29 September 2006

Do you want chips with that?

As you will no doubt have seen from my previous post, this Sunday I will be running round Newcastle for 13.1 miles (21 km) trying to avoid the Newkie-Brown stains and being mugged in South Shields.

So far, I have had 32 items in the post regarding this effort, the most interesting of which recently was a plastic timer chip... Apparently the idea of this is to Velcro it round your ankle so that they can cleverly record how long you take from passing the start line to falling over the finish line, surely an ideal opportunity for me to take a look inside no?

So i carefully opened it up a crack and found a small electronic chip inside, the chip is activated when the race begins, again when you cross the start mats (this could be some 40 minutes later!) and for the final time when you pass the finish mats. It holds information about who i am (name, address) and my race number so that the details can be linked with the two times (race start to finish and my actual start to finish). The chips are then used to send text messages to all competitors about their times, and in the results publication so that I (and an embarrassing number of other people) will know exactly how long I took. What i need to do is make someone who will finish in under 1 hour forty five to run round with my chip, instead of the real story:

I had done the above picture with sunshine but apparently its meant to piss it down all day in Newcastle, yay lucky me! And no i have done no training in the rain...

There are definitely flaws in this plan though: what if you don’t finish for example? I have it on good authority (from someone who makes chips like these) that they don’t actually cost the £20 that the organisers say they do, more like 20p so basically you should just bin it. They hold very little information or memory so are no use on the recycling front either...

So this weekend i am combining sport and nerdiness - what are you up to?!

27 September 2006

There are 10 types of people in the world...

Those that understand binary, and those that don't.

Don’t get it? Don’t worry you will... Inspiration for this post came from my most recent geektastic purchase, it is this - a binary LED clock!

Binary numbers let you represent any number you like using 1's and 0's only. "Why?" -I hear you ask. Well that’s because this is computer speak and computers like knowing about 'state' (whether something is on or off, 1 or 0).

Normally when you look at binary code you would read from the right:

  • The first digit from the right is the number of 1s (so 0001 = 1)
  • The second digit from the right is the number of 2s (0010 = 2)
  • The third digit from the right is the number of 4s (0100 = 4)
  • The fourth digit from the right is the number of 8s (1000 = 8)

Some examples would be 1111 (=15), 1010 (=10), 111 (=7)

However my new gadget needs reading from left to right for hours, minutes and seconds; and then from bottom to top to work out how many of each. So, in the picture above, the time is 10.48 and 36 seconds:

Go fellow geeks - impress your friends with your amazing mathematical skills

26 September 2006

Great North Run

'Ning to you all :)

Just a quick post to say that this weekend i shall mostly be struggling my way around Newcastle attempting to run the Great North Run... I am running for CLIC and if anyone would like to sponsor me they can do so at www.justgiving.com/tabilda.

Thank you kindly, Tabilda x x

22 September 2006

Uber Geek

Today i have mostly been perfecting the art of being an uber-geek. I truly feel i have stepped up a rung on the ladder to true geekdom by ;firstly, getting myself a new google mail (gmail) account; secondly, creating a Flickr account to host images on; and thirdly, converting from MSN Messenger to Trillian. All in one morning!

I am not sure i can take all this excitement, so i am going to try and explain it all in an effort to sort it out in my own head:

Firstly, 'Google Mail'. This is still in the testing phase (beta phase), therefore membership is by invite only at the moment. Basically, the select few (comme moi!) are to use it and comment back on it, then improvements will be made and it will finally get released publicly. So far, excellent. However i have had troubling importing all the contacts i have added over the years to my hotmail account - i cant be bothered to do all 150 odd of them manually!

Secondly, the 'Flickr' account. My colleague Damien assures me that it is truly geeky to have a 'Flickr' image hosting account, if you use Blogger you will know that you can insert images and blogger will 'host' them for you. However you can only host such an amount before you will have reached your limit so having somewhere else to host them is a good idea. This little baby is on flickr:

There are lots of hosting sites i.e. MSN Groups or Flickr. I have had my MSN Group (tabilda@hotmail.com) for about 2 years but, like hotmail, if you don’t use it for a month then it can close itself down taking all your images and documents with it. So i have been pointed in the direction of flickr.

And finally, Trillian. If you messenge (is this a word?) then you will know what a pain it is to have 2 windows open for separate accounts. Trillian allows you to register up to 10 accounts so that you can track everything from one window. It also stores your messages if you select that option, so that the next time you close a conversation window before noticing what has actually been sent you can find it.

Anyway, i hope you are as impressed with my new knowledge as i am! This weekend i am decorating my new house so i will try to pick a job that i would normally shy away from, like washing up or changing a light bulb.

Tabilda x

20 September 2006

10 Degrees of Seperation

Today, a small experiment to see just how small the world of blogging is. I set myself the task to find 10 new blogs, purely by linking from one to the next.

I started with 'Tabilda's Technical Exploration' giving this site a mere nine and a half out of ten for effort thereby proving that i am not entirely biased !

