Afternoon “Columbus” heat, Young Rewired State 2013

For the afternoon’s heat, I’ve picked Columbus in the “level 2” venue. Here’s the rundown of the presentations, updated as they come (some details to be corrected later!):

Crime Ships – “The Best Thing Ever”
Joe, Billy, Jamie
This is a desktop and mobile game, where you are trying to stop crime, a bit like minesweeper. Except the board is a map of the UK – this uses live data to determine whether there are crimes where you click or not.

Challenges they faced included implementing a gaussian random distribution. Fair enough. JavaScript game; live data from

– Q: can you choose where the map is centred?
– A: at the moment, it is always centred on London; we concentrated on the back-end
– Q: what did you learn?
– A: all learnt HTML, CSS & JavaScript

Maths Academy
Alex, …

Inspired by a dramatic fall in Maths grades at GCSE. It provides a series of tests to help with maths. The actual data used the exam boards is what they use to set quizzes.

Used various tech. Demo starts with a funky animation. Login done with Mozilla Persona. Each test has three sections: definition, explanation and a quiz (multiple choice).

– Q: what format was the data in?
– A: there is an API for getting hold of the maths questions data
– Q: ideas to take it further?
– A: we’d like to do something for younger children.

Harry, James (plus Reuben and 2 more)

Problem: politics is boring, but it shouldn’t be. Problem: politics is not accessible – a bill could be 140 pages and is full of legal jargon. They recognise there are some sources of simplified information. So what if there was a way to get feeds of political legislation that matters to you?

This app is like a Google Reader for bills that matter for you. They gave a demo. This is a web app that is optimised for mobiles and desktops. You pick bills by category or by the particular bill. You can search for your MP to find out how they voted.

When you load a bill, you get a diagram of progress through parliament, and the public opinion of the vill. There is a map showing how the public have noted on this bill.

Data sources: Bing images API; Public whip API (MP data and voting history).

Future: personalisation; email updates.

– Q: what back-end would you use to build further improvements?
– A: not sure, a standard back-end
– Q: what are your skills and what have you learnt?
– A: learnt JavaScript since last year’s YRS; design, back-end

Jay, Ryan (for Google Play store link)

An Android app to get more people to find birds in their local area.

Demoed the app through the overhead camera. Shows going through species of birds. Shows logging locations of bird spottings, and uses a map to display sightings.

Date: BBC Nature API / BBC Ornithology API (for bird data); Google Maps API. Data is stored in a MySQL/MongoDB database.

This was actually a really sweet niche app, with lovely design. And the two youngsters on stage had an intimidating amount of coding and design experience between them.

– Q: why choose birds?
– A: could have been anything to do with nature, but we thought this was simple; we could extend it to anything in the BBC Nature API
– Q: what experience did you have before this week?
– A: 1-2 years experience doing Java; fair bit of PHP; HTML/CSS & design
– Q: did you hit any major brick walls?
– A: we lost two team members; we had to convert XML for use in the app; we got round both these though
– Q: why Android?
– A: we had the most experience with that (although we know Objective-C)

Swap My Book

A system to help people swap books with each other. In the demo, you can add your books and images of them. You can search for other books by name, author, location and category. When you find a book you want, you can submit a swap request. You can login and look at book swap requests, and accept or reject them.

Uses the Open Library to show you where you can get books you can’t find on Book Swap.

– Q: are you aware of any similar services?
– A: ReadIt and SwapIt – we plan to compete with them
– Q: what makes this better than using a local library
– A: this is a full-on trade, there’s no time limit on how long you have the books
– Q: what tech have you used?
– Q: what APIs did you use?
– A: Google Books API for searching by ISBN code; Open Library

The Nut Allergy Database
Simran, Leon, Eden, Kfir, Sheraya (last two not here)

This three-person team is really young! They are literally hidden behind the lecturns.

They’ve collected a set of different products from different APIs and gone through them to say whether they contain nuts (or traces). They’ve done this to help people with nut allergies see if products have nuts in them.

Bonus: they created a printable pin that says, “I have a nut allergy” for use in schools.

