Monthly Archives: September, 2009

The Ascent of Man

The Ascent (and descent) of Man

I’ve loved this image since I first saw it some time ago, and have just managed to track down a copy. I don’t know its… errm… origins, though. Does anyone else?

It’s just an illusion

Found this in the past, somewhere out there on the net…

Look at the dot in the centre and move your head towards or away from the image – the surrounding circles seem to move.

Spinning circles

Anyone know why? Could you use such effects to make advertisements, or road-safety signs, more noticeable?

I’m fierce!

I’m a big fierce bird.

No, really, I am!


You think I’m only small, but I’m going to be big and fierce one day.


Are you scared yet?


See – I’m practising already.


There, that’s a pretty fierce look!

The end of the landline?

Well, OK, landlines are almost gone already, but their demise took another big step closer with AT&T’s testing of a $150 3G femtocell.

If femtocells haven’t played a big role in your life so far, let me explain, because they probably will do in the future. These are little cellphone base stations that you plug into your broadband network and, hey presto, give you mobile coverage in your home or office. Your phone can use them in just the same way as it would use a traditional cellphone tower, and the calls get routed over the broadband to the mobile service provider. Goodbye DECT.

I live about a mile from the centre of the UK’s high-tech hub, Cambridge, and still get pretty patchy coverage in my house from most of the major providers. It’s a disgrace, but soon devices like these will allow us to fix the phone companies’ failings. At our own cost, of course, but that’s better than not being able to make calls at all.

Anyone trialling them in the UK?

Green transport


Rose and I have been removing some foliage today. This was the second load…

Literal Videos

Many thanks to Andy Stanford-Clark for getting me searching YouTube for ‘literal music videos’. Some of them are brilliant, and your appreciation for each one probably depends on your generation… Here’s the best I’ve seen so far. Bonnie Tyler tells it like it is. Update 2012: you can now find it here . Here’s Penny Lane, for even older readers…


AeropressOK, I admit it – I’m hooked. It was my friend Hap who first told me how he’d tried it and enjoyed it at a friend’s house, and then another friend gave me a sample and I decided I had to have this…

I’m talking, of course, about the Aeropress – a coffee-making device from those people at Aerobie who brought you the better Frisbee. This is a better cafetière. I’m pretty fussy about coffee and I think this makes perhaps the best I’ve ever had. Actually, it’s a sort of cross between a cafeterière (or French press) and an espresso maker, because it pushes the water through under pressure. The hot water only stays on the grounds for about 20 seconds, which I think is part of the key to its success.

I’ve long been a fan of my Nespresso machine, but I have to admit it’s been standing idle for the last couple of days since this arrived. The Aeropress has been on sale in the US for a while but it’s only fairly recently that you’ve been able to find it easily in the UK – I bought mine on for a small fraction of the price of the Nespresso machine.

A very fine bit of design, and definitely recommended.

You can see one in action here:

I use water from a not-quite-boiled kettle rather than doing the microwave thing, but this shows you how quick the process is. Oh, and the stirring is important.

Birthday beat

Here’s a fun page – enter your birthday and you can find out the number one hit on the day you were born. It gives the UK, US and Australian charts.

This could almost be a kind of astrology – what does it say about me that I was born to Sandie Shaw’s Puppet on a string? Was I destined to seek out VC funding? (Actually, I was born in Kenya, rather a long way from any radio that would be playing the UK charts, but still…)

My brother became a doctor, no doubt inspired by Lily the Pink’s ‘medicinal compound’, about which he might have heard much in his first few days.

I found this thanks to a tweet from Martin Weller and retweeted it. A couple of my more senior friends responded that the nearest they could get was Bill Haley’s Rock Around the Clock, because the charts didn’t go back far enough. And I guess any kids born in the recent past won’t know what the charts were…

Relic Road Trip

St ThereseIf you don’t get to see the sights of Europe during your lifetime, don’t worry. If you’re really good, people may take you on holiday after you’re dead.

A casket containing part of the remains of St Therese of Lisieux is starting a month-long tour of Britain this week. Don’t miss the show! Apparently, this ex-nun is something spectacular – and a mere tour of old Blighty will be as nothing to her. Bits of her have even been sent into orbit, and other bits were also taken to Iraq in hope of averting the war.

So it obviously works well, then.

For more exciting nun news, visit St Therese’s web site.

Anyway, it reminds me of Blackadder:

Percy: Look: I have here a true relic.

Edmund: What is it?

Percy: A bone of the finger of our Lord. It cost me thirty-one pieces of silver.

Edmund: Good Lord: is it real?

Percy: It is, my lord. You stand amazed, Baldrick.

Baldrick: I am. I thought they only came in boxes of ten. I could have let you have one for a couple of groats. Fingers are very big at the moment.

Through a door darkly

Old Soar Manor

The undercroft at Old Soar Manor, in Kent. Light has shone through this door for over 700 years.

Ex libris…

Bill Thompson thinks Google should be allowed to digitise the world’s books. And he also thinks the proposed deal allowing them to do so should be rejected.

Here’s why.

© Copyright Quentin Stafford-Fraser