But not an elf to be seen. I can only imagine Tolkien drew  a lot of inspiration from the villages and places around England for his epic OR it was named and added to Google as inspiration from Tolkien’s work… But probably someone named their cottage/house this.

Lord of the google maps
This was my first ‘break away’ for along while, staying with my brother-in-law. 2012 was an extremely intense work year. And yes, this post has been sat on a shelf unpublished for over a year, I felt I should release back into the wild.

Upon arrival, in the glorious heat, we got to chill out before heading down to Bexhill for a surprise visit to an art exhibition, we had no idea that the Self-Preservation Society was in town.

The De La Warr Pavilion  in Bexhill, A Grade 1 listed building, had an installation from that celebrated and iconic final scene from The Italian Job. This involved a coach sculpture on a fulcrum swinging over the edge of the building, wow.

We then went for a wander around, down on the beach. It’s amazing how cool and breezy the sea air is, compared to the hot humid weather not far from this spot.

I presented an early morning session on Saturday 26th October at the brilliant Over The Air mobile conference, which was held at the historic site of Bletchley Park.

Bletchley Park

I have been involved with the mobile conference for the previous 2 years due to my connection / relationship to Appcelerator. Recently, I found myself chatting with Daniel Applequist, one of the OTA organisers, at a Meetup based in East Finchley the week before the event. I grew up in Finchley! During our pub chat Dan invited me to speak at OTA about the award winning T-10 project

The slides from that session are below:

Later on Saturday Julie Gould interviewed me about the project but the discussion took a different turn and I ended up talking about Binarual Beats, something i’d been tinkering with since the mid 90′s.
I also managed to get a 3D scan of my head!

I’m new year cleaning my drafts and giving these posts some TLC.

In particular this one that got missed by the radar altogether. I will combine posts for both Barcamps (2012 & 2013) here.

Definition of a barcamp: BarCamp – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

2012

2012 saw Berkshire’s very own Barcamp for the first time, organised by Geeks Of London and held at O2′s headquarters in Slough.

I hosted 3 sessions this year. I would have quite happily just attended sessions, but with nothing prepared, I just pulled out a topic off the top of my head. I was asked earlier if I would run a 3D session. I haven’t been engaged with my stereoscopic hobbies for quite some time, but felt I had enough name to start a conversation and share some tips.

Along with a Titanium related topic and a session on the Surrey Police Apps I had been working on that year.

BarCamp GridBarCamp GridUnder/Over Stereo ViewerBarcamp Opening

2013

This year’s BarCamp  I had to make a whirlwind visit, having to miss day 1 due to being too busy, gutted to have missed the Occular Rift demo on Saturday but  I was at the  ADN (app.net) London meetup! I ran 2 sessions this year, one on the C.A.P.O.W project alongside a T-10, NASA Space Apps session both on the Sunday. I actually ran these back to back. I also lugged some obligatory 3D equipment with me.

Barcamp’s are great places to learn about a wide range of geeky topics, not necessarily technical, it also allows those that might be interested or not used to public speaking to practice in a more relaxed environment. The unconference format works wonders.

 

Getting back into the flow of using WordPress (although I’m thinking of giving Ghost a run for another project). I needed a simple and easy way of grabbing and inserting flickr posts, as part of my workflow into blog pieces, the WordPress Flickr Embed plugin does the trick nicely.

So far no issues and its very simple to setup, you will be required to ‘authorize’ the plugin with your flickr account from the wordpress settings. Being able to pick from specific sets or the photostream is very handy.

screenshot of image selection
The Flickr Embed plugin selector screen

The NASA Space Apps challenge held a worldwide Hackathon event which may well have set a world record. Multiple country’s simultaneously creating application solutions for a variety of NASA suggested categories.

