Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Saddened and Fooled

I was chatting at work today and the conversation somehow turned to the 90's proto-MMA wrestling series Bushido. It took me quite a while to find on Google, mainly because Bushido is a fairly common term and because I thought it had been on Channel4 when in fact it was on Eurosport. Anyway, the reason I was looking was to see some footage of this guy in action. I was always impressed with his speed, his power and especially his suplexes. I was saddened to find out that he was dead.

Googling on I was then shocked to find out that UWFi bouts were in fact as fixed as all the other pro wrestling entertainment shows. They heavily promoted themselves as a legitimate wrestling organisation while deriding all the others as fake and I fell for it!

I'm really grumpy about that.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Things I'm Not Sure We Really Need, Part I of an occasional series

This has just been unveiled outside our office:
Yes, it's a bin. A bin with an LCD panel on it. I'm all in favour of technology but really, there must be something more pressing to spend our money on. Yes, it does give out useful information as well as advertising, like the Tube Status and the weather forecast. But still, who's going to stand staring at a bin while they wait for the weather forecast to rotate round on the display? Not me that's for sure.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

How Blatant Can You Get?

It seems the Mafia is opening a hotel in Central London, offering certain specialised problem removal services. But advertising the fact on the side? That's just asking for trouble, surely?
Or do they think nobody can touch them now?

Confucius, He Say...

...Avoid using very old headphones or you will get black ears:

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Grim Night Terror

With only a couple of weeks notice I was asked by my friend Ali if I fancied entering the

I was a bit uncertain, as when I did the regular Grim back in 2009 I'd done quite a bit of training beforehand and this time I wasn't really going to have time to do any. However, after a bit of umming and ahhing, I decided I'd give it a go. It would be a good test of whether kettlebells can substitute for CV training as they claim. I managed to squeeze in three training runs before hand, none of which was quite the full distance but at least I was able to get my calves in some sort of shape having, literally, not done any running at all for over two years.

As the race got closer, the previously mild winter weather we had been enjoying started to change and I became increasingly glad I'd invested in some cold weather running gear. I wasn't too surprised to see that as I arrived at the car park it was starting to snow. And it was cold! As we collected our timing chips we were told that they'd changed to a "dry" race because all the water obstacles were frozen and it was too dangerous. This was a bit of a blow as splashing through the mud is half the fun of these kind of events.

Standing round in lightweight running gear in the wind and snow waiting for the race to start was fairly unpleasant so Ali suggested a quick warm-up:
A swift tot of rum worked wonders and soon I was feeling much warmer.

The race itself was good fun, although marred by the lack of water and mud, yes marred not improved. I did find myself clinging onto the waist of a random woman when I was forced to stop suddenly while running round the edges of an icy puddle and slipped over. Fortunately she managed to keep both of us upright. Here's Ali and I at the 4 mile point:
My final time was 1:02, in case you're interested, which seems way too fast for me to have run 8 miles in, so I suspect they may have shortened the course a bit when they chopped out the water obstacles.

Anyway, the main thing is I really enjoyed it and I have established that I don't actually have to do much boring training to be able to take part in the enjoyable events (it seems that some of the hype about kettlebells may be actually true), so I expect I'll be doing them more often.

UPDATE: It turns out I was correct, the course was only 6.8 miles (11K) which is still a pretty quick time for me, especially as it was cross country.

Friday, 3 February 2012

When The Management's Away...

...The Nerds Will Play

We have a problem in our office. We don't have a receptionist but we do have an automatically locking electronic door. We also have lots of people visiting from other offices who don't have keys, so they have to ring the buzzer to be let in. And then we have to get up and go to the reception desk and press the button to open the door. This happens sometimes dozens of times a day and very quickly starts to get annoying.

As you can imagine we started discussing ways we could get round the problem by, for example, using very long poles to reach out and prod it but these were dismissed as impractical. Then we considered using some sort of remote actuator, such as a USB connected robotic arm. As luck would have it, we had a USB rocket launcher already in the office. All we needed to do was hook it up to the PC on the reception desk, set up a remote desktop server and we could drive the missile launcher from our desks and prod it into the button.

So, without further ado, I present DORA* our new receptionist.

Above is the remote desktop screen for controlling her. Below is some video, of her in action.

DORA in action:

Plans for DORA2 include a webcam so we can see if the visitor has made it in and a loudspeaker to tell them to sign in. We also have an API so may be able to update DORA's interface to a web page with a single click to open the door.

DORA's proud parents:

*Door Opening Robotic Arm