Another year, my third Hackference. And what a fun weekend that was!
Like last year, the conference was based in thestudio in Birmingham, right next to New Street station so it was really convenient to get there from London in the morning. It was an early start and I didn’t exactly have the earliest of nights either.
Unlike last year, I managed to get to Euston station on time for my 6:43 train 🙌
There were plenty of great talks. Hackference is a 2-track conference, meaning there are usually 2 talks happening at the same time. It was a shame that the talks weren’t recorded this year, because there were a couple of occasions where I would have wanted to be in both talks at the same time. If only I had a time-turner…
Speaking of Harry Potter references, in Marta Bondyra’s talk I got to live the dream of being a real wizard in an awesome WebVR + Speech API demo:
Continue reading “#Hackference 2018”
Well, it has been almost a year since my previous post here, very much living up to the “occasional blogger” title on my Twitter profile.
I didn’t think there was going to be a Hackference 2017, what with it being ‘the last Hackference’ last year, but here we are.
Annoyingly, I made it to Euston station at 6:44am on the Friday. The train I booked was scheduled for 6:43, and annoyingly left on time, so I had to buy another ticket. £58 poorer than I was hoping to be that day, I got on the next train and still made it to The Studio (the venue for the day) on time.
I’m not going to say much about the talks: they were all really good, inspiring everyone to think differently about programming, design, and to try out some of the new Web technologies.
Here’s Oxford’s very own Ben Foxall demoing a combination of the Web Audio API, WebGL and Nexmo’s voice API. In short, a visualisation of a phone call between Ben and his mum, happening in real time!
The next day was the hackathon. 24 hours of working on whatever you want, with whomever you want, from midday on Saturday to midday on Sunday. There were a few sponsors who ran challenges to help focus the direction of the hacks, including Microsoft. Microsoft were encouraging the use of their Cognitive Services APIs – a collection of machine learning features making it easy for developers to add image recognition, OCR, speech-to-text etc. to their own applications; and they would award a prize to the team with the best use of their APIs.
What follow are the slides from my presentation at the end. Continue reading “Hackference 2017”
<- Part 1: the conference
On Saturday, once everyone had got a good night’s ‘sleep’ (our hotel was just next to a loud club which only got quiet after 3am), we walked over to the Impact Hub.
Before I get started, I’m using the word ‘hack’ in the non-malicious form. Tabloids use the word ‘hacker’ to describe someone with malicious intent who steals data or takes down websites (for example, this article in the Mirror). We use it to describe someone who thinks the best way of learning is by doing. A hackathon is just a group of sleep-deprived developers playing with something new.
The event itself was free – paid for completely by the wonderful sponsors.
Before the hackathon started, not many people knew what they wanted to make (including me). Luckily the sponsors got a chance to inspire us with their products and announce their prizes. There was a variety of companies attending, each with some cracking prizes for the teams making best use of their services.
Continue reading “Hackference 2016, Part 2 – The Hackathon”
Last weekend saw me heading to Birmingham to attend Hackference, a 3-day event for all sorts of programmers. There was a conference on Friday at the Electric Cinema, followed by a 24-hour hackathon at the weekend.
I’d never been to Hackference before, so I didn’t know what to expect. It’s a shame it’s probably going to be the last one though.
What follows is my account of the weekend, aided by plenty of tweets. The weekend was so jam-packed with stuff to blog about, so I’m going to split it up in two.
Part 1 – the conference
The Electric Cinema was a really cool venue. There were two screens, so two talks could happen at the same time. This was good because we could choose the talks that interested us most, but bad because most of the time I wanted to see both! Continue reading “Hackference 2016, Episode IV: A New Hackference”
I went on a spontaneous trip to the Science Museum yesterday to look at the Cosmonauts exhibition. I’ve always been a fan of space: my favourite book as a child was the DK Guide to Space; at the time I wanted to be an astronomer (strangely not an astronaut – I wanted to keep my feet on the ground), but then I realised that that should be more of a hobby than a career, so I went into computing instead.
The interest in space never really faded though. In 2012 while I was working at STFC, I helped out at their stargazing event for families. I operated the ‘Magic Planet’ – a spherical projector which would display the surface of planets and moons in the solar system at the click of a button. It fascinated adults and children alike, and inspired them to make comments like “That’s not Saturn, there aren’t any rings”, “That’s not how Uranus spins” and “Jupiter’s not supposed to be that blue”. I was able to answer most of the questions that were asked, reeling off facts I learned from another childhood book about the solar system.
A few years on from there and I’m now living in London, with the aim of getting cultured whenever possible. Yesterday was no exception.
The Cosmonauts exhibition ran at the Science Museum ran from September 2015 and today was its last day. It was focussed on the Russian side of the space race. I’d always thought that the Americans putting man on the moon in 1969 was the biggest feat, but the Russians had done so much more before that which kind of belittles the whole ‘Man on the Moon’ thing. It wasn’t a huge exhibition, but I somehow managed to stay there for 2 hours.
Here are a few photos with a bunch of interesting facts I learned along the way. Continue reading “Cosmonauts”
I mean, we all love emoji right? We use it all the time on social media. So I thought why not try and put it in more places on the Web? I thought I’d demo it to the folks at the most recent JSOxford meetup.
Continue reading “Imojify! (bookmarklet edition)”
Last week I went to London with a few of my flatmates from first year. It was Halloween and we wanted to do something a little different. The first thing we did was visit the ‘yellowbluepink‘ installation at the Wellcome Collection, right next to Euston station.
It was a fairly large room filled with dense fog, lit in 3 colours. When we entered, the fog was thick but you could see the floor, ceiling and people from around 5m away.
Continue reading “yellowbluepink”
“The problem with hardware is that there is no version control” – Marcus Noble
This time round, JSOxford had a bunch of Espruino Pico boards and plenty of hardware to hack around with, including continuous servos and wheels.
Continue reading “JSOxford NodeBots Day”
Yesterday I went to a hack day run by JSOxford. The theme was ‘realtime’, i.e. using Web technologies to update a site automatically from a data source.
Since I had no experience with realtime technologies before I came, I didn’t want to make anything too ambitious! I just wanted to learn the basics so that I could make something useful in the future.
Continue reading “Realtime hacking with JSOxford”
I interrupt this extended period of non-blogging-ness to bring you news that isn’t interesting to anyone.
I’m not exactly what you would call a health freak. Since moving back to Bath to start my job I’ve been thinking “I should join a badminton club” or “I should join the gym”, but in 4 months that still hasn’t happened. As far as exercise goes, I walk to work every day – half an hour there, half an hour back – and that’s pretty much it.
I hate running. Sometimes I’ll try jogging to the Co-op (it’s literally just at the end of my road) but I always get so out of breath it put me off trying anything more strenuous.
But yesterday, the oddest thing happened. I woke up and thought “I should go for a run”. But it was a bit rainy that morning so I didn’t bother.
Then this morning, the weather was calm and bright, and I saw this tweet.
That tweet actually inspired me to put on my sports kit and (for the first time ever) leave the house with the sole intent of arriving back a few minutes later with an increased heart rate.
I ACTUALLY WENT FOR A RUN
And I did what the tweet said – I went on an incredibly short 1km run, but not quite as short as the one in Run Fatboy Run.
Turns out 1km isn’t very far at all, but I was still breathless at the end. Not quite a half marathon just yet, but maybe one day I’ll enter one!