NASA Space Apps Sticker

I had only heard about this little over a week before the event date. Others it seemed had been planning their apps and teams many weeks in advance. I think I heard of the event through Lanyrd or Plancast, scheduled for April 2013, with over 9000 other people attending worldwide, this was a big event and at nearly 4:30am on the 14th April, I signed up. As I had just missed out on an invitation to a different space themed hack event at the ESA offices in Rome, this was an amazing event to spot and get into.

So I began shortlisting 4/5 ideas that could be useful hack ideas using the Reminders App on my iPhone, either a solo attempt or if the right people were around, a team. I was leaning towards something to do with Game Hacking and learning stuff on my own, but I was open to the idea, the whole bus and tube journey down to Old Street consisted of a brainstorm of concepts.

Reminders app Screen shot
Notes made for Space Apps Challenge

My original intentions were not to actually take part, with any clear goal to winning, but to use the event to network and experiment with some new technology that I had been introduced to and try my hand at game development with the Lanica Game Engine beta that I had been tinkering with.

So after a very busy week, I trekked down to the Google Campus on the Saturday morning, and was welcomed by the usual hubbub that an event such as this would create It’s a popular Old Street/Silicon Roundabout venue.

During the initial briefing I noticed Kate Arkless-Gray, whom I had met through Bill Thompson’s at a Live recording of the BBC Click podcast event in London. So I turned to twitter and said hi. Kate was with a friend from Stockholm, João Neves. Next thing we were talking about ideas and I pitched some of mine, as I ran through the idea of an app for amateur astro photographers to have a weather tracking solution on their smartphone, Kate lit up and pitched a better idea. An app to go into the International Space Station and for the astronauts to use instead for weather tracking and photographing earth an other phenomena.

We were all on the same page and excited about this concept, it was much, much better. So we had a team! The only thing is that our idea/concept was not really what was asked in any of the briefs or challenges, but we felt the idea was so good that it had to be done.

Here is our brief:

We wanted to create an app that could be used in space to save astronauts time. Since astronauts enjoy taking photographs, we came up with the idea of making this process easier and saving them time. We flipped the “Spot the Station” challenge on its head and T-10 was born.

The T-10 app allows astronauts to choose a location they wish to photograph, select whether they want a day/night photo, and set an alarm for that location. T-10 not only gives them a ten minute warning before they pass overhead, but also checks real-time weather data so as not to disturb them if the visibility is bad.

When the alarm sounds, the astronaut can decide whether to take a photograph or not. If they say “yes”, not only will they get a useful “countdown to location pass”, but a message will be sent to T-10 users on Earth in that location, telling them to smile for the camera!

It was originally going to be an android based app, but after some discussion, we decided to use Appcelerator’s Titanium platform, which I would work on in a cross-platform approach using Javascript and João would work on building the api in Python. We ran through wireframing and techniques for Kate to layout and plot the concepts into paper prototypes that we could translate into code and got cracking, Whilst we hacked, Kate went in search of additional team members to get some extra infusion into the project.

Post It Notes

Dario Lofish arrived slightly later in the day and was recruited into the team, with his awesome design skills, he checked each team out and returned to us to complete team T-10.

At lunchtime we joined in a live google+ hangout with some Astronauts from diff countries, with followed by a Q&A.

Astronaut Google+ Hangout

We stayed up pretty late, ate, drank, and even went outside at around 9pm to watch the ISS flyover, having all decided that we weren’t going to stay overnight, sleep would be the best thing if we returned fresh for the following day. Dario pulled an allnighter to get our presentation looking slick, whilst we got a prototype that displayed the core of the concept on a physical iPad. Up ’til now I had been hacking for an iPhone.

Sunday went by in a  flash our main goal was to get the concept working, something physical we could demo and pitch a swish concept. As we watched the demo’s roll I was blown away by the skill and high level of competition there was (this is just in London remember). Kate took to the stage and began delivering a cool presentation, followed by a super quick LIVE demo of the app doing its thing. Then the long nervous wait for the judges decision. 3 teams were being put forward including one honourable mention, which would go into Digital Futures Exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum, as well as being entered for International/Global Judging.

