May 31, 2008

Big River Update

As there has been lots more rain since Wednesday, the river level has risen a fair bit above where it was then. By yesterday it had almost submerged the bars on the Murazzi quayside, as you can see from the photo on this post from local blogger Axell. I cycled along past the bars on Wednesday, so that's a rise of around four feet in a day or two.

Today the sun managed to stay out for a few hours (although there's been another thunderstorm since), so I went for a bike ride and retraced our route from Wednesday. The water level seems to be dropping, and the clean-up operation has started. There were even a couple of hovercraft on the river, one with a film crew filming the devastation. They were very noisy, but extremely cool and manoeuverable.

Click on the photo to see all the pictures I've taken of the river over the past few days.

A hovercraft on a flooded river Po


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May 30, 2008

Would You Like More Control Over Your Electricity Usage?

For a while now I've been wondering about how to green our homes. Over on the company blog I've just announced the Mazzini Project, the latest idea along these lines that I've been playing around with.

It's a wireless power-monitor combined with a control unit so that as well as letting you know exactly how much electricity whatever is plugged into it is using, you can also turn it on and off remotely. I'm still just building the first prototype (I was wiring together circuits and measuring things with the multimeter just this afternoon) but I wanted to start talking about the idea to see what people thought.

I've put some slides together to try to explain it in more detail, so please have a look at them and let me know what you think. Is it a good idea? Would you buy one? How would you hack one to do things I haven't thought of?

If you want to see the slides full-screen, then you can do that from this page.


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May 28, 2008

Big River

The weather has been pretty ropey for the past few days here in Torino. Yesterday we had lots of rain, and a pretty decent thunderstorm. Today was quite a bit better so we went out for a bike ride up the river.

All that water has to go somewhere, obviously, and the river is probably the highest I've seen it. It also seems to be carrying a hell of a lot of debris - tree trunks, plastic bottles, oil drums... so much junk in fact that it has started to collect around any objects in the flow. This bridge for example:

Debris forming a dam halfway across the river Po

It's hard to see from my mobile phone picture, but the stuff is forming a dam which stretches about halfway across the river. Here's a close-up of the dam taken from the bridge:

The natural dam forming across the Po

As the river was so high, on our way back we took a slight diversion to see what the weir in the middle of town was like. They're in the middle of maintenance work on it at the moment, and have built a small causeway across in order to do the work. With this amount of water in the river all being channelled into half its width by the causeway, we thought it would be pretty impressive.

And it was. Most of the causeway has been swept away; I hope they hadn't left the pile driver and excavator on it that have been there the past few times I've been past...

Heavy flow over the weir on the river Po

Lots of murky water pouring over it, you wouldn't be able to drive a few Minis across just at the minute!


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May 27, 2008

links for 2008-05-27

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May 23, 2008

geeKyoto 08

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May 22, 2008

An Electric Tractor

This is the first post from the recent trip to Modena, but don't worry, there are plenty of pictures of supercars still to come. This photo is from a collection of tractors which forms part of the Museo d'Auto e Moto d'epoca Umberto Panini, rather a contrast from the old Maseratis just a few metres away.

It's good to see that people have been experimenting with alternative power sources for things other than cars and bikes, and it brought to mind some of the recent comments on Dale's blog.

According to the details attached to the tractor (and assuming my Italian is up to scratch), the tractor is powered by four electric motors, each providing between 5 and 9.5KW. The motors are run from two 72V batteries, which give 480Ah of charge. The tractor weighs 4500Kg (the batteries themselves account for 1440Kg of that total) and has a top speed of 18Km/h.


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May 16, 2008

Off to geeKyoto

It's far too early in the morning, but the one daily flight from Turin to Stansted leaves in a few hours so I'll be off to the airport soon.

This is a short post to remind anyone who might be interested that it's the geeKyoto conference tomorrow. I'll be attending (which is the reason for the trip to London) and am looking forward to it. If you're going, say hi - I'm quite friendly really, and look something like this

If for any reason anyone needs to contact me, I'm reachable on 07710 036866.

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May 15, 2008

links for 2008-05-15

  • On the strength of watching this I'll be buying "In Defence of Food". To be healthy, shop round the edges of the supermarket (or better still, not in a supermarket at all)
    (tags: food video)
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May 14, 2008

Cars, Cars, Cars...

Well, it's been a busy few days, but an extremely enjoyable few days. Since Sunday I've seen old cars, new cars, slow cars, fast cars, prototype cars, race cars, model cars, rare cars.... plus a couple of tractors, and the man responsible for my sticker collecting as a kid.

There are a lot of photos, and plenty of stories, but it's going to take a while to get them all sorted and posted up here. Partly because we managed to visit so many places, but mostly because I've got a huge list of things to get done before Friday.

And on Friday I'll be heading back to the UK to attend the geeKyoto conference and some of the items on the todo list involve something I'm hoping to announce around the conference.

Until I get back next week, you'll have to make do with this sneak preview of part of one of the five car-related venues I've visited in the past four days.

Panorama of cars from the Trilogia dell'Automobile


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May 07, 2008

links for 2008-05-07

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May 06, 2008

More Thinking By Doing Needed

A friend one commented that some people think by doing, whilst others do by thinking. By that he meant that some people work through their problems in their head, thinking through all the options and possibilities before acting, whereas other people have to start playing with things in order to map out the problem-space and help them to understand what they think about the problem.

Both approaches have their merits, and I definitely fall into the "doing by thinking" camp. The problem with that method is that sometimes you don't have enough information to be able to reach any conclusions.

Of late, all the projects I'm involved with seem to be suffering from that problem, but I hadn't quite put my finger on it until I read Gordon's post about practising more of what he preaches.

I don't have any problem practising what I preach, my difficulty is practising things that I'm not confident to preach, and similarly talking about things when I don't have all the answers (or at least, a lot of the answers). Some of that is because I don't know enough about the subject (like marketing, or the hardware I'm hoping to finish before geeKyoto 2008), and some of it is because there aren't any hard and fast answers (marketing again, and the "best" business models for these projects).

So I need to let myself, and encourage myself to, think more by doing. This blog post is a start.


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May 04, 2008

links for 2008-05-04

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May 03, 2008

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May 01, 2008

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