Project Updates… (+1 Knitting)

It occurs to me that you blog readers may have missed the update on twitter on my scarf knitting project. It had advanced to a few feet at the time of the last update, and is now complete at a shade over 9.5 feet.

Very happy with the results of it as a first project. I need to practice finishing off colour transitions a bit more, and I don’t quite have the hang of edging yet. More to learn!

+1 Knitting
Achievement Unlocked: 1st Completed Knitting Project


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Cosplay – Learning by doing (and failing)

So, I got invited to a friend’s Star Wars themed birthday recently (I won’t say *which* birthday, I don’t think that would be particularly appreciated). Someone had joked about it being a costume party, with obvious consequences…

In terms of options, there was only ever one choice…

Harrison Ford is Han Solo in Star Wars

Harrison Ford is Han Solo in Star Wars

So, I present Bryn Solo!

Bryn Solo - Kessel Run in 12 parsecs or less

Bryn Solo – Kessel Run in 12 parsecs or less

A few things I learnt from this particular escapade…

1) I really need to practice my had-stitching — Seriously, it’s terrible. The stitches are uneven, crooked and all over the place. It’s a miracle that any of it hangs together (the stripe on the trousers is stitched on by me).

2) Spray Paints are jolly good fun — The blaster originally came in a wonderful shade of white plastic, which rather ruins the effect:

The cheapo replica pistol sold by Amazon...

The cheapo replica pistol sold by Amazon…

But after some painting…


Not quite the right shade of grey on the muzzle, but a lot closer than the original prop did…

3) The Holster — Possibly the most accurate part… an actual replica bought online from Jedi

Han Holster

4) 80s beige shirts are hard to come by… even in London — Despite checking out all the places you’d expect to find such things in London (Shoreditch, Soho, Covent Garden & Camden Market, I’d not been able to track down a single place I could get a shirt & jacket combo that worked. Amazon listed a “deluxe” costume (this version came with a seprate vest and shirt…) which answered the requirement. The trousers on the other hand came with some ridiculous fake boots… speaking of which…

5) Knee-high boots for men — Another thing that turns out to be quite tricky to find. The only pair I’d been able to track down were a pair of rubber riding boots (essentially wellington boots). The problem was, whilst they were okay to the size of my foot, I couldn’t actually get the damned things on. So, in a fit of pique, I cut a 10″ slit in the inside edge, which fixed one problem, but created another…

The boots, one problem fixed but another created...

The boots, one problem fixed but another created…

A zip was dismissed (since it wouldn’t add enough space for me to actually be able to zip them up). I opted instead to put in a large velcro tab type thing (which was initially glued in place, then re-enforced with stiches – again, appalingly stitched).

So… the stripe is badly stitched on, the boots are a travesty and the shirt comes from a cheap costume, but I honestly couldn’t be happier that it all hangs together. It actually *looks* like what I’d originally intended. My take-away from the whole thing is that I just need to take a bit more time to look at a problem, then implement it properly, rather than half-heartedly working on getting it done (because part of me didn’t fully believe it’d work). The solution I came up with worked, and a bit more effort on my part would have ended up with with a much neater-looking end product. I’ve also learnt a lot about how some of these materials work, how to attach one to the other, and where I can pick up supplies to get these jobs done.

Plus, I have a reasonable Han Solo Costume…

Achievement Unlocked: 1st Cosplay Effort
+1 Sewing
+1 Prop Replication
+1 Botching & Making Good

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Maker Faire & Levelling Up

I’ve wanted to attend a maker faire since I first heard about them back in 2006. Awesome pictures and videos would surface over the web of the sort of things that would happen at them… My most recent favourite, featured Adam Savage of the Mythbusters dancing in a Faraday Cage whilst Tesla Coils play out the tune to Doctor Who:

When it came to the events in the UK, I always seemed to miss out on being able to attend. Either I wouldn’t find out it was on in time, or (as was often the case), my work got in the way.

Until *this* year…

I spent the day down at the Brighton Mini Makers Faire and was massively buzzed to see everything there. There were robots, awesome spinning LED displays, paint cannons, laser cutters, looms, knitters… Lions, and tigers, and bears! Oh, my! I ended up at two tables making a few bits and pieces.

