skullI’m not actually in a very steampunk mood this evening, but thought I’d share something anyway.

My father has, over the years, given me a few different curiosities. I’ve little recollection of when they appeared and often where in his travels he got them. I’m also probably not nearly grateful enough. Well, I’m going to take this opportunity to thank him for my beautiful Broadhurst & Clarkson telescope.

It has been sitting in my room for quite some time and I don’t think I’ve ever seen it shiny and oiled. Well, I took a few hours on the weekend and broke out the Brasso. I’ve not much experience polishing so parts of it aren’t polished, but the main body is looking rather brilliant.

I’m not quite certain when it dates from, or whether it’s legitimate. After all it actually has BRODHURST&CLRKSON engraved on it, rather than the whole name. Perhaps that was how they did it, perhaps it’s actually just a knock-off. Who knows?

If it’s legit, I believe it dates back to around the late 1800s/early 1900s, possibly the Boer War.


I may bring it back up to Edinburgh and keep it among my many other curiosities. Soon I’m going to start making stands for them. There’s so damn many!

I think it’s supposed to have a leather case to protect it, but sadly I don’t have one. Perhaps one day I’ll make one for it, although I think I’d best improve my skills with fabric before I move onto leatherworking.

Questions to the usual address!


Yes, it’s not a very interesting pic, or it’s needlessly pretentious. That’s not why I took it. I took it to test the iPhone’s automatic macro support and to see how the shallow the depth of field would end up. I’m pleased with the result, regardless. The pics are slightly higher res and the auto-focussing seems to improve the pics I’m taking no end.

I’ve also had a little play with the video recording which so far is pretty good. The ability to upload to YouTube in the field is also particularly useful (especially considering I’ve yet to figure out how to get the videos off my iPhone..). The quality of the video is pleasant although the YouTube uploads aren’t quite as good, as they’re compressed to make the upload quicker.

It’s also worth noting that 3G isn’t required to upload. It’ll take longer, but any ‘net access will do. I plan on uploading behind the scenes videos using this functionality when we’re back into our filming schedule in August.

Finally, before I get back to work on stuff for the Festival of Falconry, I’d just like to say that the NapierTV production blog has been updated again, go have a read if you’ve not already. Feedback is appreciated, but obviously not required.

I've spent the last few days doing a combination of swearing and waiting.


I've been having cash flow problems, banking problems, phone problems and sleeping problems. Firstly, waiting for my cheques so I could pay off my overdraft and other more minor debts (Sorry, Chris!).

I also wanted a new iPhone. My old one, whilst perfectly functional, didn't provide everything I wanted. The second generation iPhone (confusingly named as "the iPhone 3G") added most of what I wanted - 3G support and a better speaker. I wasn't about to upgrade at the drop of a hat though so I opted to wait until my first contract expired. Around that time a new iPhone was announced, the iPhone 3GS. It added a few features I really wanted: an autofocussing camera and video recording.

There are of course other features but the camera was the big one for me. My iPhone is my primary digicam and being able to record videos (and upload in the field) was something that appealed to me.

Of course, to get it required that I paid my bill, something that didn't quite work out smoothly due to false-positives on behalf of Lloyds TSB's fraud detection system. Woo.

Once that was sorted I had to pay my bill and wait up to 24 hours for O2 to unlock my account. This wouldn't bother me so much if it wasn't for the simple fact that it was getting in the way of me signing up for a new contract with them!

I did run the numbers and found that if I chose a two year contract it would be £100 cheaper. Yeah, not worth being locked in for an additional six months!

I got the device though as I'm typing this blog post on it. A rather nice 16GB model in white. Why white? Basically because I've not seen any white iPhones in the wild. Wheels and the Captain both have black iPhones, so it prevents confusion too!

In other news, I'm sadly on my way down to Wales at the moment, hopefully I can get properly involved in the falconry festival though, preventing death by boredom.

Having a phone this capable should help offset my lack of laptop (ZD-Harriet's graphics card is toast..). Photos and video to follow, I hope!

Facebook Fatigue

21 June 2009

Phew, finding a decent Blogger template isn’t that easy. I’m not entirely satisfied with this one but it’ll do until I can be bothered building my own.

That’s not what I felt like writing about today, today’s subject is more a sort of creeping suspicion kind of thing.

A while ago I wrote about how I didn’t wish to move to Facebook but my hand was essentially being forced. I was careful to make sure I moved my content to independent sites rather than commit to Facebook entirely. Why did I do this?

Well, for a while Facebook was growing amongst the people I know, but now it’s getting to the stage where I log on and see what’s going on and there’s a resounding nothing. Perhaps it’s because my social life of late has been comical to say the least or perhaps I’m just feeling more depressive and cynical than usual.

Either way, I look at what’s in whatever Facebook are calling their users’ home page and I see the following:

  • Two sets of photos
  • A few random, relatively mundane status updates
  • Some status updates via Twitter
  • A lot of nothing where all the apps I’ve blocked were

Perhaps it didn’t used to be this lame, but I doubt it.

It feels to me as if Facebook is losing its momentum. There’s no exclusivity, nothing special about it. I think I’m getting social network fatigue.

Perhaps I’m just getting general life fatigue. I feel like I’m doing a combination of absolutely nothing and all the work. I guess I just feel generally frustrated at the moment, although I imagine it’s only temporary. My love for this city is being slowly sapped on a daily basis, which I do not like.

