March 25, 2009

Video of Me on the Front Page of the BBC News Website

I turned on my laptop this morning to be met by a number of emails and tweets from friends letting me know that my face seemed to be gracing the front page of the BBC News website.

Heading over for a look, I found out it was true - although it was a bit tricky to spot me behind a huge bubble... that's right, Bubblino was muscling in as usual. It's an article about some of the inventions and gadgets that were at Maker Faire, and there's some good footage of Bubblino doing his stuff, plus a bit about the Mazzini project and the Light Load Lamp (which I'll be blogging about soon).

As I write this, it's even top of the "Most popular video/audio" section! Take a look for yourself at BBC News | Technology | Tech Know: Bubbling Inventions.


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March 24, 2009

Ada Lovelace Day 2009: Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino

Today is Ada Lovelace Day, an international day of blogging to draw attention to women excelling in technology. It's the brainchild of Suw Charman, who says in her blog post introducing the idea:

"after many conversations, it has become clear that many of my female friends in tech really do feel disempowered. They feel invisible, lacking in confidence, and unsure how to compete for attention with the men around them.


Psychologist Penelope Lockwood discovered that women need to see female role models more than men need to see male ones.

Well, that’s a relatively simple problem to begin to address. If women need female role models, let’s come together to highlight the women in technology that we look up to. Let’s create new role models and make sure that whenever the question “Who are the leading women in tech?? is asked, that we all have a list of candidates on the tips of our tongues."

So who could possibly be against getting more interesting and good people interested and working in technology? Not me. So here's my nomination for Ada Lovelace Day:

Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino

Alex is an interaction designer, and CEO of - one of the main groups involved with the Arduino hardware platform. She gets involved with lots of the tech community events here in the UK, and is almost the public face of Arduino over here.

I've met her a couple of times, first at Bookcamp/Papercamp and then at Maker Faire UK. She's enthusiastic about the possibilities of physical computing and keen to encourage collaboration and promote the geek community. She's also not afraid to get her hands dirty - in her talk at Papercamp she had everyone building models out of paper and glue, and even when attending the recent Rewired State event as a judge she still found time to knock out a design of her own.

If you want to see who else has been featured on Ada Lovelace Day 2009, you can explore the other ALD09 posts.


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March 23, 2009

Hear Me on BBC Radio 4's Click On Programme

The BBC were out in force at the Maker Faire the other weekend, and the content they recorded is starting to make its way out into the world.

Yesterday, BBC Radio 4's Click On programme aired their report from the faire, and the interview I did with them on the Sunday was featured in two points in the show.

First off, about 3m30s in, you can hear me talk about Bubblino (whose picture also graces the Click-on programme details page)

And then there's a longer segment from the interview at around the 10m 50s mark. In it I talk about what the Mazzini project is trying to achieve and explain some of the things you can start to do with the technology.

If you missed it then you can listen to the programme again from the Click On website or download the mp3 podcast of the show instead.

Two things that didn't make it into the interview, but which might be of interest to anyone visiting from hearing about us on the BBC, are Homecamp and Howduino:

Homecamp is an unconference being held in London on Saturday 25th April, and will be full of people discussing and hacking with energy monitoring and home automation.

And Howduino is a day of hardware-hacking and learning about Arduino boards (which power both Bubblino and the Mazzini monitors) in Liverpool, taking place on Saturday 23rd May. So if you fancy getting into the maker spirit, come along.


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March 21, 2009

A Walk In the Peak Distrcit From Crowden

On the way back from Makers and Hackers in Sheffield the other week, I stopped off in the Peak District to get out on the hills with a couple of mates.

As I had my phone with me, I fired up Mobile Trail Explorer and traced our route as we tramped round the peaty terrain. Now I'm back, I've pulled down the GPX file and can show you exactly where we went (and how close we got to the Pennine Way and still didin't find it!).

Click here to see the map in the full window

It also lets me show some of the benefits of using OpenStreetMap data for your mapping. This is the cycle-map view of the data, which includes the contour info, and so gives a better view of where we've been. If you click on the little "+" symbol to the right of the map, you can flip between a couple of the different stylesheets available. And if none of them look quite right for your application, you can always create your own.


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March 20, 2009

links for 2009-03-20

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March 19, 2009

links for 2009-03-19

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March 17, 2009

Howduino - a Day of Hardware Hacking in Liverpool

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March 16, 2009

Maker Faire UK

The first ever UK Maker Faire was held this past weekend in the centre of Newcastle. Around 5000 people visited the marquee over the two days, and got to see a host of different exhibits, including a life-size, fire-breathing mechanical horse; a physical (rather than on-screen) version of the old classic Lunar Lander; a collection of 3D-printed ornaments; and of course Bubblino and the Mazzini monitors.

Annoyingly, as I was manning the stand on my own, I didn't get to explore the event as much as I'd have liked. It was good to catch up with the guys from the recent Makers and Hackers event and Alex from, and to meet lots of interesting people for the first time.

As well as the exhibits there were lots of practical hands-on workshops that the public could join. On Saturday there was a marching band procession through the marquee, made up of people playing their electronic instruments that they'd just built, and over in one corner you could learn how to solder whilst building a flashing-eyed bug or an LED throwie. There was a wonderful air of you-can-do-this-too throughout the whole event.

The kids all loved Bubblino, and there was also plenty of interest in the Mazzini monitors and what they were measuring. I spoke to three different crews from the BBC over the weekend, so once any of that surfaces online I'll be sure to post links.

Well done to the Newcastle Science Festival guys for bringing Maker Faire to the UK, and to everyone at O'Reilly UK for putting on such a great festival of making and hacking. I'm already thinking about what else I should make to take to the next one...


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March 13, 2009

Are You Going to Maker Faire UK?

If you're in the Newcastle area this weekend, then you might want to head along to the first ever Maker Faire to be held in the UK.

And if you make it along, be sure to say hello - I'll be on a stand in the marquee, showing off Bubblino and the latest developments (more soon) with the Mazzini emergy monitor.

Full details are on the Maker Faire UK website.


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March 12, 2009

links for 2009-03-12

  • This is a great use of the Amazon EC2 virtual servers - an easy way to share some preconfigured server setup to let people generate their own map styles using the Openstreetmap data
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March 06, 2009

links for 2009-03-06

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March 03, 2009

links for 2009-03-03

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