Calling kid coders: iPod Nano hacker brings his ‘Coder Dojo’ to London

Calling kid coders: iPod Nano hacker brings his ‘Coder Dojo’ to London

James Whelton, the 19 year-old hacker who hit the tech headlines in 2010 after hacking the multi-touch iPod nano, is bringing his Coder Dojo initiative to London for the first time.

Whilst the iPod nano had a similar interface to other iOS devices such as the iPad, iPhone and iPod touch, the Nano has its own proprietary operating system, and by hacking the Nano and gaining access to its springboard, Whelton was able to remove applications and create blank space on the home screen. Though it’s worth noting, this falls short of jailbreaking the device.

However, since his Nano-hacking endeavours, Whelton has seemingly been on a mission to educate other budding young hackers and developers, by running free programming workshops across Ireland.

Whelton says he wants teenagers to become much more than just passive consumers of the Internet, and instead become ‘content creators’. Since he finished secondary school, he has dismissed the idea of going to college and instead has started Coder Dojo in Dublin.

In June this year, Whelton teamed up with Bill Liao, co-founder of German Linkedin competitor Xing, to take Coder Dojo around Ireland. This weekend’s London workshop will be their first ever workshop outside of Ireland.

“The key is to make Coder Dojo attractive to youths of all ages and experience levels”, says Whelton. “The ethos will be on teaching young people how to create quality code, and we’re aiming to create hackatons and competitions where people will submit websites and contextual apps with good design and core level code. We’ll create a recognition system of different belts, like you would see in martial arts.”

“We’re very lucky to have the support of some truly excellent people who are giving their time for free to teach and help these younger kids who are genuinely interested”, added Whelton.

It seems that Coder Dojo has already had its first success story, with an app created by 12-year-old Coder Dojo student Harry Moran. Moran’s PizzaBot game was the best selling game on the Apple App Store in early November, knocking Angry Birds off the top spot. You can see Harry present his work here:

The app provides 25 levels of ‘sauce-shooting action’ in a throwback to the classic Atari Space Invaders game.

Coder Dojo will take place this Saturday, 3rd December, at Ravensbourne College, Greenwich Peninsula, 6 Penrose Way, London, SE10 0EW. The workshop will run from 12- 3pm.

You can get registration details here.

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