#Rdggeek 24 – Quiz Results

October 13, 2011 § Leave a comment

The top 3 teams on the night were:

  1. Telcos Suck with 15 points – they won the paper-plane tie break
  2. Bionic Squids with 15 points
  3. On a mission with 14 points.
Prizes were courtesy of Mission Burrito.  You can find a photo of the runners up with their T-Shirts and other photos from the night here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/spiritquest/6236817159/in/set-72157625155075336

#Rdggeek 2nd Birthday Quiz

October 12, 2011 § Leave a comment

Thanks to everyone last night for such a great birthday Reading Geek Night!  We had some discussions last night about the future of rdggeek and I think our 3rd year is going to be the best yet!

For those of you that wanted a recap of the questions and answers, I’ve included them here.  I’ll post the scores and names of the winning teams later on today.

Round 1: All about Reading

In what year was the Reading Abbey established?
June 1121

What are the 3B’s that Reading is famous for?
Biscuits, Beer and Bulbs

How many locks are on the Kennet and Avon canal that passes through Reading? (within 3)

In what year was the first Reading Festival held?
1971 – It was a Jazz festival before between 61-70

Which is the oldest pub in Reading town centre?
Sun Inn, Castle St., C13

Which National London to Fishguard cycle route passes through Reading?

What company did famous Readingite John Madjeski start to make his fist million?
Autotrader (Thames Valley Traders was also accepted as an answer)

Which Oscar winning actress used to work in the Deli in St Marys Butts?
Kate Winslet

What 5 ingredients are found in Sweeny Todds 5 nations pie? (1 point all five)
Beef, Guinness, Mustard, Leeks, Garlic

Who sculpted the cast-iron Maiwand Lion that stands in Forbury Gardens, who was rumoured to have committed suicide over allegations that the lions gait was incorrect?
George Blackall Simonds

Round 2: Food and Drink
What nut allergen can be transmitted via sexual contact?
Brazil nut

What is the chemical symbol for Alcohol (Ethanol)

Between which years was prohibition in the US? (2 points)
1920 – 1933

Which scale is used to measure the heat of chilli peppers?

What is the half life of a banana?
1.25 billion years

In what year was BBC’s famous spaghetti tree April Fools?

From which flower is saffron harvested?

In what century did the Spanish bring chocolate to Europe?

What metal is used to encourage the growth of mould in stilton?
Stainless Steel

What is the name of the mould that infects grapes used to produce pudding wine?

Round 3: Old School Computer Games

What were the names of the four ghosts in the classic Pac Man?
Inky, Pinky, Blinky, Clyde

What was Marios original name and in which game did he make his first appearance?
Jumpman, Donkeykong

What was the name of the hero character in Elite?
Commander Jameson

What was the name of the built-in game on the Master System II?
Alex Kidd (in Miracle World)

What are you most likely to die from in “The Oregon Trail”?

What was the name of the hero character in Wolfenstein 3D?
William “BJ” Blazkowicz

In what year was the original Tetris released?

In total, how many N64 units were shipped.  To the nearest 2 million?

What was the name of the automatic rifle in N64’s Goldeneye?

Which company developed Pong which is believed to have started the computer games industry?

Reading Geek Night 17

March 9, 2011 § 1 Comment

Last night I had the opportunity to talk at Reading Geek Night 17 on Creating an interactive iPad Book. I gave an overview of our latest iPad project The Lost Journal, introducing the all the moving parts that came together to produce the end product. The process of developing the ideas, story, artwork and application was discussed and there were lots of questions from the audience.

Here are some links you might find useful:

Cocos2d and our iPad app

February 13, 2011 § Leave a comment


Cocos2d is a fantastic library that has helped us to create our first iPad app – an interactive companion book to Susie Cornfield’s Dekaydence series.

We wouldn’t have been able to do it without the help of this library and it’s friendly and helpful community – massive thanks to all the contributors that make it such a great library to use.

To give back to the community, We have offered up our office space to hold the next Cocos2d London User Group on March 3rd.  Information can be found on the Cocos2d forums and on lanyrd.

