In memory of Luke Razzell

OverTheAirLogo(blackbackground)We are very sad to have learned today of the passing away of our friend Luke Razzell, known to many of you as @weaverluke – a kind and creative man, always full of ideas, who designed the Over the Air logo for us.

Words fail us, so we’ll use his, that he used to describe his inspirations for the design, but fit him rather well: “Over the rainbow… a mandala… an angel… a radio mast…”

If you knew him too, and would like to make a donation in his memory, you can do so here:

Our flag is flying black and at half mast.

A big thank-you to Nexmo & Mozilla

As many of you know, we had originally scheduled OTA16 for this coming Friday and Saturday. These past few days the weather has been stunning, which would have made for a fabulous OTA16, in the spirit of our first year at Bletchley Park – which was gorgeous weather. But with thunder-showers forecast for all day tomorrow, I think we might have gotten lucky on this one!

As it turned out, events transpired against us, and we had to move the dates back to later in the year – namely, the 25th & 26th of November (space heater order for the Marquees- check!).

Upon biting the bullet to make this move, we promptly (finally!!) opened up registration, which is ticking along very nicely, and it’s already shaping up to be a great turnout.

But it’s not just you, our community of participants, who are moving with us to this new date. We also owe a HUGE thank-you to our first sponsors of OTA16 – Nexmo and Mozilla – for moving with us, and continuing to support us as we gear up for the event in November.

Phil Leggetter of Nexmo tells us:

We’re really looking forward to being involved in Over the Air 2016. OTA aligns with our ethos to work with existing communities, and our drive to innovate.

We believe that the strong mutual relationships we build by working with others enables us to help developer communities, and capture highly valuable feedback from innovators and builders. This gives the Developer Relations team at Nexmo the opportunity to ensure that our products – such as the recently released Voice API – offer a great developer experience and solve real problems.

We can’t wait for the 25th of November; the talks, the hacks and most importantly, the people. See you there.

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

NEW DATES!!! November 25th & 26th, 2016

Many of you who have been following us on @overtheair and #ota16 have been asking us about when registration would open this year, and indeed we’ve been hesitating to go live because we saw that this moment was coming… we need to move the dates for this year’s Over the Air to November.

It’s been a mighty ‘newsworthy’ few months with lots of changes going on in the industry, and we simply haven’t had enough sponsorship commitment at this point to put on a good event in 6 weeks time. But now that we’ve bitten the bullet, we’re raring to go again.

For starters: Registration is now Open!

Although tickets are free as always, for the first time we are inviting those who are able to make a donation towards the costs of the event. If you can make a contribution of any value, it will be greatly appreciated.

And while you’re at it, why don’t you also submit a proposal for a workshop? As sessions become finalised we’ll be posting them along with speaker details on Lanyrd.

We hope to see you in November.




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:


Event round-up OTA15

For the 7th edition of Over the Air, we returned to London in the grand setting of St. John’s Hoxton, at the borders of Hackney and Shoreditch, for a fresh new environment that added it’s own flavour and colour to our annual event:

Photo credit: Benjamin Ellis; Source: Flickr Over the Air group pool

Photo credit: Benjamin Ellis; Source: Flickr Over the Air group pool

(Check out the OTA Flickr Pool for more photos of the event)

We were particularly proud to launch the 2015 event with Howard Baker –  “Father” of the BBC micro:bit  – as our Keynote Speaker.


We capped ticket ‘sales’ at 550 this year as we got to know a new venue and it’s own particular capacity limitations, so are very pleased to have had just under 500 people across the two days, with a peak attendance of 350 on Friday after lunch.

We received some great press coverage of the event on Forbes, featuring the BBC micro:bit , and were super chuffed to have hosted the first BBC micro:bit Coder Dojo. We’re excited to see them roll out in 2016, to inspire the next generation of coders!

The full programme, plus slides from the workshops and talks can be found on our Lanyrd webpage, and the results of the Hack Day competition can be found here.

And although much of back channel conversation took place over a dedicated Slackline channel this year, we were able to capture the flow of OTA15 on Storify:

And last, but not least – it was with great sadness that we announced the retirement of Matthew Cashmore from the OTA organisational team – and wished him well as he follows a brand new career path into the priesthood.

He will be sorely missed. Especially as he has been saving our skin from day one! Ask Matthew the one about the Daleks. Or the one about the pyrotechnics license. Or the one about….


As our Logistics Maestro Extraordinaire, Matthew will be impossible to replace. But it’s a great opportunity to start growing the team who run Over the Air, and we invite anyone who might be interested in helping make OTA16 happen in any capacity to get in touch with Margaret or Dan

Plans are already being hatched for OTA16, so keep your eyes peeled for date announcements in the new year.

The OTA15 Hack Day Winners are….


The 2015 Hack Day Challenges


The BBC Connected Studio Challenge Winner t.b.d

BBC Connected StudioThe Brief:

We’re looking for innovative new ways to serve a younger audience on the devices they spend the most time with; their smartphones. We want to do this through clever use of tech, design and editorial direction around our content and public service remit. We want to build on and extend the BBC’s unique and unrivalled content experiences, from our unique music output and world-class drama, to our well-loved soaps, unrivalled sports coverage and essential learning experiences. Find out more here.

The Prize:

Taster-256x256The best ideas have the chance to be further developed by our experts and even funded, made, and showcased on BBC Taster. We’ll provide expertise to help shape the best ideas with the teams, and get them into a ‘ready state’ for submission to our pilot process. If selected against judging criteria success will see ideas funded to make a live pilot on BBC Taster and tested with our audiences.

