BBC Sunsets

I don’t know if i have yet said it on my blog, but i’m currently contracting at the BBC. I’m having a really excellent time, working on the Olympics 2012 website. For the record let me just say, i love the new BBC Sport website! :)

I’m working at White City, on the 5th floor of Broadcast Centre. We have a phenomenal view out to the west, a full clear view of the sky. For reference, here’s what it looks like in the early morning. The sun has just risen and the rays are spreading across the landscape …

Morning view (wide)

But the real fun comes at sunset! We get the most amazing scenes! Here are some taken by talented photographer Dineshraj Goomany:




These photos by Dineshraj are absolutely stunning. I would love to learn to be that good at photography!

We have downloaded sunset reminder apps, and we have made it our mission to photograph the sunset every day. As Dineshraj was away the last 3 days, it was up to me to keep it going.

Monday looked so promising …

Sunset coming!!

… but the clouds came just at the sunset …

Yesterday's sunset

Tuesday was so cloudy (and full of smoke from a nearby fire) that you wouldn’t even know a sunset was happening …

Pitiful sunset

Wednesday was a phenomenally beautiful sunset! Here it comes about ten minutes before the set …

Sunset pending

… we got these amazing gradients in the sky …

I love it when the sky does gradients!

… it was so clear, i could see exactly which buildings the sun was setting behind …

There it goes

We’ll be continuing to photograph the sunset as often as possible, so follow Dineshraj on flickr for all the best shots! :)

We make no promises how long we’ll keep this up, as the sunset gets later every day! :)

Riverford Pumpkin fun day

Yesterday i went with my uncle and cousins to visit Riverford Norton, the farm where most of the fruit and vegetables that we eat are grown. We get a box delivered most weeks, and they provide us with excellent quality local seasonal produce.

They have been trying to entice us to visit for years, and when i read that they were doing a pumpkin fun day, we decided to go. It was great to see the farm, and my cousins enjoyed carving pumpkins with hundreds of other kids.

So many pumpkins!

Carving the face

At the fun day they had plenty of food and drink to try and buy, as well as other craft and fun activities for the kids. There were people doing cooking demonstrations, which gave me a few ideas of things i want to try. Here they were cooking some beautiful Romanesco broccoli just with some garlic and chilli. It was delicious!

Cooking demonstrations

Cooked Romanesco

We bought a box of pumpkins, and got lots of free fruit to bring home too!

Goodies from Riverford

Today, inspired by yesterday’s fun day, i decided to carve my own pumpkin. I first got a lot of flesh and seeds out, that i will use for soup, pancakes and toasted pumpkin seeds!

Carving my own pumpkin

Whenever i carve a pumpkin i like to do it in honour of something i feel passionately about. This year i decided to make a tribute to Buffer! :)

Buffer pumpkin with a candle inside

I look forward to putting it on display tomorrow night! :)

A quick way to resize images in Linux

Quite often i find myself wanting to resize a whole directory of images. Rather than opening them all in the gimp, i do it through the command line. I seem to do this often enough that it’s worth recording here, for my own reference as well as for anybody else who would find it useful.

First of all, you need imagemagick.

sudo apt-get install imagemagick

Change directory to where the images are and create a subdirectory for the resized versions.

cd ~/Photos/2010/04/05
mkdir resized

My phone likes to put spaces in file names which really confuses things, so i convert them to underscores. You can skip this step if your filenames contain no spaces.

for image in *.jpg; do mv "$image" `echo $image | tr ' ' '_'`; done

Now for the clever bit: i run convert command on the image files, resizing them to 1024px and saving with a quality of 80%.

for image in *.jpg; do convert $image -resize 1024 -quality 80 resized/$image; done

Lovely wonderful linux! :D

One thing to note: it always resizes along the top edge, which may not be the longest edge. If you have a portrait file which is 1536×2048 it comes out at 1024×1365 (not 768×1024 as you might have expected).

The resize option can take a percentage, so if you know all your images are the same size then you could just send a 50% to reduce to half size.

for image in *.jpg; do convert $image -resize 50% -quality 80 resized/$image; done

Imagemagick is super-incredible-awesome so there probably is a way to deal with differently sized images at different orientations. If anybody knows, please add it in the comments! :)

Glimmers of Hope

This beautiful photo was taken by @ecomba at Barton Farm this morning:

Glimmers of hope

Quite appropriate, since the team have a big project to deliver today, which has been months in the making. I have worked on the project but i’ve been busy doing other things more recently.