Next I linkied from here to 'Scaryduck'. Where have you been if you haven’t heard of this one (answers on a postcard please)? Scary made the art of blog popular after winning the first Telegraph blogging competition. He is very witty, has something to say about everything and has even been known to post decent images on B3ta but unfortunately is not nearly as good-looking as i thought he would be!

From the yellow one i found a link to 'A Policeman’s Blog'. This confirmed exactly what I had suspected all along, coppers should be avoided for the reason that they do in fact think exactly like everyone else, they are just meant to behave themselves more - a good read...

From coppers to 'Dispatches from the Norfolk Village Frontline'. The author, JohnnyB, once beat Frank Skinner in a karaoke competition and would like Brad Pitt to play him when his tales of mirth and woe are made into a film, which probably wont be long.

Next, onto 'Smaller Than Life' - like life only slightly less so... Salvadore Vincent writes for TV, Radio and newspapers so always has something interesting to say. He thinks he’s funny, he would be right.

We interrupt this 95% text posting to bring you some fluffiness:

This is Mango and Pingu (you work out which one is which) - their favourite blog is 'Stuff on My Cat' read and enjoy ;-)

And so onto something much more interesting (and saucy) - 'Girl With a One-Track Mind'. This girl is becoming nearly as famous as 'Belle De Jour' which means a book deal is sure to follow! Catch her quickly before she becomes too busy opening the 427th UK Specsavers to blog...

The sex-obsessed one passed me in the direction of 'A beautiful Revolution' This is my favourite for the drawings alone, very funny although he has a tendency to get depressed, awe :(

From being emotionally down I linkied to 'Little Red Boat'. A very cheery blog from Anna (London), she reads, writes, sings and can stick her fist in her mouth, respect!

Nearly there, Anna sent me to 'Naked Blog'. This blog is written by a Scotsman and has been going for years so covers virtually everything. No, sorry, its not nearly as rude as the title suggests - worth a read anyhow!

10 (finally)
Damn that naked blogger for sending me back to 'Scaryduck' OK he had other links but this one seemed tidier

So anyway, i have proved not only that there are some fantastically funny blogs out there that i hadnt read yet, but that the blogging world is also surprisingly small. I have also managed to include uniforms, minorities, sex, wildlife, history, sport and lots of nakedness all into one blog! Well done me!!!

Back to technical things in my next post...

18 September 2006

Control Freak!

As requested by my good friend Sam I have decided to explore that most manly of subects - the 'remote control'.

Pingu has suggested to me that the male obsession with the remote control stems from them not being able to fiddle with the television reception anymore. Gone are the days that your boyfriend or husband could look all manly whilst climbing up the roof to produce a better reception with which to watch "The A Team", so now he has to get his kicks elsewhere...

Personally, I think the best thing about remote controls is that you can jam them leaving a bewildered 'clicker' wandering why even the brand new batteries fail to get the television remote to work. In fact, I was looking into how i could cleverly construct a homemade jammer but when i came across this little beautie for the very reasonable price of only £4.99 I couldn’t be bothered! Also I realised that you had to have a degree in electronics just to read the website about making your own...

Now for the technical bit, there are lots of different types of remote control but here are the most common:

  • Radio remote controls - used to dominate races against friends using remote control vehicles like cars and boats. As an example; the transmitter (boat remote control) creates a binary pattern (ones and zeroes) about what it wants to happen and sends it to the receiver (device inside the boat).
  • Infrared remote controls - these use a 'photo detector' and can be found in most televisions, video players ("VCR's"?????) and other sound systems. They transmit a light that is just out of humans red-seeing zone, again passing a binary pattern to the receiver so that it can translate this into a command; i.e. to change channel.
  • Laser control - my favourite! This one is used to guide missiles into deserving warring factions. Blow the bastards up i say! This uses algorithms (math’s and computer stuff) to control the path of a vehicle. The receiver computes where it should be and where it actually is and then makes a plan according to the difference.

In summing up, i have made this animated gif:

Although a great time saver the remote has greatly attributed to laziness. Also it wont work if something is in the way... If your boyfriend is getting a bit of a belly on him, just carefully cover the infrared light on the television with some clear selotape and hey presto! - the cheapest jammer of them all!

15 September 2006

Weebl and Bob

Sorry - no time to post today : however i found a particularly nice Weebl and Bob whilst wasting time this morning...

11 September 2006

Give me oil in my lamp keep me burning....

Unlike my male counterparts who drive souped up kev1n cars and motorbikes, i drive a "hairdressers" car:

(OK its 10 years old and not quite as shiny as the one above but it goes, Pingu likes to sunbathe on it and I look good in it.)

Anyway, up until now I have successfully avoided anything under the bonnet, especially the oil bit. I am not sure if you look at it, measure it, change it or cook with it so the next task i set myself was to find out. Here i present my findings and "how-to":

  • Park the car somewhere flat (or the oil reading wont be reliable)
  • Scrabble around in the car pulling every nob (pfffftt!) until one of them magically "pops your hood" (slang technical speaks for getting the bonnet of your car to open).
  • The next instruction I found said to "Find the dipstick and take it out"!?!? After more research I find that the dipstick is actually a stick for measuring the amount of oil, it just sits in the oil container thing and acts like a lid. It is a long thin bit of metal with a loop on the top.