They didn’t have much coding experience so have come a long way over the YRS week. They wanted to do a mobile app but didn’t have the time.

They showed a demo – a website where you can search by category and look at lists of products.

– Q: how did you get the ingredients data?
– A: we used supermarket ingredients sources and a some Google data
– Q: who did what?
– A: we split the work up between coding, powerpoint, project management
– Q: do you have any plans to make the mobile app?
– A: we could work on that next year

Shouting Marble Racer

A driving game where you can’t control the marble unless the audience is cheering.

And a couple of Unity-based demos: a physics-based piling up of blocks and a block explosion.

– Q: did you work on this alone?
– A: yes!
– Q: which game would you take forward?
– A: the marble racer, since it’s the main game
– Q: have you considered voice control for tidying your desktop
– A: *laughs and cheers from the audience*
– Q: who is the audience for the games? marble racer would work well at a conference
– Q: have you thought about porting your game to your phone?
– A: I have thought about that

Pins of Kindness
Nick, George

More young presenters hidden behind lecterns…

The point of this is that when people do some kind things, you can leave pins on a map to celebrate that.

Some technical challenges held up the progress, and they only had two days to build the app. The demo is all about a live stream of tweets for their hashtag #pinsofkindness, built using nodeJS and

– Q: what tech did you learn?
– A: nodejs / / Twitter Bootstrap – the tech all went into making a live stream of tweets
– Q: what experience did you have?
– A: Objective-C / bit of Java & C++ / Visual Basic / HTML, CSS, JavaScript / MySQL / PHP

Cyberduck, Elstree

A video presentation! And a Q&A over Skype.

Takes all your social networks and puts them all into one place, to reduce the number of tabs you need to have open.

Nice looking website. Login with Facebook or Twitter. Dashboard shows your news feeds from different social networks.

– Q: what’s the tech behind the app?
– A: a lot of HTML, CSS
– Q: what’s been the biggest challenges?
– A: getting Facebook, Twitter APIs sorted
– Q: did you work from a centre?
– A: I worked at home
– Q: do you think you would have made more progress from a centre, with mentors and peers?
– A: yes

Show me the funding
Matt, Imogen, Aneeqa, Callum
Rutherford Appleton Laboratory Centre

An app that allows you to search for a topic within Science, Tech & Engineering, and then search for projects in the UK (from the UK Research Council API).

The back-end: Python interacts with the UK Research Council API; API for post-codes.

This is aimed at: students looking for post-graduate training; researchers in search of funding. Why are we doing this? We wanted to provide an overall view of the data presented by the UK Research Council API. The girls are the hardcore programmers in this team.

For the future: want to show connections between the institutions; want to statistically analyse some of the data to show trends.

– Q: how did you come up with this idea and discover the data-sets?
– A: we had a presenter who is involved with this data; no-one really knows about it, so let’s do something together
– Q: how did you work together as a team?
– A: really well. Some of us have worked together before.
– Q: what’s your experience before YRS?
– A: a bit of Python / a bit of Python / design experience
– Q: you have plans for the future?
– A: would really like to carry on; at the Rutherford centre, we gave a practice talk and someone from the centre was keen to talk if they were carrying on

Statistically Accurate Death Simulator
Eleanor, Kati, …

Launch 1000 people across the world and watch them die statistically accurately. Designed to amuse and educate about development across the world. Targeted at children and adults. We hope to create a better world, never mind code a better country!

Demo of HTML version of simulator. The people turn red on a world map when they die. At the end, there is a table of the causes of death.

Next demo: 3D version in Unity. People are represented as small flames. With Unity you can export to lots of different platforms e.g. Android and inside a web browser.

You can add cures for diseases and see the effect on the deaths.

