Event: Terminator All-Nighter

September 23rd, 2010

I really love the all-nighter events that IMAX hold throughout the year. I got to go to the Batman one last year and it was awesome watching those movies all behind each other This time around they’re doing a Terminator all-nighter, showing all 4 movies.


That’s over 8 hours of Terminator! It will be on the night of October 1, starting at 23:59. There are still lots of tickets available with tickets ranging from £19 to £29.50.

I won’t be able to make it (I’m in the Netherlands that weekend), but it looks like it could be a fun event!

Tags: Events, Movies

So I’ll start off with the AWESOME news: I’m going to San Francisco!!!!! Our team won the overall best prize at CharityHack last weekend and we’ll get to attend the PayPal X Developer Conference in San Fran. Flights, hotel, everything will be taken care of. It still hasn’t completely sunken in, but we worked so hard last weekend to make an awesome hack, and it’s amazing to win.

CharityHack is a two day hack event, where developers, designers and anybody else who wants to come along, create hacks to help charity. Like last year it was held organized and sponsored by PayPal and held at their offices in Richmond. Now, I’ve been to 3 hack-weekends in the past 3 weeks (one of the reasons why I haven’t blogged that much): MusicHackDay, Over The Air and as last CharityHack. This time around I tried to actually create something each time, finally teaching myself some web development through these projects.

For CharityHack, I teamed up with Cristiano, Dom and Caius to work on an app we called CharityBox. After Over The Air, we all really felt we should create something interesting for CharityHack and Dom had this cool idea… So we all showed up on Saturday and started working.

So what did we make? Well, kind of a lot actually. I’m still amazed at the amount of work we managed to pull off in only 24 hours. For starters, it’s a browser extension that turns links to online shops into affiliate links for charity. Each time a person clicks on one of our affiliate links and then buys something online, a percentage of the amount goes to charity… with no added cost to the user. Besides that though we wanted to add something that benefited the user (give them incentive to actually install the app). So the extension icon blinks if you’re on a site for which we have a voucher for, giving you discount, freebies, etc.

Then we also created a way the user could choose to which charities the ‘raised’ money went; we did this by replacing the ads on your Google Search page with info on relevant charities and allowing you to select charities you like and want to donate money to. Finally we also added a site where people could login with Twitter and see how much money they’d raise and which stickers they’d earned (like achievements, awards, badges, etc). Here’s a video of the final presentation that Dom gave:

Again I’m amazed with the amount of work we managed to do! The app isn’t completely finished; not everything above is 100% stable to release into the wild, but most of it we have got working. You can sign up at CharityBoxApp.com to get notified when we actually launch.

After seeing the presentations of the other hacks, I didn’t think we were going to win; there were so many good hacks done this year! I’ll go through my favourite other hacks in another post (cause this post is already quite long as it is), but if you want a sneak peak just do a Twitter search for #charityhack.

So… San Francisco. Whohooooooooooooo.

Tags: Events

Event: Playful 2010

September 22nd, 2010

One of the more interesting events of the past two years that I’ve been to has been the Playful events. Each year they manage to get a unique collection of speakers from different fields, all talking about game design (without necessarily being game designers or working within games). And each year I’ve been blown away by some of the talks given there (see my posts about Playful ’08 and Playful ’09).

There are still tickets available, and if I was you I try to get my hands on one of them! They’re only £50; a pretty good price for a conference like this.

Here is Playful’s description of what their event is about:

Playful is a one-day event all about games and play – in all their manifestations, throughout the contemporary media landscape. It’s a conference for architects, artists, designers, developers, geeks, gurus, gamers, tinkerers, thinkerers, bloggers, joggers, and philosophers. We look at what PLAY means both creatively and culturally, and put speakers on the stage who offer different perspectives on where we are currently, where we’ve been, and where we’re going. We want people walking away talking about the nature of games…what they mean to different people inside, on the periphery, outside or miles away from the industry.

So will I see you there? To see the full list of speakers, check out the Playful site.

Tags: Events, Games

Me Haz: Another Shiny New iPad

September 21st, 2010

This week has just been amazing. I’ve been so busy (thus the lack of blog posts around here) and so very very lucky. I’ll talk about some of the other awesome news in a later post, but the first bit is: I WON AN IPAD!

