Archive for the ‘ Personal ’ Category


A few days ago, I noticed the characteristic smell of popped capacitors. I took the side off my case and noticed a couple of the caps were bulging. Because I am leaving in a couple months anyway, I thought “meh” as it should survive till I leave. I took the side off to keep an eye on the caps to see if more will pop.

Yesterday I came into the office and noticed the computer was off. Confused, I turned it on and walked away to hang up me fleece turned around to find blooms of smoke spewing from the machine. I ran over to find flames inside the machine. Panicking, I unplugged it and started blowing out the flames. Luckily that worked and I didn’t have to email the emergency services.

It all seems to be concentrated around an inductor, although I suspect one of the caps popped its bottom cover and started spewing hydrogen.

So the first task of the day was to do through the purchase order process to get a replacement motherboard, although the case is also somewhat smoke damaged too. The office also smells really bad of caustic fumes.

Vampire cats

Ingredients: black crepe paper, red crepe paper, sticky tape and a cat.

Cut red to be slightly larger than the black.

Stick two layers together.

Scrunch at together and place one piece of tape to keep it folded at one point.

Result: Vampire cats!

Next, need bait. (look at those fangs!)

Someone convinced me that posting photos implicating me of cat crimes may be a bad thing (especially with 4chan around).

Meanwhile in the office

What has been happening in the office for the last few weeks:

I decided to do a massive clean out of my home store (first time since 2001)

The biscuit tin has not been cleaned for a while and when we run out these crumbs were looking mightily tempting.

Andrew confiscated my bounty of floppy cables I have been collecting over the years.

Will found someone else with a HTC Desire. So he can now flash someone else’s phone. I have never seen will this happy (and I was there at his wedding).

While ceiling cat watches over us all.

of Montreal

Went to see of Montreal last night. They were pretty good.

One thing that stood out was two people on stage who would dress up in shiny skin tight clothes, pig/gas masks, giant heads etc.  for each song and do weird Mexican wrestler moves on each-other. Great atmosphere too with people wearing some of the most ghay clothes I have ever seen.

Then this was the song they chose for the encore, which was a bit of a surprise. I won’t show too much of it because I am afraid of MJ rising up from the dead to kill me for infringing his copyright.

Pub engineering

Ever wondered what happens when engineers go to the pub? We get uncontrollable bridge building urges. We tried to build a bridge between two tables using the fewest beer mats. Before reading on, take a guess what we got it down to.

Here is our original bridge, which was a corbel arch design. It consumed about thirty beer mats.

The green mats are shaped like a capital B, so they can be locked together. So we were down to twenty-ish.

If you form the bridge into my “snake” design, you can get rid of the weights at the ends and reduce the mats used down to ten.

That seemed like a good design, but actually having a weights works better as the bridge is straight and even. So we are now down to nine mats (it stayed up without my hand there).

If you let the bridge sag a little and allow the ends to twist you can cut form it using eight.

Martin then suggests flipping the direction of the B links half way across the bridge and we were down to seven.

Some careful balancing and you can get it to be stable with just six mats.

If you push the B links into each-other the mats will tear a little and lock together. This way you can alternate the links and make a bridge with five mats. Also in the photo is Andrew’s zipper double bridge.

If tearing is allowed, I take it to the natural conclusion of locking the mats together with small cuts. Sudden leap forward as we have a three mat bridge.

Tear each mat in two and link the parts to make a bridge with two mats.

You can rip a single mat into a continuous strip which makes you rope bridge.

Now that it is so lightweight, you can span the distance with half a mat. Martin is declared the winner.

So that was our final design. Once you go into fractional beer mats, it gets a little hard to measure. We also created made a bit of a mess.

Thanks go to the Ducie Arms who supplied us with the mats and tidied up after we left.

Valgrind T-shirt

This morning I received an unexpected delivery. Someone bought me a Valgrind T-shirt. The bill doesn’t say who. I do love Valgrind but only a handful of people know that my obsession extends to the promise that I will name my first-born after it (Valgrind Brej may get bullied somewhat). To whoever it was that bought it, I would like to say Thank You! I shall wear it with pride.

UPDATE: Mystery solved. Matt Horsnell was offered it for spotting and fixing a bug and he knew about my secret love.

ACSD in Braga

We are working very hard at the ACSD converence in Braga.

