7 March 2016
23 February 2014
I realized this weekend that I wasn’t keeping track of my race results, so I decided to dig them up.
The exercise made me realize that there are a whole slew of life events that would be nice to log, as a memory aid, but I have yet to find a product that makes it easy. Facebook Timeline is close to being that product, and I tried to use it for a while. But it’s too much of a black-hole and I kept forgetting to keep it up to date.
What I want is something that sucks in Foursquare, TripIt, Strava, and Google Calendar; does some smart filtering and aggregation; and provides a super easy mechanism for annotating events. Then allows for nice visualizations and filtering of past events.
27 December 2012
For some time I’ve been interested in the concept of “smart cropping”. While there have been lots of articles about various approaches used, most are relatively abstract. So in order to better understand the techniques I decided to use Christmas down-time to experiment myself.
I wrote two little toy-scripts that use entropy to calculate the interestingness of parts of the image. It was also an excuse to play with <canvas>, to do all the processing on the client.
18 November 2012
It has started to feel weird, still having a blog.
These days, if I have something quick to share I am most likely to post it on Google+. For all its criticisms I think it is a great product, and because many of my friends use it (googlers *cough*), it works really well for me.
The chronological, diary-style format of a blog has always felt a bit forced to me, and I am often left feeling guilty that I haven’t posted in months. This is one of the reasons I am excited to be working on Medium. And if I have something longer to write I will probably write it there in the future.
So where does that leave this site?
I think it becomes an aggregator for my online presence. If for no one else’s consumption than my own and my family’s.
I recently hooked up If-This-Then-That to pipe my Instagram posts here and today I wrote a little node server that will allow me to do the same for my public G+ posts. It’ll be interesting to see how it turns out, but I figure few enough people read this that it’s worth trying.
10 February 2012
On a recent visit to my parents in England I found my very first point-and-shoot, a gift from my Grandma for my 5th birthday. It was all crusted up with battery acid, but still had a film in. I of course had it processed and was surprised to find six photos from our 1990 family trip to Venice.
The photos are bleached out, burnt, or double-exposed, but seem rather apropos in this era of Instagram and the burgeoning cult of lo-fi.
12 December 2010
It’s a bit late to do a 30-before-30, but I still like the idea of setting some resolutions for the coming year. So here goes:
· Survive March’s 5-day heli-skiing trip to Alaska. (80,000ft of vertical!)
· Do another half-marathon.
· Get a sub 2:20 time on the Olympic course at Wildflower (1.5km, 40km, 10km).
· Finish the Silicon Valley Long Course Triathlon (1-miles, 56-miles, 9-miles).
· Renew sky diving certs and do at least 15 jumps.
· Go on holiday somewhere warm… with beaches and scuba diving.
24 June 2009
So it looks like next week I’ll be getting an additional room mate, check out her blog at http://macpup.net.
29 May 2009
I just moved my site over to a new simplified model, getting rid of my crazy custom CMS system and moving the blog to wordpress. If you follow this in an RSS reader, sorry for spamming you with a bunch of old posts.
31 March 2008
1 February 2008
I’ve finally decided to start using a photo hosting service, instead of using my own site. I do prefer the idea of keeping all my photos here, but in recent months I haven’t been able to find the time to build the features I want, such as tagging, comments, geo-coding, and uploading software.
I looked at both Google’s own PicasaWeb and Flickr. While I prefer Picasa for browsing photos I really like the over all aesthetics of Flickr, and the organizational tools. So I went with the latter and have started with my photos from Christmas in England.
30 October 2007
Man, we just had the biggest quake I’ve experienced yet. 5.6 near San Jose less than 10 miles away. I’m working late in Mountain View, and the buildings are pretty good. Hope SF is ok…
Update: All is well. My colleagues who grew up on the west coast ensure me that its not worth worrying about until things start falling over and breaking.
20 July 2007
I’ve been living in the bay area for over 18-months now and so far haven’t noticed an earthquake. Last night I was woken up by my entire house shaking, for what seemed like a very long time. It turns out there was a magnitude 4.2 quake, last night in Oakland. I think the shake was amplified by being 3-stories up in a wooden building. Here’s hoping the "big-one" occurs after I’ve left the Bay Area — or when I’m on holiday.
