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Random Bits from London Hack Day .:.

The Alexandra Palace was hit by lightning--first time since 1912, rumor has it--shortly after 11am. There was a terrific boom, followed by a screech that sounded like an enormous bottle rocket taking off ... and then, in majestic succession, each of the cavernous room's eight-foot fire doors swung slooooowly open, admitting a gentle English drizzle into the room at sixteen evenly-spaced points. (Talk of Google Weather's undocumented Write API has already been heard, as well as a Maps mash-up with Smite button.)

The audience responded with what I assume to be typical British aplomb: presentations ceased, umbrellas emerged where needed, and hacking (the face-to-face kind, without network access or power) continued. A few minutes later the storm began in earnest, and we were all requested to evacuate to the glassed-in Palm Court. Lunch and more real-world hacking ensued; pictures are pouring into Flickr right now, under hackdaylondon.

We're all back in the room; later presentations were canceled in favor of getting on with the open hacking period. More later, if time and weather permits.

[cue the Wayne's World wiggly transition]

I'm back, weeks after the fact, with Yahoo! Research Berkeley's time-tagged video from the U.K. Hack Day presentations. Go check it out; timetagging seems like it's going to be a valuable addition to your bookmarking arsenal.

Build a BBC Search Widget in Under an Hour - 16Jun2007

I've just finished my talk at London Hack Day; here's the promised URL for Build a BBC News Search Widget:

As previously noted, the BBC widget works the same way that the Wikipedia version does, by querying Yahoo! search for pages restricted to the subdomain. It will not have the most current stuff; for instant results, use the Badger to hook up via Pipes.

The talk seemed to go well; we have quite a few hackers out here even though it's still relatively early. Please feel free to leave questions or comments here; I'll be checking in throughout the weekend.

London Hack Day Schedule - 9Jun2007

London Hack Day kicks off in just under one week, and I'll be charging around the globe from Tuesday onwards. First to Portland for Elena's middle-school graduation, PDX to SFO to Heathrow Wednesday afternoon, landing on Thursday, sleeping until Friday morning, and then up and at 'em for 48 straight hours, with 600 other Friends of the Hack. Vickie's joining me Sunday for the fun part, then we're in Cambridge for a couple of days, and then to Barcelona for our first kidless vacation together in, um, ever.

I knew there was a Significant Nerd Underground in London ... but I am just plain floored by how quickly London Hack Day has flourished in so many places. In addition to official sources like hackday.blorg, which I just updated with the most recent schedule, look for communities on Flickr, Upcoming, Jumpcut,, Facebook, and The Unofficial Hack Day Wiki.

For the definitive version, however, keep an eye on Backnetwork. After a rocky start--hint: the CSS class name for the rich-text editor is "fckeditor"--I am coming away enormously impressed. Backnetwork is feature-rich, has eminently hackable APIs, and is staffed by wonderfully responsive folks like Glenn Jones, who settled my issues straightaway.

At 10am Saturday, I'll be presenting Build a BBC Search Widget in Under an Hour, which will appear here roughly concurrently with the presentation. (Wouldn't want to spoil the surprise, now, would we?) It will be substantially similar to the Wikipedia version, if you just can't stand not seeing something right now.

The rest of the schedule looks something like this:

{ "londonhackday" : {
  { "when" : "sat16-sun17jun07" },
  { "where" : "allypally" },
  { "schedule" : { [
    { "sat0900" : "registration opens" },
    { "sat1000" : [
      { "kent brewster" : "build a bbc search app" },
      { "george wright" : "interactive tv" },
      { "dan theurer & ryan kennedy" : "y! bbauth / mail" }
    ] },
    { "sat1100" : [
      { "ian forrester & matt cashmore" : "bbc apis" },
      { "aaron straup cope & dan catt" : "machine tags" },
      { "bradley wright & mirek grymuza" : "y! answers / local / maps" }
    ] },
    { "sat1200" : [
      { "christian heilmann & nate koechley" : "yui library" },
      { "chris bowley & tristan ferne" :  "things to make & do" },
      { "mor naaman & tom coates" : "new geo services from y!" }
    ] },
    { "sat1300" : [
      { "cal henderson" : "flickr apis" },
      { "jonathan trevor" : "using pipes" },
      { "matt cashmore" : "bbc playground servers" }
    ] },
    { "sat1400" : "chad dickerson & matt cashmore" : "intro to hack day" },
    { "sat1430" : "start hacking" },
    { "sun1430" : "stop hacking" },
    { "sun1500" : "oohs and aahs" },
    { "sun2000" : "the rumble strips" }
  ] },
  { "food & drink" : "ongoing" },
  { "sleep" : "if you gotta, you gotta" },
  { "details" : "" }

Hope to see you there!

U.K. Hack Day is On! -- 20Apr2007

Had to push the site from my hotel room in Pittsburgh ... but yes! It's official! Yahoo! is having another open Hack Day, this time at the Alexandra Palace, in London. Sign-ups are open now at; if you're available the weekend of June 16th, please consider joining us.

I'll be giving a custom-tailored Build A Search App presentation, probably involving the BBC's excellent news search results, which are at the heart of Multi-Search. (Side note: I can't even begin to express my admiration for the BBC's crew of editors and writers; the headlines and summaries on their news feeds are universally tight, bright, and informative.)

Expect U.K. Hack Day to be substantially similar to what we did in Sunnyvale last September, including physical, mental, and psychic sustenance. Sign-ups are going through EventWax this time; as before, you need to sign up in advance because space at the venue--especially space on the wireless network at the venue--will be limited, and we want the experience to be outstanding for everyone.

Tom Coates has more at Oh, and you should keep an eye on the official site, at, and the Hack Day blog, which I've just updated. If you like, you can grab the feed with Badger and put it wherever you like. Just click the "get this for your page" link at the bottom of the badge and you're off and running.

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