Make your corporate video stand out!

March 29th, 2014

It could be something awesome like this:

Thanks to Mark Littlewood for the link

A peek at Pico

December 22nd, 2013

Many of you will know that I’m currently spending one day a week in the University Computer Lab helping my pal Frank Stajano with a project called ‘Pico’. We’ve been making a little introduction movie, which has been a great opportunity for me to get some more practice shooting video with my Canon 6D, and learning the new version of Final Cut Pro.

We plan to refine it a bit in the New Year, but here it is for anyone who’s curious about what we’re doing:

Understanding your DSLR

August 11th, 2013

I always enjoy Jeff Cable’s photography tutorials. Here’s a good talk to recommend if you know somebody who has just got a DSLR, or is wondering about getting one. What kind of things can you do with it, and what do you need to know about it, if you’re used to a fully-automatic point-and-shoot?

Remember that these days you may need to click the ‘YouTube’ logo and watch it there if you want to do so in full-screen mode.

A passionate Patrick Stewart

June 1st, 2013

This is all over the social networks this morning, and for good reason. Patrick Stewart is asked what he’s most proud of outside his acting career… Worth watching through to the end.

Link here if the embedded version doesn’t show for you!

Wait a minute, Mr Postman

April 14th, 2013

My friend Rob Berwick sent me a kind gift of a Blinkstick. Here‘s an example of what you can do with it, in this case, by plugging it into a Raspberry Pi.

You can get the Blinkstick as a kit, and solder it together yourself (which isn’t difficult) or, for a few quid more, get it ready-assembled.

Some links to other things mentioned in the video:

Low-friction paperless workflow

March 3rd, 2013

I’ve been trying to shift much more of the paperwork in my life into the digital world, but I was very keen that filing a bit of paper electronically should be as easy as putting it in a folder in the filing cabinet. “Wouldn’t it be nice”, I thought, “if the only thing I had to do was type a name or a few keywords and everything else happened automatically?” So I built a system which did just that.

This video describes in some detail how the script is set up. You may want to use the full-screen and HD options to make things more readable. If you’re less interested in the details and would just like to see it in action, watch the first couple of minutes and then skip to about 13:30.

One thing I don’t talk about in the video is the fact that Hazel rules can also look at the contents of the file. So, once the document has been OCRed, the automatic filing can happen based on words that actually occur on the paper — it might detect your car’s registration number (licence plate), for example, in a document and know to file that under ‘car stuff’ — which I think is very cool.

Some further links:

Inventing on Principle

February 24th, 2013

This is an interesting and unusual talk, given about a year ago at a Canadian software engineering conference. I’d seen it before, but a friend reminded me of it recently (thanks, Aideen!) so I’ve just watched it again.

Bret Victor starts by talking about new ways to design software, and finishes with some suggestions on how to live your life. This is dangerous, because you may only find him credible on one of these points, and one could perhaps argue that the one-hour talk would be better delivered as two half-hour talks. And the first couple of minutes, delivered in his slow, careful style in a badly-lit brown room, don’t jump out and grab you. However, I think he pulls it off, and it certainly has the merit of being very different from your typical software-engineering talk.

Recommended.

No Troubled Thoughts

January 9th, 2013

One of the records that was regularly played in my childhood home was a collection of sketches by the wonderful Joyce Grenfell. This was a favourite, and though I only ever knew it as audio, the place to find such things nowadays is of course YouTube.

 

 

 

An Italian telling people not to talk so much?

December 3rd, 2012

It’s almost too easy to find inspiring TED talks, so I don’t often post them here now, but this one particularly attracted me.

Ernesto Sirolli manages to give some great advice on aid (which is also relevant in the developed world) and on high-tech entrepreneurship (which is also relevant in the developing world). To do both of these in such an amusing and impassioned way, in just 15 mins, is sheer brilliance.

(Very nicely filmed, too)

The New Pointillism?

October 1st, 2012

How can you take a year and a half to make a 3-minute music video? Like this:

It’s even more amazing when you know how they made it. There are no green-screens here, and every frame is created by hand…

This has been out for a while, of course, but old people like me have just discovered it. (Old people like me might also be reminded of Peter Gabriel’s ‘Sledgehammer’ video, which was pretty amazing a quarter of a century ago…)

Jump!

September 26th, 2012

Lots of people seemed to like the Perpetuum Jazzile video in my last post, so here’s another.

Man, these guys are good! Check back here for one more tomorrow…

Using Little Computers to control Big Computers

August 21st, 2012

Here’s my latest Raspberry Pi-based experiment: the CloudSwitch.

I don’t discuss the software in the video, but the fun thing is that the Pi isn’t dependent on some intermediate server – it’s using the boto module for Python to manage the AWS resources directly.

I decided to build the app slightly differently from the way I would normally approach a little project like this. I knew that, even for this very simple system, I would have several inputs and outputs of various kinds, some of them with big delays, and I wanted to make sure that timing hiccups or race conditions didn’t ever leave the lights displaying something that didn’t represent reality.

So this is only a single python file, but it runs several threads – one that looks for button presses, one that monitors and controls the Amazon server, and one that handles the lights – including flashing them in various patterns. They interact with the main thread using ZeroMQ messages, which is a lovely way to do inter-thread communications without all that nasty messing about with semaphores and mutexes.

Update: Here’s the very simple circuit diagram. The illuminated buttons I used have LEDs which take a little more power than the Raspberry Pi can really drive, so I put a couple of NPN transistors in there. It really doesn’t matter too much what they are – I used the 2N3904.