Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Eurotrip 2012: Preikestolen

I said I would do some articles on the places that we plan to visit during the epic trip around Europe next summer, and this is a continuation of a large collection of posts.


Preikestolen


Wow. This cliff is awesome, mainly because of the almost perfectly square surface on top. It's 604 metres (1982 feet) above the Lysefjorden (the lake, or fjord), in Forsand, Ryfylke, Norway. 


In English, the name translates to 'Preacher's Pulpit'.



Visitors and tourists have to hike about 2.4 miles to get to the cliff, and it is all included as part of a tourist attraction. Infact, it is the most visited natural attraction in Norway.



As you can see, it's a pretty good place for base-jumping! I would like to look over the edge, and then if I'm feeling brave enough, I want to get a photo on the boulder:

Craaaaaazy mofos. I must do this too.

Apparently, the best season to hike the trail and make your way to the clifftop is from April to October, and We'll be there at the end of June - smack bang in the middle. Can't wait for this one.


Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Eurotrip 2012: La Tomatina

I said I would do some articles on the places that we plan to visit during the epic trip around Europe next summer, so let's start off with an amazing festival in Valencia, Spain.


La Tomatina

A festival where participants throw tomatoes at each other!? Awesome. It is always held on the last Wednesday in August in the town of Bu├▒ol, Valencia.


It just so happens that we'll be travelling through Spain in the last week of August. It was complete coincidence too. I had no idea what time of year that La Tomatina took place, and when I stumbled across it again recently and saw the date, an idea began to form in my head...


An idea where me and my best friends in the world, surrounded by thousands of people, become French fries personified - and covered in ketchup. Pretty weird really, considering that I prefer mayonnaise on my chips.



I'm going to be pretty scared to get my camera out to take photos when I'm there, just in case it gets drenched in tomato.

Monday, June 06, 2011

An interesting sentiment.

When the first living thing existed,
I was there waiting.

When the last living thing dies,
My job will be finished.

I'll put the chairs on the tables,
Turn out the lights,
And lock the universe,
Behind me as I leave.

- Death

Monday, May 30, 2011

Exams are over, time to graduate!

As I mentioned in my 2 down, 2 to go post, I had 2 more exams to do: Small Real-Time Systems and Intelligent Robotics.

SRTS was on Thursday morning and it went well; I could answer almost every question and grabbed as many marks as I could.

Intelligent Robotics was Friday afternoon, so I didn't have much prep. time for that one! I loved it. I actually loved an exam - what the hell is wrong with me!? For an exam to be that stress-free, and to be my last exam... I don't know - I just had the biggest smile on my face afterwards. - I raped demolished it, let's just put it that way.


A few commenters were wondering what the Intelligent Robotics exam entailed;

  • Movement and Locomotion
  • Autonomy
  • Sensors and Perception
  • Robotic Manipulator Arms
  • Control Paradigms
  • Reactive & Deliberative Systems
  • Biologically Inspired Robots
  • Accuracy, Precision and Repeatability.
Here's an example of a biologically inspired robot, Whegs II - which is based on a cockroach:


Needless to say, after that exam, I went straight out to a few bars and gave my brain cells a good send off for all the hard work they've been through.

Graduation in July.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Exams: 2 down, 2 to go.

My first exam was last Monday and was on Professional Issues in Software Engineering. Fun. It went really well and I already got a high mark in the assignment which counts for 50% of the module.

Today I had my 100% exam paper on Internet Services Administration and I did... okay. For me, it's the hardest module of the four because the module covers a load of topics...

Email Services, Naming and Directory Services, File Storage, Server Admin, Services and Process Management, System startup/shutdown, Remote Access, Management of Webservers, Current and Future Issues, File Services (Backup, Support and Restoration), Network Security, User Requirements,  Cryptography, Steganography, Firewalls and Regulations

...all in one exam.

On Thursday I have my 100% Small Real-Time Systems exam, and Friday afternoon I have my Intelligent Robotics exam. I've already done well enough in my previous semester to pass my total degree, it's just a case of striving to get the most marks that I can.

I'll be honest - I wasn't expecting to have to do much of the above content considering that my degree is supposed to be about Vision, Visualisations, Graphics and Games - but that's computer science for you.


After Friday... I'm done. Bliss.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Let there be light...

Referring back to this post about the projectors involved in the whole man cave idea, these are the beauties being tested out before we move into the new house:

Mr. Bean on the big screen!
My dad has Macular Dystrophy and uses a screen magnifier.

Otherwise the sofa wouldn't be this close to the picture.


The 'design'... Hopefully we'll see it through to fruition!

Makes a 50" screen look pretty small in comparison.

We move into the new house on the 1st of July and work on the extension starts about a month later. It's still completely undecided what we're going to do with the projectors and which rooms to put them in.

I'll be updating you guys with news about the house when and as it happens :)

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Eurotrip 2012

This is something that I'm looking forward to so immensely that every time I think about it, I splooge a little.