Last Thursday I attended a small meetup to get to know the new team behind the Three marketing and community outreach. It was a great evening, catching up with some familiar faces and meeting the new team. During the event we found out they had a competition to win an iPad if you answered the following question: what was the first phone available on Three? … Uhm… I had no idea, but thought it would be easy to find with the powerz of the internetz. Yeah, no. I spent at least half an hour trying to google it (with my trusty iPod Touch and Mifi combo) and eventually found it (it’s the NEC e606, if you were curious).

Then on Friday I got an email that I had won! Awesome! I was headed into central London anyway, so picked it up that afternoon.

Now technically I kind of already have an iPad; as you might remember I bought one together with Cristiano a couple of months ago. I’ve been saying for ages that I like the iPad, but didn’t really need one for my own. All I did was read papers with it, and not much more. Weirdly enough since getting my own, I’ve use it a lot. It’s a different experience when you’re not sharing it and having it ALL to yourself. I’ve properly set up my calendar and twitter on it, and it’s great as a simple second screen on my desk.

A huge thank you to @ThreeUKLatest! It’s the second most awesome prize I’ve won this year… (stick around to hear about the first).

Btw, if you’ve got an iPad, you should be listening to PadAddicts (see their website or subscribe to them in iTunes).

Want to run around the Southbank pretending to be a spy? Or solve cryptic messages to find the hidden treasure? Then come along to the Hide & Seek Weekender!

The Hide & Seek Weekend is a free weekend of social and pervasive games on London’s Southbank. This year it’s running this weekend (9th – 11th July) at the National Theatre, in partnership with LIFT (London International Festival of Theatre). Check out the full schedule to see which games will be played.

Hide & Seek

I’ve been for the past 2 years now (and to their 1 evening Sandpit events) and it’s always great fun. Throughout the weekend they hold tons of games and there’s always something cool to do. I’ll be there on Saturday and Sunday; if you’re going too, leave a comment behind if you want to meetup!

Tags: Events, Games

Two weeks ago I found myself in Helsinki for the Like Minds conference, a day of presentations and panels about social media, mobile and augmented reality. I was one of 3 bloggers that was invited along and flown over by Nokia and WOMworld, and it was a pretty cool experience.

I woke up that day at 3am to make my way to Schiphol airport, catching a flight from Amsterdam to Copenhagen and then another to Helisnki. Around 12, I arrived at the awesome 5 star hotel and made my way to the conference venue. There were 4 keynotes and 3 panels all with the theme “Real Time in Real Life”. Besides that, attendees were encouraged to discuss the talks with one another during “Crowd Discussion” breaks.

Like Minds Helsinki

The panels were pretty interesting, but (as I didn’t take notes) I have some difficulty remembering what the key points of each one was, so I’ll only focus on the 4 keynotes here:

Real Time, Real Life, Virtual World

This was a presentation from Oisin Lunny, the UK Managing Director for Sulake, the company behind Habbo Hotel. He talked about the history behind Habbo Hotel (how it started as a hobby project as a virtual chat room for a Finnish band, but grew into something more) and what made it so successful. Habbo Hotel allows teens to create their own virtual rooms, which are customizable in all sorts of ways. It’s all about facilitating creativity, providing the tools so that teens can build their own worlds (“create the theatre, not the play”). Lunny explained how Habbo Hotel was monetized, from sponsored rooms to creating luxury virtual items.

Augmented Reality in Real Time and Real Life

Andy Gstoll from Mobilizy held  a talk about Wikitude, an augmented reality app for your mobile. They currently have 2 products; the first being Wikitude World Browser. This uses your mobile’s camera to show you the world around you, but with additional information. You can load different “content worlds”, each showing specific info, like what tourist attractions are located near you (and in which direction) or where the closest Starbucks is.

Wikitude in Salzburg

The second application is WikiTude Drive, a navigation system, that shows you the real world with directions overlayed in real-time camera view; instead of a 2D map you actually see where you’re driving and where you have to go.

I love the idea behind both applications, but how practical is it? The most useful time for me to use something like this is when I’m on holiday in a new and unknown location to check out tourist stuff, but most of those times that’s another country… where I don’t have a proper data connection (or risk paying tons for roaming charges). Using it in my own town could be cool, but most cases can just as well require simple 2D maps instead of augmented reality. What are those special cases where I’d NEED augmented reality?