Winning team on stage

We freaked out, when T-10 was announced as being put forward for global judging!! OMG!  We were happy to have got as far as we did, but to actually get put forward was beyond anything we expected. We now had 2 weeks to prepare a 2 minute video piece and polish off any bits an pieces we wanted to on the app.

I blocked out both upcoming weekends and evenings to get a working prototype of the app, Pulling out the stops we submitted the video and focused on setting up for the V&A museum exhibition, luckily being freelance, I aimed to attend the event, being be on hand to answer questions.

We all pulled together, with Kate and Dario working on a tight script and an awesomely cool video, its worth the 2 minutes:

With the V&A event now on our doorsteps, Dario pulled out some graphical gems which we used to dress our space up a bit. I rigged up an iMac with a working iPad prototype and chatted away, with some great feedback from visitors, we heard on the morning of day 2 that we had won, no…. can’t be, can it? I wasn’t sure, we can hope, right, but really we won?! I had to make calls and double, triple,  quadruple check – it wasn’t real unless it was published…when the US awoke and we started seeing the tweets and the open nasa site actually reflect what had happened, we had to call the whole team. We had won a Best In Class award as Most Inspiring, we had to get the team together to meet that evening.

As one team member was in a different country we got him on a Google Hangout so he could take part in our mini photoshoot!
Following on from the winning announcement, we had an opportunity to update the working prototype of the space app as the open nasa team were to show some solutions to the NASA advisory council. I added some controls and custom triggers into the app so we could give them a demoable space app.
We are now trying to sync the team up to carry on the project and get the public app and infrastructure in place to get out to the people and working on getting the iPad app into Space!

www.teeminus10.com & @teeminus10

http://2013.spaceappschallenge.org/project/t-10/

http://spacekate.com/2013/international-space-apps-challenge/

http://metofficenews.wordpress.com/2013/05/23/nasa-space-apps-challenge-global-winners-announced/

http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2013/may/HQ_13-152_Space_App_Challenge_winners.html

So we’ve made it to the end of the year, I’ve achieved a lot and failed to accomplish lots too.

Ket by a river boat on the thames

I think it’s good to challenge yourself and set goals, so in an attempt to redeem my lack of blogging and finally release my backlog of many posts sat in drafts, I will use this opportunity to thank all my friends and family for their support over the last year, which hasn’t been easy, with many Highs and Lows.

Here are a few of the Highs I can recall right now, in no particular order:

  • NASA Space Apps Challenge London Finalist
  • Displayed Space Apps Solution at the V&A Victoria & Albert Museum (London)
  • Nasa SpaceApps Challenge Winner (Most Inspirational)
  • New York Comic Con 2013
  • Stumptown Cold Brew Coffee on tap
  • MAVEN NASA Rocket Launch
  • Kennedy Space Centre
  • SCI-FI-LONDON app update & new QR  Treasure Hunt
  • Radio Taxis App Launch
  • TiAppCamp 1 – London
  • TiAppCamp 2 – Atlanta
  • TiConf EU (Spain)
  • Blackberry Jam EU – Amsterdam
  • QE (School) Reunion drinks
  • CAPOW – Digital Comics Publishing Project
  • Saved my HONDA Prelude from the scrap heap!

I will add to this as I recall the year :) I won’t list my failures, probably too many to count, but will focus on the positive things that happened, and use this to appreciate all the good that came out of this past year.

Now to make some coffee and cue up a bunch of  posts.

HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOU ALL!

I thought I’d share this quick little snippet with you.

I’ve been struggling with an Titanium Android app issue. Here is my problem:

There is a text field within a tableview. When you tap on the field the keyboard shows (being given focus), but the field will loose it’s focus immediately, they keyboard remains,  you then have to tap the textfield again to be able to input text.

Turns out that you need to specify a height on the parent TableView – that fixes the problem! Found through this blog post.

http://cbpbenitez.blogspot.com/2013/05/textfield-focus-bug-on-titanium-mobile.htm