– Q: where did you get the idea from?
– A: me & my sister shouldn’t be left alone to bounce ideas off each other…
– Q: who would be the most likely to use this?
– A: very morbid; people coming into schools and audiences of adults, trying to raise awareness, as the visualisation is effective. Fund-raisers could use this.
– Q: would you be abel to add search engine for causes of death?
– A: yes, that’s a plan for the future
– Q: what’s the underlying tech and how did you incorporate data into the app
– A: the World Health Organisation stats are published in an Excel file, which was processed into an XML file (and from there into a JS array)
The Visual Dictionary
Harry, Loic
Rutherford Appleton Lab

The problem – multilingual dictionaries not giving good translations, because of context fail. The solution is to use images as a mnemonic.

The app works by having communities tag images and helping people verify that the translation they have found is what they mean.

Data: flickr API for tags, Yandex Translate API to verify language of tags. They also kickstarted the tags by crowdsourcing some tags through the site.


– Q: experience before YRS?
– Q: the concept is very unique, what brought this to mind?
– A: this was inspired by the challenges of using dictionaries. This is beginning of a much larger effort to better catalogue translations
– Q: what challenges?
– A: keeping data as UTF-8 all the way to the browser

Where can I find?
Al, Max
Rutherford Appleton lab

A website aimed at wildlife enthusiasts, allowing you to identify the best places to find different wildlife.

Takes a species name and postcode and plots places to find this species on a Google map.

Data: UK postcodes API to convert postcodes to lat/lon. Location finding data is based on people submitting sightings to the website.

Tech: Python backend taking to MySQL database; HTML/CSS front-end.

Future: use Twitter to log data; create our own API for use by other parties; add images, video, comments; gamification to encourage people to upload sightings.

Learnt at YRS: didn’t know much web programming at all, now we’ve been able to put this together.

– Q: what challenges did you face?
– A: integrating the front-end to the back-end; getting postcodes data
– Q: have you thought of any other areas you can apply this tech to reach a wider audience?
– A: not entirely; but the plan to create the API would open up the opportunity

Binary Britain

Using data to create maps for games based on Britain.

Demo of a driving game, driving around Birmingham. They generate fields and farms based on stats. Enemies are based on crime statistics; rain clouds are generated based on weather data.

Tech: Java for gathering stats and organising; node.js for acting as a web server and sending data to client. WebGL canvas (using a heavily-hacked version of pixel.js).

Data: Google geolocation API;

– Q: what was the single most important thing you learned?
– A: making sure you understand the library you are using before diving into it; not to write things in JavaScript
– Q: how is this made for?
– A: this is a showcase of what you can do generating maps from data; so this is meant as inspiration for games
– Q: are there better ways to represent the data so people playing the game can relate to what they are seeing?
– A: we could do a lot more stuff with the player experience; it’s pretty static now due to time limitations; we could add more APIs such as local police

Evil MPs
Ben, Adam

We didn’t know how MPs vote; we wanted to find out which ones we’d like or not.

Someone comes onto the website, picks a bill, gives their opinion about bills, and then the app finds the angel & devil MP, where they agree or disagree most with you. And there is a robot…

So, what does the robot do? It pelts the screen with nerf guns when it sees MPs that disagree with you.

Future: facial recognition instead of QR codes for recognising MPs (part of the problem is the lack of photos of people running our country!).

Tech: PHP, JavaScript, C, Python

– Q: what APIs have you used?
– A: API
– Q: what’s the hardware?
– A: a Python module controls an arduino mega which is connected to a relay connected to the nerf gun battery – this is on github and probably the best thing to come out of this
– Q: did you have any challenges?
– A: the facial recognition was a big challenge; and the documentation on the QR code recognition library was very bad, so we had to dive into the code
Nasir, ??? (3 others)
Cyberduck, Elstree

An app to help startup shops find space and crowdsource funding to get started and revitalise high streets. You can browse properties, and see rent and crime data. From a property, you create a crowdsourcing project, where the money gets sent straight to the council if successful.

Works like Kickstarter with the money only being taken if a target is hit.

Data: PayPal’s Intent To Pay API; Exeter Council open data about properties; crime data; ordnance data for lat/lon data from postcodes.

Tech: Python, PHP, JavaScript, HTML/CSS

I think this is darn interesting, particularly the part about sending money straight to the council to protect people supporting the project.

