Christian Heilmann

Posts Tagged ‘hackday’

Open Hack Day New York City 9th to 10th of October

Monday, September 28th, 2009

Open Hack NYC - be there!

Just a quick reminder that there are still lots of spaces left for the Open Hack Day in New York city on the 9th and 10th of October. Much like Yahoo’s other open hack days you’ll get 24 hours time to play with any API and built something amazing with people you always wanted to work or got to know there.

If your company doesn’t allow you to play much, this is your chance. The event is free, and you’ll get to play not only with the things you already see here or on but also with the new Yahoo Application Platform for apps running on the homepage and the new TV widgets.

Young rewired state in London on the 22nd of August – hacking for teens!

Friday, August 7th, 2009

I just got pinged by Dan Morris of the BBC on Facebook (yeah it is up again) about a really cool event in London on the 22nd of August:

Hack the Government, 22-23 August @ Google.


Young Rewired State is a free two-day hackday for young people work in
small teams to create software hacks using open Government data.

Government will be there and listening to what you have to say and
show. Groups will present at the end of the event to press, web &
business judges, and representatives from Government – There will be


22-23 August at the Google offices in London.

If you want, you can bring your parent along with you, we’ll promise
to keep them busy while you hack. Support is available for travel and
overnight stay for you if you need it.

The date is getting close now so please signup now if you’re
interested in attending!


We’re expecting a mix of technical ability, so chances are you’ll fit
in just fine. So, whether you just dabble with HTML or dream in
machine code, this event is for definitely for you!

We have the largest set of open Government data going, all available
for you to use. Experienced hacker mentors will be assigned to groups,
and can help as much or as little as you need.


Pass it on!


Open Hack London 2009 – my presentation and quick review

Monday, May 11th, 2009

This weekend was Open Hack London and I spent the whole weekend in between presenting, being interviewed by Le Monde, Internet Magazin, Create or Die, O’Reilly and Reuters TV and helping hackers to get around the barriers they faced in reaching their goal of building a great hack in 24 hours.

My talk

I was very lucky to be able to present YQL as my topic for the tech talks as it is a no-brainer to make hackers that have 24 hours to understand the value of using YQL for their API data access. After all a simple “select * from {source} where {condition}” gets you very quickly to where you want to go instead of having to read API docs, get access tokens and then filter programatically.

I had prepared several YQL driven demos to explain the power of the API, with most probably the simply flickr photos by location or search API and the simple kitten display example in JavaScript being the most useful.

The slides were available on memory sticks for all attendees, and now are also on slideshare:

There’s also a quick 40 second introductory video available:

Seriously though, the talk was filmed and we will put it up on YDN as soon as the 2.6GB of high definition footage are converted and edited.

All in all I was very satisfied how the Open Hack turned out. I love that English hackers seem not to be too fussed about trying to impress but really take hack days as an opportunity to build what they always wanted to build and not have to ask anybody for permission. The only thing you heard were technical questions and I was very surprised to see that instead of people building small, individual hacks to impress their peers people almost immediately started forming groups, distributed tasks and went for it come rain or lightning strikes.

The list of submitted hacks shows some of this. Personally I was very impressed with the range of hacks. There was a lot of breaking out of boundaries of the desktop PC/web world, people hacked hardware, mobile interfaces and many an iPhone was in use.

I can’t comment on all, but here are some of my impressions:


  • Best government hack – They work for EU (Paul Battley and Julian Burgess) was a great and simple idea that makes a massive difference to the web resource it was built on. That the EU commission didn’t think of adding a translation interface is almost criminal neglect.
  • BBC backstage – Boss of Myspace (Kurt J, Yves Raimond and Benjamin Heitmann) makes Myspace a more interesting resource for me in terms of music. I am sure there are lots of awesome bands on it, but I am very annoyed with music starting automatically and me having to wait for a long time for a page to finish loading and rendering. The dbtune add-on is very interesting and I hope they take that idea further.
  • Hardware award – open security (Alistair MacDonald, Nigel Crawley and Mr Duck) I have no clue about Mr. Duck, but Alistair (except for blowing the main fuse of the room soldering) and Nigel have done an awesome job with this. In essence, it is an Arduino based RSA key. I loved it!
  • Best Mozilla hack – Intellisearch (Chris Brett,Laurence Hole and Matthew Ross) The winners of Dundee University hack day this year have done it again. By refining this hack which allows users to search the web without using a keyboard or have refined motor control. The really impressive part of this hack is also that the team reverse engineered the interface as it was not available as a Canvas control. Great accessibility mixed with using bleeding edge technology.
  • Best local hack – London Undersound (Dan W). I loved this one but I cannot find a link to it! What it did was to read out your Oyster card information and mashed it up with Last FM. It also showed you a graph of how many tube stations of the total amount you visited already turning using the tube into a game
  • Best FireEagle – Guestpass (Dale Lane) (presentation) Dale had a pretty cool idea of allowing short term access to FireEagle by providing a token system that allows you to give friends access to your FE information. This lowers the barrier to this great system and keeps simple one-off users from having to understand all the security measures in FE.
  • Guarnidad hack – Billtweets (Rob McKinnon) Public and private information fighter Rob McKinnon did a great job of scraping the government sites with bill information and giving us a way to track the changes and information about them on Twitter.
  • Most Awesome Hack – Fabulous Human Powered Browser (Adam Cohen-Rose, Dan Fitzgerald, Matthew Smith, Joyce Stack, Neomal Jinappriya and Sankatha Bamunuge). Not much to say about this one, except that it was awesome. I loved the interface idea of rolling on a scooter through the room to scroll a web site.
  • Hacker’s choice and Best in Show – OpenCycle (Premasagar Rose and Tom Leitch). Premasgar did it again – using Pipes and YQL this hack scrapes the mailing list archives of FreeCycle and turns it into a web interface. In a second phase they are planning to write a GreaseMonkey script that overlays free products over ebay results – great idea.
  • Good Beer Map by Chris Neale and Iain Collins was what it says on the tin – it takes the good beer guide and turns it into a map application with geo search. Cheers.


