Monthly archives: July 2006


Heavensent 8.6

Street patrols had been cut back, leave had been cancelled and weapons checks had been ordered. It was obvious to all in the barracks that something major was due. The volunteers guessed, and had formed disgusted huddles to avoid the enthusiastic draftees. Killing civilians was not what they had signed up for.

Commander Janssen arrived late to the parade ground, his huge half track command vehicle misfiring on two cylinders and gouging up the surface. He made only a cursory inspection of the assembled troops before signalling the ranking officers on the base to mount up and join him around the map table.

Trikes mounted with autoguns formed up ahead of and behind the command vehicle. The on-duty troops formed up by squad behind the half track, ready to set out for the old town of Cora. The streets were narrow and the buildings mazes of small rooms. If they met opposition, the rumour went, they would simply raze the district rather than risk fighting on such fatal ground.

The gates opened. Manually adjusting the three banks of carburettors on the half track’s engine, the driver managed to stop the misfires. The vehicle jerked forward and headed out of the barracks. The troops followed behind, marching into the rising sun, ready to make the wrong kind of history.

Heavensent 8.7
Heavensent 8.5
Heavensent 1.1

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Dabble

There are loads of sites on the internet for you to upload videos to. My personal choices are Revver and YouTube. Dabble allows you to search through footage from multiple sources and upload links to your own or favourite videos and tag them. As with VotedTop, I recommend you go there, join and look for Spinneyhead tagged videos.

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The Nottingham Declaration

The Nottingham Declaration is a public commitment by local authorities to recognise the impacts of climate change and take action against it. Actions include delivering carbon dioxide reductions at the local level by improving energy sourcing, travel and transport, waste production and disposal, and the purchasing of goods and services.

In support of this, the Government is supporting the launch of a new climate change Action Pack for local authorities. The pack will provide tools and advice to local authorities on how to recognise the impacts of climate change locally and take action to minimise causes in their area.

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Hush wind turbine

The multi bladed Hush Turbine is designed to run at relatively low speeds compared to conventional horizontal axis turbines. This, and an annular ring that joins the tips of the many angled blades, means it can run virtually silently and be better balanced to reduce vibration. It will be available in sizes from 1 metre to 5 metres.

via Hugg

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Biomass for the lazy

Bixby Energy Systems have developed a pellets stove that can burn almost anything. The trick is in formulating the pellets to burn at a given temperature and company founder Bob Walker has done just that. This means that pellets can be made from local waste materials, keeping the supply chain short. He has even developed a hopper system to automate the transfer of fuel to the burner for the really lazy. Wired article.

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Voted Top

Voted Top is another pretender to the Digg crown. It seems more interested in promoting whole sites than driving traffic to individual posts, which is good for the Spinneyhead empire, because I’m more biased to lots of short entries than longer ones. If you pop over and register you can probably find Spinneyhead and How to Save the World for Free in the new releases column and vote for them.

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Graf Zeppelin found

Hitler’s only aircraft carrier was the Graf Zeppelin. Despite being launched in 1938 it never saw service. The Red Army captured and recovered the ship after it was scuttled in the Polish port of Szczecin in April 1945. Contrary to agreements to sink or destroy Nazi vessels, the Russians used it to transport looted equipment, and later as target practice for their dive bombers. After this battering the ship disappeared and its exact location was never known until recently, when an oil exploration survey found the ship on the bed of the Baltic Sea near the Bay of Gdansk.

Graf Zeppelin in wikipedia.
A model of the Graf Zeppelin.

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Graf Zeppelin

Hitler’s only aircraft carrier was the Graf Zeppelin. Despite being launched in 1938 it never saw service. The Red Army captured and recovered the ship after it was scuttled in the Polish port of Szczecin in April 1945. Contrary to agreements to sink or destroy Nazi vessels, the Russians used it to transport looted equipment, and later as target practice for their dive bombers. After this battering the ship disappeared and its exact location was never known until recently, when an oil exploration survey found the ship on the bed of the Baltic Sea near the Bay of Gdansk.

Graf Zeppelin in wikipedia.
A model of the Graf Zeppelin.

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Heavensent 8.4

Lensman helped Kess up the gully to a large rock they could use as a vantage point. The young marksman dragged himself to the edge and looked down on the road. A track with anti airs on it was making its way to a firing position. It was time to find out how effective the sabots were.

Below, the troops were falling back one at a time, drawing the attacking force toward a bottleneck. Lensman saw one of his squad fall, and knew he wasn’t getting back up. The next troop through checked the body, made a sign over it, and collected spare clips. To cover the last dash through the gap, two teams loosed one shot rockets at the advancing pack and moved under cover of the debris raised.

Kess estimated where the operator would sit behind the armour on the anti air. He took a deep breath and pulled the trigger as he exhaled. The shot was low, but still a hole punched through the armour and a body tumbled from the track. Kess examined the four barrels of the anti air. There was a gap in the armour where they protruded. Whilst troops huddled behind the track and discussed who should be the next gun operator, Kess put a shot through the gap, hoping to wreck some of the anti air’s mechanism.

Troops advanced up the gully, gaining the squad’s original position. The squad held fire until they started moving again. The volley of fire cut down the first few troops and got heavy fire in return.

A shell on the anti air exploded, clipped by Kess’s shots, setting off a series of detonations that destroyed the weapon. There was a lull in the gunfire as each side was surprised by this turn. A bullet came up the gully, high and wide, followed by others. With his head down, Lensman could still see the bunch of soldiers on the road that broke off from the main group and headed into the trees. “Ec, Mid. They are trying to get round behind us. Head into the trees and cut them off. Garit.”

