Pool night

After work, this afternoon, Christian and I went to Bar H for some Pool and Beer. After a challenging day at work it was nice to chill with some beer and games of Pool. The games of pool were not exactly competition standard.

The first game, Chris sank the black for me. The second game, I returned the favour. The subsequent games could have been better from both sides. It was great to have a few beers and games of pool after work no matter what the final score.

Final score 4:3 to me: Yeeaaaaaahhhhhh!!!!!

 

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Adafruit Adabox005 from Pimoroni

 

I’ve been after one of the adaboxes from Adafruit from some time but getting them shipped to the UK has always been a problem. But Pimoroni stocked some a few weeks ago and I pre-ordered one from them. It arrived yesterday and it was like Christmas at first.

Adafruit is an American company who produce electronics kits for STEM including project ideas and instructions. They do some fantastic work and I have built several of their projects and their guides are always excellent for novices wanting to learn how electronics work.

This box is Adafruit’s latest and cost me £66 including postage. The thing is, you never know what you’ll get until you open it. I carefully unwrapped it and was initially impressed by the tissue paper and overall presentation and packaging.

Below is from Adafruit’s about us page:

“Adafruit was founded in 2005 by MIT hacker & engineer, Limor “Ladyada” Fried. Her goal was to create the best place online for learning electronics and making the best designed products for makers of all ages and skill levels. Adafruit has grown to over 100+ employees in the heart of NYC with a 50,000+ sq ft. factory. Adafruit has expanded offerings to include tools, equipment and electronics that Limor personally selects, tests and approves before going in to the Adafruit store. Limor was the first female engineer on the cover of WIRED magazine, awarded Entrepreneur magazine’s Entrepreneur of the year, and was on the cover of Make: Vol. 57. Ladyada was a founding member of the NYC Industrial Business Advisory Council. Adafruit is ranked #11 in the top 20 USA manufacturing companies and #1 in New York City by Inc. 5000 “fastest growing private companies”. Adafruit is featured in Google’s Economic Impact Report. Limor was named a WHITEHOUSE CHAMPION OF CHANGE in 2016. Adafruit is a 100% woman owned company”

The kit contained everything you need to build a small Raspberry Pi Zero handheld games console. Some online forum users have complained that the project components could be sourced separately from other suppliers for less but overall I was happy with the cost and what I got….. except…. I noticed the enclosed PSU was only suitable for the US and it was not the latest Pi Zero W. The whole idea behind these kits is that everything you need is included but a US PSU does not help. I have emailed Pimoroni asking for the right PSU and am currently awaiting their reply.

I decided to get my students at College today to build the project for me and in total it took about 20 minutes.

The instructions we followed are here

 

And the geeks shall inherit the Earth – is this the future of VR?

Just started reading my new book, “Ready Player One”. Excellent so far!

The book is based on a dystopian future where everyone engages in a virtual reality environment that reminded me of Second Life – perhaps it could be the evolution of second life.

The designer of a Virtual reality software system called OASIS dies and leaves a fortune to the person who solves a complex puzzle and the main character seeks to find the fortune by following clues that only someone with intimate knowledge of pop culture could solve.The whole book is full of references to music, games and pop culture from the 80’s onwards. Its a Geekfest.

So far, we’ve had mention of many of my guilty pleasures, Krull, 80’s arcade games, 80’s home computers like the TRS-80, Commodore 64, Atari 2600, Dungeons & Dragons, Easter Eggs, Monty Python, The Last Starfighter (which is on Sky TV this week!), BBS, modems, Weird Science, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Betamax, Atari 800XL and more. I’m only on chapter 4.

VR has been around for a long time now but has been gaining some ground recently with the likes of HTC Vive and Oculus Rift. People are beginning to see some possibilities of how this technology could change our lives, particularly in areas such as education.

As a lecturer, I can fully see a future where students study from home without having to physically attend a school or college. Think of the advantages. The government could save millions. The students log in and find themselves in a classroom with their peers studying. With VR, they could go on field trips every lesson. Haptic feedback technology is also advancing rapidly now so again to crack VR users would still want some feedback from their environment. haptic gloves and bodysuits could fulfil this. At the moment these are being developed with gaming in mind but could easily be adapted for learning.

In the book, the VR school environments are still interactive lie the real world and have interesting ways of managing behaviour that we cant employ in the physical world.

I will update this post as I read more of the book.

And finally, they are going to make a film out of the book – I cant wait.

A Walk through Slough

Had a great anniversary weekend with lots of indulgences so decided to try to arrest my middle aged spread by walking 6 miles through Slough to work at Langley College. 

I am invigilating GCSE exams today so left my house at about 6.15am to get to work early. It was 13 degrees and cloudy but otherwise dry and pleasant. 

There’s a couple of different routes I could take but today I opted for the one that takes me through Slough town centre as there was some shopping I wanted to pick up en route.

After walking for a couple of miles through the Britwell and Manor Park Estates, I passed through Baylis Park and noticed that all the parks in Slough seem to be getting these outdoor gyms. Great idea.


As you walk through this park you pass the walls of the Baylis House and its grounds, some ducks, a stream and a pond.

I have fond memories as a child when there was a Lido here and you could enjoy paddling on a hot summers day.




As you leave Baylis, you cross a road, past a mosque, under the Main London train line and into Salt Hill Park.

The mosque


Cross the road next to the recycling site walls.


Under the railway tunnel. Often has people smoking cannabis. The council have now erected CCTV to monitor the tunnel but it doesn’t seem to stop people.


Into Salt Hill Park with its outdoor gym, cafe, bowling alley and tennis courts.



As I left Salt Hill Park, I joined the A4 and walked past the old Church, the new curve building and through the Town Centre until I reached the Sainsbury’s where I stopped to pick up some Jack Daniels (on offer at £16 for 70cl) and some bananas for breakfast. Another mile and half along Langley road and I arrived at the College at about 8.00 am. 12800 steps in all. Not a bad way to start Monday morning.

Retro Revival 2017 Event 20/21st May

Another year at the Retro Revival Event which had moved this year to Banks’s Stadium, Bescot Crescent, Walsall, WS1 4SA.

When we arrived we were directed to a car park allocated for Revival ticket holders which was useful as the football stadium was busy with a car boot sale/market. Unfortunately my friends could not make it with us and despite trying to give their spare tickets away we were unable to make use of them.

After a short wait in a queue, we were in and enjoying hundreds of arcade machines and retro consoles most which were set to freeplay.

The venue had a bar, small canteen and stalls selling lots of retro goodies.

After a coupe of hours of retro nostalgia, we also headed out to the market and bought some goodies before going home.

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