related to the Cajun Code Fest that I don't think I'll be able to keep. You might remember me saying that if Betty and I won that I would promptly forget that we know any of you. And if you're one of my Facebook friends, you probably saw me say that I'd go streaking if we won.

Well friends, we won! And I've decided that I can't forget any of you. I mean, if you're still reading this after I posted about Manly Satsuma Trees or family portraits made from Play-Doh, then you must either really love me, or you just don't know how to stop receiving the emails that I conned you into signing up for.

I might still go streaking, though. It would be good exercise.

So in case you don't know what Cajun Code Fest is, it was a code-a-thon held in Lafayette with the purpose of coming up with a technical solution to help combat Childhood Obesity. We were provided with data sets that we could choose to use, but weren't told what to do. Our job was to figure out what to do. And wow, we have some incredibly creative people in Louisiana (and around the country) because we saw some truly amazing ideas. We even had a guy attend from Germany and a woman attend from Canada. That's pretty awesome!

To give you a sense of what the Cajun Code Fest was about, I strongly encourage you to read Sean Nolan's blog about it. Sean is the head of the HealthVault team at Microsoft. It was extremely awesome that he showed up, but even cooler to see that he wrote about my team's product. Rock on!

My team made a system to create and manage pick-up games. We decided to focus on the exercise component of being healthy instead of eating right, because we figured that there's already calorie info for every restaurant available out on the web somewhere. We also knew, courtesy of a team member, that 9 out of 10 obese children have two obese parents and 8 out of 10 obese kids have at least 1 obese parent. We figured that the kids weren't the ones buying the food, so why focus on that component?

I'd say more about it, but we're going to be presenting our application in Washington, DC, on June 5th and 6th, so I don't want to give away any more details lest one of our competitors tries to steal our idea.

Betty and I worked with some super-talented people. We were introduced by Ramesh Kolluru, the man (the myth! the legend!) who orchestrated the entire Cajun Code Fest. Ramesh saw that we didn't have a team, so he thought that a handful of software developers, some educators and physicians would make a nice team. He was right!

We kind of just punted when asked for a team name. Nobody offered any ideas, until someone decided on "BE CAMP VB" - which was the letter of all of our first names put into some kind of order. Except that the "E" was really for one of our team members named Jackie. Nobody knew her name because her email address started with "evaluations." It's probably better that way, because then our name would have been "BJ CAMP VB." It just doesn't have the same ring to it. Although it sounds like a fun camp!

The members of my team were as follows, in order of their appearance in our team name, "BE CAMP VB":

B: Betty Tanory. Betty's my wife (which you knew). She's very sweet and nice, until you tick her off. Read about how she single-handedly conquered Wells Fargo's PMI division here. I still get goose bumps thinking about it! She told me that she "was going to be the first B in our team name," and who was I to argue?

E: Jackie Rowe. Jackie works at Southwest Louisiana AHEC in Lafayette. Her email address starts with "Evaluations" and we didn't have her name on the email threads getting our team together, so she became the "E."

C: Chris Burriss, a project manager for InfiniEDGE Software in Prairieville. InfiniEDGE does some cool stuff - because they obviously have talented people! Chris kept us all in line and on target.

A: Adebanjo (Banjo) Oriade, an Assistant Professor of Physics at Bethany College in Kansas. Banjo is quite possibly the coolest Physics Professor you will ever meet!

M: Meredith Warner, from Womans' Surgical Specialty Group in Baton Rouge. Meredith is pretty awesome. She's a surgeon who knew the ins-and-outs of Childhood Obesity from work. She also presented our application to the judges. She made us justify all of our ideas and decisions, which helped form our product. She knocked it out of the park in every aspect of the competition! I wouldn't have wanted to compete against her.

P: Peter Molnar, an Associate Professor of Computer Science at Clark Atlanta University in Atlanta. I never saw Peter without a smile on his face. He was really a pleasure to work with.

V: Vamsee Alla, a physician who works for the Dept. of Veterans Affairs. Vamsee lives in Connecticut and came down for the event. So I now have a connection to send me some good maple syrup every fall. Bonus!

B: Bobby Tanory. I have purple and gold pants that I wear to LSU functions. Fear me!

In the 36 hours of the competition, I think my entire team combined for about 10 hours of sleep. I got 4 hours of sleep after leaving the facility at 3 am, but realized the next day that I was one of the lucky ones: some of my friends / coworkers / arch-enemies (for the duration of the competition) didn't sleep at all.

There were three groups of 6 or 7 teams at the event, and the top 2 teams moved on to the finals. Our team was the top team out of our group. When the winning team was announced, we knew we'd won because the announcer had to pause to consider the winning team's name. "BE CAMP VB" doesn't just roll off the tongue, you know!

Our group will be meeting again in Washington, DC, for the Health Data Initiative Forum III (aka, the Health Datapalooza) in early June. Wish us luck! And once again, if you know anyone else competing the Healthapalooza, please sabotage their computers for me!

1 comment:

Zach said...