Bit off-topic here, but very cool indeed. I am a huge fan of Jamie Hewlett (ever since Tank Girl) and the Gorillaz together with IE9 are asking for people to design a character for the next videos:
The countdown begins; Gorillaz fans have two days to develop “The Evangelist” – a new character in Gorillaz world
Gorillaz fans only have two days remaining to design a new Gorillaz character, known simply as “The Evangelist”, for Gorillaz world. This is the last chance for budding artists who have until Sunday 28th November to submit their ideas to www.gorillaz.com/evangelist .
The winning submission will be redrawn by Gorillaz’ Jamie Hewlett, and the final creation will be revealed on 6th January 2011, on Gorillaz.com. The winner will be credited on the competition page and will receive a Gorillaz “gift pack” including a signed, framed print of Jamie Hewlett’s final design of “The Evangelist”.
Now, I can’t paint for Toffee, but if I may give a piece of advice – most evangelists should have long, flowing, red, curly hair :)
So here’s my submission: an interface to get information about any country on this planet in under 5K:
I got the idea last Thursday during Pub Standards in London when someone asked me if it is possible to get information about all the countries in the world using YQL. The main interest was not only to get the names but also the bounding box information in order to display maps with the right zoom level. And it is, all you need to do in YQL is the following:
select name,boundingBox from geo.places.children(0) where
parent_woeid=1 and placetype=”country” | sort(field=”name”)
This gets all the children of the entry with the WOEID of 1 (Earth, that is) in the GeoPlanet dataset that are a country and sorts them alphabetically for you.
Each of the results comes with bounding box information which you then can use to display a map with the Open Streetmap static image API (or any other provider). For example:
var image = ‘http://pafciu17.dev.openstreetmap.org/?module=map&bbox=’+
The last piece to the puzzle was where to get country information from and of course the easiest is Wikipedia. Every country web site in Wikipedia has a info table about it which turned out to be too much of a pain to clean up so all I did was to scrape the first three paragraphs following this table with YQL:
select * from html where
and xpath=”//table/following-sibling::p” limit 3
The rest, as they say, is history. I built the system in all in all 2 hours and now I spent some time to clean it up and spice it up:
As the first loading of the data takes a long time I use HTML5 local storage to cache the country information. This means you only have to wait once and subsequently it’ll be much faster.
If I were to build this as a real product I would cache the results on a server rather than hammering the APIs every time a user comes along – as the information doesn’t change much this makes much more sense. I will probably release a PHP version of that soon. For now, this is what we have.
There is no rest for the wicked. Coming back from Japan and preparing for Friday’s Full Frontal conference I just spent an hour in one of the final meetings for the Yahoo Application Platform event next Thursday. As you might know, you can build applications that run on the Yahoo platform and can be installed by any of our users. We now run a competition for UK companies to build a cool branded app with the main prize being a guaranteed slot in the Yahoo UK homepage.
Sounds good? Come around next Thursday and see what it is all about. Here’s the official invite:
Technical Workshop for the Yahoo! Application Platform
The Yahoo! Application Platform allows developers to reach Yahoo!’s millions of users and improve the Yahoo! user experience by building and deploying sophisticated new applications for Yahoo! pages.
We’d like to invite you to a technical workshop about YAP led by Yahoo! developer evangelist Christian Heilmann.
It will give an overview of the technology, including some examples of applications that have already been developed, followed by a deep dive into the YAP platform. Please bring your laptop (and a 3g dongle if you have one just in case the venue wifi lets us down).
After some refreshments, there will also be an opportunity to get hands-on with YAP, as Chris steps you through creating a sample application.
The event will be held at Century (61-63 Shaftesbury Avenue, London, W1D 6LQ) on 26th November with registration starting at 6:30pm.
We’ll also be announcing a competition for the best apps, with the opportunity for a placement on the Yahoo! homepage (as well as a prize you can take home!) – more details on the night! We’re looking to you to help us build the next big thing on Yahoo!
If you want to be part of this and your company is located in the UK, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll be in touch with you if there is still space.
It is pretty cool to see what is happening right now in the UK when it comes to mashups and data. Show us a better way is a web site and competition that asks ethical hackers to come up with ideas to use a wide range of public data for the good of the public. Straight from the horse’s mouth this sounds like this:
The UK Government wants to hear your ideas for new products that could improve the way public information is communicated. The Power of Information Taskforce is running a competition on the Government’s behalf, and we have a 20,000 pound prize fund to develop the best ideas to the next level. You can see the type of thing we are are looking for here.
To show they are serious, the Government is making available gigabytes of new or previously invisible public information especially for people to use in this competition. Rest assured, this competition does not include personal information about people.
We’re confident that you’ll have more and better ideas than we ever will. You don’t have to have any technical knowledge, nor any money, just a good idea, and 5 minutes spare to enter the competition.
There is a vast amount of APIs available to play with so what stops you from giving it a whirl? My own idea, cabsharing is something I was actually planning to do for quite a time, maybe even as a start-up, but why not here?
Well, in a competition, not just directly. I like the idea of Sky News’ Developer Competition where they offer all in all £10k in prize money for widget and badge implementations of the content of their RSS feeds.
Talented developers can use the feeds to create their own applications. The brains with the best ideas will be invited to a Dragons’ Den-style judgment day at the Sky News studios.
A bit of a shame is that they haven’t got an API yet, but I pointed them to Yahoo! Pipes to offer developers as a workaround to use the RSS feeds in an easier manner.
The deadline is 30th of November and the Dragon’s Den shootout is on the 20th of December in the Sky offices. So if you want to have a go, get coding :) Make also sure you check the Terms and Conditions of the competition.