Monday, May 28, 2007

RFID tags in Bay to Breakers 2007

RFID tag from Bay to Breakers 2007

The thing in the picture is an RFID tag that was used to track runners in Bay To Breakers 2007. There are many privacy concerns with RFID but this was the first time I have actually benefited from this technology. In this case I got an attractive plastic thing that looks a bit like a medal. It’s a bit bigger than a quarter (coin) and you are supposed to attach it to your shoes. Then as you run over special pads at the start and finish of the race, a computer can track your times. This helped me as I had a delayed start for similar reasons to 2005, but RFID meant that my time was only reckoned from when I actually crossed the start line. My time this year was 1:03:38, faster than last year (probably because of the more accurate timing) but still annoyingly over the hour. I finished in 1634th place which was down from last year.

The RFID system used was made by ChampionChip from Nijmegen in The Netherlands, using technology manufactured by TI. You can read about the mats and controllers, and the RFID chips themselves.

43 Muni bus accident in San Francisco

43 Muni bus accident in San Francisco

I was on this 43 Muni bus when it screeched to a halt. I was not hurt. The SUV got a bit squashed. When there is an accident the bus is taken out of service so I had to walk. Both lanes were blocked and cars started getting past by using the other side of the road. This is right by City College and I saw a Community College Police Officer cycling towards the scene. I think this was the third time I have been on a bus that was involved in an accident.

Friday, May 25, 2007

MMORPG in The Simpsons

Poor Freddy Adu part 2

Poor Freddy Adu. In the same way that he thinks he is the same as Maradona, but is really a Championship level player, he thinks that attention to David Beckham may "die off pretty quickly" if Beckham doesn't play well. Ha Ha! Beckham is as much better at grabbing attention than Freddy as Maradona was better at football.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Patrick Wolf @ Café Du Nord, 22 May 2007

Patrick Wolf @ Café Du Nord, 22 May 2007

Patrick Wolf dresses like an oversized schoolboy. On the cover of his new CD, The Magic Position he cavorts in primary colours on a plastic merry go round. His concerns are innocence and experience. His music reminds me of Kate Bush in that it seems to exist in its own world. When I saw he was playing at this small venue I bought a ticket straight away.

The Café Du Nord is near the Castro so I was thinking the audience would be trying to match Patrick Wolf for flamboyance (if this were possible) but it seemed quite a youngish rock crowd. One of the support acts was a DJ, this is usually a bad thing but I enjoyed hearing the disco pop he played. I was happy hearing unfamiliar music until he slipped in some New Order remix and ruined the novelty.

I was feeling tired when the three piece band (drums, double bass, Macintosh plus keyboards) appeared. Patrick Wolf was wearing a ridiculous checked shirt and shorts combination. He started off with red hair, which turned out to be a wig he snatched off dramatically. He played ukulele, piano, violin and theremin.

After a while he got more chatty, possibly as a result of consuming several White Russian drinks. We heard about how he bought his first piano after taking his school to the European Court of Justice for discrimination; how his second piano got left behind when he split form his previous partner.

His red hair and physique inevitably recalls David Bowie. There is an element of acting to what he does, when he pulled his shirt up over his head it was dramatic and effective. Eventually the shirt came off and he was throwing himself around. I liked the poppier newer songs better. Some of the older songs were heartfelt and scary.

After a short break for a costume change (including a new pair of shorts) he was back. This time he had an American flag that he used as a prop. There was a story about being in Texas and a little bit of bashing of our dear President, and comparisons with present company. San Francisco audiences really like it when they get a bit of flattery and when Patrick gave some love the audience got more into it too.

An encore required finding a particular song file on the Mac. The audience gasped in horror when it heard that the Mac was running OS9, a rather old version of the Mac’s operating system. Fortunately the song was found so we got to hear the 80’s disco pop classic Feels Like I'm in Love (as made famous by Kelly Marie).

This was a great gig. Partly this was because of seeing a great talent in such a small venue. I liked the music, the show was a great spectacle, and Patrick Wolf is a sweetie.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Bay to Breakers 2007 pictures

Some cute pictures that have been sitting in blogger for nearly a year. The race is on Sunday so I'm publishing this.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Worst remakes of British films

With the news that The Long Good Friday is to get a Hollywood remake, I present the top 5 worst ever remakes of British films. Of course I have not actually seen any of these as they are useless. I don't have to go the North pole to know it's cold.

