Google Developer Day 2008, Wembley Stadium

Well, me and a few hundred geeks are crammed into Wembley Stadium, not the terraces silly, but in the conference centre. We’re here for Google Developer Day 2008 – after registration and being told to put my badge/lanyard on before being allowed on the escalator to join the fun – I’m here sitting with Sheila, Ian and Ed. I have a small cup of tea with no soy milk – I wish I’d brought some!

It’s underway now and we just saw a demo of Android – the Google mobile OS / platform – we were shown an interface and a little app that the developer had made of a mysterious blue bouncy ball, it had an accellerometer so he could do a little impression of pong with it. It’ll be interesting to see how this develops and competes against the iphone – I certainly hope it gets Apple to open things up a bit more.


The first talk I went to was in the ‘Atari’ room – oooh very Barcamp – it’s a Gears overview 😉

Google Gears overview


* it’s open source and anyone can use it for free
* Motivation & goals – writing a rich mobile application across a wide range of mobile devices is an impossibly difficult challenge today
* Why gears? Mobile web apps suck – they are slow, unresponsive, have high network latency – low bandwidth, slow CPU
* Fluid and location aware
* Fast persistent controlled storage
* Geolocation API
* Location based mobile apps
* Goal – easy free and secure
* Technology uses GPS, cell ID, IP, WIFI Location providers
* Method – getcurrentposition – watchcurrentposition –


There followed three demos of Gears mobile applications:

Google search with My Location, Andre Popescu

He gave us a demo of how Gears finds his location on a mobile; it used this location information to find local pizzerias in the local area to Wembley Stadium.

Marco of was next – sells a variety of products for going out such as hotels, theatres, restaurants, etc. They were interested in apps for spur of the moment choices. In research people said they expect devices to know where they are, so have looked into relationships with other operators to find location-based data apps. Apart from the cost problems are associated with this, these apps don’t work on roaming and also there are so many APIs you need to call up. Also you have to write lots of different code for all the different handsets. They’


ve launched a mobile app with Windows on a HTC device.

It can take a while to get a GPS slot and you need to be outside, so it can be quite a long and painful experience. They’ve come to a compromise with the location data, so may not be so accurate for location but works. It works with a cell ID, it’


s free and they hope that as time goes on it is available on more platforms.

Clive Cox CTO at Rummble

Rummble is:

* Social discovery site
* Social network and special user generated content
* Trust network analysis
* Individual subjective recommendations

ITN Offline News Ave Wrigley –

head of technology at ITN ON

ITN is a commercial company that produces multi-platform video products, in news, showbiz, lifestyle, and sports. They produce content for other people. on multiple platforms: When you’re travelling you’re on and offline – there’

s no constant connectivity. You can sit on a train and the offline user app will keep downloading stuff.

* They talked to Google about making a unique experience in offline browsing. + Google gears
* Offline edition for when you’re in ‘flaky mode’ – when you are getting patchy coverage – you can get the news even if you’re not connected.
* It uses geolocation for things like weather and news.
* The user sees configuration interface which shows them what sort of subjects they can browse – they can choose what they want to see.
* Graceful degradation
* Important that the device can detect whether you are in online or offline mode. Mode detection – simple code xttp request
* Dealing with video is very different from dealing with other content because it takes so long to download, so this app has download confirmation / stats as well as video format support. Only providing the right video format for the users handset. Simple approach to video and mime types –

* Querying the browser his tells you what video formats the phone supports.
* In the future could like to provide local news service using geolocation and geotagging

The lunch was decidly un vegan, but a friendly restaurant manager asked the chef to make me something and came back with some hummus, roasted veg, salad and a roll, which I was very grateful for as I’d been watching everyone eat lots of chocolate and pastries during the morning session and was starving 🙂



From the lightning talks, I was very interested to hear about Glasgow Green Map a volunteer driven map for reuse facilities in Glasgow.

It takes the ecological data trapped in any community and frees it for people and communities to use. It lists reuse facilities and places like second-hand shops.

People from the local community have got involved because it was fun and a cool project. Having a meeting place for their regular Thursday meets means gives the group momentum and they’re also motivated by each other. People who haven’t got much technical experience get to work with professional developers and they learn skills in areas such as agile planning and coding.

You can find a link to their code is here:


Made it through the evening and to be honest I enjoyed the selection of quirky, fun, interesting and varied lightning talks more than most of the schedule. I’m now at the after party and sitting among some Mega Bloks – hang on I’m going to have to take a photo to illustrate this!


I have to mention that I’m rather disappointed that I didn’t see/hear a single geek girl do a tech presentation all day – wonder if it’s because girl developers feel intimidated, or they’re just not pushed forward career-wise in the developer industry – hmm! I had a good chat with Aral of the Head (Singularity) online conference – he’s been finding it really hard to find women speakers for his conference next month. I think this topic needs addressing further!