Google is Friday Lunch Sponsor of OTA16

Google_Developers_logoWe’re thrilled to announce that the lovely team over at Google are sponsoring Over the Air for the third time in a row, check and taking care of Friday Lunch!

Rupert Whitehead, cialis Developer Relations Programs manager, generic told us

“We’re happy to partner with Over the Air and look forward to seeing more successful mobile developers on Android, iOS and the web. Check out Google’s guidelines for multi-screen development with Web Fundamentals, explore developing for the physical web and find more great resources here.”

Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. Google+ is the social layer that brings together all of Google’s products to make sharing easier and more nuanced. Find out how developers can tap into this platform at: Google’s cloud platform offers incredible scale and performance using the same infrastructure as the rest of Google which makes it a great fit for mobile developers. Find out more at:

Sigfox is Saturday Lunch Sponsor of OTA16

sigfoxWe are thrilled to announce that Sigfox is sponsoring Saturday Lunch at Over the Air. Sigfox is a communication solution that enables real world objects to have a voice, thanks to our dedicated IoT network. Sigfox enables developers to retrieve data from sensors and objects via simple and easy to use cloud service (Callbacks and REST API).

Sigfox provides an inexpensive, reliable and low power solution for the Internet of Things. It works give makers, developers and startups the power to connect their projects from the physical world up to the digital. Find out more at

“At Sigfox, we’re makers through and through – Over the Air 2016 embodies everything that is the maker spirit and we’re excited to see all of the awesome projects and workshops taking place this year. We’re bringing along some Sigfox enabled Dev Kits for makers to ‘bring their ideas to life’, so visit our workshop to get started connecting your projects! Look out for us across the weekend and come chat to us about your projects, ideas or anything else!” – Alex Bucknall, Developer Evangelist at Sigfox

What to read when you’re not at OTA

**EDIT: I stand corrected, “ESR  (as Eric Raymond is most well known) did NOT write the Jargon File. He is a maintainer of it. You can see the revision history at The Jargon File was published as a book as the Hacker’s Dictionary (and then the New Hacker’s Dictionary).”

– thanks David!!

(correction picked up below)


I was just taking a little trip down memory lane, to the time when Matthew Cashmore helped organise the first Yahoo! open Hack Day in London, back in 2006. Which lead me to Chad Dickerson’s blog post about the 4th ever Yahoo! Hack Day and a lovely little reading list:

You may already be familiar with Eric Raymond’s writing (if not, get on that!!), but you may not know he also maintains the Jargon File, which includes a great definition of ‘Hacking

“Hacking might be characterized as ‘an appropriate application of ingenuity’. Whether the result is a quick-and-dirty patchwork job or a carefully crafted work of art, you have to admire the cleverness that went into it.”

and a brilliant Bibliography that you can add to your reading list next. You’re welcome!


Here are some other books you can read to help you understand the hacker mindset.

[Hofstadter] Gödel Escher Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid. Douglas Hofstadter. Copyright © 1979. Basic Books. ISBN 0-394-74502-7.

This book reads like an intellectual Grand Tour of hacker preoccupations. Music, mathematical logic, programming, speculations on the nature of intelligence, biology, and Zen are woven into a brilliant tapestry themed on the concept of encoded self-reference. The perfect left-brain companion to Illuminatus.

[Shea-ampersand-Wilson] The Illuminatus! Trilogy. Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson. DTP. ISBN 0440539811.

(Originally in three volumes: The Eye in the Pyramid, The Golden Apple, and Leviathan).

This work of alleged fiction is an incredible berserko-surrealist rollercoaster of world-girdling conspiracies, intelligent dolphins, the fall of Atlantis, who really killed JFK, sex, drugs, rock’n’roll, and the Cosmic Giggle Factor. First published in three volumes, but there is now a one-volume trade paperback, carried by most chain bookstores under SF. The perfect right-brain companion to Hofstadter’s Göodel, Escher, Bach. See Eris, Discordianism, random numbers, Church of the SubGenius.

[Adams] The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Douglas Adams. Pocket Books. Copyright © 1981. ISBN 0-671-46149-4.

This ‘Monty Python in Space’ spoof of SF genre traditions has been popular among hackers ever since the original British radio show. Read it if only to learn about Vogons (see bogon) and the significance of the number 42 (see random numbers) — and why the winningest chess program of 1990 was called ‘Deep Thought’.

[Geoffrey] The Tao of Programming. James Geoffrey. Infobooks. Copyright © 1987. ISBN 0-931137-07-1.

This gentle, funny spoof of the Tao Te Ching contains much that is illuminating about the hacker way of thought. “When you have learned to snatch the error code from the trap frame, it will be time for you to leave.

