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Chocolate Starfish

Story location: Home / Blog / food_and_drink /

On friday, we opened a box of chocolate sea shells, which we got from Lidl last year. When we opened them, we were surprised to find that they contained the rarely seen chocolate starfish.
Here's a picture:
chocolate starfish

The joy of reinstalling Windows

Story location: Home / Blog /


After a few weeks of getting fed up with my computer not working properly, I finally decided to re-install windows xp. After about a week of making sure I had all my data backed up (including stuff like email which sneakily hides in the Application Data folders, and things that are easy to forget like the iTunes library), I took the plunge and re-formatted my hard drive.

Getting windows back onto the computer was childs play. Getting everything else to work was the problem. It took a lot of fiddling to get my ADSL wireless Internet connection to start working again. I can now access the web, but AVG can't get to it's servers to run an update... I'll come back to that later. Now it's back to the fun job of re-installing all my applications and getting them configured the way I like them.

Update: 12:15pm
I decided to update AVG by downloading the installer again from their web site. Zone Alarm also demanded an update. Time for re-boot number 4 before I continue...

Update: 1:30pm and re-boot number 5!
Trying to install MS Word... I inserted the Works Suite CD which came with my PC and told it to install Word. It immediately decided to reboot my computer first, without any prompt and with no warning greater than a vague 'may reboot your computer after install'. I only wanted to install Word and Autoroute, but was forced to accept crap like Works and PhoneSync which I never use. About to take the brave step of clicking on 'Exit Setup' and hope I don't have to wait for another reboot...

Update: 2:25pm
Decide to take a break for the rest of the day. I've got Firefox and Thunderbird reinstalled and copied my settings and emails back over, so my computer is just about useable now. I'll install anything else as and when I need it...

Got any Smurf?

Story location: Home / Blog / coventry /

Earlier today, as I was walking home from Emma's, I was stopped by a bloke who asked 'Have you got any smurfs?'. Or at least, that's what it sounded like. I shook my head and said 'sorry, no' and carried on walking. I don't know if that's what he actually asked me or what on earth he meant...

Update (5/02/2005):
I've since come across a few references to smurf, but for a variety of things:

  • a Cigar dipped in embalming fluid
  • ecstacy (in blue tablet form)
  • Magic Mushrooms

Update to the Update (april 2007):
Taken from wikipedia:

The term "embalming fluid" is often used to refer to the liquid PCP which a cigarette or joint is dipped in (a "sherm"), to be ingested through smoking. Smoking PCP is known as "getting wet." There is much confusion over the practice of dipping cigarettes in "embalming fluid" leading some to think that real embalming fluid may actually be used. This is a misconception that may cause serious health consequences beyond those of consuming PCP.

I hadn't heard of that meaning of 'embalming fluid'. It suddenly makes more sense why someone would dip a cigar in it...

Army, Navy and Air Force ranks

Story location: Home / bits-n-bobs /
See more ....
Admiral of the Fleet Marshal of the RAF Field Marshal
Admiral Air Chief Marshal General
Vice Admiral Air Marshal Lieutenant General
Rear Admiral Air Vice Marshal Major General
Commodore Air Commodore Brigadier
Captain Group Captain Colonel
Wing-Commander Lieutenant Colonel
Lieut-Commander Squadron Leader Major
Lieutenant Flight Lieutenant Captain
Sub Lieutenant Flying Officer Lieutenant
Midshipman Pilot Officer Second Lieutenant
Fleet CPO (Chief Petty Officer) Warrant Officer Warrant Officer Class 1

Flight Sergeant Staff Sergeant
PO (Petty Officer) Sergeant Sergeant

Ordinary Seaman LAC (Leading Aircraft-Man)

AC1 (Aircraft-Man) Corporal
Junior Seaman AC2 Private

SuperSize Me!

Story location: Home / Blog / films /

I went to see Supersize Me at the weekend, at the Warwick Student Cinema at the University. The film should be required viewing in all schools. It made quite disturbing viewing, but the best thing about it was the way it made an entire industry modify it's business practices. Watching McDonalds perform a u-turn over supersized meals and high calorie salads makes compulsive viewing.

More Hamster Photos

Story location: Home / Blog / Hamsters /


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Another website re-shuffle!

Story location: Home / welcome /

I noticed that my existing website hadn't been updated for a while, so decided to do something about it. I thought that the best way of doing this was to use a system which would make it easier for me to add pages to the site, and blogging software seemed to be one possible route. So here it is... I've decided to try out Blosxom, it's fairly basic but easy to use and configure. I'll have to see how things go now - hopefully this will encourage me to update my site a bit more often.

