Best Hack Contest Results from MacHack '98TM

PRESS RELEASE -- For Immediate Release (6/30/98)

For more information:
    More information will be available over the course of the next
    few days at

    For more historical background on the Hack Contest, see this backgrounder.

The MacHax(tm) Group announces the results from the
Twelfth Annual Best Hack Contest at MacHack '98.

In its thirteenth year, MacHack convened one minute after midnight on June 20 for another solid 72 hours of hacking, networking, and other worthy endeavors (often with little or no sleep). The conference opened at midnight with a keynote by Chris Espinosa, whose 21 year career at Apple started when he was 14. Very little hacking was observed during Chris' three hour talk, but it was observed shortly afterwards, and continued even past midnight two nights later as the Hack Show began.

Interesting, unusual, unexpected, and often entertaining software written by MacHack attendees are shown by their authors, usually over the course of several hours. This year's Hack Show lasted about four hours.

After each show, the contest sponsors stay up the rest of the night to put together a ballot for voting a few hours later at lunch. After tabulation and a quick trip to Duke's Hardware for prizes, awards are handed out at an awards ceremony. This year's ballot listed dozens of hacks.

A number of hacks drew special mention, including Fire-IR, Switcher 98 (an updated version of Andy Hertzfeld's original Switcher), Strategy Du Jour, They Killed Kenny, iMacOS, Mozetta, and Where've you been lately?

This year we enjoyed the hacking participation of three ten-year-olds, all of whom have four-letter first names.

Extremely popular, and winning a coveted brick from Duke's, was BrickPoint. This Macsbug extension allows one to play BrickOut while in Apple's low-level debugger. No wonder software deadlines slip! BrickPoint was written by Andy Bachorski and Nat McCully.

Now to the awards...

Fifth place went to Spotlight Hack. This hack creates a "hole" in the Finder's windows so you can see the desktop and icons that are on it. The hole is a circle that moves with the mouse. It was written by David Kamholz.

Two hacks tied for third. One was 180 Years of Hack by P.D. Magnus. This was P.D.'s first MacHack. P.D. picked up on a printing error and ran with it. Each of this year's MacHack attendees received a commemorative mug at registration. Fortuitously, the mugs read "MacHack 1818-1998." P.D.'s hack, "180 Years of Hack", comes as a set of web pages celebrating (with doctored photographs and woodcuts) what MacHack and the Best Hack Contest looked like over the span of the last couple of centuries.

Also taking third place was PhaseShift by Ed Wynne and Matt Slot. Ed and Matt gave some popular screen saver patterns a new twist by running them on the desktop all of the time instead of across the whole screen when your machine is idle. PhaseShift also won a special award for Best Color Hack.

Taking second place was OFPong by Marcus Jager and Quinn "The Eskimo!". OFPong is an implementation of the classic "Pong" game, written entirely in Open Firmware, the Macintosh boot-strap environment. As your machine is booting you can take a break for a quick game and then continue booting up.

The title of Best Hack and the coveted Victor A-Trap trophy went to asciiMac, the hands-down favorite hack. Written by a team of first-time MacHackers, Alexandra Ellwood and Miro Jurisic's hack wowwed and amazed the late night crowd. This retro-hack renders the entire screen in ASCII art in real time. The crowd thrilled to demonstrations of the hack's artistic prowess as it ASCII-converted running QuickTime movies and Windows 95 under PC emulation.

Some of the previous winners include NetBunny, RearWindow, VideoBeep, ColorFinder, IRMan, Oscar the Grouch, BillBoot, Practical Joke Protocol, and Fez. Several of these have gone on to become products, features in products, or the targets of threats from various large organizations over things like trademark or copyright infringement.

Many of the hacks will be on the MacHack '98 conference CD at a later date. For more information on the CD and the MacHack conference, please contact or visit For more information on the Best Hack contest, please attend next year's conference :-)

The MacHax Group has been a purveyor of high techology products and productions since 1985, and produces the Best Hack Contest each year in conjunction with the MacHack Conference.

Expotech is a conference management company, and produces the MacHack conference each year.

