GitHub is sponsoring Free Tickets to OTA16

OctocatWe’re thrilled to announce that GitHub is supporting the provision of Free Tickets to Over the Air 2016.

The lovely people at GitHub are keen to help us lower the barriers to attendance by ensuring that we can continue to offer free tickets to students, freelancers, job-seekers, and anyone else whose budget is tight. GitHub is all about supporting diversity in tech, and want to be part of encouraging people from historically underrepresented communities to attend!

GitHub is how people build software. Millions of individuals and organizations around the world use GitHub to discover, share, and contribute to software—from games and experiments to popular frameworks and leading applications. Together, we’re defining how software is built today.”

During the event, GitHub will be offering ALL PARTICIPANTS  a 1-month personal subscription to provide you with private repositories for the duration of the event. Keep an eye out for some great prizes as well – namely, a 1-year personal subscription with unlimited private repositories!

Find out more here:

Follow the team at: @GitHub

On Diversity at OTA

As more and more companies become aware of the issues of diversity of representation within the technology industry, we occasionally get asked where we stand on this issue as Event organisers.

Well, we care about it very much, and make a concerted effort each year to reach out to communities of people who are typically under-represented at technology events, especially Hack Days. It’s one of the reasons that we have always worked hard to keep the event free to attend – we know that financial barriers also play a role in this.

We are quite proud of our consistent gender balance at our events, which has ranged from 30% to 50% female amongst both participants and speakers (check out the 2015 speakers list on Lanyrd). Exactly half of our Keynote speakers over the years have been female as well.

To ensure that our event remains a welcoming and positive place for all, we explicitly support the Hack Code of Conduct and the Diversity Charter.

But we are not resting on our laurels, and care about other areas of diversity as well. Technology events are rightly challenged on their record in welcoming and giving the stage to people of colour, people of different faiths, people with physical mobility challenges, and people in the LGBT community.

Help us spread the word!

When community groups form along these lines it is quite simple to reach out with an invitation – but we know that we could be doing better at spreading the message more widely. As we prepare to open up this year’s registration, please share your suggestions with us about how we can reach new people who might not otherwise know about Over the Air.

Recommend a Speaker

Know somebody who is involved in an innovative / inspiring line of work and a great speaker, who isn’t getting the stage time they deserve? Then encourage them to submit a workshop proposal or Lightning Talk proposal (while getting them on our radar as well) – or better yet, recommend them to us as a potential Keynote speaker.

Younger participants also welcome

It’s worth mentioning that we make the event accessible to younger people as well, not only inviting students and recent graduates to join us as participants, but also offering ‘Coding for Kids’ workshops on the Saturday morning. Last year for example, Coder Dojo London ran a highly successful BBC Micro:bit workshop for kids on Saturday, which was the first public event of it’s kind, and Microsoft ran a BBC Micro:bit training session for parents, ‘Coding for Kids’ volunteers, and enthusiasts the day before. (N.B. that children under 18 must be accompanied by an adult at the event)

Sponsoring Diversity

We are still looking for Sponsors for this year’s event – if your company is passionate about supporting diversity in tech, then OTA16 is a great opportunity to keep those financial barriers down and add your voice to the welcome call. Specific opportunities include sponsoring this year’s Coder Dojo workshop, sponsoring the Lightning Talks that feature a diverse range of speakers, and sponsoring the venue, which is fully wheelchair accessible. Get in touch with margaret at overtheair dot org to find out more.

Nexmo is Gold Sponsor of OTA16

We’re thrilled to announce that Nexmo is a Gold Sponsor of Over the Air 2016.

nexmo_colorNexmo, a Vonage Company, is a global cloud communications platform, providing innovative communication APIs and SDKs for messaging, voice, chat app and phone verification services.

The Nexmo APIs enable developers (you) to easily and security integrate communication features into applications, no matter where in the world the users of these apps are located. Companies including Snapchat, Uber, Telegram, KLM and Airbnb send millions of messages per month using Nexmo APIs.

Nexmo products include SMS API, mobile messaging, Voice API, short codes, Verify API & SDK, Number Insights API, mobile security, two-factor authentication, and Chat App API. Find out more at

We’ve super-excited to be part of Over the Air 2016. The Developer Relations team is particularly looking forward to seeing what everybody will build on some new (yet to be announced) communications products we’ll have available for OTA16 hackers to try out. Since our London office is a short walk away from St. John’s in Hoxton, expect to see lots of people in Nexmo hoodies and t-shirts hacking and getting involved. Please say “hi”, we’re a friendly bunch! – Phil Leggetter, Head of Developer Relations at Nexmo.  Follow @Nexmo

The Nexmo APIs Challenge

This category celebrates the best use of Nexmo APIs. You can choose from Voice, SMS, Number Insight & Verify, or even use a combination! The entries will be judged on creativity, presentation, technical achievement and application of Nexmo.

