Science Superheroes on the Stage

Today was the day that we all headed for London to do our talks for the Secret Science of Superheroes (in the shops now). We all wrote the book last year at a book sprint in Manchester. We wrote a chapter each. And today chapter writers had five minutes to tell the assembled multitude what they had written. I was on last, which was probably for the best...

Anyhoo, a great time was had, lovely audience. Before the talk we got to spend some time in the Lord Mayor's Chambers in South Kensington, which was most impressive. Then after our talk we had a splendid meal at the Elephant and Castle and then staggered back to the hotel and collapsed for the night. 

I think we'll find some culture tomorrow. 

Hardware meetup, with hardware

It's coming to something when I'm too busy having an interesting time to get around to taking pictures. But that's how it was at the Hardware meetup tonight at c4di. Ross was trying to get his Gameboy emulator to run off a rechargeable battery. He has the not unreasonable desire to be able to play games while the battery is charging. And one of his power supplies keeps glitching and cutting out. We actually used a soldering iron to try and fix things, but by the end we were perhaps a bit closer to getting everything working as it should. And we are having a lot of fun in the journey. And Paul showed me a bunch of very impressive stuff he had a hand in making work. 

All good stuff. More in two weeks. 

A Short History of Tractors in Ukranian

We went out to acquire some culture tonight. A proper play, with actors and everything. It was at Hull Truck. A Short History of Tractors in Ukranian. It's based on a book with the same name. And it's great. Book adaptations can be tricky things to do. A book can have hundreds of pages and loads of moving parts and complexity that doesn't always make it onto the stage. But the adaptation gets it pretty much spot on. The actors really earn their money, one chap must have played around five parts through the evening, but everything fits together really well. 

The plot is part soap opera, part history lesson and all enjoyable. Get to see it if you get the chance. 

Secret Science of Superheroes: In the shops now, on the stage on Saturday

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Last October me and a bunch of like minded souls sat down and wrote a book together. We all did one chapter each. The title of the book is "The Secret Science of Superheroes". I did chapter 12 as it turned out. All about computers, AI, and whether or not you should be afraid of your toaster. My chapter was great fun to write and, after Mark and Andy had finished knocking it into shape, great fun to read. You really should read it, and all the other chapters to. You can take a proper look (and even buy it) here.

On Saturday myself and the a bunch of the other writers will be standing up at a Science Festival in Kensington and telling everyone about what we have wrote. If you're in London, it would be great to see you. You can find out more about the event here

Raspberry Pi at c4di Hardware Meetup this Thursday


If you were at the "Easy as Pi" HullDevs presentation from John Tasker last week (incidentally he has put his slides and sample code here) you might like to come along to our Hardware Meetup onThursday this week at the c4di, starting at 6:00. 

If you have any questions, or have a Pi that you want to get started with, or want to see what you can do with your Pi, then come along. Hardware welcome. I'll be bringing some of my Pi collection, including the world famous Logo Blaster. You can sign up here.

Microsoft Surface Ergnomic Keyboard and Bluetooth

Ha. It works now I've replaced the Bluetooth adapator. So, pro-tip. If you want to use the Microsoft Surface Ergnomic keyboard with your desktop under Windows 10 I would suggest that you use the Pluggable Bluetooth USB adaptor. This works a treat. If you've got a Surface Pro 3 I'd advise you not to get this keyboard at all, or at least try it to make sure it works before you part with any cash.

I'm hammering away at the keyboard now and I like it very, very, much. My previous keyboard, the Microsoft Sculpt Comfort one, was very good but it lacked the numeric keyboard and arrow keys that I'm used to. Mine version of the Sculpt Comfort also has the American keyboard layout which works fine most of the time, but had me keeping an old keyboard around (really) just so I could type the backslash character. Which I can type just like this now: \\\\ Yay.

Bad Bendy Keyboard

I love the Microsoft Ergnomic keyboards. I’ve worked my through a whole bunch of them over the years. I’m convinced that if I’d spent the last thirty years typing on a “normal” keyboard I probably wouldn’t be able to type now. To celebrate completing “Begin to Code with Python” I thought I’d treat myself to the latest and greatest Microsoft ergnomic keyboard, the shiny Surface one. Then I can write another book with it.

The keyboard arrived today. It’s lovely. Beautifully made, with a fantastic touch action and a great range of keys.  

But it doesn’t work. I can’t make it pair with my desktop (which uses a usb Bluetooth adapter) or, really annoyingly, my Surface Pro 3. I’ve put it in the post and ordered a reaplcement which will arrive tomorrow.  

Hull Devs at Hull


Hull Devs is shiny new. They have T shirts. They have free crisps. And beer. And they meet up at on the last Wednesday of every month at c4diAnd we end up in the pub.

Joe Stead, the man behind a really good talk a while back, returned to Hull with Richard Tasker, who gave a lovely talk about the Raspberry Pi. I know a bit about this device, but Richard put me onto some interesting new directions which I'm looking forward to exploring. 

If you're a developer in Hull you should go along to Hull Devs. They've got a great programme of talks running into 2018. It's also a great place to meet up with other developers from the Hull area. And don't forget, there's also the awesome CodePen sessions (the next on is on 9th October) and of course our hardware meetups (the next one is on 5th October).

It's great to see all these initiatives taking off in the areas. Thanks to Joe and his sponsors for getting the ball rolling.

My points are expiring and I don't care

Internet companies seem to be getting increasingly desperate in their marketing. The latest trick seems to be to award me some discount coupons and then send me loads of emails telling me that they are about to expire. Just FYI folks, I neither know nor care about your coupons. If you happen to be selling something that I need right now and you've got coupons that make it cheaper, then great. But there's no way I'm going to rush out and spend money on stuff just because you're giving me some discount. 

I've a horrible feeling I might be growing up...

Journey from Hell


Well, that was fun. In retrospect signing up for the 10:40pm flight home was not a great plan, but it did give us one more day away. We arrived back in the country at 2:00am all bleary eyed, but just about up for the two hour drive back to our house that I was expecting. After all, the roads would be nice and quiet, right?

If only. All the motorways were shut. And I mean all of them. And the diversions seemed to send us from one shut motorway to another. And another. And there was fog. 

Apparently they are working on "installing smart motorway technology". And adding dumb diversions. The diversions were so bad as to actually feel insulting. We lost track of the number of different symbols we had to decode in our fruitless quest to find "the one open road over the Pennines".

We got back at around 5:30 in the morning, unplugged the radio and slept 'till 10:00am. 

It was a great holiday though.