Photo Gallery

Story location: Home / photography / gallery /

An assortment of my photos from over the years. Viewing each photo will bring up details of location and sometimes the film used. Two of the photos (Nether Alderley Mill and Christchurch) were taken using Infra-red film.


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Concert Photos

Story location: Home / photography / gallery /


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Pinhole Photographs

Story location: Home / photography / pinhole /

The images here were taken with my two pinhole cameras: the pinhole modified Lubitel medium format camera and the Nikon FM pinhole 'lens'. The increased film size of the Lubitel gives better resolution than the 35mm pinhole camera.


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Making a Pinhole Camera

Story location: Home / photography / pinhole /

After reading an article on the web about pinhole cameras, I decided to make my own pinhole lens to fit on my Nikon FM. I had a look at some articles on the internet for inspiration, but most of these concentrated on building entire pinhole cameras. I already had a perfectly serviceable camera so I decided the best course of action would be to simply make a pinhole lens for it.

Diagram of pinhole lens construction Making the lens would be fairly easy - this was simply a disc of cardboard with a hole cut in the middle. I then sellotaped foil across the hole, and made a smaller hole in the foil with a pin. The only remaining problem would be attaching the lens to the camera. I realised that the t-mount that I use for astrophotography could be attached to the camera, and the lens could then be attached to the mount.

The focal length of the lens can be adjusted by using a different length of cardboard tube - the actual focal length being the distance from the pinhole to the image plane. The lens as shown in the diagram had a focal length of 100mm and an aperture of approximately f/100 (the actual aperture was measured using a magnifying glass and a ruler.

Aperture=focal length/diameter (mm)

Metering the exposure can be tricky with such a small aperture. Most cameras will allow TTL metering with such a lens, but an aperture of f100 may be too slow for accurate results. The Nikon FM is only suitable in bright conditions because the shutter speed doesn't go below 1 second - slower speeds need the B setting. The Nikon F70 is ideal for this purpose. Selecting aperture priority auto exposure, and covering the eyepiece (to stop stray light affecting the metering), reasonably accurate exposures may be obtained. The camera thinks a manual focus lens is attached, with the aperture fully open, and meters accordingly. Reciprocity failure will rear its head for exposures over 1 second, but with negative film this shouldn't present much of a problem with 'shortish' exposures of about 5 seconds.

If TTL metering is not available - which may be the case for some autofocus cameras (such as the Nikon F50) then a separate hand held meter can be used. If you are lucky enough to own one which goes down to f100 then a straightforward meter reading may be taken. If, like me, your meter only goes down to f22, then a reading can be taken at that setting, and a correction factor applied to the shutter speed. In this case, f100 is just over 4 stops less than f22 (following the sequence f22,32,45,64,90 etc), so I divided the shutter speed by 4 e.g. a reading of ¼s at f22 is just over 1 second at f100.
Recently, I have moved up to medium format for my pinhole work. This was done using a simple modification to an old Lubitel camera. I took it apart and removed the lens! The lens quality wasn't very good, and as I recently bought a second hand Yashicamat, I no longer needed the Lubitel (it had actually been sitting in the back of a cupboard for several years, gathering dust).
Removing the lens was remarkably easy. It was a simple triplet, with the elements held in place using clips. I placed a foil pinhole at the front of the camera, and set the shutter speed to B. The aperture was about f/160. View the pinhole photos


Story location: Home / Blog / Hamsters /

Shortly after the new year, Emma and I went to the pet shop to buy two Roborovski dwarf hamsters. Here are a few of the photos.


Euripidese Uri with chewed ear
Euripides (or Uri). When we collected him from the pet shop, he had blood on his right ear. We think he might have been attacked by some of the other hamsters in the shop. Within a week, the ear had started to heal and the blood had gone. In the photo on the right, you can see his pink chewed ear. Uri is the hyperactive one and is very difficult to handle.


ira with paw on wheel Ira
This one is Iripadose (or Ira). While being calmer than Uri, he is still very fast. He can often be seen with full cheek pouches, which he empties on your hand as soon as you pick him up.

Astronomy or Astrology

Story location: Home / astronomy /

The cartoon below came from a newspaper many years ago (probably the News of the World but I can't remember now).
I always get mixed up between Astronomy and Astrology. Which is the stupid trivial one... and which is the one where you get your horoscope?