Aberystwyth University is 150 round about now and as part of the institution’s 150th birthday celebrations they’ve had a series of projects to help celebrate this. Tally Roberts (our faculty outreach wizard) and I got a small grant to run some storytelling and animation based coding workshops for kids, which finished at the weekend. We ran five workshops (two in the Town Library, two in the Arts Centre, and one in the Ceredigion Museum) to coincide with school holidays, and had about 45 kids attend overall. The aim was to do some programming in Scratch in a creative context, telling stories about Aberystwyth. They didn’t
Over the last couple of months I have been intermittently playing with code and with the embroidery machine, and there are a few things I’ve learned. Here’s a blow-by-blow account of creating an embroidered image from a photo: First I cut out the image I was interested in using GIMP, and then blurred it to reduce the amount of detail. With my blurred image, I then ran Watershed to segment it into coloured blocks or regions. This gave me something like this: This original attempt at a pattern was – with hindsight – too complex. However I didn’t know that at the time so I
We’ve got a new piece of kit in our university Makerspace! Thanks to Chris Price we’ve got a Brother Innovis NV880E embroidery machine https://www.brothermachines.com/sewing/2947/Innov-is_NV880E_Embroidery_Machine. This is a sewing machine with a robotic element – you put material in an embroidery frame, and the machine moves the embroidery frame around in order to sew in different directions with different stitches. This means that you can sew patterns! Combined with an online system called TurtleStitch you can program embroidery using a blocks-based language. The machine also has some inbuilt patterns and text but these are not as exciting as being able to program embroidery… My first test
One of the jobs I have at work is to “manage” the makerspace, a room with a 3d printer and laser cutter and a few other cool toys in it. This room is supposed to be a facility for students and staff to build small prototype objects for any projects they have, however work-related or wacky – it’s been used to print cases for kit, build replacement lab components, try out ideas for robots, and print any number of D&D figurines and small plastic dinosaurs. When the pandemic started, it was closed to humans and the printer got commandeered into a PPE printing effort (bravo).
Sometime before xmas I was working from home and there was a bang on the door (around school drop-off time). I opened it to find Clive, the curator of TEDxAberystwyth, wanting to discuss lineup, promotion and so on. I’d been heavily involved in the first one as an organiser, on the small team that pulled it together. So I am familiar with the rules of TEDx and have even negotiated the whole “building a TEDx-compatible website” and “booking a room and making it look a bit like a TEDx event” things. The knock on the door turned out to be my “Would you like to
Usually we organise a couple of socials each term for the women students in our department. These involve meeting up for a coffee or some drinks, and provide an informal way to support women students as it can be a little odd being in a minority. As Wales went into a “firebreak” lockdown, a friend suggested we do some kind of online social to entertain the students. This is a difficult year for everyone in education but I think students must find it particularly hard – it is frustrating being locked down in a house, I can’t imagine being locked down in a student accommodation.
I’ve just finished the book “A Computer Called LEO“, by Georgina Ferry, and it was a great read. I can thoroughly recommend it. It’s not new either so if you like secondhand books you can probably pick a copy up cheap. It’s a book about the early days of business computing, but don’t let that put you off. Lyons teashops, which I don’t really remember (the last closed in 1981, when I was 8) were apparently MASSIVE before the second world war. The parent company Lyons were innovative, in their business practices and the way they approached problem solving. In 1946, two managers persuaded their
Everyone I speak to who has hayfever confirms that 2019 has been a challenging year of sneezing, running eyes, and itchy faces. This means that there’s a lot of pollen about. In over 10 years of beekeeping, Rog has only once collected enough honey to warrant borrowing the extractor from the beekeepers association. Usually, we get 5 or 6 jars, if we’re lucky. This year, the payoff for my runny nose was a Saturday spent extracting honey. How do you extract honey? Well let me show you. To begin with you have a bunch of frames. These sit in a super which is a box
A week ago I went to London to borrow a piece of scientific jewelery for a couple of years. It’s a delightful, rather bonkers scheme by the MRC called Suffrage Science, whereby they chose 6 women computer scientists to receive a brooch 2 years ago, and last week they handed the brooch onto the next woman. In just under two years time I get to hand it on to the next person, and that way it passes from scientist to scientist. I was given the brooch by the excellent Professor Carron Shankland from the University of Stirling. The event was good fun – here’s me
For EMF2018 (my general blog post about the festival can be found here) Charles Yarnold and my old friend Ben Blundell built a cyberpunk zone, called Null Sector, with installations and all sorts of cool stuff. I made a tiny part of this, in the form of a surveillance themed installation which sat behind the cyberpunk-style grill in the bar area. The aim of the installation was to provide a slightly disconcerting surveillance-style view of the people in the bar, matching the general branding of Null Sector, so it seemed as if the company running Null Sector (Polybius Biotech) were carrying out videosurveillance of attendees.