– Q: how did you identify this problem? It seems very significant.
– A: you read it in the news and get taught about the decline of high streets in GCSE geography. We think crowdfunding where the donors are protected is a good way to sort the problem.
– Q: did you plan to make use of an existing crowd funding site?
– A: no, PayPal’s intent to pay API gives you enough to do this, and is free for charities (we are likely to register as a charity).
– Q: how did you approach learning the languages
– A: some of us had previous experience in programming languages; mentors helped a lot; still hard


MP Internet Test
Henry, Ben, (1 more)
Neon Tribe
A test for MPs since they are recently making laws about the use of the Internet! Includes trick questions to test MPs attitude to data protection e.g. “what’s you mother’s maiden name?”, answer is *nothing*.

At the end of the quiz, you can get a printable certificate saying whether you passed or failed.

(Cool CSS3 page transition, like a flip book.)

– Q: what tech?
– A: HTML/CSS, JavaScript
– Q: have you given this test to other people to establish a baseline?
– A: we haven’t tested any MPs yet, they’ve been unreachable… we’ve considered putting it on an actual website so people can spread it around

St. Cuthbert’s

You choose a Wikipedia article and it turns it into an Haiku.

– Q: what’s your best Haiku:
– A: Marilyn Monroe: “During this time Monroe had minor roles in 4 films low-budget drama”
– Q: what tech?
– A: used Ruby and JavaScript to process data
– Q: where’s the name from?
– A: it’s randomly generated

Project Green
Liam, Kieran (and 1 more)
St. Cuthbert’s

A website that tells you the most economic and the greenest ways to travel between A and B. Takes cost of petrol into account when calculating most economic forms of travel.

Turns out MegaBus is a very green way to travel.

Data: Google Maps API

Tech: Bootstrap 3; HTML; PHP

School Advisor
Nathan, James, Thomas
St. Cuthbert’s

A web app to display relevant schools for a particular course, and shows ratings for schools. Results are shown on a Google Map, and the markers are coloured according to how good the schools are.

Data: Department of Education (hidden away in CSV files); Google Maps API; Ordnance Survey Postcodes

Tech: MySQL; Python for extracting data from CSV.

Future: include OFSTED data to show more rounded picture of school; search for different course types; use the HTML5 geolocation API; allow submission via SMS using Twillio API

– Q: any barrier you came across?
– A: placing the markers on the Google map was a big difficulty, just resolved last night
– Q: what’s the source of the list of courses?
– A: from the DoE website

Guerrilla Learning
Lucy (fab hat), Fred, Georgia (1 more)
St. Cuthbert’s

This is to help you find other people who have the same interests as you do. You can earn Mozilla Open Badges on the site by learning. This all comes from being at YRS and learning from our peers.

Data: Open Street Map

Tech: Drupal / Mozilla Persona

– Q: what did you all do?
– A: we worked as a team most of the time, but had some specific jobs
– Q: what prior experience?
– A: GCSE computing, so Python, Visual Basic, CSS; Scratch, Raspberry Pi, Gimp, HTML; very little prior experience, learnt most of what I used during the Festival or the week before
– Q: did you need to write PHP or did you use Drupal modules?
– A: Drupal already had the interfaces we used

The Great Appini
Luke, George, Stephen, Shariq
St. Cuthbert’s

The Great Appini is to help you find apps you want to use, since the Featured Apps lists in app stores are often not what you want.

The app asks you questions about what you use and like, and then recommends you other apps that suit your tastes.

Data: Firefox Marketplace API to get recommendations for apps

Tech: HTML/CSS; PHP; Twitter Bootstrap

Future: integrate anonymous data collection to improve results; improve appearance of website

– Q: how do you use the Firefox Marketplace API to give recommendations?
– A: we use genres and information from apps and put that in our database
– Q: did you learn anything about the open source community?
– A: it makes website production a lot easier
– Q: did you learn a lot?
– A: yes, got a lot out of the experience – we didn’t know anything before the Festival, have learnt a lot, am going to come back again next year