Today i was safely out of the way pair programming with @edentodd at the Coffee House in Winchester:

The Coffee House, WinchesterProjected Pair Programming

We projected the code on the projector downstairs, it worked really well!

Coffee shop coding, ftw! :D

Album art meme

For once, a meme that’s actually worth doing! My thanks go to Kapitano for this one. It takes a little while to do, but it’s fun!

  1. Go to a random page on Wikipedia. The heading is your band name.
  2. Select the last in a list of random quotations, or the last few words of it. That’s your album title.
  3. Take the third of a random selection of Flickr images. That’s your album art.
  4. Now get creative.

Trip Distribution

My random Wikipedia page is Trip distribution, part of a mathematical transportation forecasting model.

My random quote:

The deepest definition of youth is life as yet untouched by tragedy.

– Alfred North Whitehead
English mathematician & philosopher (1861 – 1947)

For my Flickr image i couldn’t take the third one because it was ‘All rights reserved’ so i kept going until i found one with a Creative Commons share and derive image. Which turned out to be this lovely picture: Hello flickr, (explored) by OUCHcharley.

#uksnow results!

It worked!!

#uksnow results!

Generated purely from people around the country sending tweets with their location and marks out of 10 for snow!

I gave a 9/10 for Winchester! It is beautiful soft powdery snow, slightly crunchy under-foot. Wonderful! It’s still coming down thick and fast now, and apparently will do all day!

Welcome to Winchester

Pretty pretty

I love how milk deliveries in the UK are always so reliable! They will do their utmost to deliver milk if they possibly can.

Snowy milk!


So my epic holiday is nearly over … i go back to work tomorrow after more than 3 weeks away. I actually can’t wait to get back! I so enjoy the work that i do, and i appreciate the structure of knowing what is going to happen each day.

Here is my holiday summary:

  • A few days at home relaxing and getting ready
  • Four days in Germany
  • A week in De Panne, on the North coast of Belgium over Christmas
  • Back home and time with family and friends
  • Dealing with horrible damp mouldy walls that got really bad when we were away

For more details and photographs, read on … but beware of the mould pictures if they might squick you out!

Continue reading


Tonight i saw a wonderful example of “the old Moon in the arms of the new”, better known as earthshine.

When the Moon is new (and right now it is very new – just a thin sliver of sunlight is peeping around the side) then someone standing on the Moon would see a full Earth. Think how bright a full Moon can be for us on a clear night – the reflection of the Sun provides us a lot of light on such nights. Imagine how much more brightly it works the other way around – so brightly in fact that we can see the Moon shining with the reflection from the Earth.

Earthshine moon and Jupiter

If you do not see the silhouette of the trees, turn your screen brightness up. Then you should also see the earthshine on the unlit part of the Moon.

Our camera is not made for night time, but it does have a 3-second exposure. Unfortunately the tiniest shake shows up greatly exaggerated. I managed to capture this shot with the camera stuck against the window frame using blu-tack, and using the two-second timer feature. Otherwise the act of me pressing the button causes too much of a shake!

Oh by the way, i forgot to say, there’s Jupiter shining as brightly as anything, too! The combination in the early night sky made for a beautiful sight, of which my photograph only conveys the tiniest fraction. If you have a clear night tonight or tomorrow, do have a look. It’s incredible.

Christmas cards: DONE!

Wow, what a relief! I finished writing my Christmas cards at 18:30 this evening. I am so glad of the idea to print labels. Thanks to Rails, CouchDB and my pdf_label_maker library, it was much easier than usual. I just sat down and forced myself to get through them all, pausing only once to take a photo:

Half way through

Note the chocolate, ruler and calculator, heheh! I actually bought some cheapo labels from the £1 shop … they weren’t even on an A4 sheet, which meant i had to do quite a lot of measuring and trial and error. But i’m so pleased with the result – they look so neat, as opposed to my handwriting which gets terrible whenever i have to write a lot in one go.

Christmas cards: DONE!

Yes, i actually did write a Christmas card to topfunky! ;)

The best thing is … if i keep the database updated during the year, i can print them all out again next year! I’m definitely going to keep developing it, and learning more about CouchDB on Rails in the process.