I went fishing for dinosaurs this evening.

I caught one and then an LED on my fishing net cycled through rainbow colours to let me know it was a dinosaur I caught.

A dinosaur has been sighted:
Dinosaur and tentacles

Here's my fishing net:
Fishing net

Oh no, I've caught a devilfish by mistake:

Ah, now I've caught a dinosaur! The LED is cycling through different colours.
Fishing for dinosaurs

Fishing net can also be used as a torch:
Fishing net torch

(Please note, that if you want to try fishing for dinosaurs at home, you will, of course, require a time machine and a device to shrink dinosaurs with. I am going to presume you have these things already though and that your dinosaurs have already been shrunk.)

How I wired up my fishing net:

Into my fishing net, I sewed an Adafruit Flora (an Arduino compatible wearable electronic platform) and attached a battery pack. Using conductive thread, I attached a NeoPixel LED and a colour sensor.

Then came the tricky part: detecting dinosaurs. I had originally thought about fishing for all kinds of things, from postboxes to wishing fish to mermaids to dragons to skyscrapers, but in the end settled on dinosaurs and using a colour detector.

I then had to do a lot of thinking about colours! It turns out that telling your fishing net what colour you want it to detect is not as easy as it first seems, so I read some interesting things about colours (such as XKCD's colour survey results). I wanted to put in the red, green and blue values for many variations of a colour, but the Flora did not have enough memory for that. I was over thinking it, and in the end went with a much simpler solution I found on Lesson 15: Super Cool Arduino Color Sensor Project - Basically, comparing which colour was greatest out of the red, green and blue, then changing the largest to be 255, the smallest to be 0, and halving the middle number.

When I catch something in my fishing net, the colour sensor then checks the red, green and blue values, and then compares them to the values I have given it. (The colour of dinosaurs!) If the colour matches to the colour I have given it, then the LED cycles prettily through different colours. Then I know I've caught a dinosaur.

(Cross-posted to SFZero: Something Fishy).
Last August, using Processing, I wrote some scripts to generate random walks and these were some of the outputs:

Random walk variations

I then decided I wanted to draw my own patterns by hand, and attempted to use coloured pens and tossing coins to decide what direction and colour to draw in.

If it was heads + heads, I drew a red line going right.
If it was tails + tails, I drew a green line going left.
If it was heads + tails, I drew a blue line going up.
If it was tails + heads, I drew an orange line going down.


The colours blended into each other too much, so then I tried with paint and it ended up rather splodgy. I tried with circles of card I cut out after that, but that did not work well either, and I quickly tired of cutting out circles.

Then I found some coloured stickers, which I have only recently finished sticking! I got through three packets (1200 stickers per packet), but have many yellow stickers left over, as there was a disproportionately large number of them.

I rolled a die, and where I stuck the sticker was determined by the number on the die:
1 - I stuck a red sticker to the right.
2 - I stuck a green sticker to the left.
3 - I stuck a yellow sticker down.
4 - I stuck a blue sticker up.

Red, green, yellow, blue

The first version is by the computer and the second version by me.

Computer is better than I am at placing circles in straight lines and no circles fell off in the computer version. I must have rolled dice at least a few thousand times and stuck a few thousand stickers, even if it does not look like many!

(Originally posted on: SF0 - Digital - Analogue).
I completed an SF0 task: Personification.

It was a rainy day in London, and I was stuck at home, listening to the thunder outside and waiting for my landlady to arrive to look at a broken boiler.

I stared at a toaster and wondered what it would be like if it was perhaps a little more human.

The toaster is green and has toasted many slices of bread in its life. In fact, in this photo it is toasting a slice of bread, which I then ate with marmite smeared on it.


With the help of GIMP, I rearranged pieces of the toaster into a toaster creature:
Toaster creature

It didn't look very human though.

I started to draw and then added some toaster hair and toaster eyes and so on:

Toaster person
I completed the SF0 task: Make It Soft, by cross-stitching another QR code:

"Make it soft," I read, and concluded:

This task must be softer: soft as mashed potato, soft as candyfloss, soft as a cuddly Cthulhu.

Like many other great and noble players who have completed this task, I turned to the softness of fabric and thread.

After learning to cross-stitch space invaders and Pac-Man ghosts a few months ago, I learnt to cross-stitch QR codes, by initially following some of the instructions from Instructables: QR code cross-stitch patch.

Read more... )

I started sewing it while at the Royal Festival Hall, in London. I was at a [livejournal.com profile] theladiesloos meet, and one of the people there was cross-stitching a bug, and the other was altering a zombie-related t-shirt so that it would fit her better.

A girl, a teenage girl, told me what I was sewing was cool.

A group of people started singing and I caught the word, "hell". I presumed they were singing a religious song, telling me I was going to hell, but no, it turned out they were protesting against Shell.

Read more... )

Sleep Art

Jul. 21st, 2013 09:32 am
For the SF0 task, World of Snorecraft, players have to "Enable a sleeping person to create a work of art."

For this task, I took inspiration from the Sleep Time app, which tracks your sleep cycles and can wake you up while in your lightest sleep phase. It does this by using the accelerometer in your phone, to track how much you are moving while you sleep.

I decided to create an app that would let you draw while you were asleep, by reading an accelerometer in a similar way.

Read more... )

From 22nd July:
Sleep Art - 22nd July
I completed the SF0 task "Fun with Food" on Monday. The instructions were to "play with your food".

This was originally posted at SF0:

Did you just pop out a raspberry, or was it on the custard? Stop reading the currant bun and go up the apples. Let's all get in the jam and not bother with a sherbet.

I gathered food to play with:
A currant bun
Some apples and pears
A jar of strawberry jam
A sherbet dip-dab
Some custard
A Cadbury's flake
I then cooked a raspberry tart, and also made a jelly.


