Monday, 2 October 2017

Minecraft - cross platform gaming!

On September 20th a large update was pushed out to many versions of Minecraft, regardless of the device. Even the Xbox One got a completely new release with a free upgrade for anyone with the 'Xbox one edition'

Three versions of me, in the same room. Terrifying.
Viewed from the Xbox One

Friday, 25 August 2017

Ode to a pickle factory

The smells all have meaning,
throughout the year,
much more than any sounds that you'll hear.

Mincemeat for Christmas,
Pickles for spring...
and, I think, Mango Chutney
And other spiced things.

So here's to the factory
that makes all that food.
You are noisy, and ugly,
but smell generally good


Written 26th March 2014, at the time I worked in Greenham Common, in a building opposite the English Provender pickle factory 

Monday, 28 October 2013

Lunch time doodle - British Cookie Monster

While eating my typically British Heinz tomato soup, and inspired by something I read somewhere earlier, this doodle drifted into existence  in my brain (and then on my phone).. 

Would a British cookie monster be called a biscuit monster instead though? 

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Nuclear Fusion

A US lab today has made a step forwards in nuclear fusion research, by actually making a laser-compression style fusion reactor that conclusively released more energy than it absorbed.

That's very significant as a few groups have claimed to have done it before, but none have had the evidence to back it up.  This time, there's actual proof.

However - although it's a massive step forward, it's not a "break even" as some news agencies have claimed - the key phrase is "released more energy than it absorbed".   Less than 50% of the laser's energy makes it to the "hydrogen pellet" target, and the laser emitter, presumably, is loosing energy via heat etc.  So it's still using a lot more power than it's creating, but it's a huge step in the right direction.

What I don't understand is why more effort isn't being put into fusion research. It's a field that would pay such huge dividends when the breakthrough has finally been made.  It's not even like we don't know that the physics works - the sun is a great big ball of nuclear fusion, after all.  And it's not like science hasn't previously made and used devices that created nuclear fusion, although as they were hydrogen bombs, they were rather more just destructive than useful for power generation.  A bit tricky to control too.

My personal suspicion, although I have nothing to back this theory up, is that a combination of pulsed, toroidal magnetic compression and laser compression would get some way towards actual self-sustained fusion generation.

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Don't blink! Blink and you're dead...

Sorry, this is not really a Doctor Who post. 

Not a lot of people will even remember this, but early HTML had an element called Blink which made text, well...  blink on and off. 

It never made it into a w3c standard, and was generally regarded as ugly and pointless so when Internet Explorer stopped supporting it, it wasn't a major surprise.   Chrome never supported it, and now in the latest update, neither does Firefox.

I've got mixed feelings about it.  I used blink in my very very first web pages (called SteveNET) and they looked pretty naff, but seeing as it was before you could even do in-line graphics, let alone coloured text, it was better than just plain text. 

But in this day and age, it's really about as useful as a chocolate teapot, and just clogging up the code-base, so it makes sense to drop it.  

External references:

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

5 things I have learnt from Twitter

When I first used Twitter, said to one of my friends that I just didn't quite get it.  I didn't understand what it was, what it was for or even why it exists.  I knew I should probably be aware of it and using it, as it's kind of my job to keep abreast of such things - but I didn't understand it.

My friend pointed out that if I didn't get it, it was because I was over-thinking it.  I was looking for a specific purpose where there is none. There is nothing more to get than if it were millions of people stood in a very large pub, nattering away about anything and everything.   That is it's purpose.

After that revelation it made a bit more sense to me and I started tweeting nonsense too, and finally got in to it and understood that there is nothing to really understand about it, but that it is a very valuable, if massively complex and muddled, source of information.

Here are five things I have learnt from Twitter.

1)  Celebrities are people too..

OK,  not the most amazing revelation but it's sometimes easy to forget. Celebrities are actually just normal people, the same as anyone else, and as such they're likely to say dumb stuff if they're  in the wrong mood. If people have a go at them, they might have a go back.  They might feel chatty, they might not. Also, just because they ARE real people, it doesn't mean they'll speak to you! Don't be disappointed if you reply to a celeb's tweet and they don't respond.  Depending on who it is, they may get thousands of replies to a single tweet. Chances are they won't even see yours.

That said, I have had proper twitter conversations with two of the cast of Red Dwarf, Sarah Beeny (off of property programs) and I may have had a conversation, sort of, with Simon Pegg. Possibly. 

A few minutes later he posted 

Coincidence?  Who knows. 

2) Brands love Twitter. 

Brands like it when you re-tweet their stuff - it's basically free advertising for them.  Some, particularly smaller brands, will follow you back, boosting  your readership and increasing the chances that they will re-tweet something that you say.   Some brands have customer support accounts on Twitter, some post random funny stuff, and some just use it for tweeting updates and news.

3) Great source for specific news

If there's a current event, Twitter Search acts like a continuous feed of news and comments about that event.  Obviously there's a certain level of inaccuracy, and you have to be prepared for a large amount of nonsense and probably abusive language, but it's a good way to get a lot of people's views and opinions on something that is current.

4) Interesting to interact with TV programs.  

Some presenters, and indeed live TV shows, love to interact with their viewers via Twitter.  It's fairly common for presenters to be tweeting live during the broadcast of their pre-recorded shows, and will answer questions relating to the show (or sometimes not relating to it at all - "where did you get those shoes" or similar..)    Many shows now show a #something at the beginning of the show so that you know what to search for, or so you can hashtag your tweets if they're relevant to that show.

5) The power of Twitter. 

Twitter has power.  Because of the sheer amount of people reading it, it only takes 140 characters with the right message, if something goes viral suddenly a reasonable percentage of the population of the entire planet know about it.

On Twitter, I've seen missing people found, lives saved, revolutions started and plane crashes reported in real-time.  An idle tweet by an A-list celebrity about buying a specific brand of t-shirt can take an entire website offline by the traffic it generates.  I've even seen smart bird-cages that tweet when their water levels are low.

So there we go - If you're still not sure what Twitter is for - it's for everything..  as long as you can fit it in 140 characters.