Friday, 29 February 2008


After yesterday's disastrous day of essay writing (zero words) I'm doing a bit better today. I've got 450 words so far and shall probably do some more before bed later. I'm still all full of cold but am feeling a little better today than yesterday which I shall attribute to Hobnob's Lemsip. In other news... um nothing much is happening :) I'm writing an essay, that's all I get to do. Lots of gazing into the distance thinking I working hard.

Wednesday, 27 February 2008

Happy Early Easter!

Browsing today's cup o'links on Mental Floss points me to this post on Bits & Pieces about the early timing of Easter this year. Apparently the next time Easter will be this early is in 220 years so we're privileged to see it. I guess the schools will be pleased that they don't need to mess the holidays about again for a while.

Tuesday, 26 February 2008

Energy Harvesting - Kinetic

I posted a lot of kinetic energy harvesting links in the first post on all this energy harvesting stuff but they mostly focused on piezoelectricity. I'm trying to avoid piezoelectricity for a bit (because there's just so much research) and so these links are related more towards other methods of harvesting energy from movement.



Unfortunately, progress on this essay is much slower than I'd like. The materials all pretty interesting and I'm enjoying the reading but the writing is hard work. I don't understand the more physics/electronics bits of the technologies (so generally I appreciate the applications of specific harvesting methods but don't fully understand the methods themselves) which might be contributing but I'm just finding it pretty hard to focus and assemble the material into something coherent and vaguely valuable. As of today I also seem to be coming down with Hobnob's lurgy :(

On a slightly happier note, Wikipedia has just informed me that that the term MEMS (which I've seen all over the place in the literature about kinetic energy harvesting) refers to microelectromechanical systems (micrometre to millimetre scale), so that solves one mystery.

Previous posts on this topic: Energy Harvesting (5th Feb. '08), Energy Harvesting - BBC Articles (7th Feb '08), Energy Harvesting - BBC Articles (Revisited) (14th Feb. '08), Energy Harvesting - Radiation and Human Active Energy (23rd Feb. '08), Energy Harvesting - Solar Radiation (24th Feb. '08).

Someone reads my blog!

I very rarely get comments posted by people I don't think I know who have happened upon my blog. Today I spotted the comment by Clarence on this post about bread & butter pudding (which is SO nice) and thought I'd check out her blog... thanks for the link!

Monday, 25 February 2008

Stupid Monitor

I want to put my essay into Microsoft Office 2007 and get my references sorted out but I can't because the monitor is being stupid.


Sunday, 24 February 2008

Energy Harvesting - Solar Radiation

Slowly making progress with my ubicomp essay. I'm hoping to reach 1000 words (of 5000) before church today (now unlikely but maybe by the end of the day?). Todays Web trawling is mostly about solar...

Solar Radiation

Previous posts on this topic: Energy Harvesting (5th Feb. '08), Energy Harvesting - BBC Articles (7th Feb '08), Energy Harvesting - BBC Articles (Revisited) (14th Feb. '08), Energy Harvesting - Radiation and Human Active Energy (23rd Feb. '08).

Energy Harvesting - Radiation and Human Active Energy

Some more work for my ubicomp essay, mostly on harvesting energy from radiation.

Ambient Radiation

Broadcast Radiation

Human Active Energy

General Energy Harvesting

Previous posts on this topic: Energy Harvesting (5th Feb. '08), Energy Harvesting - BBC Articles (7th Feb '08), Energy Harvesting - BBC Articles (Revisited) (14th Feb. '08).

Thursday, 21 February 2008

Spring Harvest

Woo! I'm going to Spring Harvest after all. They phoned me this evening to say they're really struggling to fill the teams this year and was I interested in doing Skegness. They're going to phone back to fill the form in for me tomorrow as I can't get to it through the university network.

Monday, 18 February 2008

Stewed Apple

Serves 4, ~10 minutes.

500g apples, peeled
30g caster sugar
1tbsp apple juice/water

Core and slice the apples and place pan with sugar and water. Cover the pan and cook on hob over medium heat. Once boiling cook for ~5 mins stirring occasionally until apple is fluffy but chunky.

(adapted from this recipe on

Bread and Butter Pudding

Serves 4, 1.5-1.75 hours.

6 thin slices white bread - crusts removed
50g / 2oz butter
50g / 2oz sultanas
40g / 1.5 oz caster sugar
2 eggs
568 ml / 1pt milk
(opt. 1/4 tsp mixed spice)

Preheat oven to 160C / 320F / Gas 3 and grease oven dish.

