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At Wireless Toronto's monthly hacknight, we focus on working on one specific project. It could be hardware, software, or a combination of both. For info about our past hacknight projects, see below!

Current/Past hacknight projects

July Community portal pages:


  • we didn't get any code written, but had a productive conversation. stuff we'd like to see on the portal page in the SHORT term:
    • map, or link to a map (perhaps: if there's lots of info on the page already, just show the link. if there's not much, show the actual map)
    • venue information
    • upcoming feed (venue / neighbourhood)
    • flickr feed (by location tag, maybe also geotagged photos – let's not make our own tags)
    • faq & tech support info (also on login page)
    • shoutbox (filtered? network-wide to start, but with source location listed; monitor via admin-only rss feed?)
    • an easy way to get back to the portal:, and also write something on that identifies if someone is visiting from a hotspot
    • listings (5 nearest restaurants with a minimum rating of “3”, for example. ONLY for venues that are not restaurants!)
  • we've spent two years running wifidog, and as our group is comprised of content & design people rather than hard-cord developers, the content side of wifidog has been incredibly frustrating. we need another solution. we can't spec that solution yet, because we don't yet know how our ideal portal pages would look or feel. so we'll make a simple interim solution:
    • Gabe will build a php eval() content type for wifidog.
    • Zoltan will contribute some code he wrote for a web-based php editor, using XLU. (which requires firefox on the admin side, but we all run it so that's ok)
    • we will write a bunch of 'helper' functions to simplify the php code in the editing interface.
    • Matthew will come up with a design concept; he and Zoltan (and hopefully others) will work on the CSS for it.
    • Gabe will work on getting profiles working.
  • for the harbourfront launch on friday, we agreed that we can fake it, and we'll put up the basics:
    • flickr feed
    • upcoming feed if there's data
    • venue info is already up
    • if we have time and the data is parseable, event listings scraped off their site

**June** Pretty visualizations:

digging deep into the wifidog database to look at the stats that we're collecting, and creating new ways of visualizing the information – both to gain new knowledge about how people are using the network, and also in order to make pretty images.

  • Patrick has volunteered to put together this hack night. I'm thinking heat maps and sparklines and other fun stuff like that. This could be a good way to play with some cool tools, learn more about the WiFi dog db and pull interesting information out of the mass of data we have on use of our hotspots.
  • UPDATE: Build some interesting visualisations of how/where/when people are using the Wireless Toronto network (in suitable anonymised and aggregated ways to protect individual privacy). We know very little about how the WT network actually gets used but we do have a database full of data that could tells us a lot, seems like a hacknight project waiting to happen. We'll be hacking interesting visualisations of data, getting that data from the Postgres DB and likely some PHP to glue it all together. If any of that sounds interesting then June 5th at Interaccess is the place for you. RSVP:

**May**: Email-to-portal-page app.

This idea came together at the February hacknight. As part of our ongoing attempts to make the community portal pages more interesting, and offer people opportunities to participate, we'll create a simple application which puts any content received by a given email address on the portal page. So for example, if you send an email to “”, your email (along with any attachments) will appear on the YDS portal page. Notes: photos of the system design on the InterAccess whiteboard at Flickr.

  • There are probably two scripts involved: one which receives the email, extracts its contents and sticks it in a database; and another which reads the contents from the database each time someone hits the portal page.
  • The “email script” needs a hook into the auth server to verify that the email is “from” a valid user, and so that the user's ID can be displayed along with the contents of the email they sent.
  • We could go one step further, and require that in order for the submission to be accepted, the user must be currently logged into that hotspot. (Perhaps we should wait until we get a case of abuse before turning this on, but we should keep this possibility in mind while designing it.)
  • So maybe we can split into two teams: one to do the content manipulation (parsing, storage, display), and one to figure out the auth server hook (since I think that part might be hard).

**February**: MediaBox

(aka HAL,, a network-attached storage device (Linksys NSLU2) that we deploy alongside a wifi router to offer localized “rich media” (does anyone use that term anymore?). MediaBox

**January**: The WiFi Roach Coach

wherein we hack together a wimax modem with a wifi router and a rechargeable battery, and stick the whole rig in a backpack, to create an ultra-mobile wifi hotspot with uplink. We'd also build other backpacks which repeat the wifi signal from the “uplink” backpack. Also: costumes. Roach Coach

Future/possible hacknight projects

* Mesh: specifically for Dufferin Grove Park, but potentially useful for other situations.

* Tunneling: passing all traffic over an OpenVPN tunnel, so that it can't be messed with by whoever's providing the connectivity (and can't be traced back to them).

* Community portal pages: finding new data sources, importing new data, watching how people use it, comparisons with other captive portals, surveys(?), etc.

* A physical map of the Wireless Toronto network. I'm thinking LEDs, cardboard and a paper map to make a map of the network and its status that you can pick up. Of course it should be wireless :-)

* Set up a router to act as a wifi network sniffer. Maybe using one with a USB port and also using it with a WiSpy. This might be particularly helpful in determining if a large number of wifi networks in a given area are disrupting each other.

hacknight_projects.txt · Last modified: 2013/09/28 17:06 (external edit)