Apps World 2014

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Apps World 2014 in London was great this year, with over 1,600 attendees it was held at the ExCel, and had loads of good speakers and sponsors.

My favourite talks from day 2 were: first a talk titled responsive website or native app which was given by Geoff Parkhurst who's the CTO of Lovehoney, he weighed up the advantages and disadvantages of each side very nicely. This I found particularly interesting since it's relevant to work at the moment.

Another great talk was given by Grant Allen from Google, on extreme wearables. This image (sorry for the bad quality photo) actually shows something really cool. the axis on the left is the % of people who are awake, the axis on the bottom is the time of night. As you can see, between 10pm and 1am, the % of people awake falls, since they've gone to bed, however at 3:30 AM, it suddenly rises, this was due to a huge earth quake that night. Each different coloured line is a different city, and this data could potentially be used to give a short warning to an earth quake to people in further away cities. This particular data came from JawBone, but any basic activity tracker would have recorded similar results, and would have the scope to implement this.

I also attended several other very interesting talks seen  here

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Study Time - Developed app to reduce distractions while studying

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Study Time is an open source Android application to reduce distractions while studying.
Any student will know that mobile phones are a massive distraction to studying, but also have some utilities that help you get your work done, such as calculator or Wikipedia. This weekend I developed an application that aims to reduce the distractions cause by your Android device.

The interface is simple, you enter the amount of time you need to stay focused for, and press start. Study mode will mute all notifications and disable home and back buttons. It's not immediately easy to get out of the app once your in study mode, though you do still have access to core features such as emergency dialer, time...  Once the timer reaches zero you once again have full access to your phone.

Technical Details

The app is built as a launcher that temporarily overrides the users default launcher. This will ensure that if they press the home button they can not close the app easily. There is also a timer that will run once study mode is enabled.


Google Play - the app is available to download for free from the Play store
GitHub - all code is open source and available on GitHub along with graphics
Amazon App Store - [coming soon to Amazon]
YouTube - promo video

Screen Shots

Start Screen
Timer Screen

Additional Views



The icons, video and site were done by Joe Sykes

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Droidcon Conference London 2014

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Droidcon London is a 2-day Android conference organised by Skills Matter

The first day was a community-led barcamp and democamp with talks and discussions given by opensource Android developers. The second day was packed full of presentations given by the worlds leading Android experts, on a range of Android topics. There were 1,200 attendees and loads of great sponsors, as well as an open bar party in the evening and a hackathon the following weekend.

I was a volunteer, so helped set up prior to the event, and in return was given a free ticket to attend both days :)


There was also a wide range of sponsors including Microsoft Azure, Sony, PayPal/ Braintree, Intel, Epson, AppConverter, Amazon App Store, Facebook, Badoo, ooVoo and Google Developers. As well as many other Bronze sponsors. Attendees were free to talk to the sponsors about their software, products and services and ask questions (and get a ton of free t-shirts and stash!).

The Presentations

Day 2 saw was filled with talks and presentations given by the worlds leading Android experts. It kicked of at 9 AM with Chet Haase from Google discussing what's new in Android Lollipop. From 10 AM - 17:30 there 7 talks going on simultaneously throughout the day (35 in total). Meaning it was impossible to attend them all, however they were all filmed and made available on the internet later on. 

The Party

On Thuresday night, there was a networking session and party at a pup a few minutes down the road at the Wenlock & Essex. There was a free bar paid for by ooVoo, and plenty of food and more stash. The music was picked by the attendees and was GREAT! 

Setting Up

I volunteered to help set up the event the day before, and early the morning of the first day (it was the only way I could get a ticket, given the crazy high prices!). We arrived on Wednesday and Thursday at 06:30 AM and our time was put to good use packing 1200 goody bags, preparing flyers, folding thirsts and other general setting up jobs. 

A few photos

Chet Haase - Practicing Practical Best Practices for Software Development Practitioners

Cyril Mottier - Android Wear

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Vitality Oxford Half Marathon 2014

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The Oxford half marathon is a 13.1 mile flat run though Oxford city, including Iffley Road, Cowely, the Mini Plant, the River Thames + Canal Path and this year the Iffley running track and a "Banister Mile" which was separately timed.
the start

A not so great photo of me coming into the finish

Map of the route, tracked using Runtastic
I tracked my run (as always) with Runtastic, by far my favourite sports tracking app. Below is a link the the session, also the map below is from the same session.