1 May 2007
27 August 2006
During the week I tend to eat 3 (or 2.5) good and healthy meals a day at work, this means I generally have little or no food in my apartment. At weekends I prefer to eat out with friends, but when no one’s around then my eating habits kind of suck. My diet this weekend, for example, has constituted of:
– Cheese-bread roll
– 4 taquitos
– Green salad
– Half a plate of very oily chips at Hollister airport cafe
– 1/4 pack of horrid beef jerky
– Bowl of jelly worms at the office while finishing a prototype
– Then to drink: several pints of water, 2 cans of diet-cherry-vanilla Dr. Pepper, 2 pints of Stella, 1 Irish Car Bomb, 2 Redbull and Southern Comfort, shot of Jagermeister, 3 Corona, more water, 1 litre of diet coke, a can of rockstar, a bottle of fruit juice, 4 probiotic thingamies, water, Diet Root Beer
I stopped in at the office on the way back from sky diving to finish up some work, so I’m now eating left over salad and pizza from some random event earlier in the day. When I’ve finished here I have to drive back to SF, only to come back in less than 12 hours.
8 June 2006
Lat weekend I did my 6th AFF lesson and was cleared for solo. I then proceeded to jump out of a plane at 15,000 feet… completely alone. The previous 2 lessons had been with one instructor who basically hovers near you as you do excersises and makes sure you’re ok. It was so different being out there on your own, just falling with no one around. I’m now working towards my A-Licence, which involves a lot of self-study and getting advice from experienced jumpers.
On a completely different topic: I’ll be returning to England at the beginning of August for my cousin’s wedding. I’m planning on working from Google’s London office for 2 weeks, then spending the 3 weekends seeing friends and family. If you are around and want to meet up please get in touch, especially since a lot of my contact details are out of date or were lost in a hard drive crash.
18 May 2006
It is bike-to-work day today, so I decided to join a group of cyclists riding down to Google from San Francisco.
The ride is 40+ miles and takes you down the edge of the bay, past the airports and industrial estates to Palo Alto and then over to Mountain View. Everyone else was on road bikes, so it was tough for me to keep up. Pretty much the whole way I felt like I was flat out in top gear, and if they’d gone any faster I just wouldn’t have been able to maintain the speed.
But I made it and the only things that are really hurting are my arse (I need cycling shorts) and my back (to make it even harder for myself I had a back pack).
Right, off to get a much needed shower.
1 May 2006
I’ve been working in the states for 6-months now. Which is crazy. This is the longest I’ve been outside the UK in one go. Things are still good, though it seems I suffer from hay fever in California too :(
Things I’ve done in the last few weeks:
– Visited JJ in Whistler, British Columbia, for 4 days snowboarding
– Seen Blackalicious play
– Seen Yeah Yeah Yeahs at The Warfield in San Francisco
– Jumped out of a plane for the third time (Category C1 sky dive)
– Read The United States of Europe
– Worked a lot
26 March 2006
Ever since I first heard about sky diving I’ve wanted to do it.
As some of you will know I am a bit of an adrenaline junkie, and the thought of falling towards Earth always seemed like the ultimate thrill. After watching the 90s films Drop Zone, Terminal Velocity and Point Break; I also liked the idea of the community surrounding the sport (obviously without the crime part). But it was so expensive to learn in the UK, and I just never trusted the weather.
So this morning, I got up at 6am and drove the 100 miles to Hollister, for the fifth time. I had done the ground training a few weeks ago, and every trip up until today has ended with California’s changeable weather messing things up: rain, too much cloud, or strong winds. But as I drove down, I knew today was the day; blue skies baby!
And yes, today I finally got to jump! Twice!!
For my first jump I went up in a small Cessna that looked like it was held together with duct tape. As we climbed I repeatedly ran through the jump in my head; the instructors drilling me on various aspects of the jump. We reached 12,000 feet and one of my instructors opened the door, the cold air rushed in and took my breath away. The first instructor climbed out, I followed him and hung on under the wing; one foot on the wheel; check-in to the left; check-out to the right; look at the prop; out, in, out, and I was free-falling. After an unknown amount of time I leveled out and could see the snowy mountains on the horizon. Check the altitude, eye contact with first instructor — Friday — and wait for thumbs up, same with second instructor — Adam — thumbs up. Three practice pulls. Then wait.
