#FSCHack Day, Day Two

Live blogging by Rowan Stanfield.

9.30am – As far as I can gather, the last of the hardcore coders got to bed around 3.30am, having pretty much worked straight through from yesterday morning. A few of us had ventured out with bat detectors after the pub, and having being foiled several times by mobile phone signals sounding somewhat like bats, actually tracked down the real thing.

This morning the judges are doing the rounds, finding out about all the projects that are on the go, and meeting the teams. We’re aiming towards a 3pm show and tell presentation of all the hacks, so everyone is deadline focused, quietly cracking on.

10.30am – Looking remarkably chipper and animated considering the late night after a full day of planning and coding yesterday, the Outlandish Ideas team took five minutes out to chat to me about what they’ve been working on and how their historical river data project is going. Here’s a podcast of that conversation:

12.30pm – I’ve spent the morning mostly talking to FSC people: Brian Whalley, who is a trustee, shared some thoughts from the organisation’s perspective, and as a retired educator himself, and Harriet White, who teaches here at Slapton and is one of the main organisers of the event. I went down to a nearby pond with Brian, who was testing out an underwater camera contraption which is basically a small camera inside a waterproof casing, attached to a plank of wood. The footage came out a little murky and there wasn’t much action going on in the pond, but it was interesting to contemplate what would be possible in terms of studying pond life using a simple piece of kit like this.

Here’s my interview with Brian on the Hack Day in general, with apologies for the sound quality/wind noise – we were outside and the wind has picked up a bit since yesterday. Pond Life snippets to follow.

At midday the judging team assembled in the canteen to discuss the process and categories for judging the hacks later today. On the panel we have: James Richards, Director of Chromatrope and interactive education consultant; Harriet White from the FSC; Emma Bee of the British Geological Survey and Met Office; Mark Jacobs of the BBC Natural History Unit and Academy; and Adam McGregor of Rewired State – with Hack Day co-organiser and BBC R&D person Ant Miller as chair.

The judging panel discussing logistics ahead of this afternoon’s presentations.

Right now, the teams have broken for lunch – a healthy looking spread of jacket potatoes and salad, which should keep them going for another few hours of hacking this afternoon. We’re all really excited about seeing the outcome of all the hard work and ingenuity that’s been ploughed into the challenges over the weekend.

2.45pm – With only 15 minutes to go until the presentations and judging takes place, I sat down with the #FSCHack judging panel to hear how they’re feeling about the event, and what they’re hoping to see from the hacks. Here’s what they said:

4.15pm – The presentations have now all taken place and the judges are off deliberating. There’s been a lot of enthusiasm for all the projects, and it’s going to be a tough call to choose between them.

We’ve also just checked in with the Kent outpost of the FSC Hack Day, who were unable to get to Slapton, but have carried on hacking regardless. Here’s a guest post on what they’ve been up to.

Earlier I went back to talk to the FLAIR team, to see how things had progressed since I spoke to them yesterday:

5.20pm – It’s all over. Well, for this weekend at least. The prizes were awarded thus:

Best in Field – FLAIR (Field Log Analysis Instant Resource)

People’s Award – The Bat Men’s Heterodyne Bat Detector

Best Build – Outlandish’s River Cruncher

Best Potential – Andy Piper & Neil Ford’s (with help from Bristol Hackspace) Floggr

For everyone else there was a wealth of positive feedback from the judges, who were universally impressed and inspired by the quality of hacks that have emerged from this weekend.

We’ll do a complete write up with the judge’s notes shortly, along with some audio from the ceremony (currently uploading).

Meanwhile, thanks to everyone who helped make this such a fantastic event. Do stay tuned for news of the follow up event in 10 days, and hopefully more FSC Hack gatherings in the future.


About Rowan Stanfield

Living it up, writing it down.
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