Monthly archives: May 2010

links for 2010-05-31

Point of Contact- Stroking the robot

Stroking the robot isn’t meant to be a euphemism. Sally doesn’t try to take in stray puppies and lambs, but she did once want to adopt a rusty old tractor and restore it.

I’m not very happy with how Alice has come out in this page. And my own experiments with beard growing haven’t helped me make Dan’s any better.

links for 2010-05-30

Captain’s log, week 488

I read about weeknotes in Wired and thought they might be something interesting and useful to do. I can give you an update of what I’m getting on with and leave reminders to myself of what needs to get done. Of course, it’s taken me a few weeks to get around to starting one.

I’m going to fiddle around with the structure as I do more of these. In future I’ll probably open with a rundown of what I’ve achieved from previous weeknotes. For now let’s leave this bit empty.

To be done in the next week

I need to get at least one page of Point of Contact done for publication on Monday. The next page is one of the ones I didn’t thumbnail, as was this Monday’s, so I have to do a little more work than on other pages. It’s also the last talky page before a load of action pages that will round out part 1.

There were three bikes in my project queue for this week. I’ve already got the first one out of the way, it was in quite good shape and just needed cleaning and a little fettling. I’m left with a BMX build and a Raleigh Nova shopper. The Raleigh was missing the pull chain for its hub gears and had no brakes. Replacement brakes were more expensive than the gear parts, which is annoying. I need to source one more item from the parts pile and I should be able to put this bike back together. The BMX has already had a replacement fork fitted. I’ve bought new cable for the detangler kit and just have to pick the replacement handlebars and brake levers and it should go together no problem. They should get done on Friday or Saturday. The bike trade looks like becoming a good mini business. I’m planning to get a bike trailer to make collecting bikes and bits easier.

Events in the next week

Screenfields is back in Spinningfields. This week’s film is Cocktail, which I can happily miss, but in a fortnight it’s The Italian Job (the original one, not the “remake“).

Eurocultured is on this weekend. I haven’t been to that the last couple of times.

Longer term and deadline free projects

Bob Time, the footage for which I shot in October of last year, needs to be finished. I now have a computer which is up to the job and, after comparing a couple of trial versions of video editing software, have ordered Sony Vegas Movie Studio Platinum 9. It’s not as fully featured as some of the packages I’ve used in the past, but it does most of the stuff I want. I should write a comparison review of Vegas and Premiere Elements, and there’s a tutorial on matte keying which needs to be done because none of the ones I found were all that clear.

Lulu have lowered the prices of some of the formats for their print on demand books.. I think ilt’s time to do an omnibus of my three most recent novellas- Sounds of Soldiers, Global Weirding and So Much To Answer For– and some other stuff. Just a straightforward job, I may just pour the text into a word processor and let it do most of the work rather than lay out the pages in a dtp program.

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned Magcloud before. It’s another print on demand service, but this time for magazines rather than books. I’ve ordered a few of the magazines on their list and they’re very nicely finished, printed on decent stock and quite glossy. As with any POD service, some of their range is stunning and some of it….. isn’t. I hope to produce a magazine that’s nearer the stunning end of the collection. Working title is Somewhere Else and the first few issues are going to be dedicated to photos. I’m going to go back through my architecture wanders and retouch the best of the photos to create the first one. Then I’ve got all my photos of ghost signs to look through. And I know quite a few photographers, maybe I can work with them on something.


That Was The Week That Was in tweets. I used to have something running which dumped each day’s tweets to Spinneyhead, but I got complaints about it and its often recursive nature. Here are a few of the sillier and/or wittier things I’ve Tweeted in the last week or two.

Avatar would have been much more interesting if the Na’avi were based upon the Tree People from Cannibal Holocaust 11:23 PM May 11th

In a cafe, designing robots for the comic. Later I’m going to a demo of 3d tv, so more scifi. 4:23 PM May 12th

Shall soon be learning about 3d tv. Is it more than just an expensive way to self-diagnose photosensitive epilepsy? 6:48 PM May 12th

How long until someone sues their parents for passing on bad genes? 9:13 AM May 13th

Why do I have the impression that the first Lib Dem/Tory cabinet meeting started with them all throwing their car keys onto the table. 1:48 PM May 13th

The bus I was on nearly mowed down a load of lamb dressed as mutton. 6:54 PM May 14th