[Levy] Hackers. Steven Levy. Anchor/Doubleday. Copyright © 1984. ISBN 0-385-19195-2.

Levy’s book is at its best in describing the early MIT hackers at the Model Railroad Club and the early days of the microcomputer revolution. He never understood Unix or the networksthough, and his enshrinement of Richard Stallman as “the last true hacker” turns out (thankfully) to have been quite misleading. Despite being a bit dated and containing some minor errors (many fixed in the paperback edition), this remains a useful and stimulating book that captures the feel of several important hacker subcultures.

[Kelly-Bootle] The Computer Contradictionary. Stan Kelly-Bootle. MIT Press. Copyright © 1995. ISBN 0-262-61112-0.

This pastiche of Ambrose Bierce’s famous work is similar in format to the Jargon File (and quotes several entries from TNHD-2) but somewhat different in tone and intent. It is more satirical and less anthropological, and is largely a product of the author’s literate and quirky imagination. For example, it defines computer science as “a study akin to numerology and astrology, but lacking the precision of the former and the success of the latter” andimplementation as “The fruitless struggle by the talented and underpaid to fulfill promises made by the rich and ignorant”; flowchart becomes “to obfuscate a problem with esoteric cartoons”. Revised and expanded from The Devil’s DP Dictionary, McGraw-Hill 1981, ISBN 0-07-034022-6; that work had some stylistic influence on TNHD-1.

[Jennings] The Devouring Fungus: Tales from the Computer Age. Karla Jennings. Norton. Copyright © 1990. ISBN 0-393-30732-8.

The author of this pioneering compendium knits together a great deal of computer- and hacker-related folklore with good writing and a few well-chosen cartoons. She has a keen eye for the human aspects of the lore and is very good at illuminating the psychology and evolution of hackerdom. Unfortunately, a number of small errors and awkwardnesses suggest that she didn’t have the final manuscript checked over by a native speaker; the glossary in the back is particularly embarrassing, and at least one classic tale (the Magic Switch story, retold here under A Story About Magic in Appendix A) is given in incomplete and badly mangled form. Nevertheless, this book is a win overall and can be enjoyed by hacker and non-hacker alike.

[Kidder] The Soul of a New Machine. Tracy Kidder. Avon. Copyright © 1982. ISBN 0-380-59931-7.

This book (a 1982 Pulitzer Prize winner) documents the adventure of the design of a new Data General computer, the MV-8000 Eagle. It is an amazingly well-done portrait of the hacker mindset — although largely the hardware hacker — done by a complete outsider. It is a bit thin in spots, but with enough technical information to be entertaining to the serious hacker while providing non-technical people a view of what day-to-day life can be like — the fun, the excitement, the disasters. During one period, when the microcode and logic were glitching at the nanosecond level, one of the overworked engineers departed the company, leaving behind a note on his terminal as his letter of resignation: “I am going to a commune in Vermont and will deal with no unit of time shorter than a season.

[Libes] Life with UNIX: a Guide for Everyone. Don Libes. Sandy Ressler. Prentice-Hall. Copyright © 1989. ISBN 0-13-536657-7.

The authors of this book set out to tell you all the things about Unix that tutorials and technical books won’t. The result is gossipy, funny, opinionated, downright weird in spots, and invaluable. Along the way they expose you to enough of Unix’s history, folklore and humor to qualify as a first-class source for these things. Because so much of today’s hackerdom is involved with Unix, this in turn illuminates many of its in-jokes and preoccupations.

[Vinge] True Names … and Other Dangers. Vernor Vinge. Baen Books. Copyright © 1987. ISBN 0-671-65363-6.

Hacker demigod Richard Stallman used to say that the title story of this book “expresses the spirit of hacking best”. Until the subject of the next entry came out, it was hard to even nominate another contender. The other stories in this collection are also fine work by an author who has since won multiple Hugos and is one of today’s very best practitioners of hard SF.

[Stephenson] Snow Crash. Neal Stephenson. Bantam. Copyright © 1992. ISBN 0-553-56261-4.

Stephenson’s epic, comic cyberpunk novel is deeply knowing about the hacker psychology and its foibles in a way no other author of fiction has ever even approached. His imagination, his grasp of the relevant technical details, and his ability to communicate the excitement of hacking and its results are astonishing, delightful, and (so far) unsurpassed.

[Markoff-ampersand-Hafner] Cyberpunk: Outlaws and Hackers on the Computer Frontier. Katie Hafner. John Markoff. Simon & Schuster. Copyright © 1991. ISBN 0-671-68322-5.