I spaced out here for a few seconds and just stared at the ground rushing up, feeling the wind against my body. It felt so good. Then: oh yeah, check altitude. 8000ft; 7000ft; lock on; 6.5; 6.2; 6.1; 6000ft. Check with instructors; wave off; and pull.
Friday and Adam then disappeared off towards the Earth and I looked up to see my parachute un-folding. No problems. Wicked. I then played around with the parachute for a while as I approached the holding area. Turns and stalls. So much fun. Then at 1000ft I started my final approach being guided in via radio. The wind was low so I came in quite fast. I flared a little too early and dropped the last few feet pretty quickly. But I did a PLF and rolled out on to my feet. Hell yeah!
My second jump was just as cool. It was in the bigger plane and I messed up the exit. The three of us tumbled for a while and when I leveled off Friday was quite a way off to my left. But as I was trained to do, I carried on with just Adam; did my practice pulls; then Friday was back. I then tried the flying forward thing, pretty cool. Rotate left and rotate right. Nice. I then had a couple of thousand feet to chill and checkout the scenery. Everything was so beautiful up there and time was slower the second time round so I could appreciate it more. Snowy mountains, green hills, forests, and sea. I love California.
Again, lock on to the altimeter at 7000 ft, pull at 6000. Watched Adam and Friday plummeting 4000 more feet. Canopy all ok and proceed to land as before. I was a bit more sheepish on the ground this time, after my dodgy exit, but the guys were cool about it and said it was all fine.
I’m going to be heading back in a couple of weeks for my next fix. If you’re wanting to learn to sky dive Hollister seems to be a cool place to do it, every one is super nice and friendly.
Blue skies! :)
19 February 2006
Yesterday I finally got round to buying a bike and today I took it for a spin: a 20 mile ride through Golden Gate Park, around the coast, over the bridge and then back through the city.
Overall, San Francisco is a really bike friendly city and biking seems a good way to see the sights; I saw loads of cool things I haven’t seen yet, being able to cover way more distance than staying on foot, and avoiding the horrible SF parking.
I sketched out the route on Google Earth, but I think I’m gonna get me a GPS to keep a better visual diary of where I’ve been.
(Oh, and I old fell off once getting used to the new click in pedals; injuries limited to my ego.)
14 December 2005
There have been a few of us with birthdays recently and Monday saw my first as a resident of the United States. My birthday began as Aaron’s ended and a bunch of us celebrated the switch with tequila and pints of Stella at a "dive bar" in the Mission District. Things went down hill rapidly and we all crawled into work on Monday nursing hangovers.
Apart from not celebrating birthdays on a week night here are some things I want to do/achieve next year:
– Travel to Hawaii
– Get a good first aid qualification
– Firmly find my feet at Google and find a super-cool project where I can really make an impact
– Learn to sky-dive when Laura visits
– Spend a weekend in Las Vegas
– Visit JJ et al. in Canada
– Drive down the Californian coast
– Climb in Yosemite
I’m just not sure when I’ll find time for it all. For now I will be busily working, and my family is coming to visit within a week for Christmas and New Year, so I will be spending time with them and exploring California a little more.
6 December 2005
I’m pretty certain my accent hasn’t changed, but even my internal monologues are featuring the words "like" and "totally" way more than they should! Dagnamit.
4 December 2005
It is crazy to think I’ve been here 6 weeks already! Time is flying. It doesn’t seem long ago that it was summer and I was diving in the Caribbean.
Last Friday night was the Google Holiday Party. It was pretty nuts. Hosted in a huge warehouse on a pier in downtown SF, the theme was Google Air. When we arrived we passed through a pseudo-check-in system, guided by "stewardesses", then once inside we had access to a number of huge rooms. Each room represented a different location; there was Bombay’s Bazaar, Google McDougal’s Irish Pub, Tokyo’s Bento Box, Plaza do Brazil, and (my favourite of course) London’s Underground. Each room had its own food, music, activities and decorations pertaining to the theme. So Ireland had ham sandwiches and real chips (not fries), pool and darts. Japan had sushi and karaoke. London Underground was a dance club in "Baker Station", etc. etc. It was pretty damn cool. It finished at 12 then we went to an after party. I got back around 3 in morning, but then was woken at 7 by pneumatic drills outside my window — headache!