I guess I’m just feeling uninspired on all fronts.

I wonder if there were any rumours of my death which could lend themselves to exaggeration. Well, regardless, I’m not bad, despite the rather depressing previous entry.

I’ve not updated my blog in a while for a number of reasons. For once it’s not just that I’ve been lazy, it’s due to the two following things:

  1. I’ve currently got next to nothing in my bank account
  2. I’ve been very busy working on NapierTV’s website and web-based technologies

The money issue is a simple one – I have money, but it’s currently tied up in paperwork. This has two main effects – the first being that I avoid leaving my flat so I don’t spend more money than necessary. The second is that I can’t afford to buy the many craft supplies I’d normally buy for my many building projects.

My liquid latex has solidified, so I’m going to need to buy some more before I can continue on the Cthulhu mask, for example.

Now, onto the more interesting stuff, for me at least.

NapierTV hasn’t really officially launched but until the web technologies are in place, we can’t really get off the ground. Our new channel layout requires each channel to have both its own page on our site, but also a blogger page and suitable Twitter hashtag feed support.

For those of you who don’t use Twitter/this feature, hashtags work as follows:

Strange (and cool!) to see other people using the #rocktv tag. Certainly makes field testing a lot more interesting! #entv

At the time of writing, that’s my latest tweet. In it you can see there’s a #rocktv tag and an #entv tag. Normally I’d just use a single tag, but sometimes I use more.

Twitter treats words with a hash symbol in front of them as a search category and provides an Atom and RSS feed for them, meaning we can see, in real time, whenever someone posts on a given topic, if they include a hashtag.

To see this in action, head over to

The problem we had was that the technology to embed such a feed in a page just wasn’t widely available. There’s loads of widgets that allow any number of posts to be shown, but only by one author. They also don’t support the features we wanted, or supported stuff we didn’t want.

We needed to extract the following from the RSS feed:

  • Message body
  • Author (and Twitter account link)
  • Time since posted

What we didn’t need were things like the title value. Well, thanks to mgdm on #lugradio as he had a script that he kindly modified to help us do this. Once that was done we could embed it in our site, but not on Blogger.

Much swearing later and considerable intervention by Sennett and we had a working non-caching javascript version for our Blogger pages.

Hopefully now that’s up and running we can start working on the style for each of the planned channels and finding editors and correspondents for them.

If you’re interested in getting involved then your best bet is probably following us on Twitter.

Follow NapierTV on Twitter

It still hurts that Nicoletta broke up with me. Man, how sad is that? It’s now June and it happened back in mid-February.

I was looking for a photo of myself to use in a blogpost for NapierTV and I came across a couple of photos of me and her together, from when things were good. It hurts to look at them, especially because of how happy I look in those photos.

*mutters profanities*

It’s probably for the best that we’re no longer still together, but I don’t regret my time with her and I hope she doesn’t either. For a brief time, I was happy.


Microblogging services

02 June 2009

It's stupid o'clock once again and I'm unable to sleep, despite being exhausted.
I was listening to the Ubuntu UK podcast earlier and was pleased to hear they read out my email. Whilst they're recording the show they both "tweet" and "dent", meaning they post updates on both Twitter and Identica . I'm currently a member of neither but shortly I'm going to be using Twitter as a correspondent for NapierTV. That said, my principals incline me to favour Identica, being open source.

I'm attempting to find the best compromise as ideally I'd want to use a single account between the two services. It would seem Twitterific natively supports both services, which is convenient, but I'm unsure as to how to cross post and how I'd be using the service beyond my organisational involvement. Answers on a postcard!

Bonus - Ubuntu UK Podcast, S02E05 - THE LONG GAME :

Dispenser going up!

01 June 2009

The updates have been slow of late for a fairly understandable reason – I’ve had both exams and coursework. Now that those have been taken and handed in as applicable, I’m back.

During the exam period when I wasn’t studying I was playing Team Fortress 2 a game I’ve wanted for a while and simply haven’t had the finance to purchase. Conveniently it was on discount for a few days a couple of weeks ago, bringing the price down to a very acceptable £6.99. Not bad, I felt, so I now play a bit, which is generally quite enjoyable. I’m not the best, but I’m not the worst either.

I mainly play engineer although I’ve been having some success with the pyro as well, rather fitting on both accounts I felt.engie-benjy I couldn’t help but think “oh dear.. I’ve become Engie Benjy” and as such felt compelled to manifest that in image form. It’s quite ropey, I know, but I tried. You try working with a twisted nightmare child in photoshoop to get something vaguely right!

Generally speaking I’ve found the players quite friendly and welcoming, although there are of course exceptions where I come across total douchebags. I was on a server when there was some big football match between someone or other and Barcelona. Chris and I figured that people who enjoy football would be watching the damn game and so we could avoid them by playing TF2..

OOOOOH no. Not a hope. Some prat was playing whilst broadcasting either the radio commentary or the sound from the TV coverage of the match over his microphone. Whilst bickering with someone in the same room and vaguely attempting to engage with the TF2 game too. ARGH.

So, mic spammers aside, it’s mostly good.

I did have some more interesting things to say but I can blog about those later, when I feel more up to it. Right now I’m concerned as my left ear appears to have popped and refuses to unpop. It’s been like this since this morning and is making me worry. I like being able to hear normally!