Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Running with mobiles

A while ago now I rashly agreed to take part in a relay Marathon with some friends so, at the beginning of May we ran away for a few days to do that, in Geneva of all places! Our weekend also involved a trip the day before the marathon to the Large Hadron Collider at CERN  - we weren't running around in it -  where a very nice Dr Dave took five of us mature ladies round in very orange hard hats so we could ooh and aah at the size of everything and try and understand what he was saying about banging things together to make particles. Or possibly not particles, I can’t quite remember. Two of our party are physics graduates so they understood it all, and one used to work with him there so had a complete head start. At the time, Dr Dave made sense, and I liked his story that the best explanation of their experiment is that they are banging two helicopters together to make a dinosaur. To be honest, I can't really remember what that meant - I think it was that they are bashing new things together to find traces of old things. I did feel a bit like I'd been bashed about a bit after two nights in a shared room in a Youth Hostel and almost a 5k run in a slightly damp Geneva.
 So it was a weekend of Physics and Physical Exercise - my school teachers would never have believed it, and I can hardly.
It took about a week for my thighs to feel normal again – though the strange twinging could also have had something to do with walking around a wet city in damp jeans on the day we arrived, it was probably because I ran faster than normal, not wanting to let the team down. I think we came 353 out of 356 relay teams, and what was lovely was that the others waited for me 400 metres before the finish line so we could run over it together. 

It was great fun, and we even appear for a split second in the official video of the 2015 Geneva marathon! I also like to believe that my running app is correct when it says I ran further than my official race/leg time.

There is now talk of signing up for another relay between Nice and Cannes!

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Where did I put that idea?

So little activity on here, too much going on elsewhere!
This year I've been doing bits and pieces of writing elsewhere, some of it paid, some just for me me me, and have been sorely neglecting this. Partly because I need to consolidate the multitude of blogs and sites that I have got going, and work out which subjects/projects to prioritise - there's stuff going on that I don't want to publish yet, and I need to decide where to put my energies.
Having said that, I just took over the local gransnet site so am now the editor for Bristol and its environs. This will hopefully involve coffee sessions and occasional cakes, as well as drumming up more activity on the site - the listings are woefully empty at the moment and the forums seem a little dormant, so I am going to focus my energies there for a while.
Of course, if I stumble across anything about mature people and technologies that only fits here then I will share it here. Which reminds me, I saw a news item on local tv about Praminda Caleb-Solly's project to develop robots to help people with dementia, and support their carers. There's a bit more about the Bristol Robotic Lab's Assisted Living ideas here

I will be back

Friday, 10 January 2014

what can I say?

I've been busy. It was Xmas. People visited, hordes of them. I've bookmarked lots of interesting things to share and hopefully will get round to writing something before jan 2015

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Thunderclaps and Phonebloks

This is a lovely idea: Phonebloks
In an attempt to stem the tide of electronic waste, a guy  in the Netherlands called Dave Hakkens has developed the idea of a phone that is made up of optional modular blocks. This allows the user to pick and choose the different elements that are important to them in a mobile device e.g. a better camera, a larger battery and so on. If any of the elements break then they can be replaced without having to throw the whole phone away. As someone who recently had to dump a rather nice camera aka an HTC Incredible Android phone because something went wrong with one part of the phone and it started overheating ( I shoved the phone in my bra while I ran the race for life and it was a hot day) I can see the point of a device that allows me to unscrew and remove an offending part and simply snap in another. There's a nifty little video that gets the idea across nicely on the website.
Dave wants people to support the Phonebloks project by adding their names to a list of people who will spread the idea all at the same time via a social media thunderclap e.g. set it up to automatically tweet from everyones account at once in a 'thunderclap' of noise about the idea.
Great idea ~ the thunderclap as well as the Phoneblok.
A lot of people have been sharing the link, liking the idea of a phone that is not tied to one supplier or network or manufacturer. I'll be very interested to follow its progress. I do vaguely remember in the late 80s or early 90s, when all computing devices were said to be heading for convergence with cooperation between the hardware and software and mac will talk to pc and vice versa and all will be seamless and painless. Still waiting for that to happen too. So it will be great if different partners work together to realise this in some way and then extend the idea to other appliances that fill the land.

