hack day

Over The Air

| 0 comments | facebook mobile application ota12 hack day

Last week, Ali and I attended the 2012 Over The Air, a mobile applications themed hackday. It was held at Bletchley Park, home to the National Museum of Computing, among other things.

There was an extremely packed schedule comprising of talks on a whole manner of subjects relating to the mobile web. I managed to attend the talks on QR codes, WebRTC, Facebook Graph API, O2 Labs and the keynotes.

I would have loved to have seen more, however, we had a hack to build.

Ali had an mbed and a GPS/GPRS module that he had used for his solo project. We decided to use the mbed platform as they were at the event with Vodaphone 3G dongles. We created Dude, Where's My Car?

The mbed device, connected via the 3G dongle, sends GPS co-ordinates to the server every few seconds. These appear in the timeline on the website. You can then create a trip by selecting start and stop positions which is then shared with your friends on Facebook using the open graph API. We made actions of going on a trip which had properties including the trip name and geo-location data.

Ali also had a OBD (On Board Diagnostics) interface that connects to a car. Through this device, the mbed could get a number of parameters from the car such as speed, throttle, rpm, engine temperature etc. This data was added to the server along with the GPS and pased through to Facebook wihin the open graph metadata. It was then used to generate averages, minimums and maximums for the car data. All this then appears on your Facebook timeline looking like the example below.

Facebook Timeline Post

We demo-ed our hack to the judges and audience and ended up winning both the Facebook Open Graph Challenge and the Embedded Hardware Hack Challenge. They loved how we took the real-world action of driving and sharing that with your friends.

National Hack the Government Day 2011

| 0 comments | nhtg11 hack day government

Yesterday, I went down to London (on the 0505 train) for Rewired State's Hack day, held at the Guardian Offices. A busy day in London with the Boat Race (well done Oxford) and a protest.

Using open data from data.gov.uk, the theme was to create a tool for government, citizens or businesses. We had about 6 and a half hours to do it. Obviously I went along with no plan and no data ready so I began by going through some of the datasets to see what I could find.

There was a crime theme in the air so I decided on using prison population data.

Introducing: Where Should All the Convicts Go? A tool designed to help the government decide which countries to deport prisoners to. Coded primarily in Javascript, with a hint of PHP.


There were loads of fantastic hacks put together including games, crime mapping tools, complaint tools, weather, political and more.

Music Hackday London - 2010

| 0 comments | music hack day

Hello friends!

Last weekend I attend the Music Hackday at the Guardian offices, London. It was super. I travelled the Saturday morning from Hereford so was lacking in sleep even before starting the 24-hour hack session.

In the morning, there were presentations and workshops put on by the companies and organisations attending. Some interesting ideas were put forward, I especially was interested in O2 Litmus' hashblue service that I actually signed up to a couple of weeks ago. It allows you to access your text messages, almost in real-time.

On a mobile theme, I decided for my hack, I would take up my Cleversounds idea.

You are walking around between shops, pubs, clubs and your house - they usually have some music playing in the background. Wouldn't it be nice if they played your favourite music?

In a nutshell: you register you bluetooth MAC address, tell the site what music you like by linking your Last.fm/Facebook accounts (or by just typing in artists). When your device is detected by a Cleversounds Jukebox, you are played your favourite artists and recommendations. Back on the site, you get a feed of what tracks have been played for you, along with where and when.

The application is live at cleversounds.info where you can sign up and use a demo Jukebox that simulates Bluetooth devices detected. I do plan to package up all the software and local scripts into something that you can download and run on your machine allowing you to have your very own Jukebox, so long as you have a bluetooth dongle (or similar).

There were some fantastic hacks demoed on the Sunday, a full list is available on the wiki. Lots of photos of the event are available here and videos here.

Well done to all the organisers and everyone attending that made it so much fun. As a final note, the food/drink provided was amazing. Photo accreditation to Thomas Bonte.