How to win the TechTent Xmas Quiz without cheating

 

TechTentQuiz

The odds were most certainly not in my favour.

I was asked to take part in the Tech Tent annual quiz all about the tech news of 2014, pitted against none other than the people who actually make the news – the BBC Technology website team. Sounded to me like a guaranteed failure – these people know everything about the stories of the year – not only would they have written the articles, they would also have researched the stories thoroughly and (worse!) know background and periphery information.

How could I game the system without cheating? My plan below actually worked…

 

 
 
 
1. UNDERSTANDING THE FORMAT – where the scoring happens
The email came through with the rules: there will be “12 questions each relating to a big tech news story during 2014 – there’s one question for each month BUT they will not come in order. The order was selected by random draw. Most questions are in two parts offering two points, with an extra bonus point available for guessing which in which month the story happened. FWIW, I doubt we’ll get through all 12 questions in the limited time we have. If one team fails to answer a question or part of a question correctly, that q or part of question will be offered to the other team.”It made sense to memorise the news stories and their months as according to the format knowing these represented 12 points straight away.

2. CREATE DATA SET A
I gleaned the main events in technology from Wikipedia by month with a definite nod towards business and consumer electronics. I based the emphasis on quizmaster Rory’s preferences and my knowledge of the stories producer Jat tends to choose for the Tech Tent podcast.

3. CREATE DATA SET B AND SEE WHAT STORIES APPEAR IN BOTH A AND B
The click news scripts from the whole of 2014 were cut and pasted  – all the click newsbelts together by month made it really easy to work out the most likely questions in each segment. I amalgamated this with the Wikipedia and The Verge year in review and other sources, then applied weighting depending on information available to ask deeper questions around a topic.

4. FURTHER ANALYSIS TO PINPOINT MOST LIKELY STORIES
Based on my analysis, some stories were more likely than others to work as questions for a quiz –for example Twitch and Apple buying beats were big stories in otherwise quiet months so it made sense to drill down into those. Flappy Bird was also pretty much guaranteed to be a question based on the analysis – and it helped that Rory did rather a few spots on flappy bird in 2014, so again, a likely candidate.

5. EDITORIAL CONSIDERATION
I could also discount any stories that weren’t appropriate for a Christmas quiz tone, which reduced the viable stories further.

6. EXPERT AREAS
It made sense to look at key stories like the Apple launch, top tech mergers and acquisitions and crypto-currency as big stories of 2014. So I memorised as many numbers and month/story combos as possible to maximise those easy points. Knowing about the business of tech meant that I could at least make informed guesses when I wasn’t sure of an answer – which sometimes paid off and sometimes didn’t (Google nearly bought Twitch = correct, The tablet-sized device launch was the Nokia tablet not Microsoft’s Surface pro tablet – nearly)

7. A BIT OF LUCK
As soon as I realised the last question (Number of World Cup Tweets) was directed at the Tech Website team first, it was easy to make an N+1 or N-1 call which would automatically cover more ground than the first guess, which led to eventual (if messy) victory!(It made up for correctly stating the flappy bird developer was making £32,000 per week ($50,000) which was not picked up!)

 

Yes! Emerged Victorious! Dave and Zoe from the BBC Tech Website team were worthy adversaries – because of the calibre of opponents, I had to up my game in order to even stand a chance against them. Thus I learned that when the odds aren’t great, it’s still worth doing the best you can, a great lesson to bring in 2015. Hurrah! and Happy New Year!

 

More ClickBits

They say work expands to fit the time available – and in this case, the 3 minute tech round up on the BBC’s website takes the better part of a day to make.

This post is really to chronicle the 3rd and 4th episodes so I can remember where I put them on the internet…  Click on the picture to get re-directed to the BBC’s site.

Clickbits Episode 4  – can’t see the link? click here: http://bit.ly/clickbits004

The really bonkers one to do was Episode 3 which I pushed down from Las Vegas during an evening where every other technology person there was also trying to send video.   Once the video was sent back to the UK,  Zoe and Gary put the pictures together on the other end.

It was very strange sending down raw material and seeing a put-together programme emerge at the end of it.

Clickbits Episode 3  – can’t see the link? click here: http://bit.ly/clickbits003

These links were filmed next to the Intel touch-wall, which was a giant interactive cube pulling pictures down from flickr. It was being run on what looked like a normal laptop – which surprised me – the graphics card in there must have been rather tasty.

If you want to see some pictures from CES 2010 , pop over to my flickr site here for a look round some of the weird and wonderful gadgets on display here.

Click Bits!

2 minutes of fame :-)

Pilot show Click Bits - Episode 2!

