katsmeat: (Default)
On Tuesday, I was in Cambridge for the first time in about eight months - Mathworks were running a Matlab symposium at the Cavendish Laboratory, the Department of Physics. It was free to attend and there literally was free lunch, who could possibly say no? I attended two boring and pointless talks (one of which was from Mathwork's UK Head), one sort-of OK talk, and two fascinating and usefull ones. Both of these were given by this woman, which implies I really, really ought to start reading her blog.

In these things, the lecturers tend to have a small stockpile of branded merchendise, to hand out as a pat on the head to any audience member who asks a good question, answers a lecturer's question or points out a mistake. And I got one! A Mathworks USB stick!

My thought process when this happened went something along the lines of... "OMG! Did I really just answer that? I'm so clever! I'm utterly briliant! And here's the bloke walking over to hand me the USB stick. Now politely say thank-you, smile modestly on the outside, grin like a maniac on the inside...

And it's a 1Gb. Oh, wow. Thanks. Jeez, have you had a box of these sitting forgotten at the bottom of a cupboard since 2005?"

So yes, my gratitude seems to last like snow under a flamethrower.

The Cavendish is interesting - incandescently prestigous (29 Nobels according to Wikipedia) yet the buildings look remarkably shabby (they're big on damp-stained ceiling tiles and peeling paint). One gets the impression of buildings built cheaply in 1960-something, that have been since continually chopped, altered and added-to as requirements change. Each time done as quickly and cheaply as possible. There's an vague air of "we don't care about appearances, because we don't have to care about apearances."

There are, however, lots of interesting glass cases, filled with aparatus used by varous exceptionally_famous phycists. I assume these were the things the Science Museum didn't want when they were clearing out the person in question's office or lab after death or retirement. They have the nice tradition of having a rows of annual, group photos of the department's research students. Impressively, I was familiar with about 1 in 20 of the names - Cockcroft, Walton, Blackett, Thompson, Watson, Crick, Bragg, Rutherford. If I didn't know the person, I was at least aware of the name in connection with some rule, law or equation.

After it was over, I took a quick wander through the town, mainly popping through those bookshops that are still open, but not buying anything. Then home.
katsmeat: (Thoughtful)
I'm currently doing my best to absorb the contents of two books on British airships in the First World War, though I'm not entirely sure why.

The German Zeppeins are famous/infamous. But the much smaller British ones are only known about by airship geeks, even though several hundred 211 were built. The early ones, like the SS Class, were literally just an airplane, minus wings and tail, slung under a hydrogen gas bag although they quickly got larger and more sophisticated; they were mostly used for anti-U-boat patrols and were quite successful.

I'm just amused to read that ground crews, when working on them, were ordered to sing continually so they would be warned of hydrogen leaks from the change in voice pitch.
katsmeat: (Default)
Our shiny new AR future...

( currently feeling very, very Luddite )

Augmented (hyper)Reality: Domestic Robocop from Keiichi Matsuda on Vimeo.

katsmeat: (Default)
According to the Wikipedia article, a remixed version of Prisencolinensinainciusol (Adriano Celentano's gibberish "English" song) went viral in 2008.

I'd never heard of it, but for some strange reason I've seen about five links to it in the last couple of days. It could be I'm the on-line version of that Inuit, missionary settlement in Northern Canada, which was so isolated they got the Spanish flu about a year after everybody else.

Which is perhaps not a bad thing.

PS... I wants it, I want's it!
katsmeat: (Crazy)

For once, the job centre came up with useful results - a couple of numerical modelling gigs with the British Antarctic Survey in Cam, doing stuff with ice shelves.

I'll ignore that 50%-of-jobs-come-through-personal-networking-and-5%-come-from-replying-to-ads statistic. Which seems to imply that because I've only have a piece of paper, as opposed to a favour-owing bosum buddy in the BAS, I'm screwed before I even start.

Hey ho and all that. At least my quite totally awesuumm Velma Zombie Apocalypse T shirt arrived today.
katsmeat: (Default)
I can't say I have a particular interest in the World War 2, Battle of the Atlantic. Except insofar as it offers an illustration of what happens when one side is initially successful and complacently and rigidly sticks with what it believes works well, and the other side, initially on the back foot, puts desperate effort into research and technical innovation in order to gain an edge, any edge.

Yet I am attracted to the strange - the little nubbin under the extreme edge of the bell curve. The curious career of the U-boat, U-570, one out about 1000 U-boats, offers this.

