Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Social bookmarking #2

I might just be giving it all away, but this morning I had a brainwave. which means that a one-in-a-million event (brainwave happens to travel the universe, happens to have flightpath near to the conrad, brainwave actually strikes me in the cranium - makes it through my thick skull... at this point it all becomes quite futile really. It's probably been thought of already

So here is my idea.
Map-books with a built-in compass; to make them work in a car, it uses a gyro-compass to defeat the electric and magnetic fields in your car's faraday-cage. Well there you have it, if you like some details, just leave a note below :-)

Satnav Bliss

There are few things in this lifetime that cause more conflict than map-reading. I believe it has something to do with caveman mentality. Caveman is out hunting, now this is usually something non-stressful, like fishing could be. But now we are fishing not all alone, but competing; so you get the picture - all these wild drivers on the road, competing for position. some of them are there fishing for fun- on a sunday afternoon drive. But I'm competing! I've got someplace to be, and my navigator is continuously twisting the tatty pages of the map-book about like you do when you are testing to see if a compass still points true-north if you spin around quickly.

Now that gives me an idea for a quick invention, but more on that latter... so we got a satnav. It makes the peace, because when you go wrong, or it goes wrong,you blame the digital box, not your best friend. It is possible to laugh at the funny voice, and even turn the volume down so that the annoying litany can be safely ignored until you decide you really are lost. Overall I was not impressed with the NAVMAN F50. It came with bluetooth, which paired with my phone on the second attempt (The first time I was still fussing with my phone), and just worked, doing all bluetooth/handsfree things without fuss. But the satnav still has bugs, and you discover these on day 1 as well.
After setting up the 5-mile drive home,I followed the prompts, until it showed a quick left-right turn that did not exist in real life. Strange, the road was planned, but the folk who build the new housing estate 10 years ago never put that road in. They were supposed to, and that was not the only issue. On day 2 I typed in a postcode, the unit simply responded with 'no reachable route' and refused to give any directions at all, even though I was 80 miles away, and the navigation error was to the order of a mile or less. Notwithstanding the monument I wanted to reach was a popular POI on a main road... Let's see what happens.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

LUA lightweight embeddable script engine

My compilled release DLL 248K (un-optimised) tells it all, compiler, and runtime all there.
Getting started was not easy, if not frustrating, for such a simple task. in the end, the main resource is, and the LUA wiki, and LUA forums. Amongst the best intro articles I could find: - and, and of course the LUA Wiki. Lua is surprising in 2 aspects. Its' free, and easy to get going once you have the background filled in for you. I suggest digging into the problem, and then just trolling through the reference manual and the LUA online book edition. A pitty ordering a paper copy of the book does not help in a big way, because you only need help getting LUA going for about the first 3 days, pretty much the same time as it takes to deliver if the book was local.
LUA is extensible, and if you have not gotten to this bit in just a day or so, you missed something along the way, other engines take far longer to get extending working in, without any blow-by-blow or click-by-click instructions! something you will not get with LUA.

Why LUA? Well I have decided to get cracking on writting a game, and the biggest issue we could face is not just user-content (modding), but game-desighn. I think keeping the desighn viscosity a bit in-the-air with scripting as glue might allow a direction/desighn change to just 'happen' when needed. The game is to be based on a top-down isometric real-time strategy, with wide unit-upgrade characteristics, which create multiple strategic possibilities. Micromanagement, expansion or defence? which will it be? What part will LUA play, well it's too early to tell, although I can see tonnes of oppourtunity: configuration, AI, 'bulding automation' amongst others.

Electronic kit building

2 things have re-awakened in my fancy world this holiday. One of them is electronics.

Some pics of the little creepy simple light-attracted bug. It took only half an hour to build. This circuit is nice in only 2 ways, cheap, shows how a motor can drive the bug without any gearing, and thirdly simple, having a very low transistor count.

I was dissapointed on 2 counts with velleman. the website is wrongly silkscreened onto the board as . It should be ,they also have a USA office and site. Why on earth screw up something that important. Secondly (but not last) is they give you 2 diodes, but neither of them have a place on the PCB... well actually I used one as a rear-axle.. and that is where the puzzle lay, because the horrid diagram they provided on the box shows a diode to prevent damage if the battery is the wrong way about (would actually heat the diode a bit IMHO, since it is drawn as going across the supply of 2 AAA batteries.) but it is not on the PCB, unless you solder it onto the underside! UGLY.
Overall a nice simple kit. Next is a microcontroller project He He!.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

How to be

I figured out how to tag things with delicious yesterday, it's one of those social-bookmarking things, you start out by tagging sites that you would have bookmarked, to tag a site, you type in 1 romore keywords that may help you find it back. inityiallyI though, this is going to be totally huge effort, but it seems to work better than bookmarking for 2 reasons, it collects by date, so has cronology, and it graphically presents, so it has size. You can also add tags to a mark so that it sends the link to your buddies (or network), that is where the social angle comes in. delicious is also web-based, so your bookmarks are available anywhere.

So it's not evil, will probably not damage my karma, and I can probably drop my 'cloud' onto my blog page right here. (click on it to find my name)

Oh here is one awesome/hilarious Youtube series, primarily about vegetables to get you started - .

Why youtube is evil
Ok not evil, just all consuming. I know Google own it now, and this blog-site. But this is a world of free speech, and youtube does that very well. Youtube is even better than TV, and TV is BAD, in a too-much-of-a-good-thing kind of way. It can eat away at your social life, and productivity. /RANT

Saturday, August 11, 2007

More camping pics

I took lots of pics of the sky, I imagine it will still look like this 100 years from now, so maybe it was a bit pointless.

This one was not

Here are one of those helicopters I was chatting about...

This strange fellow is not directing traffic at all.

Caister castle, In this castle reflection.

It is not well preserved, I suppose that is the problem with all history, people deface it in the present by scrawling their names, pretty much in the same way as they did when if first probably fell into diss-use. I suppose it just started to fall down one day, so everyone ducked. Maybe they were taken prisoner, or worse, it was just too damn cold. Looking around inside the single standing tower was a bit spooky. I mean it is only one tower, the spiral star built into the stairwell is very steep (the original stairs would have been steep and heavier, hence going up or down would have to be done slightly stooped).

The nice part of the castle visit is the vingtage transport collection, with cars and bikes lovingly collected by the owner. The displays are light-hearted, alsmot whistfull, and packed in between is a lot of nostalgia. This was a worthwhile stop for £22 to get us all in.

I think the 'reflection' photo shots were not too bad, seing there is not much left of the castle, but the main wall ruin, and one opposite it. The inner courtward (it appears was divided in two) is well kept, and is a great picnic area. As you can see from the photo, the moat has been dredged, and actually works.

Our tent pitch

World gone mad

Or just a little cheap.

I spotted the fellow above taking these fake chimneys (obviously fibreglass) up north on day 1 of our little camping holiday. I wonder what the world is comming too. I imagine the chimneys are low-maintanance, and the brickwork looks real anything up to 4 yards away, as I drovepast I took a glance (my navigator was aiming the lense) and could see the fake brick-pattern.

We went to Caister-on-sea on the first day after pitching the tent, here is the lifeguard boathouse. The Sea-rescue thing is a big noise on the popular beaches, and there are large helicopters (clearly resue or transport opperations) flying over every few hours.

This statement (see detail below) was also a little too blatantly sexist, I mean what does the lady pilot do?

Your mind could turn in other directions as well, but the signage is just unfair to 60% of the population of the island.