Code Club at Over the Air!

Code Club

These days developers around the world are becoming aware of the science deficit in our youth, and in particular the computer science deficit. Grass roots efforts like Code Club are trying to bridge this gap by giving kids a way to learn basic coding skills and computer science concepts in a fun environment using the wonderful Scratch programming environment and other similar tools. At last year’s Over the Air we heard about Code Club pre-launch and it sounded exciting. I don’t think the organisers could have imagined how far Code Club could have come in one year. This year we are proud to announce that we will be running a Code Club workshop for kids (open to kids 7 and up but aimed at ages 9-11). If you’re coming along to Over The Air and you have kids in this age bracket, all you need to do is register them at this separate EventBrite page. If you are not already registered for Over the Air, you can register with this form and still attend our Saturday program. And kids of all ages are always welcome at the presentations of the hacks in the afternoon on Saturday. More info on the EventBrite page, but if you have any other questions or concerns feel free to contact us by tweeting us at @overtheair, or by email at info [at] Happy coding!

GitHub donates Makey Makey kits and free Repositories

We are pleased to announce that GitHub is  donating 20 MaKey MaKey kits as Prizes toward the OTA13 Hack Day competition, as well as a free GitHub repository for all teams who enter the Hack Day competition


GitHub is the best place to share code with friends, co-workers, classmates, and complete strangers. Over three million people use GitHub to build amazing things together.

With the collaborative features of, our desktop and mobile apps, and GitHub Enterprise, it has never been easier for individuals and teams to write better code, faster. Every repository on GitHub comes with the tools needed to manage your project. Open to the community for public projects – secured for private projects. More people trust GitHub to host their code than any other host on the planet. We spend 24 hours a day tending to your repositories so you can focus on more important things.

Activity Streams – GitHub allows you to watch repositories and follow users to generate activity streams. Our activity streams show you everything important that’s happening with anyone or anything on GitHub.

Developer Profiles – Every developer gets their own profile page that is automatically updated with a stream of the important things they are doing on GitHub and a list of the Open Source projects they are hosting at GitHub. Many developers have started referring to GitHub Profiles as the new résumé.
Explore GitHub – Explore is a section of our site where we highlight the most interesting and popular repositories on GitHub right now. Additionally, our comprehensive searchhelps you find repositories, users, and code across all of GitHub.

The Prizes – MaKey MaKey kits

MaKey MaKey is an invention kit for the 21st century. Turn everyday objects into touchpads and combine them with the internet. It’s a simple Invention Kit for Beginners and Experts doing art, engineering, and everything inbetween. It comes ready to use out of the box with everything you see above: MaKey MaKey, Alligator Clips, USB Cable.

What Can I Make?

That’s up to you! First, load up a computer program or any webpage (yes that’s right, you’re surfing the internet to invent).

Let’s say you load up a piano. Then, instead of using the computer keyboard buttons to play the piano, you can hook up the MaKey MaKey to something fun, like bananas, and thebananas become your piano keys. Or let’s say you Google for an online “Pacman” game and draw a joystick with a pencil (yes, an actual ordinary pencil). Then you can play Pacman by touching the drawing with your finger. Or you could load up facebook or gmail and send a message on a custom-made alphabet soup keyboard….



Manning Publications donates Prizes for all

We are pleased to announce that Manning Publications is  donating Prizes toward the OTA13 Hack Day competition, as well as a free eBook and 42% discount for all  attendees.

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Manning publishes computer books for professionals–programmers, system administrators, designers, architects, managers and others.

“We think of our authors as the most valuable part of our business. We respect our readers and consider their interests and preferences every working day. Manning is a small, personal, old-world publisher where an author’s opinion is sought and a reader’s message is answered.

Manning’s focus is on computing titles at professional levels. We care about the quality of our books. We work with our authors to coax out of them the best writing they can produce. We consult with technical experts on book proposals and manuscripts, and we may use as many as two dozen reviewers in various stages of preparing a manuscript. The abilities of each author are nurtured to encourage him or her to write a first-rate book.

Our books are designed without gimmicks. Their main goal is elegance and readability–we feel the two are often the same. Our covers are understated, decorated with pictures of worldwide regional dress habits of two hundred years ago. Many of our books come with online reader support: authors answer the questions of their readers in our Web-based Author Online discussion forums.”

The Prizes

We will be working with the team at Manning Publications to select the books of interest to the Over the Air community. They have offered:
  1. One  free eBook download for all attendees of  Mobile Mapping Applications.
  2. A 42% discount on all products through an online offer.
  3. Free eBooks and pBooks to be given away as Prizes in the Hack Day competition.
More details will be made available as we get closer to the event.

Ready, Steady, GO!

Bletchley Park Mansion OTA11 - photo by Michael Dales

The 6th annual Over the Air will be held on Friday & Saturday the 27th & 28th of September at Bletchley Park. For two days we’ll be based at Station X, hacking in the shadows of the WWII Enigma & Lorenz code-breakers, and hanging out at the home of Colossus the world’s first programmable computer….we’re geeking out already!



Ariel Waldman's opening Keynote "Hacking Science & Space Exploration" at OTA12

Over the Air is a unique tech-agnostic event for and by the developer community,  featuring technical workshops where attendees can roll up their sleeves and tinker with new mobile & web platforms, operating systems, APIs & open hardware. The tutorial sessions feature real business cases, new insights and a healthy dollop of inspiration.




Inside the Mansion OTA12 - photo by Martin Cunningham

Attendees are invited to stay overnight so that they can work on ideas, apps and hacks on the fly – to be entered into the various Hack Day competition categories and demo’ed on the second day. It’s a great vibe of bean bags, gadgets, knowledge sharing, hacking & lots of good fun.

Hacking on the Lawn at OTA11





Because the event is free to attend (other than a small £5 donation to a related charity) we completely rely on the generosity of our sponsors to cover our costs and keep the event free to attend. If you’re interested in sponsoring the event, please get in touch with margaret at overtheair dot org.

Media & Blog Coverage of OTA12

Press Coverage

FORBES: Android meets Theremin at Over the Air, by Ewan Spence

“Although I couldn’t attend this month’s Over The Air event at Bletchley Park (previously on Forbes…), it’s always fun to see what madness comes out of such a constructive event. This year was no exception.”

WIRED: We need more smartphone based citizen science, by Olivia Solon.

“We need more mobile or tablet-based citizen science initiatives, argued Francois Grey from the Citizen Cyberscience Centre, speaking at the Over The Air hack day at Bletchley Park.

He explained that distributed computing for scientific research has proven to be incredibly useful across a wide range of study, including particle physics, epidemiology and protein analysis. He added that most citizen science projects have focused on PCs, although smartphones could “do a lot of science” thanks to the number of sensors they have. Grey urged developers at the event to consider collaborating with scientists in creating apps for this purpose.”

THE NEXT WEB: The 5th annual Over the Air event marks the Alan Turing Centenary with creative code, by Jamillah Knowles.

“Over the Air was buzzing. That might have been all the coffee ingested by the sleepless hack teams, but it was also down to the enthusiasm and creativity being shared in such a picturesque location.

Of course we can never be sure, but as the original coders of Bletchley Park were known for their sense of fun as well as their tireless work to change the direction of technology and a war, it’s a fair bet that Alan Turing would approve of an event like Over the Air.”

GIGAOM: Over the Air prepares for a very British hack weekend, by Bobbie Johnson.

“It’s nearly 70 years since England’s Bletchley Park first played host to a gaggle of coders, when a team including computing pioneer Alan Turing got together to crack critical Nazi ciphers in a move that was pivotal in winning the Second World War.”

THE NEXT WEB: Facebook’s “Open Graph Challenge” will give developers 24 hours to hack something awesome, by Drew Olanoff.



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Outriders on Radio 5: Moscow and Bletchley Park

Tue, 5 Jun 12. This week Jamillah returns from Moscow with news of the Internet there and explores Over the Air’s hack event at Bletchley Park. (Duration: 26 mins)

Download 12MB (right click & “save target as / link as”)

Documentally Interviews:

  • The unstoppable Tweet by Sam Machin
  • Boots to Gecko with CodePo8
  • Matthew Cashmore on five years of Over the Air
  • Facebook in the shadow of the Colossus
  • A chat with Dan Appelquiest of Blue Via
  • Arrived at Over the Air at Bletchley Park


Blog Coverage

InMobi Developer Blog, by Terence Eden

Over the Air 2012, by Terence Eden on his private blog

Mobile Phone Development Blog – Over the Air 2012 , by Simon Judge

Geoff Ballinger on his Visual Graffiti hack in the Hack Day competition

Dexter Dillinger on the Sequence Blog

Video Coverage

We were able to video many of the talks that took place in the Marquee Tent and have posted them to YouTube. (Check out video coverage captured by the community as well)

Over The air 2012 Closing Keynote, Francois Grey: ‘Citizen Science to Open Science – The Road Ahead’



Over The Air 2012 Hack Day Awards: Hack Day awards from the 2012 ‘Over The Air’ event at Bletchley Park

Over The Air 2012. Opening Keynote, Ariel Waldman: ‘Hacking Science and Space Exploration’



Simon Howard, Blackberry: ‘Embrace the out-of-the-box elegance: eye candy UI with zero effort’

Saul Zakauskas, Paypal: ‘How are Mobile Payment Innovations Disrupting Commerce?’

Hadley Beeman, UK Technology Strategy Board: ‘Introducing the Open Data Institute’

Chris Styles, ARM: ‘Cloud Development with Embedded Controllers and connecting to Wide Area Networks’

Bruce Lawson, Opera Software: ‘Responsive Web Design – The Specs behind the Sex’

Simon Cross, Facebook: Facebook Open Graph: From Zero to Hero in 60 minutes’

Mo McRoberts, BBC: ‘The Space: Building a Broadcaster in a Box’

Kevin S Prince and Sam Machin, 02’s ‘The Lab’: ‘The Lab: Demo Cool Things’

Christian Heilman, Mozilla: If mobiles dont come to the web then the web must come to mobiles’

Made with Marmalade’s coverage of the event on YouTube.