  • Social Aggregator by Syd Lawrence, Sam Clarke and Alex Teugels and George Brocklehurst’s XFM Profile detector both create social graphs and connections and allow you to find out more about people by following links with the rel=”me” attribute. Both are great ideas but somehow it feels strange to have to go through scraping and finding mf data when all these systems do have APIs. Good job though!
  • My “deer in headlight award” would have gone to Shevek who has created a visual studio style interface for Hadoop. Proper audience baffling there.
  • GeoPong by Marko Mrdjenovic and Marko Samastur was a quite irrelevant but lovely hack that showed geolocated images overlaid over satellite maps as a pong ball with two paddles playing with it.
  • Mobile Steel was a hardware hack that allowed the hack team Henry Senior, Daniel Sikar, Hans Fraiponts and Peter De Keyser to control a steel guitar with an iPhone. Sadly enough the presentation was terrible. With this kind of hack, just show what it does and then explain how you made it.
  • RightNahoo! by Dan Counsell, Nik Fletcher, Keith Duncan and Danny Greg was nothing that new – basically a local geo search aggregator over several services. What I loved was the interface. All written in native mac code it just looked sweet and making shaking the iphone the start of the whole process was a nice touch.
  • Kisses by Mary Rose Cook was intriguing, too. A comparison engine scraping the web for data. For sure the most feisty presentation, cool stuff.
  • iBoe by Hans Fraiponts, Xflame (come on!), stef and Peter was a small robot controlled via a laptop with an iphone. Sweet, but could become more interesting if it learns as the description on the hack trackr promises :)
  • Newspan by Mark Norman Francis, Richard Boulton and James Aylett is a bayesian filter for RSS news, making it easier for you to filter your daily news intake down to what really matters to you. A really ambitious project that could become very useful.
  • Bad API by Andrew Betts was an interesting testing tool that simulates different API failures, thus allowing you to test your apps against these problems.

Hacks I like very much but by hackers that forgot to leave us URLs, grrr

  • PlaqueHack had me very interested. From what I gathered (guys where is the friggin URL???) Simon Harriyott, Marvin Barretto, Jez Nicholson and Frankie Roberto took a national heritage DB of plaques with names of famous people in the UK and mashed them up with geolocated photos. This would be a cool app for a London tourism site.
  • Tweet my Ride by Salim Virani and Saalim Chowdhury was the great idea of cab sharing via twitter with local lookup and matching of twitter user locations. Now if we had a link I could talk about it…
  • KitHub by Ed, Fabien, Aurelie and Anna was an annotation interface for photos of physical design objects with threading built from scratch with YUI3. Nicely executed and I hope this will get released. A url would help.
  • Street Tag by Murray Steele and Ben Griffiths allowed overlaying photos in Google Street View and storing their location. Good fun that could actually be used for displaying ads

One thing that made me really happy was how well the band was received. The guys from Pornophonique were very impressed and had a great time playing.

Can’t wait for the next hack day, which incidently is on Friday with the students of Sunderland university showing off what they produced in the last few months.

TTMMHTM: Guardian getting enabled by design,interview,open hack day,bash magic,and XSS filters

Wednesday, March 18th, 2009

Things that made me happy this morning:

Open Hack Day London, 9th and 10th of May – signup now open!

Wednesday, March 18th, 2009

Open Hack Day London 2009

And lo and behold, the Open Hack Day returns to London. On the 9th and 10th of May we have space for around 200 hackers to show us what can be done when you let European geeks run wild and feed them with yummy yummy data and APIs to mix and show this data in ways never before imagined.

As we have limited room you have to get a ticket and give us some information about yourself. We want hackers, not campers and the only way to stop the normal 200 tickets gone in 30 seconds is to ask you to show commitment and woo us with your interests.

However, in order to also cater for the non-hackers there are tickets available for people who only want to come to the tech talks in the morning.

See you in May in London!