• New Years Resolution

    Jan 1, 2011

    I don't know about you, but I find it difficult to remember my New Years Resolution, let alone keep it. So I think noting it down will be a good way of keeping track, reflecting and possibly spurring some of you on.

    This year I'm going to try some self improvement, at least, I'd see it as improvement. Recently I checked out my BMI on the NHS tool. I did this to stop speculating as to what my weight should be and actually find out a hard value. Although many are sceptical about the relevance of BMI to them, I think it's quite relevant to me. So my BMI turned out to be 17. A fair way outside the 'healthy weight' category of 18.5-25 to the point where my indicator was close to the edge of the scale. After playing for a bit I discovered I needed to put on a stone to tip into the 'Healthy weight' section.

    It's not as if I don't eat, I do, just I'm not too sure it's the right stuff. I also don't think my non-exercise habit is helping. I don't want this to cost me money, so the gym is out.

    So my resolution(s) are the following:

    • Eat better - learn to cook more inspiring foods
    • Blog more regularly
    • Study more
    • Go climbing
    • Exercise daily (3 reps)
      • 10 Push-ups (spiders if I'm feeling adventurous)
      • 10 Sit-ups
      • 10 Flyovers
      • 10 Arm curls
      • 10 Lunges
    I'm quite keen on keeping these up throughout the year to see what effect they have. So I'll start as I mean to go on. You'll notice on here whether I'm keeping at least the blog posting one. What're your resolutions?

  • Beluga: Initial thoughts

    Dec 30, 2010

    I was drawn to the existence of Beluga by @Chris_Alexander's review. I thought I'd check it out to see what it was about. It appears to be a new medium of communication, with a little more selected privacy than Twitter and Facebook, where you can broadcast or select one person to send a message to multiple people for it to be a little more private. Beluga overcomes this with the idea of using pods. A pod is private, only invited users can access it, to read or contribute. This means you can create your own private groups to organise, chat, discuss or whatever you feel like. It's in beta, apps are available on iPhone and Android at the moment, BlackBerry is on its way.

    I can see this being a simplified version of Google Wave, which means I think it could be used for collaboration - updates, ideas, information, links and the like - as it progresses. It could be used for live feedback sessions or education; Module discussions at uni, group work.

    I'm certainly going to be watching how this takes shape. What changes they make, features added. If you think of a feature, they've got open feedback for suggestions and the like - I have a few of my own, just need to put them into words. Give it a shot, be part of the next big thing from the off! We're setting up a Reading pod as I type this, if you want in let me know!

  • Film Going

    Dec 29, 2010

    Recently I've been home for Christmas. A time for celebration, eating, drinking and catching up. It took me a while to get into a Christmas-y mood. Not quite sure why. But at least it felt like Christmas just in time for Christmas day.

    On Bank Holiday Monday, or 'Boxing Day' if you follow that kind of thing. (Personally I've always seen it as being the day after Christmas Day.) I went to see the latest Harry Potter Film, which, I must say, I found very good entertainment and I'm told it's true to the book. Its been too long since I read the book to know myself. Despite it having been out for quite some time the Cinema was nearly full. Kids and all.

    However, little things degraded the experience that I think a cinema trip should be. This video, thanks to @littlespy for drawing my attention to it, should explain a bit:

    My beef wasn't with a kid, clearly not near the twelve age 'recommendation', talking during the opening sequence. I doubt very much that he wanted to see the film at that point - eventually he seemed to stop this - my guess is he fell asleep. But it was with the constant rustling throughout the film. I can deal with a bit of it - like if they're fishing some goodies out of their pick'n'mix. But no, crisp packets and who knows what else were the main culprits. One person doing so seemed to cue about three others. Some things I'm sure weren't sold in the Cinema.

    So this gave me an idea - rustle-free packaging. I don't imagine it would be too difficult or expensive to produce rustle-free packaging for the confectionery available at the Cinema, which would improve the experience for all.So if you're into that kind of thing, give it a shot, for me.

  • #UKMSPMeetup London

    Dec 23, 2010

    This event was awesome. Seeing it develop from a #UKMSPMeetup right through to an actual event has been good fun. You may have seen my previous post detailing the day's sessions.

    21 of us battled our way through the snow and delayed trains to Microsoft's London building for the event. Those of us that couldn't make it had it available to them via a live stream. First things first; being students, and it being lunchtime, we had food laid on by Microsoft's catering, some very nice food might I add.

    MSPs making good use of the plugs!

    This gave us some time to spend playing with some cool stuff; Kinect, Surface and some high range PCs. There are some videos floating around the net. @Growkin is in this one having a go on Dance Central.

    Even with the Kinect advert rug!

    Intro Session: Welcome to the future

    Ben Nunney gave this motivational talk analysing the past, present and giving a sneak peek of the future of Microsoft and technology as a whole. Going through from Windows 1.1, coding in BASIC through an Acorn - bought back memories of primary school - and moving to a vision of the future. Naturally it had numerous geek references throughout.

    Session 1: Developing for Windows Phone

    Kris Athi gave this platform overview for Windows Phone. He covered how development is tackled in the real world, which is quite different from the majority of University techniques by utilising the Model View Controller Model, which is essentially enabling the business logic to be implemented whilst a separate developer or designer produces the UI for the application. I found this talk particularly useful as it incorporated a lot of what we're planning to use in RefuCate, Inspiratech's Imagine Cup entry. He showed how to create your own version of a Silverlight control and still keep it separate from the back-end code.

    Session 2: Developing for the Web


    Martin Beeby gave this talk covering the world of web development today with the advance of HTML5, whilst keeping in mind that other users may not have access to an HTML5 capable browser, or some of it's features and therefore not ruining a website for these browsers by using feature detection. He gave a hands on demo using Azure to show how quick and easy it is to package a product using Visual Studio 2010 and deploy it to the cloud ready for vast scalablility.

    Some people seem to have become hooked on some of the HTML5 games @thebeebs mentioned. Namely Pirates Love Daisies.

    Session 3: Game Development for Xbox, Phone and PC

    Paul Foster spoke on this topic.This was another technical session majorly based on leveraging the capabilities of the XNA Framework and game studio. He showed how the same code could be used to deploy across all platforms with merely the input and vibrations being different, separated by compiler directives, clearly defined for your active projects. We were told that the Windows Phone 7s renders more pixels than the original Xbox, that's some power!

    He showed how fast an application could be developed using other re-usable code from the off. Making use of this he live-developed a 3D game with collision detection, chase camera, and sound! It's far easier to get stuck in than my first attempts at starting from scratch. Head over here if you're after getting started with XNA. Make use of the code snippets and sample games to get a feel for it.

    Session 4: How to get jobs, get skills, and make lots of money

    Phil Cross took the stage for this. He gave a really useful insite into the way some of the major companies assess job candidates along with a fun and semi-serious group session. It was interesting to hear what companies out there are looking for from candidates. We were given an opportunity for some hands-on experience in a mock assessment. A realistic scenario where teamwork and building was assessed - without it being the first time in a real application scenario. Certainly a highly valued exercise!

    After all of this we had a great meal courtesy of Microsoft. A great end to a great day. I'm very grateful for all the time and effort that went into the day. Inspiring and insightful.
    "You are magnificent -  now go and be awesome" - Ben Nunney (quoting himself)