NotCon ‘04

I made it to the first half of NotCon ‘04 this morning before fleeing back up to Barnet to spend some of Sunday with Sarah. I hadn’t been to Imperial College Union before, so was impressed to see it was right next door to this fairly impressive building:

RAH

Before the talks kicked off there was a screening of the pilot, and only, episode of Heat Vision and Jack - after which the LCD projector decided not to work in full colour for the rest of the morning. I sat in for two talk sessions:

Life Hacks

Owing to technical difficulties this was a partially monochrome retelling of Danny O’Brien’s talk from the Emerging Technology Conference in February. For those who won’t recognize the name, Danny is the one who writes the top half of weekly email bulletin NTK.

I won’t bother writing much about this session as it has already been comprehensively covered and Danny has made promises to put some meaningful content on lifehacks.com once he has given his third and final version of the talk some time next week.

Hardware - 6 mini talks

  • As advertised, James Larsson managed to move a solenoid controlled clock to within an hour or two of the current time by measuring the capacitance of a decaying prawn and comparing it to prawns he had known in the past. Cute, but not terribly useful.
  • Matt West had both compact flash and ide interfaces for his ZX Spectrum and impressed everybody by playing some video with it.
  • Stephen Goodwin talked about communicating with mencoder and X10 appliances via email - nothing too thrilling for people who already run TivoWeb
  • The villainous Reverend Rat soldered a 10 kilowatt powered antenna onto a usb bluetooth dongle, and muttered a bit about “penetration testing” and other nefarious plans for making money by finding security flaws.
  • George Wright from the Beeb gave a short presentation about how they were starting to get some things right with interactive tv, apparently they are now World Leaders in the area. Most interesting point was that all itv content has to be vetted by platform owners, as nobody wants to be financially responsible for knocking over a million sky boxes before a pay per view cup final.
  • Most interesting for me was the short presentation by of Anil Madhavapeddy of High Energy Magic who have been doing some very insteresting stuff with small 2d barcodes and using them to control user interfaces - watch the videos on the site to get a good idea how it works. Their freely downloadable (but no source…) BangoSpot demo works on my nokia 6600 and is the first realtime barcode identification I’ve seen working on a camera phone.

The event was a little over-capacity so by leaving I let someone else get into the building. Hopefully selling some tickets twice should give good odds of financial success, and maybe we’ll see more of this kind of thing in the future.

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