I am not a care bear! 8:51 PM May 14th

“This one time, at Sex Camp.” 9:29 PM May 14th

Just saw the pink panther cross Oxford Road. 2:51 PM May 15th

“Crabs. They’re like battle spiders.” 6:00 PM May 15th

It’s never nice when the bike you’re working on draws blood. I’m worried it’ll get a taste for it and I’ll be responsible for a vampire BMX. 11:56 AM May 17th

Conversation at the back of the bus- “I’m telling you this in confidence.” after mentioning 1 name I recognise. Wish I could hear more. 10:46 PM May 19th

Heading east until I end up somewhere I don’t recognise. Then I shall explore. 2:04 PM May 21st

Always wake gnome with coffee. 9:56 PM May 22nd

I’ve not seen a single episode of Lost. Would tonight’s be a good place to start? 6:34 PM May 24th

In Soviet Bulgaria, model builds you! 1

Here’s some interesting finds on eBay. Soviet era Russian models, of British cars. The Bulgarian seller has listed three 1:18th scale car kits- a Vauxhall of some type, a Jaguar E Type and an Austin Morris. It seems odd that the Soviets would want to make models of Western vehicles, particularly such decadent items as an E Type. The models came with an electric motor, though not all three listed still have theirs. I must resist the temptation to bid and find out more.

An architectural bike ride to the east of Manchester

Grey horse

I haven’t been on one of my bike wanders for a very long time. So last Friday I set out with the intention of getting lost. I got on to Lapwing Lane and headed east until I ended up somewhere I’d never been before. Then I carried on into the unknown. The first little bit of the unknown was between Burnage and Heaton Chapel, then it was vaguely familiar all the way to Reddish.

Butchers Crest

I entered terra nova properly in Reddish Vale, before crossing the M60 by footbridge.


After a detour through an industrial estate I found myself at Arden Hall, which I have passed previously

Armitage Shanks

Heading the wrong way I found an advertising hoarding which was the equivalent of the hall. The bus shelter also contained this noticeboard for Romiley Forum-

Romiley forum

Back on track I headed down a dead end lane- because I always take those as challenges- and found the perfect tinker’s doer-upper. I think it’s an old works building of some form. If you look in the middle window on the first floor you can see a shelving arrangement which looks like it was for some form of filing.

Derelict Outbuildings

The dead end lane turned into a path which eventually took me to Bredbury. From there I followed the canal for several miles, getting in some birdwatching and a bit of off roading in Gower Hey Wood.

Heron under the bridge Heron Jump spot in the woods

Eventually I found a major road and turned west, heading back to the pub just in time to meet everyone and rehydrate with blackcurrant and soda. Four hours of riding and I ended up two miles from home in the beer garden of Hardy’s Well. It was worth it. I filled in a few gaps in the parts of Greater Manchester I’ve visited and discovered that I can’t always rely on my phone’s mapping programs to tell me where I am. Both the Ovi Maps software my Nokia X6 shipped with and the Google Maps which I installed flaked out when I got outside the M60. Which is odd because I’m certain I’ve had Google Maps tell me quite accurately where I was in Cumbria, which has to be less well equipped with transmitters than the eastern fringes of Stockport.

Here are the rest of the photos from the “Getting lost east of Manchester” photoset.

Cortina Collapsing barn Moores' Hat Factory Minor pickup

Withy Grove Stores, Shudehill, Manchester. I’ve been inside once in twenty years. Most of the time it looks like it’s closed, but every so often you’ll notice the window display’s changed. The gun shop across from it has closed recently, I think all the character shops opposite the Arndale will disappear soon, which will be a shame.

Bits From Bytes

Bits From Bytes is a British company which makes desktop 3D printers with prices starting under £2000. That’s for the single head version of their printer. Realistically, and especially if you want to creat more complex structures, you really need the two head version, which will also lay down support material. I’m not sure what the three head printer will do. They also make a build it yourself version if you’re feeling adventurous.

Watch this now- The Genius of Design

The wonder of iPlayer means I can watch the best of the Beeb without needing a television. I highly recommend The Genius of Design. It’s a lightweight look at the design trends of the 20th century, highlighting certain key designs and movements, but still full of interesting new stuff for an interested non-expert such as I. The episodes that are up so far are available until 11th/12th of June, which suggests another two episodes are left in the series.


Hot rod modellers, or builders, looking for inspiration should definitely check out some of the machinery which turns up at Billetproof shows. A lot of it straddles the old genius/insane line then bleeds the air bags and sits on it defiantly. What can I say, I want a lowrider Rolls.

Jalopnik has quite a few Billetproof posts.