Nexmo APIs


Nexmo Workshops

To find out more about the Nexmo tools, be sure to come to Sam Machin’s workshop on Friday at 12:30pm on “I never knew SMS could do that“, where he’ll give a short talk on some of the more ‘interesting’ features of SMS and how you can use them with the Nexmo API on modern smartphones. This will be an interactive session where users will send/receive messages on their phones so bring them along.
Sam will also be giving a workshop on “Building a Voice Application for Amazons Alexa using the Nexmo Voice API” on Friday at 3:30, where he’ll walk though building a simple voice application with the Nexmo API and then an Amazon Alexa Skill to link to the same application. We will be working in Python and using AWS Lambda.

Mozilla is Friday Night Dinner Sponsor

mozilla-wordmarkWe are pleased to announce that Mozilla is the sponsor of Friday Night Dinner at OTA16

Mozilla is a global, cialis nonprofit organization dedicated to making the Web better. We emphasize principle over profit and believe that the Web is a shared public resource to be cared for, advice not a commodity to be sold. We work with a worldwide community to create open source products like Mozilla Firefox, no rx Firefox Developer Edition, and to innovate for the benefit of the individual and the betterment of the Web. The result is great products built by passionate people and better choices for everyone.

Built for those who build the Web. The Mozilla Developer Network (MDN) is an evolving learning platform for Web technologies and the software that powers the Web, including:


Thank-you to our Sponsors

Over the Air would not be possible without the generous support of the companies and organisations who get what we do – and more importantly, what the community of participants does. It’s an important feature of Over the Air that it is FREE for all to attend – no conference budget or deep pockets required.  And that’s only possible with the support of the fantastic organisations below.


Screen Shot 2015-09-22 at 10.07.45
We were thrilled to receive the support of the BBC at OTA15, with teams from BBC Digital, Make It Digital, BBC micro:bit, BBC Connected Studio & BBC Taster.

Read more about the teams from the BBC who joined us.

Screen Shot 2015-09-22 at 10.07.49

Silver Sponsor – Microsoft

MSFT_logo_rgb_C-Gray_DMicrosoft is the leading platform and productivity company for the mobile-first, cloud-first world, and its mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.

Azure is Microsoft’s cloud computing platform, a growing collection of integrated services – analytics, computing, database, mobile, networking, storage and web – enabling developers, IT and data professionals to move faster, achieve more, save money and innovate. Microsoft Azure is easy-to-use, pay-as-you-go, and scales as you need with cross-platform support. Windows 10 is enterprise-ready, Maker-friendly, powering a broad range of devices with over 20 years of history in the embedded device space. Follow them @msdevuk.

Silver Sponsor – Just Giving

just-giving-logoPowering the #apps4good movement, the JustGiving platform helps not-for-profit organisations, brands and a growing community of developers to build applications that harness the power of online giving. Apps like these drive thousands of transactions on JustGiving every day, helping people around the world to make good things happen. Follow them on Twitter at @jghackers.


Silver Sponsor – The Citizen Cyberlab

CCLlogoThe Citizen Cyberlab is a consortium of several Universities (UCL, Imperial, University of Geneva & University Paris Descartes) + CERN + UNITAR + The Mobile Collective. Together we are building digital tools and platforms for Citizen Science. Follow them on Twitter at @citizencyberlab.


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Event Sponsor – Google

Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. Our company has packed a lot into a relatively young life. Since Google was founded in 1998, we’ve grown to serve millions of people around the world. Find out more about our products for developers at


Event Sponsor – Twitter

Twitter_logo_blueTwitter was born on mobile, and we know what it takes to design, release, and grow a great mobile app. Twitter recently announced Fabric, a 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 app developers face: stability, distribution, revenue and identity. Find out more about our products for developers at:


Event Sponsor – MediaTek Labs

MediaTekLabsOrangeVerticalRGBMediaTek Labs is the developer hub for wearable and IoT Innovation, providing the platforms, tools, documentation, technical and business support to create your own devices powered by MediaTek chipsets. From smart light bulbs to the next-generation fitness tracker and the exciting world of the smart watch, make your journey with our help.

