Monthly archives: March 2014

I’d like my new office to be up these stairs

I’d like my new office to be up these stairs, originally uploaded by spinneyhead.

Close to the lifts on the first floor of the refurbished Central Library,
these stairs lead up to an empty room (unless they’ve put something in
there since Monday). It would make a great office for a local writer who
regularly puts Manchester in his stories, don’t you think?

Should we knock down the Mancunian Way?

In 1point1 the future centre of Manchester had been changed by the destruction of a span of the elevated section of the Mancunian Way, with the now impassable remainder of its length converted to a garden in the sky. This was an interesting location at the time, rather than a serious suggestion, but this article about the benefits of removing inner city highways makes me wonder if it could be beneficial.

Homeopathy product recalled over fears it may contain actual medicine – The Independent

When I first read the headline in my Facebook feed, I thought it had to come from the Daily Mash or some other satire site. But, no, it’s genuine.

Yet in a series of tests by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), it was found that a variety of tablets, capsules, drops and suppositories – with names like “Pleo-QUENT” and “Pleo-STOLO” – actually contained quantities of penicillin.

via Homeopathy product recalled over fears it may contain actual medicine – Americas – World – The Independent.

Space Trader’s Flight Training Manual

Space Trader’s Flight Training Manual, originally uploaded by spinneyhead.

I found this whilst rearranging the storage in my flat. I put money into the Kickstarter for the new Elite, which should be out soon. Sadly, I don’t think my computer will be up to running it.

Want to chip in so I can buy a PC worthy of Elite: Dangerous?

Floating cities

Floating cities seem like such an obvious location for a sci-fi story or video game. Hong Kong’s Causeway Bay has a William Gibson feel to it.

Off the top of my head, I can only think of one floating city in fiction, in Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson. Time to add it to my list of locations for future stories.

Floating cities – in pictures | Cities |

First impressions of the Moulton Mini

First impressions of the Moulton Mini, originally uploaded by spinneyhead.

My Moulton Mini is like a hipster Brompton. You’ve probably never heard of it and I was into them since before Bromptons were cool*.

I found this Mini a couple of weeks ago, when it was pointed out to me, sitting at the very back of a large selection of bikes awaiting refurbishment. I got it for £20, which is at the low end of what they go for, before delivery or collection costs, on ebay. I’ve been away for a week, and before that it sat around whilst I waited for an adaptor so I could pump up the Woods valved tyres. So today was the first opportunity I’ve had to ride it.

Inflating the tyres was all it needed to be ready to ride. Sure, the brake cables could by tightened to give a faster response and I could pull the back wheel back a little to take up slack in the chain, but it goes and stops acceptably just with air in the tyres. So I hopped on and rode to town to photograph the St Patrick’s Day parade.

There’s only really one problem with the bike, but if I can’t fix it I may have to sell it to someone shorter. I can’t get the saddle high enough for me because the seatpost isn’t long enough. Everything else is minor- the back wheel may be slightly out of true, the freewheel could do with some lubrication and the saddle’s not comfortable.

It’s a fun ride. Those little wheels rarely feel unstable (though I do keep an eagle eye out for potholes, many of which would eat them whole), and I could feel the suspension in action over speed bumps and tram tracks. The best part of the experience has to be catching the expressions of people who have just spotted a grown man riding something that looks like a clown bike.

The single speed is all I need around town, and the rear rack should be good for carting small loads. If I can find a longer seatpost, and maybe a more comfortable saddle, this could become my popping into town bike.

*Don’t get me wrong, Bromptons are cool bikes. But I’ve wanted a Moulton ever since they did a Land Rover branded version. If I were rich I’d have one of the space frame models, but the Mini has a quirky charm all its own.

Lights, Quadcopter, Action!

If I was making a movie I’d be calling on Team Black Sheep, or a local equivalent, to get some aerial footage. The night-time flight high over a cityscape has become something of a thriller cliche, but just imagine how much of a surprise it would be to viewers if you then flew into a boathouse or under a bridge as they do in this video. The quadcopter could allow directors to plan more surprisingly intimate aerial shots. If they haven’t been used in a full length film yet it can’t be long.

Support my serialised fiction on Patreon

Seeing as I accidentally nearly created the model for it, it’s appropriate that I should turn to crowd-funding for my next writing project.

Patreon allows you to become a patron of the arts for a low entry price. Find a creator whose work you would like to support and then pledge to give them every time they reach a set milestone- every month, when a song is released or, in my case, when an instalment of the ongoing serial is released.

I’m serialising Meka, an action tale with sci-fi background (read the first scene here) and shall be releasing the first part at the end of the month, with new chapters every month (or fortnight, if a funding target is reached) after that. Feedback from readers and funders will inform the direction the tale takes and the finished story will be collected and released through Amazon and Smashwords.

You can support me at my Patreon page for as little as $1 a chapter and will be able to get selected Garth Owen and Ian Pattinson books at reduced prices (a different book every month, through Smashwords).

This looks interesting, what does it do?

This looks interesting, what does it do?, originally uploaded by spinneyhead.

Found in amongst some of Dad’s stuff, I’m at a loss for what this could be.

It was made by Brown and Sharpe of Providence, Rhode Island- who were well known for making precision measuring devices- based upon a November 28th, 1922 patent. Similar devices turn up in image searches for Brown and Sharpe micrometers, but none of them say what it is beyond “precision instrument&quot”

Any suggestions?

Update It’s a speed indicator. And here’s a little tutorial on how to use one-