Alasdair Allan

Alasdair Allan

Scientist, Author, Hacker and Tinkerer

  • @aallan
  • + Alasdair Allan

Exeter, England

Areas of Expertise:

  • Objective-C
  • iPhone
  • Perl
  • Astronomy
  • Sensors
  • Arduino
  • consulting
  • speaking
  • programming
  • training
  • writing

Alasdair Allan is a Scientist, Author, Hacker and Tinkerer, who is currently thinking about trying to fix the Internet of Things, which he thinks is broken.

He is the author of a number of books, and from time to time he also stands in front of cameras. You can often find him at conferences talking about interesting things, or deploying sensors to measure them. He recently rolled out a mesh network of five hundred sensors motes covering the entire of Moscone West during Google I/O. He's still recovering.

He sporadically writes blog posts about things that interest him, or more frequently provides commentary in 140 characters or less. He is a contributor to MAKE magazine, and the O'Reilly Radar.

A few years ago he caused a privacy scandal by uncovering that your iPhone was recording your location all the time. This caused several class action lawsuits and a U.S. Senate hearing. Several years on, he still isn't sure what to think about that.

Alasdair is a former academic. As part of his work he built a distributed peer-to-peer network of telescopes which, acting autonomously, reactively scheduled observations of time-critical events. Notable successes included contributing to the detection of the most distant object yet discovered, a gamma-ray burster at a redshift of 8.2.

Learning iOS Programming Learning iOS Programming
by Alasdair Allan
Third Edition March 2013
Print: $34.99
Ebook: $27.99

Distributed Network Data Distributed Network Data
by Alasdair Allan, Kipp Bradford
March 2013
Print: $19.99
Ebook: $15.99

Geolocation in iOS Geolocation in iOS
by Alasdair Allan
October 2012
Print: $19.99
Ebook: $16.99

Learning iOS Programming Learning iOS Programming
by Alasdair Allan
Second Edition March 2012

iOS Sensor Apps with Arduino iOS Sensor Apps with Arduino
by Alasdair Allan
September 2011
Print: $19.99
Ebook: $16.99

Basic Sensors in iOS Basic Sensors in iOS
by Alasdair Allan
July 2011
Print: $19.99
Ebook: $16.99

Learning iPhone Programming Learning iPhone Programming
by Alasdair Allan
March 2010

An Introduction to iOS Programming An Introduction to iOS Programming
by Alasdair Allan
Second Edition August 2012
Video: $69.99

Getting Started with Arduino and iOS Getting Started with Arduino and iOS
by Alasdair Allan
May 2012
Video: $79.99

Strata Conference Santa Clara 2012: Complete Video Compilation Strata Conference Santa Clara 2012: Complete Video Compilation
March 2012
Video: $799.00

Strata Conference New York 2011: Complete Video Compilation Strata Conference New York 2011: Complete Video Compilation
October 2011
Video: $799.99

Real World Applications Panel: Machine Learning and Decision Support Real World Applications Panel: Machine Learning and Decision Support
by Alasdair Allan, Alon Halevy, Robert Lancaster, Jonathan Seidman
March 2011

Alasdair blogs at:

Crowdfunding the recovery of a lost spacecraft

April 24 2014

This post was original published on the MAKE BlogThe ISEE-3 spacecraftThe hackers behind the Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project  have moved on to a different challenge. Not content with images, this time they want to recover a whole spacecraft.The ISEE-3 probe was launched in 1978. After completing it’s original mission—it was the first spacecraft… read more

The Snapchat Leak

January 02 2014

While the site crumbled quickly under the weight of so many people trying to get to the leaked data—and has now been suspended—there isn’t really such a thing as putting the genie back in the bottle on the Internet. Just before … read more

3D printing from your fingertips

February 21 2013

The 3Doodler is a 3D printer, but it’s a pen. This takes 3D printing and turns it on its head … In fact the 3Doodler rejects quite a lot of what most people would consider necessary for it to be … read more

The inevitability of smart dust

January 08 2013

I’ve put forward my opinion that desktop computing is dead on more than one occasion, and been soundly put in my place as a result almost every time. “Of course desktop computing isn’t dead — look at the analogy you’re drawing … read more

Digging into the UDID data

September 06 2012

Over the weekend the hacker group Antisec released one million UDID records that they claim to have obtained from an FBI laptop using a Java vulnerability. In reply the FBI stated: The FBI is aware of published reports alleging that … read more