Macintosh, Mac, QuickTime, and Apple are trademarks of Apple Computer, Inc.
MacHax is a trademark of The MacHax Group.
MacHack is a trademark of Expotech, Inc.
The MacHax Group is not affiliated with Expotech, although we've been having fun together for years. Other trademarks belong to those who own them, including, most likely, Pong, Windows 95, and Victor.
Text from the 98 Hack Ballot

In ballot order:

Place Votes
(3) [] 180 Years of Hack by P.D. Magnus: Excepts from the conference's long, proud history (Youth Hack)
[] COS Emulator by Peter Abeles (most) & Sean Harper (a little bit): Ever hear of COS ( We have written a COS emulator for the MacOS! (Youth Hack)
[] Kiki's Apples by Claire Plouff: Apple icons fly around the finder. (Youth Hack)
[] NetBagels by Mark Johns and Charles M-T: NetBagels is supposed to be a NetBunny type hack. You can make several copies of the character, Mr Bagelbutt, and send them dancing across monitors of computers on your Appletalk network. (Youth Hack)
[] NewtonJoker 2 by Avi Drissman: NewtonJoker is an open, extendable humor architecture on the Newton. (Youth Hack)
[] They Killed Kenny by Andy Furnas & Alex Michev w/Help from John Penn & Cal Simone & Dick Furnas & Chris Espinosa: We are both 10 years old. Our hack is only about South Park. (Youth Hack)
[] 3D No 'doz II by Glenn L. Austin: Demonstrates why the MacOS is better than the "other" OS.
[] AETEGizmo by Jonathan 'Wolf' Rentzsch: AppleEvents for mortals
[] ALT_F4 by Jay Weiss: Use Alt-F4 to quit application.
(1) [] asciiMac by Alexandra Ellwood, Miro Jurisic: Dynamically renders the entire screen as ASCII art
[] BrickPoint by Andy Bachorski & Nat McCully: Playes Brickout inside Macsbug via a dcmd
[] Fire-IR by Eric Slosser: Fire-IR speeds up IR transfers 20x and can set paper on fire.
[] Gestalt & Battery by Allon Stern, Dave Kamholz, Jon Gotow: Activates the battery-related portion of the power manager, and interfaces to a UPS via the serial port.
[] iMacOS by Maf Vosurgh: An app which has strange translucent menus reminicent of the iMac.
[] Interim Executive Decision by Mike Webb & Marshall Vale: Allows YA-Apple CEO to disable and enable technologies instantly through Gestalt.
[] jobs by Jonathan 'Wolf' Rentzsch: kills every process except the Finder
[] Lumberhack by Vikki Appleton: I'm a Lumberhack - I'm okay.
[] mhTV by Maynard Handley: QuickTime video digitizing in apps.
[] Mozetta by Rob Churchill, Mike Pinkerton, & Eric Shapiro: A modification of Mozilla that automatically translates web pages from one language to another.
(2) [] OFPong by Marcus Jager & Quinn "The Eskimo!": OFPong is an implementation of the classic "Pong" game, written entirely in Open Firmware, the Macintosh boot-strap environment.
[] PalmGray by David Fedor: Lets you create/edit gray icons on a Palm device
[] PCA Icon Arranger by Phillippe Casgrain: This combination AppleScript/Application uses a standard Principal Components Analysis algorithm to re-arrange (plot, really) your icons in a scientifically accurate fashion
(3) [] PhaseShift by Ed Wynne & Matt Slot: Non-modal screen saver effects in the desktop background.
[] Resistance is NOT Futile by Gerry Felipe, Karen Hodnicki, Mike Hodnicki, Mike Hodnicki II & Robert McAndrew: QuickTime Video
[] Rhapsody Process Viewer by Allen Prescott: GUI shell around UNIX ps command
[] Scared Buttons by Jerome Seydoux: buttons that are scared when the mouse moves near
[] Shomi Contextual Menu by Maf Vosburgh: A contextual menu plugin that helps you browes images and movies.
[] SloppyWindows by Michael Rutman: clicking outside the window protection.
[] SouthScripped by Cal Simone & Olof Hellman: Compiles AppleScript into the All-SouthPark dialect.
[] Spell It - Don't Yell It! by Eric Long: "Spell It - Don't Yell It!" lets you write messages on the desktop using available icons from the desktop.
(5) [] Spotlight Hack by David Kamholz: Lets you see the desktop under Finder Windows.
[] Stategy Du Jour by Karl Kraft: Interactive Apple Strategy
[] Switcher 98 by Mike Neil and Leonard Rosenthol: A modern version of an old classic.
[] The Crash Manager by Jude Giampaulo: Ooooops!
[] Transport-Independent Speech Recognition by Chris Espinosa: A demonstration of Speech Recognition using various long distance transports.
[] Where've you been lately? by Eric Traut & Darin Adler: View recently-executed PowerPC code (in disassembled form) in your desktop.
[] Y2K by Simon Fraser, Jon Kalb, John McMullen: Masquerades as a "fix for the "y2k problem". Actually (this is the "secret surprise") it changes the drawing behavior of certain randomly chosen windows.
Not on the ballot:
[] Lego Mac
[] Talking Keyboard
[] Wacky Windows

All contents copyright 1998 by The MacHax Group.