Jez Higgins

Freelance software generalist
software created
extended or repaired


Older posts are available in the archive or through tags.

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Tuesday 16 July 2019 The Forest Road Reader, No 2.20 : Badger, Badger, Badger, Badger

Things You Expect Your Wildlife Camera To Photograph In Pembrokeshire

A badger, photographed by IR camera just after midnight

Things You Absolutely Don’t Expect Your Wildlife Camera To Photograph In Your Birmingham Garden

A badger, photographed by IR camera around 20 past midnight

Tagged badger

Friday 14 June 2019 The Forest Road Reader, No 2.19 : Not Because It Is Easy

For several years I used to carry a tiny bit of lunar soil around in my wallet, and every now and again I remember that’s actually fully remarkable and mad.

Of course, I didn’t actually go to the moon and collect it myself. We didn’t have the budget for that. Instead, my friend and colleague Andy Morse got it from the safe in the clean room in the next lab.

Together we spent 20 hours or so cooking it up, indirectly analysing the deuterium to hydrogen ratio of the trapped solar wind we were now driving off. The D/H ratio of solar wind tells you something about the formation of and processes within the Sun, and I don’t believe anyone had made that measurement in this particular way before.

As I remember, sometime around 4am Andy phoned our results through to our boss, Colin Pillinger, who was over at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in Houston.

Later that morning as we tidied up, Andy handed me the little sample, now metamorphised from the heat, wrapped in a bit of foil and sealed in a glass envelope, these few milligrams of the lunar regolith, that had been brought back from another world by human beings who had risked their lives to travel through the vacuum of space by being strapped to a hundred metre tall tank full of explosives, and I stuck it my wallet because this thing was a remarkable treasure.


The rather mundane end of this little anecdote is that I had to give it back a few years later because NASA were doing a stock take.


By virtue of turning 50 this year, I am reminded it is 50 years since the Apollo 11 mission, the first crewed moon landing.

The BBC World Service’s 13 Minutes To The Moon is a terrific radio series (or podcasts as we call them in this modern age) about just what an astonishing achievement that was.

The last Apollo mission, Apollo 17, went to the moon in December 1972. NASA is again moving towards new crewed missions to the Moon (keep 2024 free space fans!) and NASA’s Chief Scientist, the wonderfully ebullient Jim Green, is doing a top job covering the latest lunar science in the current series of the Gravity Assist Podcast.


Tagged moon, and colin-pillinger

Friday 31 May 2019 The Forest Road Reader, No 2.18 : No Sleep 'Til

Norfolk Developers
ACCU Conference
Brum.js
BrumPHP

Wrapped up the collosal 7-month 5-date JezUK Winter/Spring Tour on Thursday doing The Very Slow Time Machine as the headline act at the BrumPHP Meetup. It seemed to go over well, I enjoyed it very much, and I’m grateful for the invitation. Indeed, I’m grateful to everyone who’s hosted me. I’ve never had a talk that I’ve taken on the road like this before, and it’s been great.

Paul at Norfolk Developers got the whole thing going by asking for a talk about something, ACCU London let me really lock it down, and Brum.js and BrumPHP's ecumenical openness let me do talks I could get the bus to. Well, could have got the bus to. Because of the vagaries of our domestic calendar I went straight out of Brum.js into a four hour drive to Pembrokeshire, and went straight from a four hour drive back from Pembrokeshire and into BrumPHP.

The Very Slow Time Machine

  • Slides with notes - it’s a reveal.js deck, so press 'S' to get the speaker notes without which the slides will make no sense at all.

Live on Stage

As a side note, I do own more than two t-shirts. Honest.

DVD Extras

Snakes Into Snake Oil - What Blockchains Are And Why They’re Terrible

  • Slides with notes - it’s a reveal.js deck, so press 'S' to get the speaker notes without which the slides will make no sense at all.

  • Laying down truth at the ACCU Conference. It was a big room, and it was the first time I’d ever given a talk from a stage which I spent the entire time in fear of falling off of. Managed not to, and am really pretty pleased with this.

DVD Extras


Tagged brumphp, brum.js, accu-conference, blockchain, archangel, machine-learning, talk, nordev, and on-tour

Thursday 23 May 2019 The Forest Road Reader, No 2.17 : Tour Wrap-Up

brumphp tiny

JezUK On Tour - BrumPHP

The JezUK Winter/Spring Tour wraps up on Thursday 30 May at the BrumPHP Meetup. It’ll be the last outing of The Very Slow Time Machine, my talk about the Archangel project. I’m part of a double bill with David Maidment who’s talking about writing an old fashioned game engine in Go. That sounds like really good fun.


Tagged brumphp, and on-tour

Sunday 28 April 2019 The Forest Road Reader, No 2.16 : More Canals

There’s an old chestnut about Birmingham having more canals than Venice. Since Birmingham is very, very large and Venice is very tiny - Venice would fit comfortably inside the Middleway with plenty of room left over - this seems like an banal and redundant observation.

In fact, the difference between the two is rather less than you might think - Birmingham has around 58km of canal, while Venice has 42km. Given a population about around a million against Venice’s 62,000, that actually means that Birmigham is vastly under-canaled. It has a trifling 5⅘cm of canal per head of population against Venice’s magisterial 67¾cm.

For Birmingham to reach Venice-equality we would need to build another 620km of canal. I’m guessing now, but that would probably mean digging out all the main roads into the city and flooding them. I would entirely support such an enterprise, as it would not only put Venice in its place, but immediately exceed Birmingham’s clean air strategy goals, improve the urban landscape, boost biodiversity hugely, enable the construction of miles and miles of walking and cycling routes, and give every other UK city a good old poke in the eye.

What’s not to like?


Tagged birmingham, and venice
Older posts are available in the archive or through tags.


Jez Higgins

Freelance software generalist
software created
extended or repaired

Older posts are available in the archive or through tags.

Feed

Follow me on Twitter
My code on GitHub

Contact
About