Little Printer Hack Day

Several months ago we decided it was time to pick a date to host a Hack Day for Little Printer.

We’d been kicking around the Hack Day idea since about December and for me personally it was something that made a lot of sense: James and I started building the Publications API and developer tools in January, slowly growing it to fulfil our needs. As with all projects that grow with you, most of the choices we made were well reasoned and borne out of discussion, but some were snap choices that we thought were of little consequence at the time. All of our systems made sense to us, but when they’re introduced to a new person, or twenty-five new people, how do those decisions hold up? Saturday was our test for that.

Berg hackday

At 10am on Saturday morning twenty-five friends came along to have a first run at using our API. They also let us practice hosting a Hack Day. If you came along, thank you so much, your input was invaluable and I’m already excited about getting together with Nick and James to work out what’s next for the API, based on your feedback.

I think it’s safe to say that we’ll be planning another Hack Day once the dust has settled from this one. We have plenty of things to tighten up with our developer tools before unleashing them for a wider audience. If you’re interested in attending, we’ll be letting people know well ahead of time – and this time it’ll be open to a wider audience.

informal

The day was informal (as you can see in the above shot, by Dan Williams), starting with some basic housekeeping messages from Simon. I then gave a quick and fraught run down of the developer tools, how to get set up with a printer and what to do if you got stuck.

Demos came at the end of the day and these were a lot like a larger version of the Friday Demos we have at BERG every week. Everyone grabs a beer and there’s a lot of clapping. The output from everyone was outstanding! Here’s a quick rundown of the things people madeā€¦

Some stats: At the end of the day we had 73 publications registered on the system and 443 deliveries had been made to our 10 Little Printers.

Richard Pope made Calendar Forecast, a publication that summarises your calendar to-do symbols. Like a weather forecast, but for Google Calendar.

Matt Biddulph made Little Twitter Trends, a publication of interesting things concerning the people you follow on twitter and what’s happening in their world.

James Stewart, James Weiner and Chris Heathcote made three things, firstly, localondon, a publication of things going on in London. Secondly, Seasons Eatings, a publication based on some work James W had done before based on seasonal food. And finally, Southbank Today a publication of information about events on the Southbank today.

paper pet

Ben Firshman and Devin Hunt made Paper Pets, a charming publication containing instructions to make origami animals (one shown above!).

Adrian McEwen made Printernet Fridge, an actual Arduino hack! Three buttons that sit on the side of the fridge; one to press when the milk was out, one for orange juice and one for cheese. Little Printer then gives you a reminder whenever these things have been requested.

Chris Adams made Little Printnik, which is a publication to help you to learn and use new words (often quite esoteric), using the Wordnik API.

Tom Armitage went back to his own “Hello World” of connected things, creating Tower Bridge, a written and visual representation of the Bridge’s activities for the day, with reference shots of the ships that are passing.

Nick O’leary and Kass Schmitt made ASCII Meterogram using data from the Norwegian Meterological Institute and NRK.

Tom Taylor made Low Flying Rocks to highlight when meteors are flying close to the earth, and giving some vital statistics about them.

Tom Insam, Natalie Downe and Simon Willison (aka TEAM LANYRD) made a publication for Lanyrd. It shows information about the conference you are attending today, including a Stamen map tile for the location and which of your twitter contacts is also attending. Over on the Lanyrd blog you can see a quick write up of their hack.

James Wheare made Exquisite Paper, a daily random collection tweets collated on Exquisite Tweets. I love the serendipity of this one, a random conversation that somebody decided was interesting enough to save from anywhere in the world every morning. Yes please.

Natalia Buckley and Linda Savik made Cat Grindr, the exceptionally named publication that prints out photos of cats that people have shared near you, meaning you can track them down and pet them. A lot of the photos returned by Cat Grindr were not technically cats, but that made it even more entertaining.

Mark Hurrell and Louise Downe used Your Sky to generate printouts with the idea that you could use it to project the night sky onto your wall by shining a light through the paper. I’m not sure the final projector actually worked, but they made a valliant effort — and the only publication to involve the BERG soldering iron!
(edit: Louise also wrote an excellent post about the day, which you can check out on her blog)

Roo Reynolds made Today’s Google Calendar Events. A list of today’s events printed every morning, to curb that constant phone-checking.

Matt Webb blew the cobwebs out of his coding brain and made a publication for Conway’s Game of Life. Give it a seed and each day you get the next iteration of the generated game in ASCII.

And last but not least, Dan Williams made Little Emma, a publication sharing the location of the world’s largest container ship each day. Dan also posted a great write up of the day, with his own thoughts, and a video of Little Emma as it prints.

Well done and thank you to everybody who demoed, I’ve kept samples of all the publications made and am going to display them on a pin board on the studio like a proud mother.

–AB