Why will they not tell me what I want to know?

I've had it up to the proverbial here with the responses I have been getting from large companies recently. They never answer the bloody question that you have emailed them! "try the helpful FAQs on our website" they proclaim. The aforementioned FAQs are about as helpful as a rotweiler waitress with a migraine.

This all started when I emailed the DVLA to ask if I could tax my car if my registration document and insurance certificate had different addresses. I think even the simplest of you out there will agreed this is a 'yes' or 'no' question. What did I get? 4 paragraphs of absolute rubbish - 1 telling me how to declare my car SORN, another about the penalities of having no tax and 2 others of irrelevant rubbish. So obviously copy pasted from the 'use these if the word tax is mentioned' file.

Open Source Robotics Studio... Anyone?

There is a new(ish) product available called Microsoft Robotics Studio, which is an excellent product. It makes controlling commodity robots very easy, and makes the entry into robotics very easy. I am not going to dwell on how good Microsoft Robotics Studio (MSRS) is, as this has been blogged about by many people. What I am going to do it stick my finger in the air and guage the wind.

I have been designing various interfaces for my robots for a while, and each new interface incorporates more features and better modularity. Well, it got me thinking about creating a coherent modular well documented, and most importantly of all, open sourced robotics studio.

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London 2012 Olympic Logo

Well, what a stir the new logo has caused.

Can me cynical, but I am the only person who thinks they chose a crap logo on purpose just to get everyone talking? Afterall there's no such thing as bad publicity.

Give it a week they'll admit they're wrong and when they have everyone's attention, wheel out the 'back-up' logo or hold a nationwide competition to get a design for one.

I think its all a case of sly marketing.

Flying the Flag but everyone still hates Us.

Eurovision. Love it or hate it, you can't escape it.

Since I was child I have loved it, I even have a little tradition. I always go home and watch it with my Mum and we have been doing our own scoring for years - even before you could download a score sheet off the beeb website. Yes I am a certified geek.

I think its brilliant. The awful songs, the comedy performances and the excellent dry wit of good old Tel. "Its been a wonderful evening though not musically obviously" The man is a comedy genius.

Still 17 points eh? ouch. Have we always been rubbish? Lets put my research skills to use and review the last 10 years.

Watching the watchers

It has been said that the UK has the largest number of CCTV cameras watching us compared to anywhere in the world.

There is something slightly sinister about seeing a small dome of glass silently and unemotionally peering back at you, reminiscent of HAL in "2001 - a space odyssey". It almost brings me out into cold sweats knowing I am being constantly watched. I am one of those people that gets instantly nervous when being watched... despite having nothing to hide.

I did a quick tally of the amount of cameras I could see while going the 2 miles to work today... I counted 27 cameras before I even pulled into the car park. I know for certain that the building I work in has a very high tech security system comprising of dozens of camera per floor. A educated guess for the camera count would put it at nearly 60 units by the time I strolled into my office.

Seriously love, put the bucket of chicken down

Well Well Well. Half Ton Hospital.

First of all, it must be terribly sad for these people, my heart goes out to them. I can understand that they must get to a stage where it all seems pointless and not worth trying any longer but with is mixed with a HUGE serving of denial. Its not called FLUFFILY obese, its called MORBIDLY obese = its going kill you and soon.

Most of the patients seem to be the unfortunate outcome of the All-U-Can-Eat, This coffee's hot! I'm suing!, I'm not to blame, Lets have therapy! American Society. As we saw in last night's show, when people take responsability for themselves they start to lose weight and get their lives back.

Open Source USB to I2C Interface

An Open Source USB to I2C interface

*** NEW: Now available to buy in my RobotFUZZ webshop ***

Features of new (still all GPL'd) version on RobotFUZZ

  • High speed I2C Communications at up to 333KHZ
  • SPI capable
  • Can be used as an AVR programmer via avdude
  • Has more generic software examples

The hardware is virtually identical, but the software has changed to use the hardware TWI module, allowing for high speed I2C. There is also SPI support in the new firmware, as well as the ability to flash an AVR chip using Avrdude. Firmware and software is still released under the GPL, but is significantly different to the one below, based on Till Harbaums work. The new firmware is based on Dick Streeflands usbtiny SPI adapter, with I2C written in. The new RobotFUZZ site also has API interfaces for Microsoft Windows, Visual Studio.net 2005 (C++ and VB.net) and more generic software.

I will leave the page below for historical reasons, but all development will now focus primarily on the new improved firmware.

Here is a design for a simple USB to I2C interface. It is based on the terrific work on the I2C-tiny-USB by Till Harbaum. These modifications are designed to control the OpenServo servo motor controller, but will serve as a generic USB to I2C interface.

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Virgin Media and SKY suck

Sky switched off the signal to their "Basic channels" today. I am now without Sky One and all the other sky channels, and quite frankly it sucks.

It would seem there is a childish dispute between the two companies, with sky playing the bully.

So this is a message to Sky:

Dear Sky,

I do hope you are happy with what you have done to the customers of Virgin Media... No wait, that isn't right... I hope you rot in hell.

In bullying Virgin Media with your "give us 2x the amount" tactics you have condemned us to watching the crap that is regular television. Wake up to your mistake and provide these services to Virgin Media at a reasonable price before an angry lynch mob comes for you.

Site update

Today I updated the site to work properly (ish) with Internet Explorer 7 (IE7)

Unfortunately this seems to have broken IE Mac support and Konqueror. Oh well.

