Because why spend your Saturday sleeping?

01 December 2013

Last Saturday I attended HackBMTH. For those in the Bournemouth area, HackBMTH has gone from being an idea in the minds of The Tallest Man in Dorset and Adam to THE regular hacking event to attend.

HackBMTH changes it's location each time, and this time it was back at Redweb (Woo!). People from across the town turned up to make various little bits and bobs from Train refund apps (I'm going to be needing that) to automated Santas drawing things to Raspberry Pi snail enclosures.

Our swear box

I had a couple of things I wanted to make and polish up at HackBMTH. Recently, Dave and I got a swear box in the office. There have been too many times when Microsoft's dodgy software have moved me to unpleasant words whilst (often unknowingly) in the company of clients :/ So, the swear box has helped dampen that a little bit, but we thought maybe there's another way to disincentivise people from swearing, What if we took pictures of the guilty folk every time they donated to the swear box and threw them up on the web? So, I first made that.

(For those who are interested, I've been rinsed of about £20 in 2 weeks)

The setup is simple, using an Arduino attached to a computer via serial port, I wrote a quick web app that used an Android phones browser to take a picture every time someone dropped a coin in the box. Just inside the box was an LED and a photoresistor, when the coin passed between these two things, the light was broken and the Arduino sent this information to the Node.js server it was connected to. The server then fired off a message in websockets to the Android phone which triggered an image capture and sent it back to the browser. I didn't get time to upload the pictures to Flickr - The Node.js and Python libraries for Flickr are awful, I've written my own module for handling file uploads to Flickr before but it's too integrated with the current project to just drop in. I'll finish it later.

I also took the time to polish off a few other things, about 6 months ago I wrote a Python script that turned Vine videos into Zoetrope strips. For some ungodly reason, Vine have started using only Flash to play Vines whereas before you could just download an MP4 version by adding .mp4 to the url of the video you wanted to convert. Fortunately, they've left a tag in the head describing where an MP4 version is, so I changed my script to go to the page, parse it for the link, download the file and then run it through some image conversions to get strips that can be printed. I'll put the Python script on Github a little later this week.

I also wrote a version of Space Invaders that can delete your Facebook friends - But I'll write a separate blog about that in a bit.

So yeah, that was HackBMTH. It's a pretty awesome day out, if you wanna join all you have to do is a grab one of the free tickets and come along - Maybe I'll see you there next time.