The Future of Experience Marketing

Myles Peyton from Total Immersion demonstrated the augmented reality technology his company was working on. This was kind of the opposite of Wikitude, here you had something tangible (like a magazine or a card) that you held up in front of a camera and extra ‘things’ would appear in screen on whatever you held. The coolest example (for me that is) was with Pokemon cards: Myles held up a Pokemon trading card in front of the camera and on screen you saw that Pokemon come out of the card. Holding a second card near it caused the two Pokemons to battle each other with flashy animations and everything. Another example was an ad in a magazine that showed videos of the product when held up in front of a camera.

It all looked awesome, but again I wonder how practical it actually is. Would kids really go and sit behind the computer/camera to see Pokemon battle this way? Would somebody with a magazine sit behind his laptop to check out the ads? Cool technology, but somebody needs to come up with a killer idea and situation where people would use this.

Like Minds Helsinki

Virtual is the New Real

This was an awesome talk by Joanne Jacobs. Again I was way too busy listening instead of taking notes, but the gist of it was that a lot of “reality” has downsides (it’s bureaucratic, isolating, etc) and these are solved by the virtual world. I’m hoping a video of this will appear online soon cause I can’t do justice to it by trying to explain it here.

I really enjoyed the Like Minds conference, kudos to Drew Ellis and Scott Gould for creating such a great event. Some of the talks were a little bit too marketing pitchy for my taste, but seeing as most people attending were marketers, I guess that was the whole point (in other words, I wasn’t exactly the target audience, but still enjoyed it). After the conference, there were drinks with all the attendees and speakers and I got to meet some interesting people (*me waves at those of you who might be reading my belated blog post*).

On my second day in Helsinki I got to go to the Like Minds Summit, a day of brainstorming at an Helsinki villa. More about that tomorrow…

Tags: Events

I’ve been meaning to write about the Elephant Parade for weeks now! And now they’re almost gone…

For 2 months 258 elephants livened up the streets of central London, each painted, decorated and designed by a different artist. The Elephant Parade is a campaign to highlight the cause of the endangered Asian elephant, urging people to sign a petition to help save these elephants.

Elephant 187 - Heavenly Jewel

Last weekend was the last chance to see all the elephants on the London streets, and I have to say it seems emptier with them now gone. The elephants are now almost all at the Royal Hospital Chelsea, while a couple are at Westfield Shopping Center. Monday will be your final chance to see them!

I got a bit addicted to these elephants and got the urge to photograph them all (Gotta catch em all…). I came pretty far with the final tally coming to 238 (although I still have to see if I’ve got all 238 photos). I only missed 20 of them! I’m going to try to make it to the Royal Hospital on Monday to see those final 20.

Elephant 85 - Sans Merci

I loved seeing all the different elephants, and some of them are truly special. Most are painted beautifully, but there are some unique ones with a twist. For instance, there was one near Tower Bridge which had a miniature Elephant & Castle city within it, with viewing bubbles, so you could look inside. And there was one completely covered in pennies. And another covered with Swarovski crystals. There were so many gorgeous designs, it was definitely worth checking out all of them.

I’ll do another blog post later this week, once I’ve uploaded all of the photos, with what my favourites were. Did you enjoy the elephants? If so, which one was your favourite? And have you signed the petition yet?

Tags: Events

Update: Back in London

June 24th, 2010

As usual, my blog goes a bit quiet whenever I leave London for a few days. And this time around my trip was even more hectic than normal!

The idea was to go a week to the Netherlands for yet another visit to the optician and the dentist. Then 2 weeks ago I got an email from WOMWorld/Nokia asking if I wanted to go to Helsinki for a couple of days for the LikeMinds conference. Yes! Of course this conference was exactly in the middle of my trip to the Netherlands, but Nokia was so kind to arrange flights for me from Amsterdam.


This meant though that the past week has been hectic, crazy, tiring, but pretty amazing. Within 48 hours I was in the UK, the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark and Finland (spending at least an hour in each of those countries)!

Now that I’m back home my blog posts should appear more regularly again. And expect some posts about LikeMinds!

