I’ve spent the weekend at the Yahoo!/BBC-organised Hack Day at Alexandra Palace in London. It was interesting, fun, tiring, and occasionally frustrating, but generally good. I’ve no idea what other people actually did, because I fell asleep out of exhaustion during the presentations on Sunday afternoon!
Some people consider Watford Gap to be where the North starts; living in South London, I’d place the boundary somewhere around Farringdon. So Alexandra Palace might as well be in Yorkshire, as far as I’m concerned, it’s that far away. It’s all flat caps, flat As, and whippets up there.
The biggest excitement came with a massive thunderstorm around midday on Saturday. Alexander Palace is on the highest ground for miles. That’s great for broadcasting television signals—and for attracting lightning!
There was a huge bang when the lightning struck, but it wasn’t really a problem. What was was the fire detector system, which was confused by the shock into thinking that a fire had broken out and promptly opened the roof vents in response.
In a hall full of electrical and computer equipment, indoor rain wasn’t a good thing, so we all had to decamp to the atrium in a sort of geek refugee camp for an hour or so while the roof was sorted out.
I slept in Ally Pally on Saturday night on my camping mat. I slept reasonably well, disturbed only by the loud snores of the chap who had chosen to sleep next door, and who was remarkably oblivious to my righteously-delivered kicks.
We didn’t really get anywhere with our hack, but I can show you one thing: our highly-engineered Lego drawing robot (not a turtle, dammit!). This video gives an idea of just how accurately it was able to spin around on the spot.
Via the magic of YouTube, here it is:
I misappropriated one of the Hack Day bean bags (hey—they said we could), which I manhandled home by Tube and bus. Do you realise how ungainly a bean bag actually is? Take my word for it, and don’t try to take one on public transport! It’s sitting in my flat at the moment while I work out how to get it to the office.