Thanks for your patience

Der Management

OpenServo motion Profile Editor

Motion Profile commander for OpenServo:-

As an active member and admin of OpenServo.com I have to create a lot of tools and utilities to experiment with the OpenServo platform.

Recently Mike Thompson, and myself embarked on creating complex hermite curve motion profile following for the OpenServo. You pass the curve parameters to the servo, and it will follow precisely.

I have created a motion profile editor that is suitable for testing this curve functionality.

It is written in QT and is completely cross platform.

Completed application for Windows/Linux

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New Year Toss and Resolution Crappage

Having always fallen into the camp of finding New Year a mildly depressing a affair I endevoured to enjoy myself this year and I must say succeeded fairly well. Cheap beer made for a good night and it would have been a good night New Year or not.

I still think New Year is pointless and crap. No one celebrated the end of November, mourning the passing of the 30th November 2006 and revelling at the arrival of 1st December 2006 did they? Its the same difference apart from the last number changes.

Also ponitless are New Year Resolutions. If you really wanted to (delete as appropriate) stop eating handfuls of lard/chuffing on cancer sticks/drinking so much your liver resembles a ping pong ball you would have stopped on 13th June/8th May/16th September. These dates are no different from 1st January really.

Death by smoke alarm

Yes, smoke alarms are very important and save lives all over the place. If you haven't got one you should. Go and buy one immediately.

Right now the sensible, moral disclaimer bit is out of the way, I can get on with telling you about my hair brain ponderance. I stayed at my parents this weekend and was shocked out of my sleep at 5'o'clock Saturday morning by my Dad burning toast. It was quite a shock and it took about 15 minutes before my heart rate was back to normal. It was in these 15 minutes that I began to wonder, had anyone ever died of a heart attack due to someone burning toast? Are smoke alarms in fact a stealth killer of the elderly and weak hearted?

Open Source Xmas

Makezine have produced a nice lineup of Open Source and hackable gadgets for Christmas:


"There are hundreds of gift guides this holiday season filled with junk you can buy - but a lot of time you actually don't own it, you can't improve upon it, you can't share it or make it better, you certainly can't post the plans, schematics and source code either. We want to change that, we've put together our picks of interesting open source hardware projects, open source software, services and things that have the Maker-spirit of open source."

The Students amaze us with new heights of laziness

Yep, Children in Need time of year again. Time for the worthy if somewhat tedious TV marathon. Students up and down the country will be sciving of lectures today to raise some money. Now, I quite like it when people do crazy things for charity, you know, climb Mount Snowdon wearing scuba gear, sponsored walking backwards all day and the tradional bath of beans.

However the Students I passed this morning were doing none of these. What were the lazy herberts doing? I here my one reader cry. Well they were standing around in their pyjamas with money collection buckets. Yes the great unwashed did less than they do on a normal day. No thought or imagination just 'I know, lets not bother to get dressed for charity' talk about the height of laziness. I want to see charity collectors dressed as pirates and wookies not students in their dubiously stained PJs.

Feeling Good...and Gig Goers to avoid

Feeling Good....and Gig Goers to avoid.

Another morning where I should be working but I'm blogging. Yes, my desire to share my views with the world is far more important to me than any of this so called 'work' I have to do.

Last night I went to see The Feeling and they were brilliant, the Lead Singer has great stage presence and all of the band are great musicians.

So on stage was great. Its just a shame about the knobheads in the audience. Its the same at every gig I go to. I'm sure these people follow me around. So until I can raise enough money to build the perfect gig venture with sloping floor and isolation pods, here is a list of annoying gig goers to avoid.

Mobile zombies

Why is it that the so called "younger generation" have no common sense? Was this omission the fault of the parents, school, or society in general?
What am I blathering about? Mobile phones.
Whilst driving around, it's not difficult to notice people walking down the street, glued to their mobile phone. You can almost hear the clickety clackety of the buttons, as they mindlessly text inane drivel to each other. More often than not, these very same people mindlessly, much like a zombie would, step out into the road, all the time tapping the puny buttons on their mobile phone.
These mindless mobile zombies don't even bother looking up. It's a scary thought that people can be so engaged in something so very insignificant, that they are willing to risk their lives.

Oh Noes, not nuclear!

Nuclear power is slowing coming back into the limelight after many years of being shelved, it seems. The UK is currently debating this, and the Russians are skipping the debate, and building them A Floating Chernobyl. It logical to assume that this is being done because of the rapid decline of the planet's natural resources. As we edge ever closer to running out of oil, people are looking to other options. Politicians are bringing nuclear power back on the energy agenda, and people are openly saying the word nuclear without having to defend themselves from nay sayers.

Embrace all religions..It means more holidays!

It can't be denied that religion has caused a lot of tension and wars over the years, and it also can't be denied that Britain is now a truly multi-cultural society and immigration and influxes of new people has been part of the make up of Britain for hundreds of years (yes it has, so deal with it you BNP voting, unaware of 1000 years of history Fascists).

I say its time we recognise this in a positive way. The way I propose to do this is to treat every religion equally and make every religious holiday a bank holiday. Think of it! There would be over 100 bank holidays, how great would that be!

Littering Bastards

Once again I find myself absolutely disgusted with humanity. Coming to work on the bus this morning I was on the top deck and a teenager about 5 rows in front of me, opened the window and chucked about some rubbish! You may be thinking, thats not surprising, giving the chav scum that teenagers are want to be nowadays. However this one was not so, this one was very presentable and had the air of nerdiness which would lead me to believe him king of the chess club. The woman sitting next to him gave him a look of absolute disgust. If I'd have been her I would have been tempted to swipe the little scroat with the weighty tome she was reading.

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