Leave Me

Just wanted to share with you all a short film I discovered today, Leave Me, in which a recent widower deals with his grief through his wife’s broken digital camera. It’s only about five minutes long, but it’s absolutely breathtaking.

And… I think there’s something in my eye, or something. Where are those tissues? /sniff/

Easter Egg Hunting, Gravity Hooking, and Geocachers You Might Know

This afternoon, like last year, we took the opportunity to spend Easter Sunday hiding one another’s Easter eggs in the woods and then running around looking for them.

Paul & Rory

For some reason, this year Rory didn’t want me to be responsible for hiding his egg (something to do with his eventually being found up a tree, last year), so I ended up hiding Adam‘s, instead. I didn’t even put much effort into it: just propped it on a branch. This turned out to be a bad hiding place because Adam walked right back past it on his way back from hiding JTA‘s egg.

Adam's egg

Paul, meanwhile, hid my egg. He did a pretty good job of it, too, and eventually had to give me a couple of clues. “It’s near Barking Up The Wrong Tree,” he said, knowing perfectly well that this was a geocache that I hadn’t yet hunted for. I pulled out my GPSr and found the cache, and then started looking for my egg in the vicinity.

Adam in a Forest

In a particularly special bit of hiding, Rory managed to hide Matt P‘s egg so well that he himself couldn’t find it again. Eventually we all had to help hunt for Matt’s lost egg. Rory had helpfully taken a photo of the egg in it’s hiding place, but this photo was ultimately useless because it depicted nothing more distinctive than “a wood”, which we were unable to see for all of the trees. I suppose that if we were trying to get to a particular spot and then ascertain that we were in the right place, it would be useful, except for that fact that being in the exact right place would probably have been pretty obvious by the time we were standing on top of an Easter egg.

Hunting for Matt's egg

Finally, Adam basically “tripped over” the hidden egg, and all was well.

Matt finds his egg!

All in all, it was a fabulous afternoon out, and a great way to work off all the calories of Ruth‘s most-excellent Easter lunch (and just in time to be able to scoff down cakes and chocolate later in the afternoon).

Ruth, JTA, and Paul near the edge of the woods

In other news:

A Town Called Eureka Presents “Troma Night”

Matt made a blog post about a TV series – A Town Called Eureka – which he’s been watching. In episode 4 (which has just been broadcast in the UK, two weeks behind the US schedule) several of the characters get together in a cramped space full of technology to watch films, once a week. Matt observes that everything in this segment of the episode just reeks of Troma Night – all that’s missing is a sponge-throwing and a Hollywood Pizza delivery to make the two identical.

I’ve put a copy of the relevent scenes online: click here to watch. You’ll need Flash Player version 8 or above and a reasonably-fast internet connection.

The Mangohol Experiment – Day Two

Flushed with success at my wine-making efforts (which have ranged from “barely drinkable” to “good”) over the last few months, I thought I’d turn my hand to fermenting some different kinds of fruits in my spare time. The first of these that I decided to try is mangoes. So, a few mangoes from the greengrocer on Chalybeate Street and a few litres of additional mango juice from Morrisons later, I was ready to start. I kicked it off yesterday with a hunk of mango pulp, juice, sugar, and – of course – brewers’ yeast. This drink, I have decided, will be called “mangohol”. And if it turns out to be undrinkable, I’ll try my hand at distilling, too, and try to make a spirit out of it. =o)

This morning, I was quite surprised to find that the proto-beverage had escaped from the captivity of it’s bottle, forcing mango pulp up through the airlock and out onto the table by the sheer force of it’s expanding gases. It turns out that mangoes actually have quite a high sugar content, and the yeast in the bottle is having a bit of a party. I looked at my chopping board (which has pictures of various fruits and vegetables and suggestions on how to prepare and serve them). For mangoes, it reads: “Mango [sic] have a juicy, pale, orange flesh, which is full of flavour. Sliced lengthways and served in a fruit salad, puréed for ice creams and mousses, used in chutneys, veg curries, tarts, and pies.” Does it say anywhere, “Warning: may ferment explosively, spewing mango pulp across your surfaces?” Does it buggery.

The mangohol escapes from the bottle.

Mangohol spreading itself around.

So violent was the push of the excited fungi, they even managed to compress whole chunks of mango through the airlock, where they became lodged. I’ve no idea how – if it’s at all possible – I will get them out, but I’ll be using one of the larger-style airlocks for the rest of the brewing process.