Heres a short video of The Lost Journal iPad app:

BarCamp London 8 #bcl8

November 22, 2010 § 1 Comment

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It’s been a month since my last blog and casting my mind back over that time, I figured I hadn’t written up anything on BarCamp London 8.  Not only can I give a run down of my time at the event, but can use this opportunity to mention a few noteworthy bits and pieces.


I’d come across this site before, but never really engaged with it.  It wasn’t until BCL8 that it really struck a chord with me.  Full and in-depth coverage of the event was crowd-sourced whilst the event unfolded. BarCamp is an unconference and as such, the tracks are determined on the fly.

When you mark yourself as “attending” a conference, the real time calendar will give you a run down of the current and next sessions – which turned out to be invaluable as the 300-strong crowd round one pin board was a little manic.

I really like the way that it gives you a permanent personal profile which lists your attendance and speaking appearances alongside any links, photos, slides etc that you have posted.  It was also nice to see that Reading Geek Night (#rdggeek) has a presence on there too.


I’ve had my iPad for several months and truth be told, it’s a completely dispensable gadget.  Yep, you read that right!  That is not to say it doesn’t have its uses because there are things that it is really great at:

  • two screening” or “simultaneous media usage” – the concept of using two independent data or social consumption devices at the same time, e.g. TV+iPad or TV+laptop – the F1 iPad app is a great example
  • Browsing youtube on the sofa when you cant be bothered with a big heavy laptop
  • iPlayer in bed (I’ve never had a TV in my bedroom)
  • Email/blogging on the go – smartphones are too small and fiddly
  • Gaming platform – I’m not a gamer at all, but the occasional 2 mins playing Modern Conflict, Trainyard or Harbour Master is pretty good
  • Magazine and photo magazine (e.g. Guardian eyewitness) browsing

However, the best use I found recently was at BCL8.  A device I could easily carry around which told me about all the sessions, allowed me to browse the net and consume real-time twitter updates about the conference was a dream to use.  I was also slightly surprised at the sheer quantity of iPads at the conference – I would guess at somewhere between 30 and 40 per cent of the delegates had one and were clearly finding the same benefits over a laptop that I was (I didn’t see anyone charging an iPad).


I was a little apprehensive about my first BarCamp and my first unconference for that matter.  This turned out to be a waste of energy as the event was fantastically organised by enthusiastic, kind and helpful individuals.  I was also surprised by the number of people there that I had met before… I thought I was going to be the only person I knew!

Each attendee was encouraged to hold a session and so along with @CharlieFuller we decided to host two back-to-back “open discussion” sessions on iPhone technologies that we were both interested in.  Turn out to our session was good and a fun and informative discussion ensued.

Food, drink, snacks, swag and banter were all in abundance and my first BarCamp was very enjoyable, only let down by the fact I couldn’t go along on the Sunday as well!!

Run down of #ddd8a

October 24, 2010 § 2 Comments

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Another excellent DDD event hosted at the Microsoft campus in Reading took place on Saturday 23rd October.  As usual, there was plenty of energy, free food and drink, prizes and banter!

The two tracks focused on “Modern .net development”, a deviation from the usual future themed talks with more emphasis placed on what you can do here and now.  The talks I went to were:

WP7, iPhone, Droid – Oh My!

Chris Hardy

A look at the ways of reusing .net code across WP7, iPhone (MonoTouch) and Android (MonoDroid), the associated costs, pitfalls and differences between platforms was covered in an excellent overview given by Chris.

My thoughts: I still think unless you have hefty business logic libraries that you can save money or time by leveraging the same code base across the platforms, the differences in implementation still differs substantially enough to justify learning the languages, features and quirks of the native system.  That said, the direct namespace mapping in MonoTouch was pretty impressive, allowing a .net developer to develop for iPhone in a familiar way.  Understanding the iOS classes and how they work can not be underestimated as the mono system is not an abstraction.