This book gathers narratives about the careers of three notorious crackers into a clear-eyed but sympathetic portrait of hackerdom’s dark side. The principals are Kevin Mitnick, “Pengo” and “Hagbard” of the Chaos Computer Club, and Robert T. Morris (see RTM, sense 2). Markoff and Hafner focus as much on their psychologies and motivations as on the details of their exploits, but don’t slight the latter. The result is a balanced and fascinating account, particularly useful when read immediately before or after Cliff Stoll’s The Cuckoo’s Egg. It is especially instructive to compare RTM, a true hacker who blundered, with the sociopathic phone-freak Mitnick and the alienated, drug-addled crackers who made the Chaos Club notorious. The gulf between wizard and wannabee has seldom been made more obvious.

[Stoll] The Cuckoo’s Egg. Clifford Stoll. Doubleday. Copyright © 1989. ISBN 0-385-24946-2.

Clifford Stoll’s absorbing tale of how he tracked Markus Hess and the Chaos Club cracking ring nicely illustrates the difference between ‘hacker’ and ‘cracker’. Stoll’s portrait of himself, his lady Martha, and his friends at Berkeley and on the Internet paints a marvelously vivid picture of how hackers and the people around them like to live and how they think.

The OTA16 CoderDojo

CoderDojoWe are pleased to once again be collaborating with the CoderDojo London team, to offer a free coding event for 7 to 17 year olds on Saturday the 26th. If you are attending Over the Air, we invite you to register your 7 to 17 year-old (or niece or nephew) to take part in the CoderDojo workshop.

They will need to bring a laptop with them to take part, and all minors must be accompanied by a parent or guardian for the entire duration of the session. The event is completely free but numbers are limited so we do ask that you register and get a ticket in advance, including your own name, so that we can plan for the correct numbers.



Photo: Benjamin Ellis

Photo: Benjamin Ellis

CoderDojo is a worldwide movement of free, volunteer-led, community-based programming clubs for young people. Anyone aged seven to seventeen can visit a Dojo where they can learn to code, build a website, create an app or a game, and explore technology in an informal, creative, and social environment.

The CoderDojo movement believes that an understanding of programming languages is increasingly important in the modern world, that it’s both better and easier to learn these skills early, and that nobody should be denied the opportunity to do so.

Featured tracks at the event will include:

  • Swift Playground
  • Naturebytes
  • BBC micro:bits

A number of the CoderDojo workshop participants will be invited to do a “Show & Tell” of their work on Saturday afternoon after the Hack Day entrants have shown their hacks. It is entirely up to your child whether they would like to take part in this, but unfortunately we won’t have enough time available for all children to take part.

To Find out more about CoderDojo, visit or watch this video “CoderDojo – One Rule: Be Cool!”

Any queries regarding this event or CoderDojo London, please email

Twitter : @CoderDojoLondon

Facebook : coderdojolondon

decoded:Legal is Bean Bag Sponsor of OTA16

Hacking & Bean BagsWith huge thanks to decoded:Legal, doctor OTA16 can haz Bean Bags!

decoded:Legal is a specialist English law firm, helping Internet, telecoms, technology and healthcare start-ups and businesses achieve their commercial goals, and navigate often complex regulatory environments.

“We help clients, from small start-ups to huge companies, do cool things with technology across a wide range of industries, including Internet and communications services, drones, 3D printing, and a whole range of apps and services.You can find us on the conventional web ( and on TOR (expvqqiv2z5ekf47.onion).”



Running OTA16 on an ‘austerity’ budget

2016 has certainly been an interesting year – possibly the most glued-to-the-news that we’ve ever been, and huge divisions exposed across western society.  An excellent time for us to come together in a celebration of what we can achieve when we share knowledge and collaborate on fresh ideas for a shared future.

But it has been a year of changes in the mobile industry as well, with many reorganisations taking place, and tactical changes to how companies approach developer relations and outreach. Many of our supporters over 9 years of Over the Air have been faced with budget cuts, stretched teams, and major layoffs… necessitating our move to a new date from the original plans for September.

Winning a few more months to plan the event has unfortunately not had much of an impact on the financial picture – even with the help of all of you lovely people who have chipped in a fiver. We now find ourselves running an ‘austerity’ budget, and are having to get mighty creative on where we can save a quid or two.

Can you organisation support us?

At the moment we are particularly looking for two Lunch Sponsors – without whom we’re going to have to ask everyone to brown-bag it for the two days. We don’t have enough money for a second Marquee, and we also don’t have money for Bean Bags.

Here’s what the budget looks like – we are currently £5k short of the ULTRA minimum budget.