Blocked airlock

Of course, it doesn’t take a physicist – even one who’s not been caught in the explosion of an immersion heater (whoever that might have been) – to tell you that the expansion of gasses in an enclosed space is a bad thing. In fact, what biologists might call an “uncontrolled yeast reaction in a sealed container” has another, more brutal, name amongst chemists and physicists. The name they use for it is “bomb.”

Thankfully I noticed the problem before the pressure became sufficient to detonate my (glass!) demijohn, and I had the sense to remove the cork and airlock from the neck of the bottle. No prizes for guessing what happened: suddenly, I found my face, my hands, my body, the room – pretty much everything, actually – showered with partially-fermented mango juice and pulp. It’s not nice stuff to be shot in the eye with. That said, it smells fantastic.

The majority of the drink remained in the bottle, and it’ll be continuing to ferment for a couple of weeks, yet (although I’ll be keeping a closer eye on it’s airlock). I’d never had guessed mangoes were so sugary, but this is really volatile stuff: having already diffused it the first time around I took a short video clip of it bubbling out (observe in the video how it “spurts out” if I hold my hand over the top of the bottle for a few seconds, and how much of the bottle is “froth” generated by the yeast):


Duality, my main desktop PC at home, has been misbehaving, and I’ve had to take it to pieces, both virtually (tracing driver DLL calls – yum!) and physically (computer components littering the floor, etc.). It’s been two years since it’s last reformat/reinstall, which is a pretty long time for a Windows XP box treated the way I’ve treated it, so it’s definately time for a rebuild.

Shame I couldn’t have done it sooner/later, as it’s put a dent both in my NaNoWriMo writing and in my ability to investigate some code for a client I’m dealing with “on the side”. It’s going to be a busy little weekend.

In other news, I’ve been playing with Gosu, a sprite animation/drawing layer module for Ruby. Ruby’s execution speed (within an object-oriented paradigm) lends itself well to 2D animation and games. Here’s a Flash animation showing a recording of what I came up with:

Yes, that really is the sprite for Dan in the Dan & Alex comic.

If you’re really sad (and using Windows – I haven’t tested it under other operating systems and can’t be arsed packaging up the C-layer stuff for them, yet), you can actually have a play. Just install Ruby 1.8.2-15 For Windows (15MB) and the game itself (740K).

If I get really bored or suddenly find a lot more free time, I might actually finish making a game out of the engine I’ve put together.

Edit: The download link for the game has now been fixed. If you downloaded it and just got error messages when you tried to run it, try again now.

More Flash: “Second Term”

Jon has posted to his blog about "Second Term", JibJab‘s most recent parody of the American policial system (you’ll remember It’s Good To Be In D.C. and This Land, which I blogged about earlier). In any case, the versions you’ll find on JibJab and Yahoo are surrounded by advertisements and can’t easily be resized (hey; if you’ve got the processing power to run it full-screen, do so!), so I’ve made a copy of it here for you to watch.

Flash MX 2004 Data Integration/XML Features

Geeky post.

I’ve just been playing with the data integration and XML-parsing features offered by the new version of Macromedia Flash (traditionally used for animation on the web, but nowadays used for all kinds of things, like those silly games at Shockwave.com). They’re actually quite impressive – here’s the result of my fiddling this evening (requires Flash Player 7 – not worth downloading just to see it, though):


It’s an RSS reader, connecting to the Scatmania web site – or, more simply – it connects to this web site and picks up the summaries of the most recent posts and provides them in a compact browser (with a little ‘Go…’ button to take you to the full article).

Why’ve I posted it here? Because it impressed me to see what Flash is capable of these days. Apologies to the non-geeks who are by now going “La la, la la…”

Bug In Internet Explorer… But How Do I Tell Anybody?

This morning, I found a bug in Internet Explorer. I wasn’t using it, of course, but I’d sent a Macromedia Flash file to a colleague by e-mail, who opened it in IE, but couldn’t.

It turns out that Internet Explorer can’t cope with opening Flash (.swf) files from the local file system, if the filename contains an apostrophe (e.g. “Dan’s Pictures.swf”). Crazy little bug, but I’ve tested it a little and it seems that this really is the case. But how do I report it?

Microsoft‘s web site, despite a redesign, is a sprawling mess. Eventually I gave up and submitted it as a ‘feature request’. I submitted PNG-support as a feature request, too, because it would be nice if sites like Abnib looked as good to the unwashed masses of IE users as it does to users of real web browsers.