“Sir?”

“Take the last of the rockets and get up there with Kess and see if you can get any as far as the road.”

“Sir.” The three moved off. Lensman surveyed the rest of his squad. He had lost four men so far, to twenty or thirty from the troop convoy. It was a good ratio, but attrition was going to get the better of them if they could not tip the balance even further into their favour.

Heavensent 8.5
Heavensent 8.3
Heavensent 1.1

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It's all done with special effects these days.

I’m really getting in to this making a film lark with Ian. I was thinking today about the kind of effects Ian would need to create, and on the film’s budget (ie, none), how to do them. Obvoiusly, some of it will be done with the aid of software. But what about other effects that would just be to difficult to do well with computers, and with a few props, we could quite easily? Well, I went digging again and found these:

Blood and Bullets
Low Budget Special Effects Chat
No Budget Effects Homepage

Hopefully, some of the effects tips might be used in the actual production, if Ian writes the script (hint, hint)

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Rip it up and start again?

Darren at ProBlogger has set a challenge- tell him how you’d proceed if you were to start your blog all over again.

I started Spinneyhead in January 2001. The simple and most obvious thing I’d do would be to post more often, and longer posts. That would have been a little tricky, of course, given the fact that I was mostly posting on work time. Looking back on it, I should have posted more often about work and what I was putting up with, but done it after hours.

2001 wasn’t a good year for me, and I came out of it a lot poorer and significantly less healthy. Too much time on the road, drowning my sorrows and maxing out the daily expenses allowance on big meals. All in all it was ideal fodder for the sort of work blog that would get you sacked now but would then have been a short cut to notoriety (and maybe a book deal) then.

Then, of course, there was September 11th. I was working in Cardiff that day. At some point someone set up a TV in a corner of the office and, as we found out what was going on, we all gravitated to it to try and take in the events. I was shocked, obviously, and living with a guy who claimed he knew people who worked in the World Trade Centre made the degrees of separation smaller. Yet somehow I didn’t find myself caught up in the clamour for War On Terror the way so many others did. Even back then I felt that some of the stuff we were being sold was utter rubbish. Such as when people kept telling us that no-one had ever thought terrorists could use civilian aircraft as weapons. What about the Tom Clancy novel where an avenging Japanese pilot landed a 747 on the State of the Union? Surely Clancy was just the sort of people Bush Jr.’s people read?

Maybe I should have published these thoughts, controversial then but justified now, and had another shot at notoriety.

But the honest truth is, sometimes when you’re in a shitty situation it’s just too hard to see how bad it is, let alone write about it objectively. Especially when the person who’s making it worse, by agreeing to every idiot idea from management, is supposed to be your friend. And I’m not great with conflict, so I didn’t really want to tell the truth to all those revenge blinded Americans.

So in the end, this is the Spinneyhead you got instead. It’s still here. My enthusiasm has waxed and waned but never died, and the family has grown. Maybe, after all, I wouldn’t change a thing.

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Heavensent 8.3

The fretwork of cables they had been throwing out and stringing over branches was finally beginning to pay off. “I have a signal sir.” the radio operator announced. “There is an aerial gun platform on the way.”

“Do they know where we are?” Mirl asked.

“I believe so. We are getting distress signals out, which they can pinpoint.”

“Very good. Keep it up until the batteries run down.” Mirl walked back along the wing and slid in through one of the old cockpit blisters. He wanted to share the good news.

The bombardier was sleeping. His leg was troubling him ever more- it might already be too late to save it. There was no-one else in the cabin, though the hatch to the bomb bay was open. Mirl headed in that direction. There was the rattling report of a burst from an autogun and the airframe shook. Mirl ran over to the hatch and ducked his head through. “What is going on here!”

“There was movement sir!” The co-pilot pointed down through the foliage. The navigator was hopping from one half open bay door to the other, trying to get a better view.

“You do not shoot at shadows! Wait until you have a certain sighting.”

There was a noise from below. Something rattled against the skin of the bay doors. Another burst of fire followed, one bullet getting through the gap and ricocheting around the cowering crew men.

“That seemed quite certain sir!” The co-pilot was too scared to sound smug.

“Get a gun. I shall wake the bombardier.” The navigator jumped across the gap to the rack of autoguns. He landed hard, and the leverage finally dislodged the door. Mirl reached out, stretching across an impossible distance, as the young airman tumbled backwards away from him. He hit a large branch, heavily, and stopped flailing as he fell toward the ground. The wing lurched, and Mirl could hear the bombardier being thrown from his bed.

There were shouts from below, and more gunfire. The co-pilot turned his autogun toward the shots and let off a burst. Mirl grabbed two of the mini bombs and tossed them through the gap.

The co-pilot stopped firing. There was silence for a moment before two explosions shook the trees. The wing shifted slightly again. “There is an aerial gun platform on the way.” Mirl announced.

“Give it speed, there is not long for us.”

Heavensent 8.4
Heavensent 8.2
Heavensent 1.1

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Sex lives of the Munchkins

Little people can be dirty too!

In the original film, of course, the Munchkins were played by genuine circus midgets, whose colourful contribution to Hollywood history has never been forgotten.

For although their antics on screen brought joy to generations of children, behind the scenes they astounded everyone with shocking episodes of drunkenness, depravity and wild sexual propositions from which no one was safe.

Even Garland herself was sufficiently curious to go on a date with one of the most randy, although since she was so young, her mother insisted on joining her.

“Fair enough, two broads for the price of one,” the tiny lothario replied, undaunted. By the time filming was over, Garland had seen enough of the Munchkins’ unsavoury antics to go right off the idea of any intimate contact.

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