(RSS/Can’t see the link? here you go: http://bit.ly/clickbits002 )

This is what I’ve been up to the last month, as well as doing quite a bit for bbc click recently… including working with the marvellous Maggie Philbin on our futurology piece. She’s done such a brilliant post here about our visit to Kingswood Warren that I don’t need to add anything…

OK, I will add that we both turned up on the ShiftRunStop podcast last week.

Here are some behind-the-scenes pics of the birthing of ClickBits.

My bag with script in - and an impressive amount of useless stuff

– yes I did eat that twirl. And I didn’t bother taking pics of the usual tv stuff including filming pieces to camera, script wrangling and finding pictures to fit. Unless you want me to next time?

Also the madness of only having a finite amount of time to do an infinite amount of work is the sort of thing is familiar to techies everywhere. Editors, I’m thinking of YOU when I type this.

tape of episode 1 ! yes, tape! Click on this if you want to see episode 1, but episode 2 is better 🙂 Click on the top pic for that.

The grown-up edit suite was double booked for our first episode, but it didn’t stop us – we squeezed into a small office and crowded around a desk and computer meant for 1 person.  Final Cut Pro, in case you were wondering. And yes, we ate a LOT of choccy in  a room so cramped all our knees were touching.

on its way into the BBC system?

This was our 2nd attempt to ingest 3 mins of video into the BBC, we were thwarted by technology many times! It’s always worse when a BIG machine borks – I always (illogically, irrationally and incorrectly) expect computers with 4 screens to be, I don’t know, cleverer.

Ingest point

Humans 3, Machines 2

Finally, the wondrous Zoe (who is producing this with me and is the illustrious @zsk on twitter) came across this hidden terminal and executed some kind of Harry Potter spell that meant the machines had to obey her – and they did.

As I’m off to CES Las Vegas 2010 next week, Zoe and I will be attempting to make the 3rd Click bits episode a few thousand miles apart… we’ll be using yousendit and psychic powers to make that work, but if anyone can do it, it will be the 2 most stubborn people at the Beeb – us!

Nom Nom Nom 2009

…is only 10 hours away, and I’m ready.

No, of course I’m not ready, but I did source a particularly effective chef’s hat

The last month has been brilliant, manic and, alas, almost completely sleep-free.

Excitingly I’m going to be on the BBC again next week as my piece on Music Recognition should be cooked by then – first I have to get 2 or 3 internet shots at some ridiculously unsociable hour on Monday morning, before crawling into the Edit with both Callie the Editor and the sort of coffee that causes spontaneous leg-shaking and hallucinations.

But before that in 10 hours’ time I shall be entering NomNomNom 2009, a charity cook-off where the fabulous Jemimahknight and I are charged with making a 3-course meal and serving it to 2-michelin-starred chef Tom Aikens – so no pressure there, then…

Our team is called Bork Bork Bork – will report back with pix and video assuming I survive.

Twitter Article hits BBC Website!

Few things persuade me to get up in the morning, but knowing I needed to finish this article in time to have it submitted to the BBC News Website was successful in pulling the duvet covers off!
 
After last night’s twestival, I arrived back home inappropriately late after spending the majority of the evening filming – it was a fun evening, even though I was working for most of it, and I hope that the very worthy charity: water will have benefited enormously from all the organisers’ hard work.
Twitter Article on the Beeb!

Twitter Article on the Beeb!

The pictures in this article are by @lateral – you can see more here.

In case you’re wondering, the article is all about how I think Twitter has changed in recent times as more people have joined. Click on the picture, or here: http://tinyurl.com/ljbbctweet to read it.

I’m going back to bed…

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CES 2009 – more pictures

A few pics from the last few days at CES – I’ve got a couple of great interviews in the can including one from a guy at Microsoft who was on the development team for Windows 7, and Akon – although I’ll edit these on the plane home tomorrow (if I don’t sleep, that is).

fatal1ty at the creative stand ces 2009

Fatal1ty kicking butt at the Creative Stand CES 2009

 

look at the thickness of those babies!

Said like Comic Book Man from the Simpsons: thickest.... cables.... ever!!!!!

 

where all the proper work gets done

CES 2009 Networking centre

 

ces 2009 - after closing!

Emptying the floor at the end of the day, CES 2009

 

bbc click shoot the stevie wonder interview at ces 2009

Stevie Wonder and the BBC Click team - shooting the interview

 

diana ross singing at the monster party ces 2009

Diana Ross singing at the Monster Party, CES 2009 - I'm at the front!

 

lamborghini on a stand at ces 2009

Lamborghini at CES 2009

 For those of you who missed me on the BBC’s Working Lunch programme:

LJ and Declan on BBC2 Working Lunch

LJ and Declan on BBC2 Working Lunch - click pic to view the vid (if it's still there)

(RSS Readers / can’t use the link? Click here  )
Here’s a still shot from my performance on BBC2, where I manage to squeeze 2 puns into under 2 seconds.
I’m not proud of that.  (OK, OK, I am…)