On Friday 7 October, BCSWomen and the organisers of Ada Lovelace Day put on a couple of events in London. The aim of these was to celebrate women in tech by having women presenters doing lots of cool geeky stuff. This is the first of a pair of blog posts talking about what we got up to.
During the day, Karen Petrie (of Dundee University) and I ran an Android workshop – this was a mixture of talk & play, with the attendees building apps using AppInventor and learning about the basics of Android development. I was in charge of the talky bits (five short talks on various aspects of mobile dev, scattered throughout the day) and Karen was in charge of the hands-on Appinventor bits, but it was very much a double act; I helped out in the practical bits, Karen chipped in in the talky bits.
I found it great fun presenting with Karen – we know each other fairly well, but have never worked together on anything like this. We were somewhat under-coordinated (we only saw each other’s slides about 20 minutes before we started the workshop!) but through a mixture of extreme sarcasm and Agile presentation methodologies we managed to pull it off. The day worked brilliantly, and going on the attendees’ feedback questionnaires, I’m not the only one who enjoyed myself. Here’s a photo of one of the groups contemplating app development:
The first app attendees built was an extension of the “standard” Google example app, or “HelloPurr”. In this app you learn how to add a button, include a photo, include a sound, listen for the accellerometer, and then you link the playing of the sound to either pressing the button or shaking the phone. Or in layperson’s terms, you make something that meows when you touch or shake it. The very short video below shows what happens when everyone gets their devices meowing at the same time…
After lunch, we got into small groups and each group tried to make an app from scratch. I think it’s fair to say that there weren’t many completed apps, but there were some excellent tech demonstrators, including …
- a compass for the blind which read out directions (“south … south … south … south-east …”),
- an app which you could use to send an automated text message (for example, “I’m in the cinema, I’ll call you back in an hour”),
- a launcher for video webinars, that could link direct to specific youtube clips,
- a game for kids, teaching the alphabet through animals and sounds,
- a “guess the year” quiz app with images and music,
I got short video clips of a few of these, which you can see on the bcswomen Youtube channel.
If any attendees want to see the slides, you can find them on my website here. We’ll copy them to somewhere on the BCS site at some point but that might take a little while.