Item Incurred Ideal Budget Min Budget ULTRA Min
Runners, 2 day shifts £520.00 £260.00 £260.00
Event Mgr £1,080.00 £1,080.00 £1,080.00
Lead Runner £630.00 £480.00 £480.00
Code AV £9,043.00 £9,043.00 £5,000.00
Accountant £800.00 £800.00 £800.00
Printing £200.00 £0.00 £0.00
Bean Bags £3,700.00 £1,890.00 £0.00
Vehicle hire £85.00 £85.00 £85.00
Insurance £500.00 £0.00 £0.00
Groceries (Beer, Wine, Soft Drinks, Coffee, Tea) £3,000.00 £2,000.00 £1,000.00
Ticket Payment System £12.89 £12.89 £12.89 £12.89
Wifi  £500 £3,500.00 £2,000.00 £1,500.00
VenueHire £10,000.00 £10,000.00 £7,000.00
Marquee hire £4,000.00 £4,000.00 £0.00
Catering £6,725.00 £5,000.00 £3,000.00
Container Rental £900.00 £900.00 £900.00
Corporate Tax £2,000.00 £2,000.00 £2,000.00
VAT due Q2 £2,310.00 £2,310.00 £2,310.00 £2,310.00
VAT Q3/ Q4 £7,000.00 £3,000.00 £3,000.00
Cleaner £280.00 £280.00 £280.00
Parcelforce 17.22 £17.22 £17.22 £17.22
Security £500.00 £500.00 £500.00
Sollicitors £960.00 £960.00 £960.00 £960.00
Total £3,800.11 £57,763.11 £46,618.11 £30,185.11

How does that compare to previous years? In 2015 our budget was £67,870.90 and the last year at Bletchley Park our budget was £100,826.12

Can you be our hero? Then please contact


We’re getting Arty at OTA16

21617447969_65c88afdb7_zOver the Air has always been able celebrating programming & development as a creative discipline, but this year we’ll be inviting you to explore your artistic side as well.

We’re pleased to welcome Hercules Fisherman to the team as curator of the Art Space this year! You may know him as Herx, and a fixture of the Hardware Hacking and Start-up scene, but Hercules is an artist as well, and he’ll be bringing a whole new realm of creative expression to the event this year.

If you’d like to contribute interesting materials for an artistic hack this year, do send him a note on Twitter! @Herx


OTA this year: How do we Extend the Web?

Over the Air is a hack day – combining an overnight hack-a-thon format with a developer conference where you can come and learn and hear from your colleagues about new and emerging technologies (and ideas) that you can pick up and use.

This year’s programme is coming together. We have some amazing speakers on tap and a few focus areas are emerging. At Over the Air we’ve always had an underlying theme of connected applications and the interconnection of things. We’ve also always had a focus on the open web, and especially the use of the web on mobile devices. This year our focus turns to how the Web can be extended – extended to the world around us (through the internet of things), extended to the way we communicate, extended to new modalities of use and extended to across diverse communities of users.

Here’s a sample of some of our speakers for the two-day session schedule:

Keynoting our event will be Hadley Beeman, someone well known to the UK tech community. Hadley is currently a member of the W3C Technical Architecture Group which I co-chair and works with me there at the cutting edge of web technologies.

Keynoting our second day will be the Léonie Watson, also a leader in web standards and as co-chair of the Web Platform working group also at the forefront of emerging web tech.

Ada Rose Edwards will be talking about the future of Web VR, moving the web into emerging virtual reality platforms.

Peter O’Shaughnessy will be talking about web bluetooth, extending the web by allowing web applications to connect to devices around you.

Tim Panton will be talking about how to use WebRTC peer-to-peer technologies to enable control of connected Internet-of-Things devices in a secure and decentralized way.

Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino will give us a snapshot of the IoT landscape today. Terence Eden will be speaking about some of the dangers and anti-patterns in the Internet of Things.

Charlotte Spencer will be speaking about the culture of open source and James Smith will be talking about how we can take open source / open web culture and apply it to the political arena.

…and we are still announcing / confirming speakers for both day one and day two of our program.

As usual, all of our speakers will be talking about technologies and ideas that we hope our attendees will pick up and build with. Sound interesting? Come join us at Over the Air!

Twitter is Coffee & Tea Sponsor of OTA16

Twitter_logo_blueWe’re pleased to let you know that the 8th edition of Over the Air will be fully caffeinated, thanks to the sponsorship of the lovely team over at Twitter.  Find out more about their tools for Devs here:

The @TwitterDev team is once again pleased to partner with OTA. Twitter was born on mobile, and we know what it takes to design, release, and grow a great mobile app. Fabric was crafted with both power and ease-of-use in mind – it’s our modular mobile platform which makes it easy for developers to build the best apps. Fabric combines the services of Crashlytics, MoPub, Twitter and others to address some of the most common and pervasive challenges that all apptwitt developers face: stability, distribution, revenue and identity.