The first was a stand run by Sew Fabulous, where they let people make a small pouch/purse using the sewing machines. I’d not done any sewing in years… (back in I think year 9 at Secondary School, in a Design & Technology class, I made a cusion cover that looked like the Welsh flag… which was a lot of fun…).
Sewn Pouch

The second was a class run by a jewler called Scarlett Erskine, who worked through and helped us make a ring. We went through the process of sizing, silver soldering (how can you not enjoy a process that involves using blowtorches?!), quenching and some design work. I ended up making a pretty basic shape (with hindsight, I should really have thought a bit more about the type of ring I was going to make), but the end result is fantastically pleasing.

Silver Ring

So… stats for the day end up with a +1 to Silver Smithing and to Sewing. With the “Jewelry 101″ achievement unlocked. Whoop.

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Power Struggles & Furniture Hacking

Like a number of you I’m sure, I have a number of devices that power from USB. Each time a new USB device arrives, it seems I spend a good 20 minutes trying to figure out what’s the optimum arrangement to plug in the power adaptors into the multi-gangs I have so that the devices can all be charged.

The place where this seems to happen is mostly by my bed, and the multi-gang adaptor I had there was a massive jumble of cables I’d often end up tripping over. So, there had to be a solution…

Searching on Amazon, I came across Anker‘s 5-port 40W adaptor, so 5 USB devices could be plugged in to one adaptor, and the adaptor itself was around the size of a deck of cards. PERFECT. One plug, 5 USB devices!

Having also been a fan of Ikea Hackers, I’d always wanted to try to customize the furniture to something that was of more use. I thought of an idea to mount the adaptor in such a way as to keep it off the floor out of sight. So, over my lunch break today I thought of building a cradle I could attach to the base of the unit out of “L” brackets, then tack the cables along the back in order to have something to keep them a bit tidier.

With the cradle complete, the device sits in it quite nicely:


Turning it back over and re-installing the radio & lamp, the cables are now tacked in the far back corner within easy reach. They fall out over the back when not in use, and don’t sit messily over the front. Not bad for 15 minutes of work.


Must find more projects like this to do…


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The AirWaves Podcast – Ep 20

So I got invited by my friend Russ Clewett to appear on The AirWaves podcast, where I managed to ramble on (semi-coherently) about various media issues and upcoming TV. Some of you have apparently wanted to hear me do a podcast in English, so… you know… have a listen.

The AirWaves Episode 20 – He has the terrible

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The Object (Scene 11)

The positive reaction to the first part of “The Object” lead me to write the next one, where we meet our two main characters. For reference, the interaction isn’t intended to be one of those cutesy “Will they/won’t they” type interactions…

We start to see some dialogue now… like I said, it’s likely that this is where my efforts fall over… thoughts and opinions welcome of course…

[Scene 11 - Black screen - white text - “Director’s Office - 09:38 GMT”]

Man sits behind heavy wooden desk reading a report. Subordinate sits opposite. Room is quiet. Low ambient hum. Subordinate fidgets and makes a noise. Man stops reading the report, looks over it. Subordinate stops fidgeting and returns to sitting quietly.

Man: “So the results of the weekend tests were inconclusive?”

Subordinate: “Yes sir, as you can seen from the shots in the file, we could observe no differences in the surface structure after each test. We also noted that the temperatures at the target sites remained constant, despite the discharge levels”.

Man: *continues to read*

Subordinate: “The other sensors within the chamber and surrounding areas also recorded no effect”.

Man: “Any other tests planned?”

Subordinate: “Some additional scans around the target sites, but nothing intrusive”

Man: “Good. That’ll be all.” *puts report aside, continues with other work*

Subordinate: (looks awkward. Gathers things): “Yes sir…”

Subordinate leaves. Buzzer sounds. Man presses a button on the desk

V/O: “Dr Phillips, Sir”

Man pauses

Man: “Send her in”

Door opens. Dr Elizabeth Phillips enters. Mid 30s, brightly dressed, wearing a lab coat. Brighter in demeanour than her boss, a lot more confident than the earlier subordinate.

Liz: “George!”

George: “Dr Phillips… the meeting was 9:30. I…”

Liz: “Oh, was it? Chris took you through the results though, didn’t he?”