I would have shared the Phoneblok idea when I first saw it but it took me 'til now to get over being more than slightly irritated  by the promotional video. So, to get it off my Android-phone-killing-chest, here's a little plea to those 'guys' who make these promos:

Dear Boys,
Next time you are asked to create a video about new technologies, remember that women make up more than half the population of the world. I can't be bothered to work out the percentage of women in your video but it's low. In the real world, women are Entrepreneurs, Designers, CEOs, Developers, Investors and Researchers. And enjoy taking photographs. Although I wouldn't know that from looking at your vision of who will come together to create the future Phoneblok world:

Ok, so you did have one female character using your technology. Maybe you thought you were being good guys by including a woman in your vision of the future, but why make her an elderly lady in a rocking chair who is used to illustrate the idea that there are those who need to keep their Phoneblok simple? Even if you wanted to make her a user rather than creator she could have been the photographer. Or anything. She may be hard of hearing but she could be a retired rocket scientist.
A Granny

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Such a long time since I skyped with the Grandbabies, but today I managed to catch up with them to find out how their Fourth Birthday Party went yesterday. The conversation consisted of showing me toys, rolling around on the floor, smacking the computer and running away, and then my favourite, kissing the screen when they said goodbye.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

XX Game Jam

In October 2012 I took part in my first game jam, where teams of artists, programmers, game designers, musicians etc dash to create a computer game within a set time, often with people they have never worked with before. This particular game jam was special in that it was super fast ~ we only had 24 hours to create our game or concept and also it was the first ever XX Game Jam ~ only women participating, most of them strangers to each other. 
We were quite quiet to start with, and stayed relatively quiet as we split off into our groups to start working hard on our games.
The theme we were all given was Clockwork ~ very now, very steampunk, and very open to interpretation in different ways, as evidenced by the different games that resulted.

Our small team of three had never met before and consisted of  Kimmi Gan, programmer  and Teri Mardel  - a games designer
We also had some input from Fiona French, who teaches Game design, and got us to stop long enough to plan what we were doing and work out how much was feasible to achieve in 24 hours, if we were intending to sleep at all.
So we set to  and developed a game which involved Ada Lovelace jumping up and down to release cogs that bounced onto a crocodile (a ticking crocodile, like the one in Peter Pan that has swallowed a clock).
The resulting game got simpler and simpler from our initial ideas of snapping jaws and teeth flying out, but we were pleased with our effort, which Teri labelled:  ”Tick Tock Terror”.
We didn’t win the game jam, but we did get a special mention for the aesthetics of our game, which pleased me, as the ahem, Artist (aw, shucks). I am assured this was not just because our main character was Ada Lovelace in a crinoline holding a spanner or that we incorporated Babbage’s engine as our background ~ it was because it was already playable, and albeit seemingly simple, Tick Tock Terror is surprisingly tricky.

The games from the jam will be online in early 2013 so you can have a go. There are some links below to the XX game jam supporters and also some of the press coverage. 

Organised by the wonderful Debbie Rawlings at Auroch Digital, the game jam was hosted by Mind Candy , creators of Moshi Monsters, in their outrageously vibrant and overstimulating offices in London.

You can find more on the XX Game Jam via these links, some with more irritating titles than others:

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Laptop saga

It's back, finally. The laptop went off to the insurer's preferred fixer and came back ten days later (with a new screen, shiny!) only to frustrate me for 24 hours of attempting to reload all the things I had taken off it. It said it was attached to my wireless network, but was taking about ten minutes to access a webpage. And I made several attempts to get Migration Manager working to transfer between imac and macair.
I resisted booting equipment around the room. I mean kicking. I rebooted quite a lot.
In the end I phoned the insurer who agreed I could take the laptop to the place I had wanted to take it to in the first place - Western Computer near Temple Meads in Bristol. There, they diagnosed that whoever had fitted the new screen had damaged one of the two aerials, so it needed a new screen. And now I have my laptop back and it's working. Migration Manager took about three hours but everything seems to be there, and I have no excuse for not writing. Apart from the fact that I am meant to be tidying up for Xmas visitors.