And last, but not least:

Bean Bag Sponsor – Mozilla

firefox-developer_logo-wordmark_RGB-300dpiBuilt for those who build the Web. Firefox Developer Edition brings your core dev tools together with some powerful new ones that will extend your ability to work across multiple platforms from one place. It’s everything you’re used to, only better. And only from Firefox. Find out more at

Friday Dinner Sponsor – Braintree

BraintreeBraintree’s global platform powers payments for thousands of online and mobile commerce innovators including Airbnb, Uber and GitHub. Merchants in more than 45 countries across North America, Europe, Asia and Australia can accept payments in more than 130 currencies. Braintree’s SDK, featuring One Touch™, powers single-click purchasing with PayPal, Apple Pay, credit/debit cards, and Bitcoin. To learn more, visit Braintree at and on Twitter @braintree.

Soft Drinks Sponsor – SAP Devs

SAP-LogoFounded by 5 maverick developers, SAP is a market leader in enterprise application software. The company offers open platforms and technologies for you to build, deploy and manage enterprise applications. To get started and to learn more, visit Follow the team at @SAPdevs.




Interviews with our Sponsors

We asked a few of our sponsors about why they get involved in Hack Days:

“I have attended several hack days and developer conferences in the past years and I find them a great way to share knowledge and experiences, get feedback and to learn new things. You can always get docs, specs, presentations and almost everything else by searching online, but the human factor of live events always gives me something unexpected and valuable.” – Emanuele Bolognesi,  Head of AppsFuel

“We want to connect with developers, gather feedback on our APIs as well as gain knowledge on what other content developers would like to see on our platform.” Deborah Akinpelu, Pearson 

“The enthusiasm and knowledge of the people I meet is always inspiring and I learn so much.” James Rosewell,

It not only helps us reach our target audience and speak to developers who want to hear from us, but is also a nice way to give something back to the community” Terence Eden, InMobi

Does involvement in Hack Days have an impact on the further development of your products and services?

“Absolutely. Being involved in hackathons allows us to get a feel for not only what type of content we should work towards offering but also which data structures are more preferable and easier to use by developers, e.g. XML vs JSON”. – Deborah

Yes. We meet our customers (other developers) face to face and learn what challenges they have and hopefully what they like (and don’t like sometimes) about our products.” – James

“We use it for product feedback and user testing”. – Terence

“As you know we are currently working on AppsFuel, the new marketplace for HTML5 mobile web apps, recently launched in beta. AppsFuel‘s mission is to create a profitable ecosystem for developers. This is why it’s crucial for us to create tools that developers need to help them make their apps successful. So yes, meeting other developers at hack days such us OTA will inevitably have an impact on our own development decisions.” – Emanuele

There are a lot of different views on what defines Innovation, how it can be achieved, and how to nurture and support it within organisations. We think that the kind of creative tinkering, new learning, and collaboration that takes place at Hack Days lays the basis for future Innovations in the mobile industry and beyond. What are your own approaches to Innovation?

“a) Understand the problem really well, b) find a design that’s better than anything else, c) work really bloody hard to make it happen, d) listen to feedback, e) keep improving.” – James

The freedom to try (new) things in collaboration with the developer community. – Deborah

How do you see the role of developers in the future of the mobile industry?

They’re key – but in a long tail sense.  Pick up enough of them and hope that one becomes the next Angry Birds 🙂 – Terence

The mobile apps explosion has completely changed the role of the developers from supporting players to leading actors. Hugely successful products such as Instagram (or Angry Birds, Tap Tap Revenge and so on) were created by small teams of developers.Unfortunately the closed nature of native apps stores has already started creating problems for developers, that’s why we are betting on HTML5 with AppsFuel. This is the technology that will create the biggest opportunities in the near future. – Emanuele

We see developers moving away from platform-specific app development as cross-platform capabilities evolve. – Deborah

At the centre. The mobile industry is where the PC industry was in the early to mid 80s. Software will make or break multibillion dollar products and developers write the software. – James

What do you think is the key to a great app or a great mobile website?