Photo Coverage

Bill Thomson posted some pics to The Bill Blog:

The #ota12 collection on Instagram

Bletchley Park Tours at Over the Air

Bletchley Park have graciously set up special tours for Over the Air attendees on both Friday and Saturday. You’ll be able to tour the park, find out more about the work that went on there and come face to face with the Enigma, Turing’s code breaking “Bombe” and the World’s first programmable computer: Colossus.

Tours will take place at 14:30 and 15:30 on Friday (Day 1) and at 10:30 and 12:30 on Saturday (Day 2). If you’re interested in taking a Bletchley Park tour, please muster outside just inside the mansion in the Atrium (where BlueVia and HMGCC also are) at one of these times.

[Update: the tours will be mustering inside the mansion in one of the common areas, not outside the mansion as originally posted.]

Turing and his Times

Video coverage from the 26/04 event at Bletchley Park

The video of the highly acclaimed Turing and his Times event organised by The National Museum of Computing (TNMOC) is now online. The event, held on 26 April 2012, was to mark the centenary of the birth of Alan Turing and was the second of three Turing-themed events linking three of the top computing museums in the world.

Turing and his Times featured a talk by computer historian Prof Simon Lavington on Turing and his Contemporaries, a simulation of the Pilot ACE computer by TNMOC trustee Kevin Murrell, and the first formal public showing of a video commissioned by the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) of the recollections of two of Turing’s colleagues. The event was chaired by highly respected journalist, commentator and technology critic, Bill Thompson.

The video is in three parts:

Part 1 Introduction and NPL video featuring two of Turing’s colleagues (14 mins).

Part 2 Prof Simon Lavington talks about Turing’s ideas post-1945.


Part 3 Kevin Murrell demonstrates a simulation of the Pilot ACE followed by a Q&A session with an unexpected appearance from the audience of someone who had actually programmed the Pilot ACE computer!


At The Computer History Museum in California on 7 March, historian George Dyson was in conversation with Museum President and CEO John Hollar about the influence of Alan Turing on John von Neumann (and vice-versa) as the digital universe was taking its present form.



In Germany, on 26 May, the Heinz Nixdorf Museum in Paderborn, Germany, hosted an event featuring two short lectures: Professor Dr Horst Zuse talking about his father Konrad Zuse and his computers, Professor Dr Paul Rojas comparing Turing and Zuse, plus videos of their Turing exhibition and the Heinz Nixdorf Museum’s working mechanical Turing machine.

About The National Museum of Computing

The National Museum of Computing, located at Bletchley Park, is an independent charity housing the largest collection of functional historic computers in Europe, including a rebuilt Colossus, the world’s first electronic programmable computer. The Museum enables visitors to follow the development of computing from the ultra-secret pioneering efforts of the 1940s through the mainframes of the 1960s and 1970s, and the rise of personal computing in the 1980s.

New working exhibits are regularly unveiled and the public can already view a rebuilt and fully operational Colossus, the restoration of the Harwell Dekatron / WITCH computer, an ICL 2966, one of the workhorse mainframes computers of the 1980s, many of the earliest desktops of the 1980s and 1990s, plus the NPL Technology of the Internet Gallery. In June 2010 TNMOC hosted Britain’s first-ever Vintage Computer Festival.

Funders of the Museum include Bletchley Park Capital Partners, CreateOnline, Ceravision,, PGP Corporation, IBM, NPL, HP Labs, BCS, Black Marble, and the School of Computer Science at the University of Hertfordshire.

The Museum is currently open on Thursdays and Saturdays from 1pm, and on Bank Holidays in spring and summer. Guided tours are also available at 2.30pm on Tuesdays, 2pm Sundays and some other days. Groups may visit at other times by arrangement and special organisation Away-Days can be booked.

For more information, see and follow @tnmoc on Twitter and The National Museum of Computing on Facebook and Google+.

Appcelerator is Sponsoring Saturday Lunch

We are pleased to announce that Appcelerator is sponsoring Saturday Lunch at OTA12.

Founded in 2006 and based in Mountain View, unhealthy California, medical Appcelerator makes Titanium, cialis the leading mobile platform of choice for thousands of companies seizing the mobile opportunity. With more than 40,000 applications deployed on 50 million devices, the award-winning Titanium Platform leverages over 5,000 APIs to create native iOS and Android apps, and HTML5 mobile web apps. Appcelerator’s most popular product, Titanium, is an open source product used by hundreds of thousands of developers worldwide. Appcelerator offers a commercial subscription for enterprise grade version of Titanium as well as usage based services for its cloud platform.

OTA12 Programme – Friday @ 17:00

Liz Myers of Appcelerator, and the Titan Team: Ketan Majmudar, Boydlee Pollentine, Joe Maffia, and Simon Buckingham will be presenting the double-session workshop Appcelerator Titanium: From Zero to App on Friday at 17:00 in the Music Room in the Mansion.


The Appcelerator team will be looking for the best app made with Appcelerator Titanium – prizes awarded to individual/team of up to 3 people.