How Stuff Gets Made: BitTorrent’s December Hackathon

On Monday, we’ll begin another round of our bi-monthly Palooza (BitTorrent’s two day hackathon). So, we decided to take some time to reflect on the last one we had. If you’ve been keeping up with us, you already know that Palooza is the foundation to BitTorrent’s bottom-up innovation. It’s where BitTorrent Sync and BitTorrent Chat got their start. Good ideas built and presented during internal hackathons can graduate to our labs.

Recently, we let you guys know that BitTorrent Paloozas have changed: the introduction of 20% time to company policy makes it possible for teams to tackle projects larger than would be possible during a two day hackathon. My colleague Dave Hansen and I spent Fridays leading up to the Palooza to whiteboard ideas.

So, here’s a recap of what got made in December, when the company dedicated 20% time, two full days, and encouraged anyone and everyone in the company to work on a new product, a new feature, or a new idea.


The Projects We Presented

SyncSafe– This is an idea to host BitTorrent Sync service using the new “Encryption Secret” with a Bitcoin payment option. The read-only Encryption Secret provisions a peer with an encrypted version of a user’s folder. This would allow for a private, always-on peer in the cloud.

POP/SMTP Server using Sync for Transport – This idea is to develop a POP/SMTP server to deliver email using BitTorrent Sync

Secure DHT Bootstrapper – This is the work of Arvid Norberg. He improved the security of the DHT bootstrap server by enforcing node IDs to be based on a peer’s external IP address. This improves the security of the DHT by making Sybil attacks more difficult.

BitBook – This is an internal company directory with quiz and meme generator functionality. The quiz presents a random coworker’s face with multiple choice options to help learn their name.

The winner of this Palooza by just three votes was SyncSafe. But, projects that don’t win can sometimes still find a life. The Secure DHT Bootstrapper is already out in the wild and BitBook is live internally.

Until next time,

Written by: Richard

Richard Brooks is a Quality Assurance Engineer of Consumer Electronics at BitTorrent. His second desk is the Adams Family pinball machine in the game room.

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