Rubbish music in Cambridge

Back in the summer, on a Saturday in Cambridge I saw this busker playing guitar and singing whilst *inside* a litter bin. It was very entertaining, it really made me laugh:

... it was made better somehow because he was playing songs from Jungle Book.

Hacking the Universe

On my recent holiday to Fuerteventura, I decided that I should take the opportunity to understand more about Quantum Mechanics, as you do, so I took the book In Search Of Schrodinger's Cat with me. I really enjoyed it, I can recommend it if you need a bit more wierdness in your life.

I suppose that I'm bound to try and think about it in terms of computing; but I couldn't help feeling that since it seems impossible to measure certain pairs of properties simultaneously, it's like the universe has built in security protocols which only allow us to go so far. For example, it's not possible to measure both the position and momentum of a particle like an electron simultaneously, if you're certain about one of those properties, the other becomes more uncertain.

So, to me, the whole of Quantum Mechanics seems to be about Hacking the Universe. Nice.

Raspberry Pi gone mobile

I'm writing this blog entry using my new Raspberry Pi, it's the second one I've bought. Not much unusual about that, but I'm doing it in Costa Coffee in Cambridge:

It's good that you can get your hands on a Raspberry Pi much easier now. I ordered this one on Friday night, and it arrived Tuesday morning. So that's less than 2 working days, which is much better. I got this one from Cool Components and I got the red ModMyPi case from the same place too. So because I had a Raspberry Pi in a case, I decided to go out on the road with it, well why not?

To get power to the Pi I'm using an emergency phone charger, mine is a TeckNet iEP380 which I bought from Amazon. It's rated at 5000mAh and seems to power the Raspberry Pi very well (although I've got nothing connected to the USB ports of the Pi). It might struggle if I connected any devices but I'm using the Pi 'headless' with just an ethernet cable to connect to my laptop.

So... now I can sit here in Costa Coffee, sipping my Cortado whilst working on my Raspberry Pi. Excellent, it's a good way to spend an hour or so in the morning.

The arrival of my very own Raspberry Pi

A few weeks back my own Raspberry Pi arrived, so I thought that I should post a couple of photos to mark the occasion:

But I've been so busy recently that I haven't gotten round to posting them. So ... the Raspberry Pi that I borrowed has now returned to its rightful owner, and now I can continue experimenting on my own machine.

Retro CDs

I was looking for some writable CDs, for making up music CDs, since I'd run out. By accident I found these:

Retro style CD awesome are they? Now I know they exist, I might buy some more from Amazon. Sometimes you find something new when you support a small independant retailer. I bought mine from a small store in the village of Linton, near Cambridge. If you ever find youself near Linton, pop into Tournants (in the High Street) and have a look round their interesting collection of computer bits and electrical supplies. It's good to have shops like this.


La Palma Rain and Sunshine

I've never got sunburn in the rain before, but they say there is a first time for everything:

Sun and rain in La Palma

It really is raining AND sunny

No really, rain and sun at the same time

All these photos were taken a few minutes apart.  It really was brilliant sunshine *and* rain at the same time.  We didn't get much rain during our holiday, but this was cool.

More La Palma

Here's some more stuff about our recent holiday in La Palma (which is one of the smaller Canary Islands).  To give you an idea what the island is like, here's a photo I took in the main town, Santa Cruz:

Santa Cruz, La Palma you're supposed to look at the view, not the Donut truck. Anyway, during the holiday my wife and I were briefly entertained by two children staying in our hotel, who we nicknamed 'Horrible Henry' and 'Billy the Ice Cream Kid'.

Horrible Henry
Henry was apparently not happy with the choice of breakfast food in the Hotel. Although that did not seem unusual amongst the children; we heard another boy refuse to try the sausages because 'they don't look like my usual brand' - seriously, I kid you not. Still, Henry's mother hatched a plan: she went off and piled a plate full of wonderful things and popped it in front of him. Nice try lady. We then watched Henry systematically push each item off onto another plate, whilst saying out loud: 'that's horrible ... and that's horrible and that's horrible...'. This was made funnier to us, since he wasn't bothering to taste any of it. Maybe none of the items were his usual brands either.

Billy the Ice Cream Kid
Billy seemed to be trying to spend his holiday by only eating ice cream. No matter what his parents offered him, which included many of his supposed favourites (like chips and lasagne apparently), Billy would just stand at the ice cream counter refusing to budge, until his parents caved and gave him some scoops. We applaud this level of experimentation in a young child. It makes us wonder what effect a week of eating nothing but ice cream does have on your digestive system.  We didn't hang around to find out though.

For the record, the food (including breakfast) was excellent.

Warning Sign

During our recent holiday this warning sign made us laugh, we were thinking "men wearing speedos may be attacked by a squid", or something:

squid attack?

...of course the real meaning is not quite so funny, it just says "Danger Jellyfish":

Danger Jellyfish

We liked our own version better.

Getting electricity from pocket change

When I was on holiday recently I read the book "Electrified Sheep" which amused me. But it mentioned the voltaic pile - an early kind of battery. So I decided that I should build one :-) I used some US coinage that was sitting in a drawer. I cleaned the coins by soaking them in coca-cola. Then dissolved some dishwasher salt in warm water to act as the electrolyte. I soaked small bits of kitchen towel in that solution and put them between the coins, like this:

voltaic pile 1

To my amusement, this was enough to light a suitable LED. This is what I got on the voltmeter:


...somewhere around 2 volts. I'm wondering what I could run off it, umm ... interesting.