Managed Extensibility Framework (MEF)

Kathleen Dollard

An introduction to compositional architectures and how the last 20 years of architecture evolution, development practices and software lifecycles has led to MEF.  An incredibly enthusiastic Kathleen, covered the theory and practice in not one, but three Hello World examples!

My thoughts: Not being a .net developer, I knew nothing of this technology and was impressed by what I saw.  The framework addresses real problems encountered by any moderately sized software product in an elegant and modern way.

Is NoSQL the Future of Data Storage?

Gary Short

Relational databases were cool yesterday.  They come from an era where they solved problems that we present at the time and we have different problems now.  A brilliant overview of the different types of “not just” SQL databases was covered, with examples of when you might want to use a RDBMS or a NoSQL database.

My thoughts: I knew some of the principles behind some NoSQL databases, but was unaware of the sheer number of them out there and where they came from and what problems they were solving.  The lack of tooling (compared to the myriad of tools available to traditional database systems) was brought up, but I don’t think this is much of a stumbling block, as it won’t be long before these tools are available, and… are they really needed at all anyway?

Building Silverlight Applications for Business (and fun)

Ian Blackburn

Topics such as “when and if to employ a designer”, “what framework to use” and “what alternatives are there” led to an informative session on Sliverlight.

My thoughts: I didn’t see anything in Silverlight that hasn’t been done somewhere else a hundred times by a hundred other technologies and frameworks.  The only benefit I saw was that it’s developed in .net languages using the .net toolset which is familiar to the .net crowd. A pretty rubbish 60% in-browser adoption (in the last 3 years!), a plethora of alternatives and the emergence of HTML5 is sure to signal the death of Silverlight. That said, building desktop apps in Silverlight is now possible, however why anyone would want to do this escapes me! Oh, and it’s not supported on in-browser on the new WP7 *face palm*.

Things you should know about SQL as a developer

Simon Sabin

Some important and informative do’s and don’ts when working with SQL Server.

My thoughts: Not using SQL Server, this session was of limited use to me, but the principles behind SQL Servers transaction log, its backup capabilities and database optimisation was nevertheless very interesting.

#rdggeek12 Quiz Questions and Answers

October 13, 2010 § 3 Comments

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A few people have asked me for the questions and answers from last nights quiz.

The presentation was done using a cool online tool available for free at Prezi.com

Fun Round

1. A jiffy is a real unit of time, but how long is it?

  • 1/100th of a second
  • 1/10th of a second
  • 10 seconds
  • 100 seconds

2. We all have moments of wanting to bang our heads against the wall, but this is actually an effective (though not recommended) form of exercise.  But how many calories does it burn?

  • 100 cal/hour
  • 150 cal/hour
  • 200 cal/hour
  • 220 cal/hour

3. Floccinaucinihilipilification, is the longest non-medical term in the English language, but what does it mean?

  • The process of removing small fibbers from wool
  • The declaration of estimating something as worthless
  • The process of an object being covered with small snails
  • The reaction that causes small cloudy wisps on the surface of the sun

4. Which country has hosted the Mobile Phone Throwing World Championships since 2000?

  • Germany
  • Finland
  • United States
  • Japan

5. How long (approximately) does it take for the Hubble telescope to do a complete orbit of the earth?

  • 2.6 days
  • 1.3 days
  • 13 hours
  • 97 minutes

6. Computers control a lot of stuff, including traffic lights. Where in the world was the first computer controlled system installed?

  • Toronto, Canada
  • Mumbai, India
  • London, UK
  • Rome, Italy

7. Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM famously stated in 1943 “I think there is world market for maybe” how many computers?

  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6

8. What did the company produce that is attributed to the phrase “the original point and click interface”?

  • Operating Systems (Microsoft)
  • Desktop publishing software (Adobe)
  • Firearms (Smith and Wesson)
  • Photocopiers (Xerox)

9. “So long, and thanks for all the fish” was the message left by?

  • Whales
  • Dolphins
  • Sharks
  • Turtles

10. We all know that Chuck Norris doesn’t confirm to web standards, as the web conforms to him, but when was the W3C founded?

