Category Archives: Cambridge

Early Saturday Morning


I was up a bit earlier than usual for a Saturday, but one of the good things about the year drawing on, for a somewhat lazy photographer like me, is that I’m much more likely to be up at sunrise in the winter than I am in the summer! This was a quick iPhone snap while walking Tilly.


I picture a ne’er-do-well hobbit, probably an associate of Ted Sandyman’s, who is seldom seen, but is believed to be the source of much unexplained mischief at St Catharine’s College. He goes by the name of ‘Slippery’ Underfoot…

Slippery Underfoot

People who live in glass houses…

…may want to install their lavatories elsewhere?


My vegetable love should grow…


It’s an embarrassingly long time since I last visited Cambridge Botanic Gardens. Probably measurable in decades.


And that’s a pity, because it’s walking distance from my house and, as I discovered again today, it’s really a very pleasant spot.


It’s that tree again


I know, I keep taking photos of it, but, hey…

Action on the Cam


The Chapel, Gonville & Caius


The Chapel, Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge.

I have a sentimental attachment to this place, because I got married here nearly 24 years ago. At that time, it was beautifully lit with candles. But I have to admit that, most of the rest of the time, the dark oak and limited light makes it rather gloomy. It takes some careful photography to do it justice by natural light.

Click image for a larger version.

News from the Lab

Some of you may know that, alongside my normal consultancy business, I spend one day a week in the University Computer Lab for a change of scene. I’ve been doing this for a couple of years now, working on Frank Stajano’s Pico project, which is trying to create a better replacement for passwords, as the normal way to authenticate yourself to digital systems.

One of my roles in the project has been cameraman/video editor. Last year we produced the original video describing the project:

and just last month we did an update, which describes in more detail how the current phone-based prototype works underneath.

It’s been a fun couple of years – as well as the videos, we’ve produced a lot of code, we’ve written some papers and some blog posts, given some talks, and had quite a lot of fun at times.


But I felt it was time for a change, so I’ve recently moved to a new project, which is in the so-called Rainbow group – somewhat nostalgic for me, because it’s where I did my Ph.D. about 20 years ago.

In this group, we’re looking at how we can improve the ways cars communicate with drivers, and, while the only web page about the project is somewhat limited at present, no doubt this will change over time…

Should be fun… more info in due course.

Quick links

I tend to post quick links to Twitter (from where they’re cross-posted to Facebook), but I know from long experience that if you want to keep a record of anything and have some chance of finding it again in future, you need to keep it yourself.

So here are a few interesting things from the past week:

  • TheConversation is a news-analysis and opinion site where the authors are academics. Their tagline: ‘Academic rigour, journalistic flair’. If you want serendipitous news discovery with intelligent writing, but old media just isn’t doing it for you, this may be worth a try.

  • Old URLs don’t die, they just get reincarnated. Beware of letting your old DNS domains lapse, especially if they live on in a tangible form.

  • This map of the Granta Backbone Network will interest any Cambridge people wondering how the university networks connect together.

The Wolfson@50 talks continue to be interesting and informative. Andy Herbert brought his mobile computer, an Elliot 903, to his talk on Wednesday.


While he set it up, John recorded the event on his more powerful one.


The power of history

While walking my dog in the fens yesterday, I saw a windmill, some miles away on the horizon.


That wasn’t unusual around here.

But its sails were turning, and that was.

I set out on a search, and found it in the little village of Wicken, where Dave, Mary Ellen and Alan kindly showed me around.


It was a thoroughly inspiring visit – a beautiful sunny day with lots of wind, and as I climbed higher and higher, the whole building thrummed, almost purred, with an energy that rose and fell with the gusts.




I also captured some quick footage on my iPhone.

(Also on Vimeo here).

Definitely recommended if you’re in the area when it’s open – usually the first weekend of the month.



Very peaceful on Grantchester Meadows this morning.

Latte to go

In Cambridge, there is nothing that cannot be bicyclized…


A nice cheery guy runs it, too. He told me that when he first got the bike, he had an hour’s cycle ride to his parking place. I can’t imagine it’s exactly lightweight… that’s a proper espresso machine, and I think the thing on the back carrier is a fridge.

© Copyright Quentin Stafford-Fraser