Tags: Events

It’s been a bit of a family tradition to do a football pool with every World Cup and EuroCup. This year my brother didn’t have the time to take it unto himself to organize the entire pool, so I offered to do it instead. Last Friday I got everybody’s predictions and I realized what a pain it was going to be to update everything by hand…

This weekend was HackCamp though, so I figured I could just as well turn my family’s football pool into my hack for the two days. I started with the idea to make an actual site where every family member could log in and check their scores. After messing around with GWT and Google App Engine for a couple of hours, I felt a bit overwhelmed and tried to look for a simpler approach.

I turned to Google docs’ spreadsheets. The tricky bit was to calculate all the scores correctly. See how our family plays the pool is to make predictions for all the matches in the first round; you get 3 points if you get the result right (draw, win, loose), but an extra 7 points for the exact score. Then predictions for who goes through in the second round, but extra points if you predict the right spot (for instance A1 and A2). Then, points for correctly predicting who goes through to the quarterfinal, semifinal and final and finally the winner. Then I also wanted a graph to show some more info per game:

I won’t go through every single step, but you can check the sheet how I did it all. Yeah, it is ‘just’ a spreadsheet, but turns out you can do a couple of interesting things with it, and it was a perfect solution for my family’s pool. For starters, I can generate charts based on the data and embed them elsewhere, like here on my blog:

This chart shows how many points every person in the pool has made, with each game in it’s own colour (for instance, gray: both Mum and Matt predicted correctly that it would be draw between England and USA). If you look at the chart within Google docs (Chart 1), you can even click on each bar and see which game it is.

Here you can see per game who scored what (and which games no one predicted correctly). The one thing I’m still trying to get working is having the scores automatically updated, without me having to touch anything at all (at the moment the one thing I have to do is enter the score per played game). I got it almost working! Surprisingly I couldn’t find any simple RSS feed or XML with only the score data in it. I found a Twitter account that updates the scores during the game, put it through a Yahoo Pipe to strip out only the data I wanted. Problem right now is getting that Pipe to show the data correctly (it seems like every change I make in the pipe doesn’t show properly until a new item shows up). Once that works though, it shouldn’t be too difficult to import the data into the spreadsheet.

So I entered my ‘hack’ for the HackDay yesterday and I won a prize! I got a cool Duracell USB battery with which I can charge all my gadgets on the go. Even though I’ve been to a lot of hackdays, this is the first time I’ve actually made something. I know it’s just a spreadsheet and not the most impressive thing I could have done, but it works for what it was meant for.

Not sure if anybody might be up for it, but I’ve created another version of the spreadsheet, so that my blog/Twitter followers can play along too! Just fill in your predictions for Round 1, Round 2 and the Quarter/Semi/Finals and the rest will be taken care of.  (Or if you want to play with your own friends, I think you can make a copy from within Google docs).

Tags: Events

Last Tuesday I got invited along by PokerStars to their launch of a new special Twitter league. I wasn’t really sure what to expect, a bit of poker playing, some nibbles, the usual. To my surprise, they had arranged some ‘celebrities’ to play with us:

PokerStars Twitter League Launch

It was brilliant and yet slightly surreal; I was sitting next to ‘Brad’ who didn’t know how to play poker! Poor Angelina had to keep explaining him everything (and he still remained longer in the game than I did). Captain Jack Sparrow, Joanna Lumley and Delboy were all hilarious, staying in character the entire time.

Me, Brad and Angelina

Besides these ‘celebrities’, they had also brought along pro poker player (and host of Only Connect) Victoria Coren. I started out at the same table as her, and it was great to hear some tips and tricks on how to play poker. The weirdest moment of the night was definitely when Charlie Chaplin made butterfly wings, a crown and a wand out of balloons for Victoria Coren to wear during the poker playing… as I said: surreal.

PokerStars Twitter League Launch

I survived longer than I had expected (playing for at least 1.5 hour until I was kicked out) and had at least two hands that I think I played pretty well. After food (delicious sea bass) the losers started another table, which I ended up winning! There weren’t any prizes for that though, but it was still a lot fun. Thanks to PokerStars for a brilliant evening!

For more info on PokerStars Twitter league, check out their website.

Tags: Events