Thickly spread bread with butter and cut into fingers. Put half bread into dish, sprinkle with fruit and half sugar. Top with remaining bread (butter up) and sugar. Beat eggs and milk together and strain over pudding.

Leave to stand ~30 minutes before baking 45min-1hr until set. Top should be crisp and golden.

Saturday, 16 February 2008

Three-Spice Turkey

Serves 1, ~30 minutes

150g Turkey/Chicken
0.67 tsp muscovado sugar
0.33 tsp cumin
0.33 tsp paprika
0.15 tsp chilli powder

Preheat oven to 200C/Gas 6. Mix spices and sugar. Rub mixture onto meat and cook for 25-30 minutes. Serve with rice/couscous and a squeeze of lemon/lime or slice into strips and serve with tortilla wraps.

(adapted from on the Sainsbury's Spiced-Up Chicken recipe card)

Friday, 15 February 2008


I'm hungry. I've had breakfast every day this week but I'm not sure it's working that well at keeping me comfortably full for the morning.


Sometimes Chancellors Wharf reminds me of Spring Harvest. I don't know whether it's the nature of the flats themselves or just the feeling coming out of my block in the morning knowing it's cold now (coats and scarf cold) but could be baking later. Or maybe I'm just odd.

I do think I'll miss Spring Harvest this year. I keep thinking about going anyway.... decisions aren't really my strong point.

Thursday, 14 February 2008

Energy Harvesting - BBC Articles (Revisited)

Reading News.BBC today I've found a couple more articles related to some of the stuff I've been looking at for my ubiquitous computing essay in terms of harvesting energy: Nanowires allow 'power dressing' and Smart fabrics hit the catwalk. Hopefully next week I'll start writing things!

Previous posts on this topic: Energy Harvesting (5th Feb. '08), Energy Harvesting - BBC Articles (7th Feb '08).

Tuesday, 12 February 2008

Error suppression with @

Today StumbleUpon lead me to this list of optimisation tips for PHP development. Some of them are somewhat more convincing than others but it was number 10 that Hob and I wondered about. It seems a number of sites (e.g., are happy to tell me that error suppression with @ slows a script down but I can't find anywhere that tells me where the time goes - answers anyone?


Incidently, number five can't really be described as being unique to PHP. Preincrementation is faster in a number of languages.

Sunday, 10 February 2008

Tortilla Wraps

Makes 8, ~1hr.

250g plain flour
1.5 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 tsp vegetable oil
180 ml warm water

Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. In another bowl combine the warm water and oil. Add the water/oil mixture to the flour mixture, one tablespoon at a time and mix until all the water is mixed into the dough.

Lightly flour a wooden cutting board and knead the dough for ~5 minutes until smooth. Place the dough into a clean bowl and cover with a damp towel. Let the dough rest for 20 minutes.

Divide the dough into golf-ball-size balls. Place the balls on a flat dish making sure they don't touch each other and cover with the damp cloth. Let the dough rest again for 10 minutes.

Lightly dust your wooden cutting board with flour. Take one of the balls of dough and flatten it. Roll the tortilla until it is 6 or 7 inches in diameter and about 1/8 inch thick. Once you have rolled out the tortilla, place it on a preheated skillet (medium/high). You don't need to add any oil or butter. Cook the tortilla for about 30 seconds. You will notice brown spots all over your tortilla. Flip it over and cook an additional 30 seconds. Repeat for the remaining dough balls.

(recipe adapted from this post on Yahoo answers)

Friday, 8 February 2008

Energy Harvesting - BBC Articles

Hobnob's pointed me towards today's technology article on the BBC Knee Dynamo Taps 'People Power' which is related to some of the stuff I've been looking at for my ubiquitous computing essay in terms of harvesting energy. The article also has a link to another BBC News article Charging up the Stairs talking about harnessing the power of commuters etc. through the vibrations caused during movement which ties in with a lot of the piezoelectricity articles I posted on Tuesday.

Previous posts on this topic: Energy Harvesting (5th Feb. '08).

Wednesday, 6 February 2008


I love the bright winter sun and my new red jumper!

I like sitting down at the computer and seeing my awake red sleeves typing away. Looking over my shoulder at the window the sun is so bright you could think it was summer until you stepped outside. I love the way the low winter sun falls, it's just good! It makes me want to go for long winter walks under the bare branches of the trees.


Happy day Saffy!


I really can't sleep. Grrr....

Energy Harvesting

I'm currently doing a bit of research for my ubicomp essay provisionally entitled Powering Ubiquitous Computing Systems and figured I'd collect together some of the links here. Some of this is pretty interesting reading...



