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Friday Five: White House open hacking and Facebook’s new clothes

Chris Mayer

Time for five more stories from across the world of tech and beyond.

Welcome once again to the Friday Five – our irreverent
look back at the week and boy has it been a busy old week. If you
didn’t see, our sister conference

has gone free!

We’ve managed to sidestep office Wifi issues (and calm down
from that excitement) to deliver this selection for you – enjoy
your weekend!

1. White House Hackathon

Here’s something which heartily gets our backing. The first
ever White House Open Data Day Hackathon brought together 21
developers and tech experts from across the country to build new
tools towards a new SDK, using the We The People API at the heart
of the US petition system.

Over nine hours on February 22nd, two teams came up with some
innovative ways of using the new API, some of which are profiled in
this video. If you want to look deeper at the code, it’s all
available on the White’s House own


2. The coolest bunkbed in the galaxy

Even those who weren’t massive Star Wars fans growing up
should appreciate the sheer awesomeness of this

X-Wing fighter bunkbed
. DarthDaddy42 built
the custom bed for his three-year old son, who will surely now be
the envy of friends throughout his childhood.

The fighter is equipped with all the latest mod cons
including a flatscreen TV and a R2D2 cooler for juice boxes, as
well as having moveable wings. Pity the poor school friend who
comes round for a sleepover and is given an airbed. We’re pretty
jealous in all honesty.

3. SimCity launch botched

Fumble of the week surely goes to EA and Maxis. The 23-year
old city-planning franchise SimCity was set for a major reboot on
Tuesday, complete with full 3D graphics, multiplayer action and the
Glassbox simulation engine, the latter making the game ridiculously

The release however has been
plagued with problems
s avid users flocked to try out the game in
their droves, overloading the servers. Despite several warnings
from SimCity fans

on Reddit
in the months leading up to
release, EA and Maxis chose to not to having preloading in the
game, meaning you had to connect to an EA server at all times. That
decision has cost them dearly now, with
pulling the game
from their site.

If you were lucky enough to make it connect (some waited up
nearly 15 hours), you then had to contend with an array of huge

one of which can delete cities randomly
. Any
positive review received on the game’s quality has been completely
undermined by the botched delivery.

4. Facebook gets new gloss

At a press conference this Thursday, Facebook announced

design overhaul of their news feed
, to
incorporate more space for photos, videos, games and social apps
and provide consistency across web and mobile devices. The more
cynical viewer might see it as a reshuffling to incorporate more
ads, despite a Facebook spokeswoman claiming that additional news
feed space would not be used for adverts initially.

It wasn’t long before the comparisons to rival social network
Google+ started, but founder Mark Zuckerberg believes the shakeup
to the aging news feed will
position the social
network as a “personalized newspaper.”

When the new look is rolled out of the next few weeks, expect
the Facebook community at large to moan about the changes,
clamouring for the news feed of old to return at once.

5. Project of the week – Leeroy

Just like last week, the name may have sealed the nod, but
this is a useful piece of kit. Leeroy is a Python
Flask service
which integrates Jenkins with GitHub pull requests. Pretty cool

You can use GitHub
to quickstart jobs on a Jenkins server or
listen for pull request notifications. Well worth checking out if
you’re a Python fan or CI-inclined.

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