From November 2004


I’m very happy this evening because after much hassle I’ve managed to generate my first prototype three dimensional (3D) hyperbolic visualisation for my project using the excellent Walrus graph visualisation tool:

Walrus Viz

Basically this shows how 20 random nodes are linked together on the network. I know it isn’t much to look at but believe me once I have a bit more data it will look very cool, probably something more like this.

The last few days I’ve been awake from 7am through to around 1am, I really feel in of need some sleep now but I think there’s enough time for some linkage:

How Much is Inside? – This has got to be the coolest waste of time ever. A bunch of people have gone to some extraordinary lengths to answer this age old question of various items and miscellanea. One of my favorites has got to be how much blood is in a human!

Anti-Laser Contact Lenses – Something we could all do with I think, especially for when a lecturer gets a bit excited with their laser pen! Unfortunately the only people who will be getting this any time soon are the US military!

Gnome 2.8 – What’s new and cool. Like you need any more reason to convert? I’ve been running it since it came out and can vouch for its stability and quality – there are still a few rough edges but nothing significant.

For those who have asked about the status of Red Ted’s mission to Tokyo the truth of the matter is that I have no idea where he is right now. I’m still awaiting confirmation from Yukari-san. Hang on in there RT, wherever you are!

I’ll leave you with this rather freaky photo of an eye I’ve been playing with – which is better, the colour or black & white version? I’d be inclined to go with the latter but would be interested to hear what other people think.

My Eye


As anyone who knows me will probably testify, I’m a bit of a sucker for beautiful visual effects in film, hence my love of films like The Matrix, Hero, Ghost in the Shell and Koyaanisqatsi. There is something intrinsically spectacular in the way these films manage to turn every frame into a work of art which captures the imagination.


Last weekend I had the pleasure of watching the remade version of Shirow Masamune’s ‘Appleseed‘ which was recently released in Japan. Although my copy doesn’t have any English subtitles it didn’t matter because the story was secondary to this visual feast of hybrid cell-shaded CGI animation!


From what I’ve read and gathered from watching it the story has something to do with a band of the last remaining members of the human race who are locked in a war with bioroids, an army of machines who once were domestic servants in the year 2131 (sound familiar?). Yes it’s clichΓ©d and over dramatized but this doesn’t really bother me because it just looks stunning.


Both the camera and animation motion dynamics in this film are incredible. As the action unfolds so the camera fluidly sweeps through it all in such a way that live action films can only dream of. The detail of the animation is very stylized and practically unique from what I’ve seen, having a simplistic but very modern feel to it. It does not try to imitate photo-realism like some other high budget anime films. It’s also worth mentioning the soundtrack which is also pretty unique in its used of industrial techno which is very fitting to the mode of the piece.


Overall this film may not be as deep or sophisticated as some of the other films I listed at the beginning but it doesn’t half look good. I can’t wait to see it again with English subtitles! You can watch the trailer for it here. The official site (in Japanese) can be found here.

Early Morning

Went for an early morning wander around Durham today (just after 6am!) with the intention of taking a few snaps as the sun came up. Unfortunately it wasn’t the nicest of sunrises but I still got a few nice snaps of the local landmarks.

Early Morning
Durham Castle

Early Morning
Castle from other side

Early Morning
Durham Cathedral

All were taken using manual exposure settings on my digicam. The rest of the photos can be found in the gallery here. Also if you’re interested, here is a montage of various photos taken at different times of day from my window which I quite like πŸ™‚

Abstract Connections

Thought I’d post a collection of rather abstract wallpapers today I recently put together from some of my favorite photos taken in the last couple of months:


The choice of photos here is not coincidental – can anyone spot the connection(s) between them? In case anyone wonders the photo in the top-right was taken in Tate Modern, this may or may not be relevant!

The previous collection of ‘Primary Colours’ wallpapers can still be found here.


Haven’t had a tech update in a long while so here we go…

One of the most interesting technologies to emerge in the last couple of years with the rise of the blog has been content feeds which allow for quick and simple syndication of information from sites which provide them (mine included!). This basically cuts out the time involved in checking whether or not a site has been updated and allows for information aggregation and almost instantaneous indexing (search). There are two main competing standards for doing this – RSS (Really Simple Syndication) & Atom. RSS is currently the dominant leader in this field (rightly or wrongly) and basically defines an XML grammar (a set of HTML-like tags) which might look something like this for a set of news items.

