Thursday 28 November 2013

Handheld Conference 2013: port80 fringe event

Last year’s Handheld Conference was a great event, with several of the sessions winning awards as the best talks of the year.

This year, it’s got bigger and even comes with a fringe event the night before, in collaboration with Port80 events.

I’ll be blogging the main event sessions later, but here’s my notes from the Handheld mini/port80 event.

The ethics of making software

Graham Lee @secboffin

  • XML is like violence: if it doesn’t get you what you want, you’re not using enough of it
  • EULA: “we make no warranty that on this software” => this sh*t doesn’t work — and we’re not going to tell you until after you’ve bought it
  • we’re in an industry that wants to be grown-up — we get to choose the moral direction as well as the technical direction
  • we do have responsibility — raising awareness is the first step

Modifying Treasure Island

Alyson Fielding @alysonf

  • what happens if you put technology into a physical book (without a screen)?
  • making an enchanted object
  • lilypad arduino works well with books: it uses needle & conductive thread rather than wire & solder so it’s gentler on the book
  • “the library of lost books”
    • each rescued book is being sent to a different artist to be given a new lease of life
  • wanted to hide the technology so it feels like magic
  • triggering audio in a gesture controlled physical book
  • what happens if you get a book talking to a phone
    • hide arduino in the spine
    • zigbee to talk to phone (via Redpark cable)
    • battery to power it (mainly zigbee…)
    • accelerometer to detect position
  • initial story: book speaks what position it’s in
    • can also tweet…
  • further stories: recognising more complex 3D gestures, e.g. a hug
  • connected with a story engine
    • telling a story based on user interaction
    • crucially: also respond when the user does something different

Why don’t things just work any more?

Barry Scott @bazscott

  • fixing things:
    • easy bug reporting — value the people who report bugs
    • prioritise fixes
  • crippled behaviour:
    • flash, linkjacking, doorslams
    • watch user behaviour — and listen to them
  • bastards:
    • sample newspaper website: “the only way I can monetise the site is by getting people to download the app, so I don’t care about showing the content”…
    • shortsighted, brand will wither, people won’t come back
    • advertising cigarettes & gambling to kids (or any kind of advertising to 3 year olds…)
  • times higher education survey on link rot
    • 99% of web pages change in a year
    • 70% of links from 12 years of Harvard Legal are broken


Andrew Nesbitt @teabass

  • invented by Felix Geisendörfer in 2012
  • Parrot AR Drone 2.0
  • runs busybox linux
  • node.js module: npm install ar-drone
  • watch out for going out of range
    • the drone will just continue going…
  • andrew created a node module to pick up serial input from xbox controller — used to control AR drone
  • then picked up front-facing camera and displayed on a web page
  • running both scripts at the same time allows you a first-person control of the drone
  • make it dance to dubstep:
    • using dance.js to pick up drops in an mp3 from the HTML5 audio API
  • face detection from front-facing video
    • using OpenCV on video from the video in the browser
  • lots of other examples on
  • substack contributes a lot of stuff
    • including virus-copter
    • scans wifi for other drones — ssh’s to them
  • if you attach a phone you can theoretically control the drone from anywhere in the world
    • but you come under the same laws as cruise missiles…
  • voxel-drone is a simulated drone inside voxel, a minecraft clone in javascript & webgl
    • but it doesn’t have momentum…
    • voxel-drone stops instantly
    • the real drone takes about 2 metres to stop from full speed
  • why?
    • teaching programming via engaging javascript
    • did a coderdojo for 12-15 year old kids
    • chasing parents around, ballet moves
    • making controllers from tin foil and makeymakeys
  • upcoming events: probably one every month in the UK in the new year

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