Mining the astronomical literature

August 15 2012

There is a huge debate right now about making academic literature freely accessible and moving toward open access. But what would be possible if people stopped talking about it and just dug in and got on with it? NASA’s Astrophysics … read more

They promised us flying cars

August 03 2012

We may be living in the future, but it hasn’t entirely worked out how we were promised. I remember the predictions clearly: the 21st century was supposed to be full of self-driving cars, personal communicators, replicators and private space ships. … read more

Tertiary data: Big data's hidden layer

March 19 2012

Big data isn't limited to multi-terabyte datasets or data markets. It also includes the hidden data you carry with you all the time and the growing data on your movements, contacts and social interactions. read more

Apple and a web-free cloud

June 16 2011

From custom chips, to the data centers backing its new iCloud effort, Apple is committed to controlling the end-user experience. The web has no place in their vision. read more

The next, next big thing

May 19 2011

Those evangelizing the revolutionary qualities of "the next big thing" (whatever it may be) would do well to revisit past "big things." Truth is, computing goes in cycles. read more

The secret is to bang the rocks together

May 13 2011

Every so often a piece of technology can become a lever that lets people move the world, just a little bit. The Arduino is one of those levers. read more

Got an iPhone or 3G iPad? Apple is recording your moves

April 20 2011

Pete Warden and Alasdair Allan have discovered that iPhones and 3G iPads running iOS 4 are regularly recording the location of devices into a hidden file. read more

Radiation visualizations paint a different picture of Japan

March 21 2011

From talking to people on the ground in Japan, and by looking at the actual measurements across the country, a very different picture emerges than that reported by the Western media. read more

The abandonment of technology

March 03 2011

We face a choice between a future of accelerating technological progress and an age of declining possibilities and narrowing horizons. That choice depends on the problems we choose to solve. read more

The return of the Personal Area Network

March 01 2011

The web of things and less intrusive "wearables" could reignite the personal area network, at least in a slightly different form from years past. read more

Webcast: An Introduction to building mapping apps for the iPhone and iPad
September 28, 2010
This webcast will discuss how to use both the CoreLocation and MapKit frameworks to build map-based applications on the iPhone platform. It will talk you through how to build, embed and annotate maps directly into you iPhone applications. We'll then ...

Webcast: An introduction to building mapping applications for the iPhone and iPad
April 28, 2010
This webcast will discuss how to use both the CoreLocation and MapKit frameworks to build map-based applications on the iPhone platform. It will talk you through how to build, embed and annotate maps directly into you iPhone applications. We'll then ...

"Overall, this is a fast read and an excellent resource. I can't call it a definitive guide, but it is a great primer on the most useful geolocation features in iOS, with a set of real-world examples."
--Chris Mattmann, Computing Reviews

"A 'must' for any aspiring developer. "
--James A. Cox, The Midwest Book Review: The Bookwatch, The Computer Shelf, June 2012, Volume 7, Number 6

"His pacing is superb, the content detailed, and his examples spot on."
--David Bishop, Bishop Universe

"I cannot stress how brilliant the book Learning iPhone Programming Development by Alasdair Allan is."
--Nick Reffitt, iOS Blog

"I love the way the series is set up. Unlike other video tutorials I've tried, Introduction to iOS Programming is broken into smaller sections. You can start and stop the videos whenever you want, which is great when you have to reference certain aspects of the program or need to backup and watch something again."
--Ricky Tucker, Game Vortex

"So, if you are interested in a crash course into iPhone programming before you dig into it with a more detailed book, this is the one to get. But, it will leave you with the thirst to learn more. Me? I am heading to the O’Reilly catalog to look for an Objective-C book..."
--Richard Slywczak, GRApple, Volume 12, Issue 1, February 2011

" "
--Jerry Pournelle, Chaos Manor, The User's Column, May 2010, Column 358

"The great strength of Allan's book is that it gives you a clear view of the big picture about iPhone development, and fills in most of the essential details. I can hardly imagine a better book to begin the great adventure of developing extraordinary apps."
--Michael Pastore, ePublishers Weekly

"I recommend the book to anyone considering diving into iPhone programming...Learning iPhone Programming is reasonably priced and should remain a solid introductory text for new iPhone developers for some time to come."
--Mike Riley, Dr. Dobb's CodeTalk