George: “That’s not the…”

Liz: “It wasn’t like there was a *lot* to go over or anything…”

George: “yes… but…”

Liz: *talking over him* “Plus, some new equipment had arrived, and I really needed to supervise *that* so…”

George: *snaps* “Dr Phillips!”

Liz: *smiles* “Yes George”.

George: “We’ve discussed this, at length… these meetings are important, and as the head of research, you’re expected to attend. I would also appreciate it if you respected the operating guidelines and addressed me as “Sir” or “Director”…”

Liz: *mockingly* “Yes sir…”

George: “Thank you…” *grabs a report and continues to work*

Liz stays in her seat looking around the office. George looks up after a few seconds

George: “Was there something else?”

Liz: “YES! oh, I had such an amazing weekend… Kew Gardens…”

George: “Dr Phillips… please… I…”

Liz: “*such* beautiful flowers…”

George: “Doctor…”

Liz: “there was this orchid too… it reminded me of you actually… all shriveled and…”

George: *holds up hand* “Doctor Phillips… please, I’ve been more than polite, I really do need to get…”

Liz: *looks hurt* “But you didn’t tell me about your weekend…”

George looks exasperated

Liz: “fine… *next* time, I expect a full report”

Liz smiles, gets up and walk out.

Liz: “Good to catch up, Director” *mock curtsy, then leaves the room*


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The Object

So I’ve had this half-baked idea in my mind for a science fiction one-shot screenplay type thing. I’ve put bits of it together in my head and got some of it down on paper. It’s mostly setting up shots, it’ll probably start falling down when I try to add dialogue…

[Scene 1 - Opening Scene, Suburban London Railway station]
Shot from opposite platform. Busy platform, people jostling each other. Camera focuses on portly, Middle-aged man (smartly dressed in an overcoat reading a newspaper). Being bumped by other commuters, but says nothing. Young couple stand unnecessarily close to him discussing a dinner party they’re hosting later as if he’s not there. Train pulls up.

[Scene 2 – Train interior – Man sat by Window]
On the train, man continues to read the newspaper, various noises and distractions around. Teenagers discussing school. Conversations in different languages. Tinny music on phone headphones.
– Camera tightens on man’s face — Sounds get louder as he rubs his temples –
– Noise stops as train announces arrival at London Waterloo –

[Scene 3 - Wide shot over London Golden Jubilee Bridge down-river - HoC & London Eye in Shot]
–Camera zooms to see the man crossing the bridge

[Scene 4 – Westminster]
Man walks down Westminster, walks into office building

[Scene 5 - Interior down corridor - Over the man's shoulder]
Carpeted office hallway, Oak panels, people walking around carrying files, coffee etc.
Man walks down corridor, avoiding obstacles – no one notices him. He’s making his way towards elevators at the far end.

[Scene 6 - Standing in front of elevator doors - shot facing the elevator - Man has back to camera]
Camera switches to close up of the right-side of the man’s face in lower-right corner of screen
Noise of office grows louder. After a few seconds, the elevator bings and the noise stops.
Switch to scene 6 opening camera angle as doors close.

[Scene 7 - Inside elevator - over-the-shoulder shot]
He reads paper as elevator descends. After a few seconds, the elevator opens and he steps (camera follows) into a long concrete corridor, sparsely lit, with two soldiers at a guard post. He continues past them (they stand to attention). Camera switches to display board behind one soldier – WW2-style sign reads “Situation: Normal”

[Scene 8 - Main office interior]
Cramped, eclectically decorated office, four desks facing each other. Man enters through door, staff at desks look up. One stands and hands him a file. He reads, signs and continues to the door on the other side of the office

[Scene 9 - Control Room Interior]
Man enters, control room operator looks up:

Control Room Operator: “Sir”
Man: [nods] “Status?”

[Scene 10 - Interior cavern, focused on control room window -- Man in view -- Panning out to reveal cavern with massive metallic object in the center]

Control Room Operator: “No change Sir…”

[Cut to Title Card - Black with white text. Card reads "The Object"]

That’s pretty much it so far. It needs a bit of work. It’ll almost certainly fall over as soon as the dialogue kicks in… Thoughts or ideas welcome.


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