It failed in it's supposed purpose. The sinister looking U-boat was just as much of a killing machine as the beautiful, iconic Spitfire but this particular one sank nothing during its career. Nobody died directly because of it - either inside it or because of its torpedoes. It indirectly caused the death of one man, although I think his death was really because of the values he held. Or perhaps the values he was forced to hold and a choice he was given that wasn't really a choice. Who can say? It was a long time ago.

The story is also one of blundering, confused, improvisation that somehow seems to work out in the end. Supposedly, it's an endearing British stereotype, but it's one that I like to think is true.

Which is all my way of explaining why I spent time and effort tripling the size of this article.
katsmeat: (Thankful)
Tracks and intensities of all tropical storms...


< loves this >

Hurricane insurance in South America is clearly the business to be in.
katsmeat: (Default)
This will either make you feel

(A) Annoyed because your job is so dull in comprason.
(B) Glad because your job is so dull in comparason.

katsmeat: (Hat)
I spent Christmas Day playing with Hugin - a panorama stitcher; it works quite well.
See under cut for a panorma I took on the Athabasca glacier in Summer 07. It needs a lot of tweaking for the exposure, but I have more important things to be doing right now.

Although you don't quite have the full effect of being there unless, by a staggering coincidence, you have your computer set up in front of a powerful wind machine, connected to as industrial-sized air-chiller. For the freezing Katabatic wind, permanently blowing downhill into the valley.

Read more... )
katsmeat: (Default)
Today, we had the vague plan of going to Bordeaux. SFR wasn't working on account of her USian employers taking Thanksgiving day. A late start, and interesting diversions along the way put an end to that notion. But it is on for Sunday.

Pictures and rambling commentary )
katsmeat: (Thankful)
Breakfast this morning..


Well is does work, sort-of. If a touch chewie.
katsmeat: (Thoughtful)
A reminder...

Partial solar eclipse tomorrow, 8am-10am BST ish. About 20% from the South of England.


Something to watch whilst slurping the coffee and chomping the musuli.
katsmeat: (Bored)
I just had the thought that, allowing for inflation, the cost per Gb of a 1G USB stick is significantly cheaper than blank CD/R's, when I first started buying them.
katsmeat: (Dreamy)
The most obscenely geeky, bizarrely baroque, disturbingly impressive, way of telling the time I've seen in ... I don't know... at least the last week.

katsmeat: (Confused)
Cloudy last night, so no lunar eclipse. :-(

In other news, this Wikipedia category suggests that some Warhammer 40,000 fanboys really ought to get out more.
katsmeat: (Bored)
On Material World, on Radio 4, they mendioned a trick for revealing subtle surface detail in an object. Multiple pictures are combined, each taken with a different, highly oblique, light source to maximise shadow.

I was playing round with that last night instead of working. I can't say it's actually worked very well, at least not as well as I expected, but the picture is interesting.

And yes, I am the kind of person who has a George III Cartwheel twopence lying about. :-/

Read more... )
katsmeat: (Default)
Can I just say that anybody who isn't subscribed to the podcast of In Our Time on Radio 4 - the only current broadcast I can think of that assumed its audience has a brain - should be ashamed of themselves.


Though one night when I was in France, I fell asleep listening to it on my Palm and had a strange dream about encountering a crashing bore who just would not shut up about Socrates.
katsmeat: (Default)
I spent part of Sunday playing with the time-lapse movie feature of the camera I bought to take to Canada - you can just see the trap nearest the camera slowly re-opening.

katsmeat: (lecherous)
So I'm following [livejournal.com profile] the_local_echo and [livejournal.com profile] auntysarah into the exciting world of ambush-predator pets.

There's some work being done on the house right now, so last Monday I had to buy a bag of cement. At the check out, they had some Dionaea muscipula available so of course I had to get one as well.

I bought one ages ago, but it quickly died. Plenty of sunlight and plenty of Brita-filtered water (they hate chlorine and minerals) means this one is currently thriving. Though I'm disappointed it's not caught any bugs yet. I even left it all afternoon on the window-sill of the downstairs loo with the door shut, when a fly got in there.

UPDATE - Googling shows that Brita filters don't cut the mustard and I'll need a supply of rainwater/distilled water
katsmeat: (Windy)
An American M209 military cypher machine...


Aggggggh.... can't afford it... mustn't bid, musn't bid... breath slowly, breath slowly.


katsmeat: (Default)

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