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Just a heads up, Paint is not better than Google maps for route planning.
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Six of us plan to make the journey in a motorhome/camper van. Heading north first of all and sweeping the Mediterranean on the way back. It's about 11,000 miles (17,600 km) and we visit 31 countries: 
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UK, France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Holland, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Russia, Poland, Czech, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Serbia & Montenegro, Bulgaria, Greece, Albania, Macedonia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Croatia, Slovenia, Italy, Switzerland and Spain.
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It would be a lot easier to travel by train but with an InterRail pass you get a lot less freedom. With the camper van and bicycles, we can go pretty much where we like!
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I'll probably update the blog in the future with places that we're going to visit; the Plitvice lakes, the Verzasca dam, the Millau viaduct etc.
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Saturday, May 21, 2011

Project Aura

I've started getting loads fitter over the past year because of the hardcore cardio training involved in doing P90X. After seeing a friend posting his bike rides on Facebook with some random training app, I decided that I'd start incorporating some cycling in my daily routine. We have an exercise bike in the gym now after buying it off of my grandparents. I did 2km on it and felt pretty tired (I'd just woken up and not had breakfast!), so I'm going to train up and do some 10-20km rides this summer on my dad's racing bike.

I found out about Project Aura, and I now I really want it for the bike as riding in the evening will be much better because of reduced road traffic.



Obviously, I'll need to add front and back lights too. The cool thing is that it can change from red to purple to white depending on how fast the wheels are going.

Need/Want!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Mini-ramp

A friend of mine recently dug up some old photos of when we built a mini-ramp in my back garden. A mini-ramp is basically a much smaller and shallower version of the vert ramps that you see in competitions. They're great for learning basic tricks, as well as getting used to the transition from flat ground to steep ramp.

3 of us each shelled out £100($162) towards this beauty and it lasted us about 2-3 years. Aged between 12-16 at the time, it was a lot of money and a rather large commitment. We also had to get permission from my dad. He was on holiday at the time, so I rang and asked him if we could build it. He quite happily agreed (he skated in his youth too), but was totally shocked when he came home as he wasn't expecting a ramp as big and as well-made as this.

The 'vertebrae' of the ramp, made from 2x4s.

After 2 days and spending approximately 24 hours total working on it, all of the woodwork was done. This was great going, but we still needed the metal coping as the icing on the cake.


There was a construction site about a mile up the road where they were building some new flats. I suggested we head up there to see if they could spare us a scaffolding pole. Turns out that they were really nice guys and they gave us a 12ft pole!

We walked into town and took the pole to the nearest Jewsons, which is a building merchant company, to see if we could get the pole cut there. One of the men behind the counter said he'd pop outside and cut it for free! People can be so damn awesome sometimes. He used a diamond-tipped circular saw to slice the scaffold pole in half and we walked home with our two 6ft coping rails!

I then drilled holes in the rails so we could screw them securely into the wood and voila:



That's all well and good to be able to skate on it in the daytime, but we didn't want to stop just because the sun was going down...

Nightlight!
We actually made a load of ramps and rails and various obstacles over the course of our skating lifetime. Here's a kicker that we made with some scrap wood, and a rail that my dad welded from the legs of a classroom table:


Nostalgia can be a bitch sometimes.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

300 Followers!

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Awesome, thanks guys!
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Here's a picture of me showing my appreciation!
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Hint: I'm not the old guy in the background.
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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Diving to the centre of the earth?

I recently saw an article on Digg about a British diver venturing in between two tectonic plates. Considering all the tsunami talk in recent weeks, I thought that it would make an interesting blog post.


Alex Mustard, a 36 year old diver from Southampton, dived 80ft into the crevice between the North American and Eurasian plates near Iceland to capture these awesome photos.


The clarity of the water is amazing, and yes - it's freshwater apparently.


I've never been scuba diving, but it's something that I'd love to do in the future. Definitely got to visit this place, and the Great Barrier Reef too. I have this weird determination to visit at least 100 countries, go skydiving, scuba diving, and some other awesome things in my lifetime.


This looks like it just made the list...

Monday, May 09, 2011

Photos of Aberystwyth...

I've been going to university in Aberystwyth for four years now and, despite the fact that I can't wait to go back home, it is a really nice place to live. It's a typical British seaside town, with average beaches, seagulls, and a big promenade.
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It looks much nicer on a sunny day, and I have photos to prove it, but for now I will upload some photos I took on a... not-so-nice day:
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 Also, I finished my dissertation and handed it in. It was the sole reason for the lack of updates recently, and it was pretty difficult to get it in a state that I was happy with due to my short attention span, but I managed. 63 pages, 14,000 words.
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But hey, just because I have a short attention span, doesn't mean I


Monday, May 02, 2011

Amateur Photoshoot...

Last summer, I invited a few friends round with the premise that I could take some photos of them and test out my camera and a fairly basic amateur lighting setup.

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Here are the results, none of which have been altered from the original take:
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I'm not a professional photographer, I could barely be considered an amateur, and despite Carl's (the one with the tattoos) great modelling skills, these guys aren't professional models either, haha!

I may try seeing what I can do with them in photoshop (or lightroom - thanks ed) at some point, but for now - back to my dissertation :(