(At this stage it is best to get changed out of ones work clothes - I would have put this at the start of this post but i think that you should all ruin a pair of fairly new Next wide-legged trousers like I did)

  • After finding and extracting the "dipstick", you should wipe it on some of that paper you see next to the petrol pumps in garages that I never knew what to do with until today.
  • Replace the dipstick back where it came from, leave for a few seconds, then pull it out again to that you can see where the mark from the oil is. Most dipsticks have 2 lines on them - the oil should come up to half way between these lines.

If it is below this level (mine was quite low) you will need to buy some oil and add it through a funnel until the mark comes up. Apparently your car manual should tell you what type of oil but I lost mine so I just went into the garage and fluttered my eyelashes at the Saturday lad who seemed to know less than I did.
Et voila - oil is sorted. Look out for my next exciting installment, no I haven’t decided what it will be yet.

By the way do you like my horegull what i made with potato chop?

06 September 2006

Plug, plug me do!

Whether you like it or not, plugs are vital to everyday girlie life. They are attached to the end of my hairdryer, my ghd straighteners, my Octopus hand-painted toaster and mercifully, the end of the bit of wire that makes my dishwasher go. I didnt like plugs before this post, and I still dont very much like them now...

Pingu doesn’t much like plugs, as that normally means that she got soaked and needs hair drying again. She seems to be back to normal now (apart from looking like Herman Munster), in other words she is bored stiff with being locked in all the time and has started ripping everything to peices! (I would have posted a picture of her but i forgot to bring the cable to attach my camera to my pc this morning)

Plugs can break for all sorts of reasons i.e. the fuse goes after one too many episodes of Eastenders or the pins get bent when you throw it against the wall.

Here i tell you 2 easy methods for plug fixing:

Option 1.
Sod replacing them - if you can afford it just buy a new one of whatever it is.

Option2. (failing option 1)

  • Unscrew the plug in the centre of the plug (should be on the side with the pins).
  • Remove the top cover (try not to let any little bits fall out).
  • If there are any small screws inside holding the wires in place - remove them too.
  • Pull the plug off the end of the wires.
  • Unwrap new plug from ecologically-unsound packaging.
  • The new plug should have markings (E for Earth; L for Live; N for Neutral).
  • There should be 3 wires in the appliance (Blue, Brown, and a green and yellow striped one).
  • Put the blue wire where the marking N is.
  • Put the brown wire where the marking L is.
  • Put the yellow and green wire where the marking E is.
  • Screw the cover back on again.

Suggesto what i should research next!

04 September 2006

Tools for bluffing

In an attempt to appear technical - all good girls and gay men MUST have the following:

Item 1: A Pink Toolbox.

I bought one for my mum last Christmas and as I was feeling generous I bought one for myself at the same time... Obviously I have never used mine in any fashion - does opening it up and admiring the pinkness count? Chez mother though is another story, the only person to have used it there is my dad - a little worrying really.

Item 2: A Pink USB flash drive("Thumb")...
(some percentage of this goes to the breast cancer charity, mate!)

Whether you know what it does or not it just looks good and just a glimpse of this on your key-ring will up your techie-rating ten-fold. Basically it’s like a little portable pink computer that you can store pictures, music, videos etc... on. It won’t play them but lets you move them easily from, say your mates pc at work, to your pc at home. Personally, I find it useful for putting my digital photos onto whilst i am at work, and updating my CV. Basically, all of those things that you shouldn’t really be doing at work you now can on your pink lipstick thumb. Then you just unplug it and away you go, taking all of the evidence with you. Obviously I wouldn’t advocate copying anything that’s not yours, but then I’m not your mother am I?

Item 3: A Battery Tester
If your television remote wont work, or your toothbrush is leaving you with bad breath, or (godforbid!) your rampant rabbit just doesnt cut it anymore then your problem may be as simple as needing new batteries. Just shove them in the gap in this handy gadget and it will tell you if you need some new ones.

(If you still cant get to work on time after changing the batteries on your alarm clock, might i suggest a louder alarm clock?)

By the way, Pingu is not making a comment today as she is not very well. She has had to have some staples in her chest where she cut herself and it doesnt look very nice - i might post a photo tomorrow. Anyway, she is on the mend now thankfully...

01 September 2006

Losing my blogging virginity!

Afternoon world.

When I started my most recent job my colleagues expected me (as a software engineer), to be as geeky and life-obsessed with all things technical as they are. Fine, except i'm female and have a 53-strong (and growing) shoe collection.

So what if I spend my days programming web applications in C#, i spend my evenings trawling the bargain linkbutton on ASOS.com. So what if i did my degree in Artificicial Intelligence, I had my nail extensions done yesterday and am finding it hard to type today. Oh and i should introduce my cat, Pingu, at this stage. I will be seeking her professional input on a regular basis...

Sadly, I actually do aspire to be as geeky as those i mock on a regular basis. So to help me achieve my goal I am starting this blog. My intention (good yet probably a little niave) is to examine something technical each week and report on it in female layman terms. Hopefully this will help a wider audience than just myself. I think i might start with "thumbs".

Watch this space :)