A great user experience is very important. Listening to users and fixing bugs as needed or wanted is also key to a great app or mobile website. – Deborah

Everybody agrees that mobile apps should be simple, easy to use and must focus on a specific features. Some people say this does not apply to websites, but since people now mostly browse from smartphones or tablets, that’s not true anymore. The border between web and mobile web has disappeared and the difference between web apps and websites is fading. – Emanuele

Understanding what the user wants. Avoid pissing off your customer. Luck. – Terence

Understanding context. As just one example; where is the end user and what are they most likely to want where they are at this precise moment. – James

Do you have a view on the “next big thing” in the mobile industry?

Yes. The 100s of millions of web sites that don’t provide a good mobile experience being upgraded to support the small mobile screen, and mid sized tablet screens by relatively low skilled developers and end users. Ow. And machine to machine (smart meters, vending machines, etc) doubling the number of active mobile connections in the western world in only a few years. – James

No doubt about it: HTML5 web apps! – Emanuele

Micro-payments. People won’t pay 99p for a new set of levels – but they will pay 9p for a single level.
Internationalization. Developers from poor countries targeting rich countries for a big payout. – Terence

We envision an evolution of ‘App Stores‘. – Deborah

What changes would you like to see happen in the mobile industry to really accelerate innovation?

Reduction of the 30% fee from app stores. – Terence

Tizen, WeOS, Mozilla OS, others becoming a commercially viable alternative to Android with the huge budgets required to gain mass market adoption. I can but dream. – James

WebGL on mobile, full support of HTML5 and CSS3, including device APIs and the removal of browser vendor specific solutions. This will create an open and incredibly powerful cross-device development platform. – Emanuele

Thank-you for your time! We hope you had a great OTA12.

Beanbags – the very soul of a Hack Day

Back in 2007 a gang of us got together from the BBC and Yahoo! and brought Hack Days from the States to the UK. The event was called Hack07 and there was a great deal of talk about how we’d create a space that was comfy, informal and easily reconfigurable. The answer, rather obviously, was beanbags. So off I set… I toured the worlds manufacturing facilities at great expense to the public purse (this was the BBC after all) and eventually settled on a company called (it took literally seconds of googling).  They’re based up Nottingham way and are responsible for the now iconic Hack Day Bean Bag – the wedgie.

These bags have become a tradition at Hack Days that I’ve helped organise – especially the big ones. At every event we order about 100 of the things, print a logo on the front, chose the loudest colours and then… we give them away at the end of the event. The great thing about the bags is that apart from being all the useful things I’ve already alluded to – they’re also cheaper than hiring a pile of boring furniture that would make our Hack Days look and feel like a corporate conference.

Photo by mmorr on flickr

So here’s the thing – this year we’ve not yet quite got to our sponsorship goal so are still short enough money to buy bean bags – we’ve never not had bean bags and it’s a terrific opportunity for an amazing company to come in, pop their logo on a 100 bags and be the hero of the event. They’re properly cool, people get to keep them, they’re useful and even more importantly – it’s a damn site funkier than a stand!

So what do you say? Know someone who can help us? Point them in our direction and drop me an email…

Thank-you to our amazing Sponsors

Over the Air 2011 would not have been possible without the financial support of these amazing companies who ‘get’ what we are all about.

But they don’t just help us cover the costs – they run excellent informative workshops, bring out their dev teams to really dig in and help-out the overnight hackers, share lots of goodies, and donate absolutely brilliant prizes to the Hackday competition.

We owe them all a very big THANKS!!

Appcelerator is Saturday Lunch sponsor of OTA11

We are pleased to announce that Appcelerator is sponsoring Lunch on Saturday at Over the Air 2011.

Appcelerator helps Web developers create Mobile, ambulance Tablet, and Desktop applications.

The success of iPhone and Android, the emergence of Tablet computing, and the promise of Desktop Linux have created great opportunities for application developers … as well as created a new set of challenges. While the market for applications is larger than ever before, developing and supporting multiple platforms can be complicated and expensive. Enter Appcelerator, a new platform and services company that is enabling Web developers to build intuitive, content-rich applications for Mobile, Tablet and Desktop platforms.

The Titanium Developer Platform makes cross-platform native application development easy.

A free and open source application development platform, Titanium lets you create native mobile, tablet and desktop application experiences using existing web skills like Javascript, HTML, CSS, Python, Ruby, and PHP. Learn More.

Liz Myers of the London Titanium Group will be giving a workshop on From zero to App-Super-Hero with Titanium on Friday at 18:00 in the Library.

You may be interested to know that Appcelerator had their first ever developer conference in September – slides and keynote presentations are available here:
Be sure to check out their developer contest for the best Twitter client library implementation – details here: