Reading Geek Night 10 Roundup

By: Tim


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Reading Geek Night moved in to double figures this week (this was event number 10), and once again covered a wide variety of topics. There were four main presentations covering Flash hacking, hardware, F1 racing and robotics, plus three additional quick announcements.

Josh Homerston presenting on Arduino

Pedro Laguna: FlasHack

Pedro Laguna is a Spanish web security geek, who first talked at #rdggeek a couple of months back assessing web site security. This time he showed how easy it can be to intercept and modify data being sent across the network from Flash, and a couple of different tools for decompiling and modifying those apps. He demonstrated the power of this by modifying a couple of Flash-based games to improve his high score! He also showed that placing usernames and passwords inside a Flash movie is a Very Bad Thing™ when it's so easy to decompile them...


This week saw the introduction of "microslots" whereby anyone – within reason – who wanted to was given 60 seconds in which to get something off their chest.

  • Chris Tingley launched his new product a crowd-sourced list of events going on in your area.
  • I did a quick piece attempting to drum up interest and sponsorship for BarCamp London 8: a two-day participatory unconference to be held at City University on the 13th/14th November.
  • Lenny Martin proffered himself up for work!

Daniel Saxil-Nielsen: Humanoid robotics

Daniel Saxil-Nielsen is a front-end web developer by trade, but also has a keen interest (and knowledge) of humanoid robots, staring with Leonardo's Robot and working up to modern-day automatons such as Honda's Asimo. Daniel explained just why it's so difficult to create a humanoid robot, and even ventured into philosophical realms with the thought that "man has always strived to build something in his own image."

Chris Alexander: Formula 1: A geek's guide

A regular presenter at #rdggeek, this week Chris Alexander indulged his self-confessed geekery for all things F1, and specifically the physics and aerodynamics that goes into the design and build of the cars. He covered general design such as the front and rear wings, the floor and rear diffuser, but also the sometimes sneaky ways F1 teams try to get an advantage, including Red Bull using a sticker to disguise the fact they'd moved the exhaust, and McLaren's mysterious air intake that the driver covers with his hand on long straights to reduce downforce (and hence increase speed).

Josh Homerston: Flashing lights, return of the LED

Finally, Josh Homerston built on his first presentation from #rdggeek8 (The Art of Making Lights Blink), and once again put himself on the line with the dreaded live demo. This time, he continued his hardware hackery by using Arduino components to make an LED turn on and off with commands received via SMS. There was much cheering when the plan came together...

On a personal note: Josh's talk this time actually kick-started me into buying the Arduino starter kit I've had open in a tab since his last talk!

Here's to an equally as interesting programme on September 14th for Reading Geek Night 11.

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