Recently, Yahoo! held its quarterly “Hack Day” at our Sunnyvale, CA headquarters. At Hack Days, Yahoos from different areas of the company come together to display their ideas for product innovations. Sometimes they are completely new product ideas, other times they are extensions of an existing product.
This time around, there were several inspiring hacks that made use of Yahoo! Messenger, particularly our web version. These hacks aren’t available to the public, but I like to share ideas like this on the blog to give you a peek into the creative side of our Yahoo! developers.
Webcam in Yahoo! Messenger for the Web
Our web version of Yahoo! Messenger is lighter on features that our full version, and webcam support is one of the most frequent feature requests we receive. Two developers from our web team, Tie Zhong and Jonathan New, developed a hack that enables flash-based webcam video within Yahoo! Messenger for the Web (screenshot). No extra software or download needed. Hopefully we’ll see this soon in the real Yahoo! Messenger for the Web.
Polyglot: Translating your IMs in real-time
Have you ever found yourself struggling to make your IMs understood to someone who doesn’t speak your same language? Allen Rabinovich’s award-winning hack, “Polyglot”, could help. This hacked version of Yahoo! Messenger for the Web includes menus near the text box that let you choose a language that your IM should be translated into. Talking to someone who speaks Spanish? Type your English IM into the text box, choose “Spanish” from the menu and click send. You’ll see your message appear in the conversation, translated instantly into Spanish. Polyglot works by leveraging the free language translations tools at http://babelfish.altavista.com/. There’s a rumor that a Polyglot-enhanced Web Messenger might be available soon to play around with…I’ll keep you posted.
Yahoo! Answers friend
Hackers Rex Lam, Ahmed El-Helw, and David Arvan developed a new kind of Yahoo! Messenger friend that could easily be called a “know-it-all”. Their Yahoo! Answers bot for Messenger lets you send questions to it (How do I make a tuna melt sandwich?), and sends you back an answer provided by another user on Yahoo! Answers. Leave off the question mark and your answers come as matching links from del.icio.us (screenshot).
Thanks to all the Hack Day developers for sharing their ideas with us.