Hack Day London 2007 (2)

June 17th, 2007 by Alistair MacDonald Leave a reply »

We are still here at hack day London sitting thought people presenting there hacks of the event. I am a little annoyed at the moment because my beanbag, that I have been sitting and sleeping on since the lightening strike (mentioned in yesterdays blog), has been nicked while we were waiting to do our presentation. If you are reading this now and have a black bean bag with a loop of string attached to the zip I would appreciate you bringing it back to me at the blimp.

Now, on to the the blimp. We have had a few technical difficulties. We did run out of Helium, not helped by certain people using it to make there voices squeak late last night. Fortunately the people concerned were able to track down a local supplier to fill the balloon for us in the morning. We needed to loose the camera that was going to upload for flickr and Shawn helped us out by replacing the PDA with a microcontroller because of weight.

As we needed to have a link to a Yahoo or BBC service to qualify for the competition, and now the flickr link was dead, I decided to take the requests sent to the blimp and mirror(ish) the action on a Yahoo map. This could also demonstrate the system should the blimp fail.

We were up against the clock, not helped by being told we may be moved up the running order, and being bothered by TV and radio reporters. In the end the microcontroller could not cope with the 250 bluetooth devices that were in range so we had to carry around the laptop with the blimp to demo it. Another problem was that BTClosedZone let me down again while waiting next to the stage so we used Niqui’s laptop on stage and I ran to the back to run a required service. The presentation went okay but it could have been so much better if the technology held up. On the positive side many people in the audience voted for where for drive the blimp in the presentation and yesterday’s Pascal server code coped with the many hundreds of votes without a problem.

I will pack up now as it is dark, there is nowhere to sit, I am tired (only having a couple of hours sleep this morning), and I am just not enjoying the demos (that would be so much better and enjoyable if they were presented in less formally IMHO).

Just a quick note to say thanks to the blimp team of Thom (blimp hardware), Miqui (Flash front end), Stephen (testing and decoration), Shawn (microcontroller) and the helium testers (for consuming and replacing the helium, and giving us beer). Also thank to all the Yahoo and the BBC team for making the event happen. Granted it was a little overly “commercial” for my liking, but we still had a great weekend and was made so by there efforts.

Finally it was great to catch up with everyone again, and sorry for not catching up with you if I did not. There are several people I did want to say hi to, or continue a conversation with, but I just can not find then, so see you next time.

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