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PayPal Dev BattleHack London 2014

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BattleHack is an annual world wide hackathon run by PayPal. This year I was lucky enough to once again get a ticket to the London event, which took place on the weekend of the 11th - 12th October 2014, at Level 39, Canary Wharf. Level 39 as always an amazing venue with a 360 degree panoramic view of London and Canary Wharf.

As with previous years the food was of course really good, and plenty of it, full breakfast, fish and chips for lunch, fare ground style snacks at tea, then hot dogs and PayPal fairy cakes and beer for dinner, and pizza for midnight snack - and that was just Saturdays meals!

The first few hours consisted of networking, opening talks and sponsor pitches. The sponsor talks were really good, and included SendGrid, Twillio, Nango, Relayr,, JustGiving and NFC Ring. There was also an opportunity afterwards to talk to the sponsors and get help and information about using their products (and free t shirts and stickers!).

I was also very happy, since I won a Leap Motion Controller without even having to do that much! Thanks PayPal! It is a pretty cool piece of tech, so I will create a blog post reviewing it a bit later today.

Unfortunately I was unable to stay for the whole weekend (since I was running in a half marathon on Sunday morning) but I spent Saturday hacking into the early hours, and watched the presentations of the other hackers online after the event had finished. Some very cool stuff was created during BattleHack London 2014




First prize included winning an axe! How cool!?

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Princes Trust Palace to Palace 2014

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View from the starting line
Palace to Palace was a charity cycle ride in aid of the Princes Trust and sponsored by Saudi Arabia, it's an annual event which took place on the 5th of October 2014 this year. The standard ride was a scenic 45 mile (72km) route from Buckingham Palace to Windsor Castle, including Westminster, Richmond, alot of countryside and small villages and finishing at Windsor.There was also an Ultra ride, which was 90 miles and had he same starting and finishing points.

The event was very well organised, with the whole route fully marshalled, optional chip timing, and a free lunch and goodie bag at the end :) We were very lucky with the weather, apart from a cold start, the rest of the day was cool, sunny and clear with dry roads, near perfect cycling conditions.

The Accenture Classic Team
Me and a friend from work road cycled as part of team Accenture, along with 200+ other Accenture employees, who together raised over £42,000 or the Princes Trust.

All in all a very fun Sunday raising money for a good cause :)

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UKI European Programming Competition - London

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 UKIEPC is a European programming competition hosted in universities around Europe. This year I attended the event in London at the Imperial College.
Teams of up to three contestants were formed before hand, most of whom had done extensive practice sessions. The day started at 9 AM, where we had a welcome talk and quick run down or how everything was going to work. At 10 AM we were given access to the questions on the computer system, there were 15 in total all of varying difficulty. There was a choice of languages to program the solutions in, Java was our teams preference. We then spent the next 5 hours coding our solutions, with a live score bored, and the current leading teams being indicated with balloons tied above their desk (and the large amount of Google stash they won after answering a question correctly).

At 3 PM GMT the competition closed, and the solutions were presented, winners announced and prizes distributed. There were several representatives and recruiters from companies such as Google, PayPall and EF who attended and chatted to the contestants afterwards along with a large amount of Dominos pizza, which never goes down too badly with programmers ;)

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Google Auto Awsome

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Google Auto Awsome is a set of automatic enhancements or effects applied to photos uploaded to Google storage. Below are a few of my favourites that Google did on a bunch of my photos over the last few months.

Motion - Houses of parliament across the Thames

Dancing Lamas :)
Increased contrast highlighting the architecture of the cathedral

Frinton and Walton Yacht Club
London Eye

Millenium Bridge - Newcastle

Canal Path - Whiltshire

Tower Bridge - London

Snow Effect

Auto Smiles (not that we needed that) - Pirbright Camp

Oxford Half Marathon 13 - (that's me in the white and pink top)

Panorama of London - Canary Wharf

Panorama - Tryfan, Whales

Action - little brothers homemade go-kart

Motion - water

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