  1. The Wicker Man
  2. Get Carter
  3. Alfie
  4. The Ladykillers
  5. The Italian Job

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

How to build a Cathedral, part 3

Last time we saw the first appearance of the curved support structures. These are built by Western Wood Structures in Tualatin Oregon and trucked down to Oakland. Below you can see the first of the straight tangential pieces that will eventually form a sort of crown at the top of the cathedral.

Christ the Light Cathedral in Oakland, CA May 2007

Meanwhile more horizontal slats have been inserted.

Christ the Light Cathedral in Oakland, CA May 2007

One detail that has attracted attention is the copper piping that runs from the top to the bottom of the structure. Is this for air conditioning?

Christ the Light Cathedral in Oakland, CA May 2007

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

A Mars Bar Is Murder

how is rennet made?

The British are not very good at making chocolate, but they are brilliant at making sweets. Now I am going to stop eating chocolate products from Mars in the UK as they have decided to start to use animal product rennet to make their chocolate products. There can be no reason for this apart from a pathetic attempt to save money. Lets hit Mars in the wallet, the only place they care about.

Read more about weird products that veggies can't eat here.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Seen on the street #2

Stop Curbing Your Dog In My Property!

Stop Curbing Your Dog In My Property!

Seen on the street #1

Attention! On May 1st at this intersection a small kitten needlessly attacked an innocent godzilla action-figure.

Attention! On May 1st at this intersection a small kitten needlessly attacked an innocent godzilla action-figure.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Swiss Eurovision entry

Yay! Eurovision is nearly here, and this is a little preview of the Swiss entry: Vampires Are Alive by DJ Bobo. Not technically very high quality video, but you get the idea.

CSI Miami - Endless Caruso One Liners

I have never seen this show. Now I don't need to.

Tony Blair discusses when he should resign

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

A pool filled with non-newtonian fluid

YouTube is good for science experiments, like the previously blogged Ship floating on Sulfur hexafluoride. Here we see what happens when you fill a pool with a mix of cornstarch and water made on a concrete mixer truck. It becomes a non-newtonian fluid: when stress is applied to the liquid it exhibits properties of a solid.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Crispies = cash-rich Irish seeking properties in Europe.

And in the the USA according to this article.

How to stop the annoying nytimes dictionary 'feature'

At, there is a feature whereby if you doubleclick on a word it opens a new window with a dictionary definition of that word. No Thanks. To block this use adblock to block


Saturday, May 05, 2007

The Dog Ate My Homework

More snail mail:

Dear A.P Sherman

On Wednesday 28 March a freight train was derailed in Texas due to high winds and multiple tornadoes. One of the four mail cars affected was carrying copies of the April BBC Music [Magazine]. Regrettably your copy was one of those destroyed. We are extending your subscription by one issue to compensate you.

Our apologies for the unfortunate incident and thanks for your understanding.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Revenge of the Dragon Slayer

revenge of the dragon slayer

I got this in the (snail) mail. Pity it is "for decorative purposes only".

Thursday, May 03, 2007

How to build a Cathedral, part 2

Christ the Light Cathedral in Oakland, CA April 2007

The scaffolding they were building in part 1 is there to support a wooden platform, on top of which is built a metal frame. I think this frame is also the roof of the cathedral. I think they used lasers to make sure the frame was supported at the correct height.

Christ the Light Cathedral in Oakland, CA April 2007

The curved wooden support beams are fabricated somewhere offsite and brought to Oakland. When they are put into place they have to fit exactly. The curved beams are attached to the metal frame.

Christ the Light Cathedral in Oakland, CA April 2007

One of the concerns of the architects was how hot the cathedral will be inside. Here we see the wooden slats that run between the curved beams. As you get higher the angle of the slats alters.

Christ the Light Cathedral in Oakland, CA April 2007

The illegal number

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Natasha Bedingfield - I Wanna Have Your Babies

This is perfect pop music.