Thursday, March 31, 2005

Easter Break

It's currently the Easter holiday, so school's closed for a couple of weeks. A good excuse for some time off!

Yesterday we went shopping to Bluewater, which we hadn't been to before. While it's decent enough as shopping centres go, I found few shops of interest so we didn't get much.

Today we went to Wicksteed Park. It was dull and misty, and while we were supposed to have some sun in the afternoon this failed to materialize. It was disappointing that the roller coaster was closed, and we don't really appreciate the growth in additional paid-for activities (the increasingly ubiquitous photo booths, for one, and also the appearance of a couple of rides operated by other companies) - we've paid to get there, we've paid handsomely for wristbands, we just want to get on and enjoy ourselves and these extra attempts to take money just turn us off. But the park was reasonably quiet and queues were short, so we managed to pack a lot of rides in.

(Although it would have been smarter to pack soup instead of salad in our picnic basket, and warm drinks instead of ice cold!)

Monday, March 28, 2005

Spring is sprung, the grass is riz...

...the lawnmower's broken.

Went to mow the lawn for the first time this year - because Spring really is here and the grass is growing, the bushes are in bud, the whole garden is already starting to look like a jungle.

Only the old lawnmower (that Mel's been trying to persuade me to replace for a year or two now) did one stripe and then stopped. So off to get a new mower!

That was Friday night, just after the shops had closed. (Typical!) So we reserved one and went to collect it Saturday. Rain on Saturday and visiting family Sunday meant we got to try it first time today - the front is dry enough, the back still soaking wet. So we mowed the front lawn, and with luck the back will be dry enough in a few hours.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Phone v GameBoy

I was sitting in the car waiting to pick up one of my girls tonight, and whiled away a few idle moments playing one of the free games on my phone.

(It's quite a fancy phone - far more fancy than I really need - but I wanted a tri-band phone so it would work in the States and so had to get something moderately sophisticated.)

So there I was, playing what is basically some variant of tetris. And this is quite interesting, because it shows that there's still life left in games of that vintage.

In fact, we Tribbles own a number of Game Boys. We started with a Game Boy Pocket (a monochrome thing), and ended up with 2 of those and 3 GBA. Hannah plays mostly pokemon, but not just the latest and greatest - she has most of the rainbow, and finds the old versions just as playable as the current generation. Amanda's probably the most varied - Harry Potter, Spyro, Zelda, Pokemon. But Mel and I like the puzzle style games like tetris (and it turns out there are a lot of ways to make an interesting game like that). So much so that the only GBA game I play on my GBA is Zelda (and that, by the way, is a phenomenal game - I remember it from the SNES and it's a real piece of nostalgia).

Now, Nintendo are still selling handhelds in large quantities, so the small portable format clearly has a lot going for it. (So much so that it's attracting competition.) And modern phones aren't really all that different in terms of capabilities, so I guess it's not surprising that the games on a phone are not that different to what you might see on a Game Boy Color. Given the similarities, why don't Nintendo make a phone, and why don't phones have gameboy emulators? (With GPRS, you could download a GameBoy game in under a minute - 10 seconds for 3G. GBA games are a bit bigger.)

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Edinburgh and back

Just got back from a day trip to Edinburgh.

It's a reasonable day trip. OK, I had to get up a little earlier than normal to get to Stansted Airport, but not too much earlier and some of that was just in case of traffic problems.

Flew with easyJet. Now, last time I flew easyJet they marooned me in Glasgow late one Saturday night (although this wasn't so bad as I have relatives not far from the airport that I managed to see as a result), but this trip was pretty good - both ways on time, decent flights, and everything worked out fine.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Easter Eggs

Just been to the annual school bingo evening.

Prizes: Easter Eggs - lots of them!

And, breaking a many year losing streak, we won 2 out of the first 3 cards and 3 out of all 10. A big fat zero in the raffle, though.

Still leaves plenty of chocolate to go round!

Mental Agility

I gave this puzzle (actually, I had to modify it a bit) to my 10-year old daughter, and she managed to get the right answer without too much difficulty.

So I was wondering if there were sources of this sort of puzzle - math or logic brainteasers - out there? Preferably aimed at children.

Any suggestions?

Sunday, March 20, 2005


Jitterbugs are go! Posted by Hello

Went round the Cambridge Science Festival yesterday.

We signed up to build a jitterbug - a little dancing robot. Sat down with our little tray of parts and followed the instructions, followed by some final decorative touches. The picture was taken at home, and it got a bit bashed in the bag on the way back.

The talk we went to (Ice Cream, Chocolate, and Einstein) was pretty good. Drop in sessions were a bit hit and miss (sometimes they work, sometimes they don't; sometimes they're quiet, sometimes they're heaving). The Department of Physiology was excellent, though.

Friday, March 18, 2005

It's in the wrong blog, but just bought this anyway. Me and all my cousins having starring roles on one of the best episodes of one of the best TV shows of all time... Posted by Hello

Science Week

It's National Science Week (although the Cambridge Science Festival is offset by a few days).

At school, the challenge was to build something that could tell you when 30 seconds had passed. The playground this morning was full of a varied assortment of devices, often with two bottles forming some sort of egg timer, with a few marble runs to make it interesting.

Amanda had a slightly more sophisticated variation. Water pours into a cup, causing a float to rise. The float is covered in silver foil and when it rises far enough it touches a metal contact to complete a circuit and turns a light on.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

I hadn't fully appreciated just how hilly San Francisco is. I got off the cable car at the top, walked down to take this, then walked back up to catch the next car. Posted by Hello

Into the breach

I set up "The Trouble with Tribbles" at a time when I wasn't really sure what this blogging lark was all about, and it was intended as a place where I could talk about things like Solaris and the work I was doing. Anyway, my interest in blogging generally has grown a bit, and it seems unfair to subject regular readers (and people catching up via planetsolaris) to more personal entries, especially as I would like to post more photos. So here I am, with a more personal blog.

Hope you all like it!