This is my first proper weekend in my apartment, it’s a hell of a relief to have found somewhere to live and to be settling in properly. The next month proves to be very busy in and out of work. I’m not going to mention the work reasons, but outside there are a whole host of parties (my roommate Amy and I are having "Cocktails at Sunset" on our roof) and my family are coming over for Christmas. We have a condo booked on the banks of Lake Tahoe, which should be amazing.
Right, I’m off to climb Twin Peaks and watch the sun set.
7 November 2005
I’ve wanted to write something for a while now but have been waiting until I got a better handle on the various policies at work. But now I’ve been here a week I think I know what’s going on.
So I said goodbye to the UK 10-days ago and started work last Monday. It’s been pretty intense, but things are looking good. Work-wise I can’t say much, but there are some crazy things going down here and it’s exciting to be part of it. The learning curve is steep, but everyone’s really friendly and helpful. I’m really liking San Francisco and am looking forward to moving up there; I am currently in temporary housing in Mountain View, which is convenient for getting to work but it’s a pain to drive back to from the city at 2am in the morning :)
One of the coolest things I’ve noticed here is that the sky is nearly always blue, maybe it’s the time of year, but it’s a welcome change from the grey autumns of the UK.
I have uploaded some photos of San Francisco if you’re interested.
12 October 2005
30 September 2005
I’ve been back from Honduras for about two weeks now. The tans fading fast and I’m missing the forest, but my relocation to California is moving along nicely. In a bid to raise funds after 3-months of voluntary service I am currently working at Line Communications while I wait for next week’s Visa interview. I will then be flying out to San Francisco for a house hunting trip (if anyone reading this happens to know of a nice big room going spare, drop me a line). Following that, it’s back to the UK for a week, during which I will wrap up all loose ends and attend the Opwall reunion. Then it’s a one way ticket out west to start work at Google HQ on the 31st — just in time for the Halloween Party (maybe).
It’s all pretty mental really.
Things I’m looking forward to:
– finding out what project I’ll be working on first
– working with a load of crazily skilled people (as well as those linked, the many I’ve not heard of yet)
– free diet coke
– buying a car
– living close to ski-slopes
– climbing in Yosemite
16 September 2004
I’m currently sitting in Starbucks, on the London Embankment, using the wireless Internet. I’ve been back in the UK for a week now and I’ve fallen back into the real world with a crash. I came down to London on Wednesday to look for somewhere to live and meet the people I’m going to be working with. As of 1st October I’ll be working in Windsor with Tim Scarfe and Thomas Brattli, among other people. While I can?t discuss anything here, the project I will be running sounds very interesting. The only pain in my ass is trying to find somewhere to live; I?m looking for a flat-share in Putney FYI.
I’m still sorting out the 2000+ photos I took in Honduras, but rest assured I have plans to make a cool little mini-site to display them.
10 June 2004
So I handed in my resignation today. It’s amazing how free I feel now.
Friends I’ve talked to recently, and previous readers of this site, will know that on 23rd June I am flying to Honduras to work for 3-months on a scientific project in the rainforest. My official title is Computer Systems Manager for Operation Wallacea, where my role is to simply set up computer networks at the two Honduran sites, then maintain them for the duration of the project. When I originally volunteered to work for Op Wall I asked to be a jungle-assistant-type-person, but alas they saw my CV and decided I was more valuable working with the computers. Oh well. It is still going to be incredibly fun and interesting, and there will be a lot more to do out there as general logistics staff.
Anyway, back to the point of this post. Originally I had intended to return after the summer to work at Act e-learning, but following the recent acquisition of the "product division" by Vantage Technologies I have been unhappy with the work.
As luck would have it I was recently offered a job in London. I can’t say much about it at the moment, but as of 1st October I will be based in Windsor working on a very interesting, and big project, that will actually involve some elements from my Artificial Intelligence degree. If — sorry, when — we pull it off it will be a hell of an achievement!!