Today’s Round-up from our Citizen Journalist

This year we have invited long-time Over the Air attendee “Phone Fighter” and “Teen Dragon” Peter Price to be our Citizen Journalist and give us the word from the ground.

Peter started off his journalistic duties by interviewing our Keynote speaker Ariel Waldman:

After Ariel Waldman’s awesome (official description) talk we took a moment to talk some more on various questions that you the reader deserve to hear the answers to.  First of all we have her assurance that the moon landing actually did happen, so myth busted.

Through the short interview it was very clear how important Ariel believes events such as OTA are, playing part to the renaissance of science and technology that she sees happening in this decade. She sees the role of the general public very large in this wildfire of progress and development and emphasises the need for both science projects with obvious end goals – such as landing on the moon – but also projects with no clear purpose – such as a gimp mask you can wear in which you can feel light.

No matter how random it is it’s all technological and scientific development. So remember that on hack day. Thanks Ariel for your time, and lets all make OTA 2012 is the best one yet.

First up, Peter’s report of Bruce Lawson’s Session:

In watching Bruce Lawson’s ‘Responsive Web Design – the specs before sex’, I felt a complete neanderthal in this area, at many times confused and I always feel awed by those around me who understand coding and resolution. But Bruce’s funny and informative talk makes some sense of something I see like the enigma which the code breakers at Bletchley had to solve.

He gave me a good picture of the alarmingly fast rate of innovation in the area of responsive web design. The things that I take for granted such as the format of the websites I browse on my newly obtained free I-pad (thanks OTA!), and explained the colour and sizings of them in all its extreme complication and insanity. This talk is evidence of the science and technology renaissance that Ariel told us of. Updates, tweeks and improvements come in constantly at a rapid rate, some of which I hope will be created through this great event.

Peter’ also sat in on Kevin Prince and Sam Machin’s session:

‘TheLab: Demo Cool Things’ was a fascinating look into ‘the lab’-  a creative development group working for O2. Creating various interesting and of course cool things such as an app that allows individuals to see which place around the world is the most popular through collection of dialling code data. In their own words they’re like a hack day everyday creating various innovative apps, working on the foundation of the phrase ‘get excited and make things happen’, and perfectly fitting into the ethos of Over the Air. Keep up the good work!

Peter then joined one of PJ Evans’ tours of Bletchley Park:

The story of Bletchley Park is one of secrecy, espionage and innovation. On the Bletchley Park Tour we enter what many would call a geek heaven. I don’t know what’s better – the enigma machine, the replicas of the Bombe, or the first ever computer. Lead by Paul Evans our guide, we are brought to the replica of the Bombe. Unfortunately all were destroyed by order of Churchill, as our guide said “it is better for secrets to not even exist then keep them”.

This machine was used to crack the Nazi codes vital to success on the Western Front and of course the Enigma Machine and the ‘Colossus’ computer which made computer technology as we know it today possible. I leave this guide with knowledge of many things, including that the odds of getting the code right with the Bombe was 138 trillion to one, and that there is a large pile of cups at the bottom of the lake left by a disgruntled code breaker. I strongly recommend that all OTAers check out the museum, there shall be live code breaking tomorrow using the replica Bombe it’s something that all geeks cannot miss.

Peter helped us close off the day with an excellent Ignite Talk on the use of mobile & social tools to empower youth engagement and political activism – but more on that in a future post!