Jonnet M, uɐɯʞuǝɯ ɐsoɹ

It's (nearly) a Network Knockout!

At Social RFID Hacker Camp 2009

Most PICNICkers never did get to test how well they really know who is in their PICNIC network. We're still not sure whether the more promiscuous virtual networkers could ever know enough about their weak ties to outdo those who build a smaller network based on human to human contact.


Network Knockout - At hacker camp 09 Marieke Bijster

So is there disappointment in the air that the team's knockout idea isn't quite a festival knockout? To installation constructor Tijmen, success doesn't ultimately matter as it was all about having fun. It was fun to make and, not surprisingly, players were in their element throwing balls through holes. The idea was to create a game that people love doing anyway and then RFID-enable it. The cool visual feedback for winners and losers had players coming back for more. By the last day of PICNIC the game worked smoothly so long as both contestants had an evenly matched network size.


Knockout contestants - At hacker camp '09 Marieke Bijster

But so confident were the knockout team in their abilities to pull off this complex game that it came as something of a shock to them when they didn't quite deliver on the day. Out in the sun early on day 2 they had nailed the project with aplomb. The goals were so clear and obvious that they started trialling that very evening. Never lacking in dedication, hard work and self belief, the team were notoriously the most hardcore coders to pack up as late as 5am. There is only one reason why the project was knocked out in the final race against the clock: over-complication.


Ball throwing gets beta tested - At hacker camp '09 Jonnet M

Dirk, Erik, Tijmen and Tim had all notched up some previous hacker camp experience, albeit not all as full blown participants, so they were well versed in the challenges that faced them. But it took director Willem to step in and detect a classic case of overthinking. Such fripperies as a colour sensitive ball sorting system had to go. An RFID-enabled all-singing all-dancing bowling alley was no task for a 5 day deadline.


The confident Knockout team - At hacker camp '09 Jonnet M

The team steamed ahead with what was still an ambitious project, which aimed to create a polished user experience with a superb Quartz Composer interface. Inspired by warioware, it allowed some quirky and energetic visual effects. Four time camp veteran Dirk sweated blood in transferring OSC data into QC even though he is a self confessed expert. It's hard to describe a problem in a visual programming language to get help elsewhere. He had a dauntingly ungoogleable problem on his hands.


Nice interface - At hacker camp '09 Jonnet M

A prototype in processing was ready on schedule for the quiz questions. It worked but it didn't look good and the team decided to keep cracking on with the QC interface. There was never any suggestion of a plan B. By deadline day the team were exhausted and expert hacker Erik was running solely on Red Bull. The team admit they underestimated the amount of programming required but it's unlikely to put them off returning for more next year.

And next year they really will try to keep it simple, stupid.


Ever the hardcore late nighters - At hacker camp '09 Jonnet M