  • 1989
  • 1990
  • 1992
  • 1994

Round 1

1. A femtocell is?

  • A portion of radio frequency reserved for hardware signalling
  • A small cellular base station
  • A startphone marketed at women
  • None of the above

2. Which is *not* a netbook optimised os?

  • MeeGo
  • Jolicloud
  • Chrome OS
  • Kin

3. Dr. Sheldon Cooper has an arch-nemesis, who is it?

  • Darth Vader
  • Wil Wheaton
  • Justin Beiber
  • Brent Spiner

4. The aperture setting on a camera primarily controls what?

  • Shutter speed
  • Depth of field
  • Color temperature
  • Shading

5. Which handset was inspired by a modified handset that Neo used in The Matrix?

  • Nokia 5110
  • Nokia 2210
  • Nokia 2650
  • Nokia 7110

6. Which of the following is *not* a feature of the new iPhone?

  • 24% Slimmer
  • Front and rear camera
  • Intel Atom Processor
  • Video chat capability

7. What type of work should *not* be published using a Creative Commons license?

  • Software
  • Illustrations
  • Photographs
  • Movies

8. In The Simpsons, which of the following was *not* invented or discovered by Professor Frink?

  • The sarcasm detector
  • Linguo the grammar robot
  • Hamburger Earmuffs
  • The Frinkahedron

9. Which of these webservices launched first?

  • YouTube
  • Facebook
  • Wikipedia
  • Twitter

10. How old is the TARDIS?

  • Over 300 years
  • Over 500 years
  • Over 900 years
  • Over 1200 years

Round 2

1. What element is Mn?

  • Manganese
  • Magnesium
  • Mendelevium
  • Gold

2. What is the approximate age of the sun?

  • 10 billion years
  • 4.5 billion years
  • 6000 years
  • It’s always been there

3. Which phone did gadget lover James Bond *not* use?

  • Sony Ericsson k800i
  • Sony Ericsson C902
  • Sony Ericsson W960i
  • Sony Ericsson R380

4. In 2000, there were 17 billion text messages sent. How many were sent in 2001?

  • 20 billion
  • 150 billion
  • 250 billion
  • 500 billion

5. Princess Leia is the Senator for which planet?

  • Courscant
  • Yavin 4
  • Naboo
  • Alderaan

6. In electronics, what is the symbol for an inductor?

  • Diode
  • Capacitor
  • Inductor
  • Resistor

7. Approximately how many miles of film reel is used for a 2hr film?

  • 2 miles
  • 3 miles
  • 4 miles
  • 5 miles

8. Ahh, sudo! But what does it do?

  • Makes sandwiches
  • Executes a command as a superuser or another user
  • Creates a directory
  • Changes file permissions

9. What type of connector is this?

  • USB-B
  • USB-A
  • Micro USB
  • Mini USB

10. Which of these languages is best?

  • Ruby
  • Java
  • C#
  • VB

Photo Round – Famous Geeks

  1. Bill Gates
  2. Gillian Anderson
  3. Sir Tim Berners-Lee
  4. Buzz Aldrin
  5. Sergey Brin and Larry Page
  6. Lisa Simpson
  7. Robert Scoble
  8. Steve Ballmer
  9. Linus Torvalds
  10. Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak
  11. Lord Alan Sugar
  12. Marrie Curie
  13. Arthur C Clarke
  14. Wil Wheaton
  15. Clive Sinclair

Sound Round

This was borrowed from here, the answers are below:

  1. B – Close Encounters of the Third Kind
  2. A – HAL 9000
  3. D – Frankenstein
  4. C – Forbidden Planet
  5. B – Alien
  6. A – War of the Worlds
  7. D – Tie Fighter from Star Wars
  8. B – Robocop
  9. D – Logan’s Run
  10. A – Them!
  11. C – Star Trek
  12. A – Jurassic Park
  13. C – Earth vs. The Flying Saucers
  14. B – Tron


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