Thought for the Dazed

I've had to give up that Distance Learning course as I was having trouble seeing the teacher.

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Steve Jobs Biography


Steve Jobs was not a particularly nice person by all accounts. I’ve never had much time for folks who are horrible to other people and then claim they do this  “just because they are that way”. But he did make a lot of things. I’ve been working my way through his biography over the last few weeks and it is fascinating.

For me the best bits are at the beginning, when he and Steve Wozniak rode the personal computer wave and built a huge company from nothing. Towards the end the story turns into a succession of product meetings and multi-million dollar deals but it is a great read nonetheless.


The Magic of Backups


What do you do when you lose your files just before the work is due in? Well, in a perfect world you’d just go and get your backup. In an imperfect one (which is were we found one student today) you find that you don’t have a backup of the files that are needed.

The good (and frankly quite amazing) news is that the Computer Services folks are a lot more careful about backups than some students. Turns out that they back up the workstations and student folders every couple of hours or so. Which meant that the chap in question was able to go down to the helpdesk, tell them his username and they were able to restore the missing files. Just in time for the deadline.

I reckon it is probably best not to factor this facility into your working process. But it is jolly nice to know that it is there.


Chilli Con Carne Flambé


Invented a new recipe for tea today. Quite simple really.

Chop a large onion and fry with a small amount of oil. Add some mince and fry that. Then add some garlic, tomato purée, a tin of tomatoes and then (and this is the important bit) leave simmering on the hob for around 45 minutes without stirring while you attempt to interface an RF24L01 Single Chip 2.4GHz Transceiver to an Arduino. Go downstairs and scrape the black bits off the bottom of the pan. Add kidney beans and serve with rice and fervently crossed fingers.

At least it all got eaten.


A Trip to the Dentist

Today it was time for a check-up of the tooth variety. I’ve long since progressed beyond having “good teeth”. Now I settle for “good teeth for my age”. Apparently, if I was 90 years old I’d have “excellent teeth for my age”. Something to look forward to I think.


Micro-Talks and Mega-Bash. And Werewolves


We tried a few new things this year for the Christmas Bash. Firstly we had some micro-talks (thanks to Microsoft for the prizes – above)  from students and staff about things they are working on. Danny Brown started with a talk about contributing to Open Source software, then we had talks about app development for Vulcan Bombers, augmented reality that puts meaning into the countryside and why you should all sign up for Hull Global Gamejam next year. I did an abridged version of my talk about hardware for C4DI which seemed to go OK. At least, the hardware worked….

Then we played Werewolf. Which I’d never done before. With a group of over 30 villagers. And four werewolves. In Lecture Theatre C. It was hilarious. I was the moderator.

I discovered two things very quickly. First thing: I found out who the werewolves were at the start of the game. Second thing: being a moderator is surprisingly hard work. Especially if you keep mistaking werewolves for vampires and asking people who had just been killed by the werewolves if they were a werewolf or not. As if.

I’d taken what I thought was the sensible decision of simplifying the game for the first run by removing some of the character cards. Turns out this was a really bad move, because it made it much harder for the villagers to discover what was going on and react to the nightly attacks. By the end we were down to one villager and one werewolf, with the inevitable and, for the villagers, unhappy outcome.

But a lot of fun was had along the way, with a break for pizza and mince pies in the middle.


There are at least two werewolves in this picture. Can you spot them? (and yes, they do show up on pictures. You are thinking of vampires, which is what I was doing a lot as well…)


Of course we had the bumper wordsearch. Once Adam reminded me to go and get it One of my abiding memories of the event is watching people put down their controllers for the latest generation games console and pick up pens to have a go searching through the letters. (You can have a go here too if you like.)


We even had a winner who wasn’t Simon. so we asked him to present the prize.


There was much boasting with “Braggart”, although I didn’t quite manage to win.

Folks really seemed to appreciate the paper based stuff. I think next semester we will supplement the Team Fortress games afternoons with Werewolf sessions and board games.