Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Princess Daddy

This morning I asked my son to tell me a story.

With a little prompting from my other half, we got the following out of him:

Once upon a time, there was a princess.  And the princess was called Princess Daddy.

Princess Daddy wore a white and pink dressing gown with little hearts on.

Yes, he does.  In my defense... actually,scratch that. I have no defense.

Princess Daddy likes eating peas.

Princess Daddy went on a blue and white boat, and sailed through the clouds to the sky!

Then he had a wee.

The End.

He's got a bright future as an awesome storyteller ahead of him.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

24 hours is a long time...

Yesterday I wrote a post saying that I wasn't sure if I would buy a Raspberry Pi or not.  I couldn't really think of what I would do with one.

Today I bidded on one on eBay.

I don't believe that the nice worktop was included, however.

I didn't win the auction, but I've bidded on another and I'm also looking at the prices for a new Raspberry Pi B+ (the cheapest I can find start about £25 including P&P).  It's intriguing how it captures the imagination - could I use it to make a robot that travels around the house, with sensors detecting things?  Yes. Could I use it to act as a retro games console? Sure. Could I use it to stream video to my TV? Absolutely.

When it comes to computing, I've never particularly been a hardware guy.  I can, just about, build a PC, but anything that smacks of proper electronics, I've steered away from.  But there's something about the Raspberry Pi that makes me want to try.

I might even get a soldering iron!

Once I have got one, I hope I can find a local group of Raspberry Pi enthusiasts - there doesn't seem to be much in the way of groups in Yorkshire, which is a shame.

In the meantime though, I'd love to hear from people who have a Pi and hear what they've done with it.  Drop me a line in the comments!

Saturday, 22 November 2014

I like Raspberry Jam

I don't mean the stuff you put on your toast.

Today I was at the Hull Raspberry Jam in (unsurprisingly) Hull.  Raspberry Jams, thought up by Alan O'Donohoe, a teacher of Computing working at a school in Preston, are groups where people get together, learn how to use Raspberry Pi computers, and share ideas of what to use the Raspberry Pi for.

If you're not familiar with what a Raspberry Pi is, basically it's a computer on a single chipboard,very small and inexpensive, ideal for educational applications and for electronics hobbyists.  Examples of projects that involved a Raspberry Pi include a theremin, recording and tracking unmanned balloon flights, home media hubs, a time-lapse camera, a robot... the list goes on and on and is only limited by your imagination.

I haven't coded for far too many years which is a shame because as a kid I used to program quite a lot and made quite a few games in Basic.  So it was good to get into some geekyness today.

Alan O'Donohoe kicks the event off.

There were a number of workshops and talks that we could sign up for, and I signed up for the first two workshops, which was basically learning how to connect up a Raspberry Pi, and then learning to make a game on it using Scratch, a programming language provided by MIT free of charge.

At the end of the first workshop we got a few minutes to hack Wormy, a snake-type game, by editing the Python code.

I took the opportunity to deliver my hallmark coding amendment - I added in random colours, making the apple go from a boring red colour to a constantly changing delight of colour.  In my programming class at college I endeavoured to apply this every week to whatever assignment we had, which eventually led to my tutor including in his assignment notes one week the sentence "remember Chad hates flashing colours".

It didn't stop me doing it.

This doesn't look like much, but my old programmng tutor would have hated it.

And I even got a few seconds of video of the hacked game in action.  Note the flashing square on the left - that's all my work!

For anyone interested in coding or electronics, Raspberry Jam events are great and I'd definitely recommend going to one.  Find out more at http://www.raspberrypi.org/jam/ - I can't guarantee however that yours will be as exciting as mine (at lunch I ordered a toasted teacake and nearly set fire to the canteen)

Will I buy a Raspberry Pi? I don't know right at this moment - they're very impressive, and today has reawakened my enthusiasm for coding and computing - I'm going to be building myself a new PC next week, and because of today I've decided that I'm going to make it dual-boot Windows and Linux, and I definitely want to do some programming too, but I haven't ordered a Raspberry Pi for myself yet - the issue is that I don't have anything that I can really think of that I want one for, but I don't know if I ought to wait until I have an idea, or whether to get one now and then think about what it could do.  But for those wanting to experiment they're an excellent choice.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Are you ready for Christmas?