This can then be passed by an RSS news feed reader and processed in a variety of different ways. If you use the excellent ‘Firefox‘ web browser then you already have an RSS/Atom feed reader built in called ‘Live Bookmarks’ – see here for details of how to use them.

iPod RSS

This links nicely into a cool email I got the other day from a reader (yes, I was amazed people read this thing too!) who sent a photo of them reading my site on a 3G iPod (of all things!) via the magic of RSS. Another example of pervasive technology out in the wild! If you want to do likewise take a look at EphPod which lets you synchronize feeds with you iPod along with a lot more.

What do you get when…

Here’s a question which you might not have thought of before (I know I hadn’t!) – What do you get when you cross an egg with a tea bag? Answer: A very brown tea-flavored (?) egg!

Tea Egg

When I saw Echo placing tea bags in a pan with half-a-dozen or so eggs I though she had gone mad for a second or two until it was explained to me that this was a common Chinese specialty prepared by boiling eggs in tea. The theory goes that the tea seeps through the cracked shell, thereby flavoring the egg and giving it a marbleized appearance. Here’s what they turned out like:

Tea Egg

The taste is certainly interesting and not at all unpleasant but it’s not something I’d want to eat everyday. From what I’ve gathered this term Chinese/Japanese cooking in general is a lot more healthy (lots of vegetables etc) and hence they don’t have any of the obesity problems the West are facing right now – coined the ‘meat-ball’ condition by my friend, and aptly so I think!

You can find instructions for cooking your own tea eggs (cha ye dan) here.

Cookie Monster

Last nights intentions were good and in theory fairly simple – teach people how to cook chocolate chip cookies. Piece of cake huh? (poor joke) Not so fast! The first little problem occurred when we realised that we didn’t have any kitchen scales – I tried to improvise by using bathroom scales with me standing on them and then subtracting the weight of what I was holding but I don’t think the accuracy of this technique was quite what it could have been (no photos, sorry!). In the end we reverted to guesstimating the weights…


After this the mixture seemed to come together quite well and things looked like they should have, but how wrong was I! After spooning the mixture out in circular shapes on a baking tray they were popped in the oven for approximately 15 minutes. Upon opening the oven door what greeted my eyes were not a tray of cookies – all the cookie mixture had somehow melted into one huge amalgamous super-cookie!!


Luckily all was not lost, after being cut into smaller chunks it still smelt & tasted like normal. It was this point that a certain blue monster appeared out of seemingly nowhere and promptly devoured the whole lot!

An unwelcome guest

(If the picture above doesn’t make any sense to you take a look here).

Tokyo Ted

Thats it folks – Red Ted has left the country and is at this moment winging his way over to Tokyo. We probably wont have another progress update for another week at least so hold on tight till then!

Tokyo Ted
Brushing up on his Japanese post-flight

When it came to writing on the customs label what was inside the package we were sending I very nearly wrote “endangered bear” or suchlike but I thought that was probably not a good idea and reverted to “child’s toy bear” – if RT ever found out I put that I’m sure he would be mortified!

Tokyo Ted
Show me the money!

Unfortunately due to his recent fall in favor over the last year we could only afford super-saver economy class seating for him… in a jiffy-bag! We did however provide 1000 Yen to pay for the flight back in lieu of his handlers intervention – the only trouble with this is that I don’t think he has a pocket big enough to fit it in πŸ™‚

In other news… The will be another update this evening hopefully once I’ve had a moment to sort out the photos of last nights cookery escapades which were interesting to say the least – Delia Smith watch out!!


I’ve been trying to wrap my head around vector math for 3D graphics the last couple of weeks and I think its starting to sink in eventually. As with most topics there is a tonne of helpful information on the net – I found an interesting Java applet which demonstrates various properties of vector particle fields. Even if you’re not a computer scientist if quite fun to have a play around with – you can find it here. Try altering the field equation type and see what happens. (Pretty patterns!)

Useful Japanese sentance of the week:

εƒ•γ―ζΈ‘γ‚Šι³₯γ«ε€‰θΊ«γ—γ¦η§»δ½γ—γΎγ—γŸγ€‚β€š boku wa watari dori ni henshin shite ijuu shimashita. – “I metamorphasized into a migratory bird and migrated.”

Apparently dinosaurs (恐竜) natively speak Japanese…

More of the same can be found here!

Looks like Citroen got a bit carried away with the advert for their new car but it’s still kind of cool (almost mecha like)!

P.s. Well done to my sister Sarah for getting her first conditional offer for a place at Birmingham University Medical School. It is particularly hard to get into medical school apparently so this is definitely a good step in the right direction!

Update from 14/11: Unfortunately RT’s flight was delayed to due the complete lack of exchangeable Japanese Yen in Durham. Out of around 6 places visited not one had any. This should be rectified tomorrow (Friday) and he’ll be on his way!