Category Archives: ota13

Over the Air – It’s now Sunday night

It’s Sunday night and before the weekend is out I should really complete the final post of this year’s #OTA13 musings.

The avid reader to the last few day’s furious blogging will notice the lack of a satisfactory end to this 36 hour story. It is only now that I can share that with you…

Our little web app terf was awarded winner in the Best Mobile Web / HTML5 category at #OTA13. I’ll tell you that as a team we were nothing short of astounded when our app and names were read out by Margaret and we received our prizes of the Hello! HTML & CSS book and four Firefox OS Geeksphones. You can watch the first person 15 second Instagram clip and check out our surprise for yourselves.

I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again… the bulk of the hard work and sacrifice was borne by our super developer Sunil who set the whole thing up and made it work everywhere it should work (tent front and tent stage), our amazing UXD and secret front end dev, Tyrell who worked tirelessly late in to Friday night and through the best part of Saturday to make it look like something people might actually want use and also integrate my own shoddy logo and icons into for our iPhone demo.  Last but not least there was Kjell (pronounced Shell) who took our idea and wrapped it in some presentation magic to show it off to the rest of #OTA13.

Following the closing session at #OTA13 we had a quick chat with the judges who told us that as well as being impressed with the app itself, they could see that we’d thought through what the applications of the app were, who could use it and that they could see commercial potential in it as well. I think that’s something for us all to be quite proud of.

Moments of note were primarily when terf started to work in the area’s of the tent that we’d defined using their respective long/lat references., being able to physically move from one chat to the other and back. Sunil integrating The Cat API to alow terf users to be represented anonymously by a random cat avatar (because every hack needs to use an API and feature a kitten), hearing that someone had found Tyrell sleeping inside a bean bag igloo in the marquee on Friday night / Saturday morning. There were certainly more amazing moments but the tiredness overtook most of us before we got to show terf to the masses to remember them all.

So for the bunch of first timers who were unsure that what we were making was even worthy of a hack day entry in the first place, I think we did pretty well and hopefully showed the potential of what else can come out of Blackwell’s digital development teams in the future. Well done everyone who took part and hopefully see you all again at #OTA14 (or #OTA17 if Matthew is to be believed).

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Over the Air – Our hackday submission, terf

We’ve been working since yesterday on our app for the Over the Air hack day entry and that app is called terf. terf is a geofenced hyper-local chat and information web app, built to work on iPhone 4/5 currently, that can be used within bookshops (because we work for Blackwell’s) or anywhere to create zones of conversation around content, genre and locations.

We would also aim to be able to push promotional content into the timeline (via the Blackwell’s API) about book offers and links to the Blackwell’s app and online shop, but also any local information that needs to be pushed out to that hyper local community. The geofenced area could be transient or permanent. You can have multiple areas in a space and move between conversations in each.

This app could be used at festivals, hack days, conferences, traffic queues or hyper local communities for people to listen in to local chatter and find out what’s going on.

The name comes from the thought that you’d only want to talk to people who are on your turf. Alas Heroku, the platform we build our web app on, already had turf taken, so as a tribute to our Liverpudlian team member Kjell we opted for terf, which is turf, but as he says it!

Try terf on your mobile if you are in the marquee at Over the Air 2013. We’ve entered it in the HTML5 and Mobile category so wish us luck.


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Over the Air 2013 – We’re still working

I say we, really Sunil and Tyrell are working really hard and making a cool thing that works. We’ve submitted it to hackday so we’ll see what happens.

Kjell and I took a look around the mansion house and had a chat with @herx and a go on his 3D scanner made out of a Kinect. Both Kjell and I had a go and we’ll get the 3D model mailed to us in a player that we can hopefully share. Check out the process on this Instagram video.

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Over the Air 2013 – I woke (but didn’t really go to sleep)

It’ll be fine. Sleeping in a tent in September… that’s virtually summer isn’t it? Yes, of course it is!

And Bletchley… it’s the countryside. Peaceful, pastoral, NOT! My morning has been redeemed by a hearty (veggie) fried breakfast that should keep me going until, ooh, at least 10.00? Last night, though, was an experience. In our little tent village behind Hut 12 there was a snorer that featured on the richter scale in OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD! I could have put up with that. The regular rhythm of his guttural noise may have sent me gently to sleep but it was too cold for that. Indian summer – PAH! I layered up, added blanket to sleeping bag, plus all the clothes I had including some I’d acquired! Some time around 3.30 I added a towel to the covers, alas this didn’t do the trick. Actually I could have overcome the temperature issue if it wasn’t for the quarter hourly church bells. I literally heard the time passing until I literally passed out.

A few good hours was had and now I’m plugged in to the power and ready for Over the Air, day two.

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Over the Air 2013 – Late evening update

This isn’t really that interesting but we’ve had some top notch televisual entertainment this evening that is set to go on into the early hours. The bean bags are comfortable but it’s really really cold. OK not really really but at least really cold. Considering options like a blanket, sleeping bag, onsie combo!

I think we’re finished making for the evening so perhaps there is even some sleep on the cards. All good though.

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Over the Air 2013 – Ignite Talks

It’s the evening now and we’re listening in on the Ignite Talks which are a series of short 5 minute talks about a range of subjects. My team are busy beavering away on our hacks but my ears were pricked when photographer Caz Mockett started her talk about Face Down Tuesday, an internet phenomenon that can be explored on Flickr. Because I’m as easy to read as a book my interest was piqued even further when she showed some of her Face Down Tuesday images from the final days of the BBC at Television Centre in London. Here are a few favourites…

Blue Peter Gardening Edition

Mezzanine Edition

Green Tea Bar Edition

Reception Reflection Edition

Silent Escalator Edition

Paint Shop Pro Edition

Lost its Sparkle Edition

Moving Out Edition

As a long time BBC staffer who missed out on the last opening day at TVC this brought a tear to my eye and made me laugh at the old place at the same time. Someone asked Caz ‘Why Face Down on Tuesdays?’. She had quite a simple answer, ‘Any other day and it would just be planking!’.


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Over the Air 2013 – National Museum of Computing

This is a short one. We just had our own tour of the Bletchley Park National Museum of Computing. It was a quick one around the three sections of the museum, 20 minutes in each. First off was the history of home computing from abacus to technology more modern. Then a quick fly around Collossus followed by the oldest working computer, the Dekatron. My brain is too small to compute all of these machines so here they are on my Instagram feed.

Now we’re making something for the hack day competition and eating some stunning chocolate torte.



UPDATE: I’ve just heard some exciting news about some screenings later on. Unbelievable. Very cool.

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