But because Doug and Will are involved, beer is never far away.

This is Will’s attempt of reproducing the Isle of Man symbol

Several acts of sillyness including Doug attempting to destroy the pool.

I will try and upload the video as soon as I can over this awful connection.

Yes accidents will happen.

TexMex evening

Sorry about the delay but, finally, here are some photos from the TexMex evening.

You know it is going to be a silly night when your drinks acquire worms from the very first bottle.

Will proudly placed himself in charge of making the margaritas. These were incredibly strong (and personally quite horrid).  Strange that we managed to get though three bottles of tequila, yet we still had plenty of limes. I suspect Will was not sticking to the correct measures.

But still he managed to find a steady stream of willing victims.

And the there was the Tux piñata.

Tux will be remembered for his bravery in the revolutionary cause (and for sharing his sweets).

But the point of the night was the food. Lots of it. This is just one of the many bowls of salsa I spent four hours chopping.

This is only about half the food items. Shame I have no photos of the table when full as it was literally brimming with food. This was the first course of wraps and tacos.

This was followed by chili con carne (two types), expertly carried by Mai Anh (who also deserves thanks for helping me make the guacamole too).

All together there were 35 people there which is a personal record. I even invited some of the better students round to try and bully them into doing something amazing over the summer.

Here is a misbehaving pair of banditos.

Sadly this was a photo taken while I was carrying Tux to the bin for his un-ceremonial funeral.

The brave little lappy managed to play Mariachi music for some 5 hours without dying (note the Dynamplifier).

And the final course was the nachos, which were indoors as it was very dark outside by that hour. Because we run out of salsa I (foolishly considering the drinks Will forced me to have) decided to chop up some more. Thanks to John for taking that job over while I tried to stem the bleeding.

Tux piñata

Following the success of the Indian night. I am hosting a TexMex party.As the party invitation points out “I have never been to Mexico, but I have been to Texico and I have watched a lot of Speedy Gonzales, so I imagine it is a bit like that”. So apparently one thing people have at Mexican parties is a piñata. I have never seen a piñata in real life so this is completely guess work as to how to make it.

The body is make of papier-mâché. I was hoping to a baloon the exact right shape, but instead I had to go for a large balloon for the body, and a second balloon for the head. I covered the body balloon from all sides but the base, then turned it upside down and placed the smaller balloon on top and started placing more and more paper strips to stick the two baloons together. You really need three hands for this task.

After the first layer, I let it dry in front of a fan for a couple hours before adding the second layer including a beak make of card. There were 3 layers all together. I used the flour water glue mixture, of which the second batch worked a lot better as it was a bit thicker. This is the end of day one, as it then takes about 24 hours to dry completely.

Then it is onto the crate paper. I found the easiest way was to get a full folded roll of the paper, cut it lengthwise into two and add cuts to make the loops. Then draw a line of liquid paper glue and stick the strip to it.

Work from the bottom up, otherwise each strip gets in the way of the last. Also I kept some areas fur free, in the bottom and the face. Here I glued a single layer of black crate paper. For the beak, that needed about three layers to not show the text under it.

At this point, I did the surgery to add fill the penguin and attach the rope. I was worried that the rope would just rip the head apart, so I tied it to a pencil and fed it though a hole in a CD. That distributed the force around a ring in the head. At one point the back caved in a little, but with the weight of the sweets inside, it was possible to push it back out.

Then finally, attach the wings and feet. I punched two holes in the body and the wing/foot and used coloured cable ties. These work very well as you can trim them off.

Add a decorated hitting stick, and there you go, a Tux piñata. I’ll shall see tomorrow if it works.

UPDATE: Pictures and video of the party including Tux.

Sins of my past coming back to haunt me

We have had plenty of snow this year, which caused many people act very silly indeed. By “many people”, I mean “me”. Just before Christmas, on my way back from the pub, I decided to stomp a lewd shape into the garden snow (I assume I did, I have little recollection of this). I awoke feeling worse for wear to the embarrassment of the situation, but was saved by more snow falling that afternoon, covering up my work of art and destroying it forever. Or so I thought. This morning I saw this when I looked out the window.

I have no idea how I managed to kill the grass by stomping on it. I am guessing it will take a few weeks to go away. The black bra is off a “snowlady” I made a couple weeks later that the neighbours added to, to cover her modesty in an unrelated incident of silliness.