On Sunday, I was shown how to use a MaKey MaKey with Scratch by [livejournal.com profile] deathboy. The MaKey MaKey is great for playing with food. For example, you can use bananas as piano keys, send messages on Facebook using alphabet soup, or play Tetris with tomatoes. Scratch is a simple way to create animations or programs just by dragging and dropping elements, so you don't have to worry about syntax.

I decided to create a Cockney rhyming slang Scratch program. I live in London, but speak Estuary English as opposed to Cockney, so looked at a list on Wiktionary: Cockney rhyming slang. I drew pictures of a television and some stairs, and recorded a fart sound. I then imported some images and moved statements around in Scratch, so that the pictures would move around.

I hooked up the MaKey MaKey and attached it to the food with crocodile clips. Messy! I abandoned the sherbet dip-dab at this point as it was not conductive.

My Scratch program:

The food hooked up to the MaKey MaKey:

If you touch the raspberry tart, it makes a farting sound.
If you touch the jelly and custard, a television appears, and the words "Hello SF0!" appear on the screen.
If you touch the jar of strawberry jam, a car moves across the screen.
If you touch the currant bun, a sun appears and moves about.
If you touch an apple, stairs appear and then become a bit swirly.
If you touch the flake, a ghost appears and says "You made a mistake".

An improvement would be to make the pictures do something a bit more interesting than just move around, but I was just learning how to use Scratch.

Cockney rhyming slang used:
Raspberry tart - fart
Custard and jelly - telly
Jam-jar - car
Currant bun - The Sun
Apples and pears - stairs
Cadbury's Flake - mistake

If you have a MaKey MaKey and a raspberry tart, jelly and custard, jar of jam, currant bun, apples and pears, and a Cadbury's flake, you can also try this out. I have uploaded it to the Scratch website: Cockney rhyming slang. If you don't have a MaKey MaKey, you can try it by imagining you are touching the food, feeling the bounce of the jelly beneath your fingers, the gooeyness of the tart, the stickiness of the currant bun, and on your keyboard you can try pressing Up, Down, Left, Right, Space, and click your mouse.
(Cross-posted to SF0 for the task: Death Kava - Eat a food that frightens you. See more pictures there: Death Kava)

For many years a little bottle of almond flavouring has been sitting in my cupboard, always travelling with me when I move house, but I have never used it, as I am a bit frightened of it.

Why am I frightened of it, a harmless little bottle of almond flavouring, when I have no nut allergy? Well, before it sat at the back of my cupboard, it sat in my mother's cupboard, and before that, it sat in my grandmother's larder. I am not sure how long it was there. The price on the bottle says "1/1", which means 1 shilling and 1 pence, and therefore suggests the bottle may be quite old. I am worried that in that time it may have turned to poison.

I asked my mother if she could remember where it had come from, and she said she wondered if before my grandmother had owned this little bottle of almond flavouring, it had belonged to my grandmother's friend, who had run a shop called "The Pantry". When the shop closed, she stayed with my grandmother for a while, and perhaps some of her unsold shop items would have made it into my grandmother's larder. I'm not sure this is the case though, as the price label says "Redmans", which is probably the name of a shop.

The label on the bottle says it was made by Clayton & Jowett in Liverpool. Searching the web, I found an advert for essence of lemon made by Clayton & Jowett from 1948. I've also found a photo of a bottle of peppermint essence from 1920 by Clayton & Jowett, and the label of this almond flavouring at least looks more modern than that.

There is no sell by date on the bottle, and if there's no sell by date, then obviously it must never go off. I conclude that it is time to get over my fear and use the almond essence. I sniff the bottle and it does still smell very almondy and surprisingly quite pleasant.

I looked through Vegan Pie in the Sky and found a recipe for pear frangipane tart. I made a press-in almond crust, and then in the filling, where it called for almond extract, I used some of the ancient almond flavouring from the bottle. Disguising the almond flavouring in a tart seemed the best plan, I would hardly even notice it was there.

I cooked the pie and made a bit of a mess of it, but I have eaten some and I am still alive, and not transported back to whenever the almond flavouring was made. Maybe the effects take a while to set in though?

Almond Flavouring


Mar. 6th, 2010 09:05 pm
"Where have I been? Nowhere."

Googlemaps revealed a place called Nowhere in Chester, so I jumped on a train, and soon the border was crossed and I was in England.

I passed the black and white striped houses, and people shouting about sin, and made my way through the crowds, with a jaffa cake milkshake as subsistence, until I had left the centre of Chester, and was at Grosvenor Bridge. It was then that I got my first tantalising glimpse of Nowhere, hiding behind the trees. I crossed the bridge and wandered into Overleigh Cemetery, hoping to spot the grave of the Chewing Gum Girl, but I was out of luck, so I continued onwards until I found myself on River Lane.

There was an elderly couple walking in my direction, so to avert suspicion, I took some photos of the River Dee and the bridge I had earlier crossed. Once they were out of sight, I continued, and there on my right was the house that is Nowhere. Two signs on the fences indicated so, and another on the white house itself behind the fence also agreed.

I listened to Nowhere Man by the Beatles on my MP3 player, as apparently John Lennon visited Nowhere and was later inspired by to write the song. I also listened to The Man from Nowhere, by Throbbing Gristle, in case it was about the same person.

A squashed beer can found nearby was obviously proof that Nowhere really was once an 'unofficial pub' (according to Chester Virtual Stroll). When people were asked where they had been, they could answer 'nowhere'. I am unsure why there was a pair of jeans in the bushes though.

Photos of Nowhere )
(Cross-posted to SF0: Centroid Exploration.)


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