Other Energy Sources

Almost related is this New York Times article on the 'trend' towards energy conservation in everyday life.

Flapjacks, Attempt 2

Makes ~16, ~30 minutes.

300g oats
200g soft light brown sugar
25g dark brown sugar
225g margarine
100g raisins
6 tbsp (90ml) golden syrup

Grease a baking tray and preheat the oven to 160C/325F/Gas Mark 3. Melt the margarine in a saucepan and once melted add the sugar and golden syrup. Warm gently and stir until well-mixed. Remove from the heat and stir in the oats and raisins. Press the mixture into the baking tray and bake for ~20 minutes being careful not to over cook. Cut into squares or slices while it's warm, then leave in the tray to cool.

(recipe adapted from this post on Phil Gyford’s website)

Tuesday, 5 February 2008


Maybe it's just the cold but I'm quite into hats at the moment. I quite like this one on CraftyDaisies but I suspect it wouldn't suit me. Ah well, my knitting talent doesn't stretch that far anyway :)

Dubious Data 2007

Just stumbled across this article for the The Worst Science Stories of 2007: STATS Dubious Data Awards. I'll post one of the stories here, but they're all fairly entertaining.


Phthalatophobia, a subcategory of chemophobia (the fear of chemicals), led the media to make all sorts of remarkable claims in 2007, none more ballsy, perhaps, than Time magazine’s decision to advance puberty beyond the bounds of biological plausibility with the claim, in September, that inhaling phthalates from air fresheners could decrease sperm levels in infants.

Perhaps, Time was demonstrating that the mere act of reporting on toxic chemicals can cause mental derangement, as a) infants don’t produce sperm and b), the author of the study on phthalates in air fresheners, Dr. Gina Solomon of the Natural Resources Defense Council, admitted that had no “clear cut evidence here for health effects.” [...] Some phthalates have been shown at very high levels to harm laboratory animals, but then you can make rodents sick if you give them too much of anything. One study has drawn a statistical association between exposure to some phthalates in the womb and borderline changes in genital development. But contrary to the way the media have reported this study, the children were all healthy and had normal reproductive functioning. Even the Guardian newspaper, which is ardently pro green, concluded in its “Bad Science” column (written by an actual doctor) that the data on phthalates was being “overstated.”

As for air fresheners, the NRDC only measured the presence of phthalates inside the product. As to how much evaporated into the air and was likely to be absorbed by a passing human, there was nothing. The Environmental Protection Agency has since turned down the NRDC’s petition to examine the safety of air fresheners, although the agency does note that they are highly flammable – and will likely kill you if you eat one.

So, um, don’t eat air fresheners.

(from the STATS Dubious Data Awards 2007)

Charity Shop Goodness

I only really frequent charity shops for the books but the British Heart Foundation shop in Lancaster had clearly had quite a nice clothing donation from some teenager slightly larger than I am when I popped in today. I picked up what appears to be a brand new red New Look hooded top and the coolest multicoulored scarf. Being not entirely skilled at photographing myself even my greatest modelling probably doesn't bring out the finer qualities of this scarf but still...

Sunday, 3 February 2008

Homemade By Jill

Homemade By Jill is another crafty/cookery blog found in Blogger's blogs of note. I like the
look of the strawberry lemonade and the lemon cake, both could be good summer refereshers. I also like some of the crafty stuff but suspect I wouldn't have the talent to replicate them. Maybe I'll have a go at some baby shoes (I like the colours in this lavender one - maybe I could also make a shoe shaped lavender bag?).

Saturday, 2 February 2008

Flapjacks, Attempt 1

Our first attempt at flapjacks in the new house. We thought we'd try a different recipe after destroying the last one with the special chocolate chip ingredient (think sticky, choclate mess). This new recipe might have been good but was very overcooked. The dark sugar was nice (a treacley taste) but maybe a mix of light and dark sugars would be better.


Makes ~16, ~50 minutes.

265g/9oz oats
165g/6oz dark brown sugar
165g/6oz margarine
1 rounded tbsp golden syrup

Grease a baking tray and preheat the oven to 150C/300F/Gas Mark 2. Place sugar, margarine and syrup in large saucepan and heat gently until the butter melts. Mix well and remove from heat. Stir in the oats until well-covered and tip into baking tin. Gently press and smooth the surface with the back of a spoon. Bake for 40-45 minutes. Cut into squares or slices while it's warm (after ~10 minutes), then leave in the tray to cool. Remove from tin when completely cold and eat within 3-4 days.

(recipe adapted from this post on Yarnstorm)


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...