Friday, April 27, 2012

All a twitter on Apps Day

I posted over 100 tweets today under the username @AppsDay on behalf of the Australian Centre for Broadband Innovation's Broadband Apps Day 2012 at the Australian Technology Park. The day featured a speakers from organisations ranging from Google and Microsoft to Woolworths and Ausgrid discussing potential applications for the National Broadband Network (NBN) and the issues associated with them.

Topics included home automation, health applications (including Dance Dance Revolution for seniors), application development and e-commerce.

There was a disappointing lack of discussion on the security and privacy issues associated with these applications. For instance, a Samsung rep was spruiking the control of household whitegoods from their televisions, phones and tablets. Yet there was a recent report of vulnerabilities in Samsung electronics, one of which could cause endless restarts in their televisions. Who might be watching you on those televisions as well?

The point about who owns your household data was also raised. Some of your devices like smart electricity and water meters may report directly back to suppliers via the NBN without the household owner being able to directly access that data. What about other devices sending usage information out to marketers. One speaker thought that users might want Harvey Norman to contact them to offer more energy saving devices based upon usage. That's actually quite scary.

There is a lot to think about with the potential for a ubiquitous broadband network with similarly ubiquitous connected devices.

A few speakers commented that the way people consumed entertainment has changed and that their children expected on demand video rather than traditional television and to interact with devices via touch, voice or gesture rather than the normal remote control. It's certainly been our experience with Alex.

I don't think that Twitter is the best medium for conference commentary. I quite miss IRC's live chatting and channels, though I think we could do even better today. I have some ideas for the ideal online conference tool...

Rather than use the big work laptop I brought in my trusty Sony VAIO P to do the tweeting. The keyboard is great for fast typing and quiet. Even better it's light and cool - important if you don't have a desk.

What I derived the most pleasure from was developing a web display of the conference tweets, which we put up on a big screen outside the lecture theatre. I wasn't happy with the lack of customisation options with other tools like Twitterfall, so I decided to write my own.

It took me around a day to combine the Twitter Search API with Javascript and PHP, along the way reminding myself how to use jQuery, AJAX and parse JSON formatted data, plus do some cool CSS3 effects. The actual programming is surprisingly simple, it's the eye-candy that took the time. Screenshots of the results below:

Opening logo screen

Twitter feed, updated every minute

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