Time is ticking away, for in five weeks it shall be Christmas Eve.  Have you got your presents bought yet?  The shops are full of seasonal wares, the television is filling up with Christmas adverts, and a niggling ache is growing in the back of peoples heads as they begin to wonder if they ought to start thinking about getting presents.

I have been putting odd presents away haphazardly over the last couple of months, but now it's time for me to get organised, get a detailed list of presents for friends and family together, lose the list, and then buy what I can think of for people.  What typically happens is one of two things:
1) I end up with too many presents, and end up having to keep three Toblerones for myself, or...
2) I miss out someone's present and end up having to send them something slightly odd like a bag of Haribo.

Last year I had a little problem in that I sent some packs of shower gels and deodorants through the post as presents, and they were intercepted as possible bombs.  They did in the end make it to their destination, but was about a month late, which was a shame.

How are you preparing for Christmas?  Have you started yet?  Or do you leave till the last minute?

Those lovely folk at find.com have published an app review of mine, a review of Relax Melodies: Sleep & Yoga.  Do go take a look.

Saturday, 15 November 2014

I am a caring wife

I took an online test this morning, and apparently I'm a caring wife.

That's probably the reason why, when I had to plug my laptop in to charge this morning, I chose to unplug the recliner on the sofa rather than the pump aerating the fish tank.

Damn my caring nature.  True, I prevented fish genocide, but my feet would have loved to be elevated.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

In the world of soccer...

So, I'm playing FIFA 12 a lot.  I'm aware that any soccer enthusiast will now be calling me all kinds of names because I'm playing a game which is an entire 3 years old, but it was £2, so there.

For much of my spare time over the last week I've been managing Bradford City and helping them to work their way up the leagues, win cups, that sort of thing.

And I thought that I'd share a few of the action packed moments with you?

Here we are facing the deadly Swindon Town.  They apparently have an OVR of 59.  I'm not entirely sure what OVR stands for, but the higher the number is, the tougher they are to beat.


The team from Swindon was seriously hampered when they chose to play eleven coloured dots instead of actual people.

I would note that the game attempts to sabotage my team by rearranging my players periodically, generally putting my best players in reserve and instead equipping my team with a variety of cleaners and lollipop men.

Here's all the action going on.  I have many many pictures that look like this, and they're all just as informative.

And because I'm such an ace player (aka I have it on "easy"), I score goals, and the below happens a lot.

That is to say, things get physical.
Time for another game!

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

A fridge lands on a comet

In less than 12 hours, a fridge called Phil will be touching down on Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko.

Of course that's nonsense, but in less than 12 hours, a fridge sized lander called Philae will be landing on the aforementioned comet as part of the European Space Agency's Rosetta mission. The mission will analyse the comet and do all kinds of interesting stuff.

Find out all the latest, including watching the mission control room, at http://rosetta.esa.int/ - to be honest it's not that exciting, but I think everyone's been clearly briefed about the webcam - everyone looks busy (although you can't see their screens so they could be playing Solitaire) and they do seem to surreptitiously glance at the webcam when passing near it. And there appears to be music playing, I don't know if the music is actually playing in the control room or if its to replace whatever noise there is in the room, I assume that it's much like any other workplace and there's the danger of someone within the range of the webcam complaining about a co-worker, eating a bacon sandwich, or swearing when they realise that they forgot to charge their smartphone, so not transmitting sound is probably a good idea.

Nevertheless, I'm doing my best to piece together what's going on. There's a guy in a suit who walks around - I think that he's a boss of some sort, perhaps making sure that the mission will achieve its agreed objective of landing on a chunk of ice.

Then there are some guys with shaved heads with headsets on. I think that these are possibly telesales operatives selling secondhand fridges, as I presume prior to launching the mission they probably used a lot of fridges to see how to crash one into a comet without breaking it - they're probably a lot cheaper to damage than a space science probe.

There are also some other guys also wearing headsets but with hair. I think that these are IT technicians because I've seen them at least once get under a desk, which in my experience means that they are computer techies fixing the network or plugging in a USB cable or some such thing.

Finally there is one other quite young guy with hair, glasses, and no headset. He's clearly a trainee who perhaps is on day release from the local college, and I'm surprised that I haven't seen him bringing anyone coffee yet.

So do head over to the website at about 8.30am GMT when I expect the room will be a lot fuller as they do the rather challenging task of landing a fridge probe onto a speeding chunk of ice by remote. Seriously though, all the best to the ESA with this incredible mission!
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