The Winner:

The BBC Connected Studio Challenge has a longer process than our usual Challenge, such that those who entered have been invited to film a longer pitch, which will be assessed by an internal team of people at the BBC. Any winners will thus be contacted after the event, but we’ll share the news here too.


The JustGiving Charity Challenge Winner = Stephen Nicolas for If This Then Help

just-giving-logoPowering the #tech4good 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.

41bv+eCMivLThe Brief: Use the JustGiving APIs in a creative way, to the benefit of this year’s OTA15 Charity – the St. John’s Hoxton Fund. Find out more here.

The Prize: Arduino Starter Kits with UNO Board

JustGiving Challenge Winner



The CCL Citizen Science Challenge Winner = Tristan Roddis for the Transcriptinator

CCLlogoCitizen Science is real science done collaboratively by amateurs, volunteers, and enthusiasts around the globe. People are classifying galaxies from their computers, monitoring the health of trees in their community, transcribing weather reports from old naval logs, and gathering data to make a real contribution to scientific research.  

lilipadThe Brief:
Build a citizen science hack using mobile technology. Anything goes—mobile phones, sensors, wearables, outdoor monitoring stations, balloons, drones…Find out more here.

The Prize: A LilyPad Starter Kit



CCL Challenge Winner



 The 2015 General Hack Day Categories

The Best in Show Winners = Judith Boldt & Elgin Candoleta, for Dancing R2D2

This category is the Judges’s selection, based on all of the entries that they have seen both under-the-hood and on stage during the Demo’s.

Best in ShowThe Prizes are:

5 LEGO Mindstorms Kits, donated by LEGO.

3 books from Make and O’Reilly, donated by O’Reilly.

1  Microdrone 2.0  & Visual Studio T-Shirt, donated by Microsoft.

best in show

The Audience Favourite Winner = Tom Durrant, for KeyGlove

This category is the Audience’s selection. Voting took place via a phone-in system built on Twilio by Sam Machin.

audience vote The Prizes are:

5 LEGO Mindstorms Kits, donated by LEGO;

The book Make: Robots, donated by O’Reilly.

2 x Visual Studio T-Shirt, donated by Microsoft.


The Best use of APIs / Open Data Winner = Tristan Roddis, for The Transcriptinator

This category celebrates the best use of ANY of the wide range of APIs and open Data Sets being showcased at OTA15, as judged by Cristiano Betta of Braintree.


The Prizes are:

2 LEGO Space Needles, donated by Braintree (and perhaps a little something extra if you also use the Braintree APIs).

The book Web Scraping with Python, donated by O’Reilly.

Headphones,  a Visual Studio Cup, and a Data T-Shirt, donated by Microsoft.

Best in Show

The Best Cloud Entry Winner = Oli Newsham for DSC0073

Best entry making use of cloud computing / cloud services, as judged by Amy Nicholson of Microsoft.could

The Prizes are:

A Microdrone 2.0, Headphones, and a Visual Studio T-Shirt, donated by Microsoft.


The Best Android Entry Winner = Stephen Nicolas for If This Then Help

androidBest App built for Android, as judged by Ade Oshineye of Google.

The Prizes are:

3 Android Wear / Moto 360 Devices, & 3 Chromecast Devices Donated by Google.

The book Head First Android Development, donated by O’Reilly.


The Best iOS Entry Winners = Dom & Heather Hodgson for Baby Swipes

Best App built for iOS, as judged by Andy Piper of Twitter.

ios prizes

The Prizes are:

Parrot AR Drone, 3 Raspberry Pis, and 3 Twitter JuiceBoxesdonated by Twitter.

And the book iOS Swift Development Cookbook, donated by O’Reilly.


The Best Windows Entry Winner = Tom Durrant for KeyGlove

Best App built for Windows, as judge by Lee Stott, of Microsoft.


The Prizes are:

3 Windows 10 T-Shirts and 3 Water Bottles , donated by Microsoft.

The book Mobile Design Pattern Gallery, donated by O’Reilly.


The Best Mobile Web / HTML5 Entry Winner = Sam Machin for Woof RTC

Best use of the Mobile Web and/or HTML5, as judged by Sam Giles of Mozilla and Alex Lakatos.

mobile web

The Prizes are:

3 Firefox Mugs and 5 Unisex Firefox Tshirts, donated by Mozilla.

The book Mobile HTML5donated by O’Reilly.

Headphones & 2 Visual Studio Cups, donated by Microsoft.

mobile web

The Best Game Entry Winner = Tristan Roddis for the Transcriptinator

GamesThe best game or gaming hack, as judged by Lee Stott of Microsoft.

The prizes are:

The book Theory of Fun for Game Designdonated by O’Reilly.

A Visual Studio T-Shirt & 2 Visual Studio Cups, donated by Microsoft.


The Best Use of Other Features Winner = Alistair Macdonald for Touch Free

bluetooth and otherGet creative with all of the features on-device! This Category as judged by Lee Stott of Microsoft.

The prizes are:

The book Getting Started with Bluetooth Low Energydonated by O’Reilly.

Two IoT T-Shirts & Data T-Shirts, donated by Microsoft.

other features

The Best Hardware / IoT   Hack Winner = Sam Machin for Woof RTC

iotBest use of a physical proto-typing platform, device, micro-controllor, etc; to be judged by Philip Handschin of MediaTek Labs.

The prizes are:

5 LinkIt ONE boards, donated by MediaTek.

The book Designing Connected Productsdonated by O’Reilly

hardware hack

The Best Wearable Hack Winner = Tom Durrant for KeyGlove

wearbleThe prizes are:

The book Make: Wearable Electronics,  donated by O’Reilly

A  Raspberry Pi 2, 1 Windows 10 T-shirt, and 4  IoT T-Shirts, donated by Microsoft.