Archive for April, 2012

The Otter’s Pocket

Recently the Otter’s Pocket, the London Hackspace’s wet room, was kindly donated photograph developing equipment from Lester after Heather, Tom, Phil, and Paddy had finished converting the room to also function as a dark room. All that’s now left to do is test everything works and tonight I had the chance to help Heather with the first test run of the equipment.


We were a bit slow to get started so only managed to get 3 photographs developed, 2 were mine and 1 was Heather’s. Heather developed a 35mm shot she had taken of a wall in Barnet Market (more info). She scanned all the prints so here on the left is her test print and on the right is the end result.
Heather's Test PrintHeather's Print

The two photographs I chose to develop were taken back around 2003 as part of activities week at Coulsdon College using a 35mm Canon SLR. The first photograph was taken in Trafalgar Square while on the first day trip around London. It’s a bit underexposed and a bit out of focus but I felt it wasn’t bad for a first attempt.

Trafalgar Square Test PrintTrafalgar Square

The second shot was taken on the first day that we were loaned the cameras while on the journey home. I was with a couple of other friends on the old slam door trains trying to take a picture but the shutter button jammed and I ended up taking this shot. There was a watermark on the negative, which is visible in the first two pictures, so I decided to edit the picture a bit to clean up all the dust, scratches, and marks. Much more pleased with this one.

Train Test PrintTrain PrintTrain Print (Cleaned)

Apart from an initial accidental exposure, due to forgetting to turn the enlarger off, things went pretty well. It was awesome to finally get a chance at developing some of the photographs that I didn’t have time to do during activities week. Now I just have to find time to develop the rest before giving my Canon Canonet it’s first use in over 20 years.

Things to note:

  • Larger (layout breaking) versions of the scanned prints can be found in the Gallery album.
  • Heather is a rebel. What kind of person would put the developer in the tray labelled fix and the fix in the tray labelled developer?!
  • Singing “ROXXXXAANNNNEEEE!!!” every time the safe/red light is on never gets old. In fact, I would say it’s compulsory.
  • The grain magnifier is a strange beast that can easily lure you into a few moments of derp.


Back in January, Sky 1 started airing the show Gadget Geeks, which stars the London Hackspace members Charles Yarnold and Tom Scott. In order to provide support members of the Hackspace decided to watch the show together, with Tom and Charles providing live commentary of behind the scenes going ons, while simultaneously having Twitterfall projected onto a spare wall (dubbed ‘The Wall of Hate’) in order to see public feedback of the show. In addition to this it was joked that there should be a drinking game for when watching the show. That joke became a reality which I went on to use as the basis for @TVDrinkingGames.

@TVDrinkingGames on Twitter

@TVDrinkingGames on Twitter

@TVDrinkingGames is simply a Twitter account that tweets during the show telling people when they should drink, with the participants being expected to be responsible, know their limits, and not feel restricted to solely consuming alcoholic beverages (e.g. Club Mate makes a nice alternative). @TVDrinkingGames is so basic that it’s not doing any subtitle parsing or computer vision. It’s just me using a web interface to quickly send tweets when I spot a drink cue. It’s written in Python and makes use of the web framework Pylons in order to provide the user interface and the Python Twitter API in order for my code to be able to send tweets.

Web interface for @TVDrinkingGames.

The web interface for @TVDrinkingGames.

The web interface for sending the tweets is similarly basic. It consists of a list of each of the drink cues and a submit button. Clicking the submit button sends the unique ID for that cue to the backend which then performs a lookup to get the string to be Tweeted, appends the episode number  as well as the number of occurrences of that cue for that episode. The reason for the count is that very early on I realised Twitter wouldn’t publish my tweets if the exact same content was sent in quick succession so by appending the count I can make the tweet appear to be unique.

@TVDrinkGames is currently only used for Gadget Geeks but I would like to make use of it during the Eurovision Song Contest. Possibly adding the ability for it to pick up on other people’s tweets in order to trigger cues, parsing TV subtitles for instances of commentators saying something, or even being able to detect key changes in the music.

Magnetic Fingers

In an attempt to gain a sixth sense for the electromagnetic fields around me but without resorting to Steve Haworth-like implants I decided to experiment with small (2mm x 1mm) N45 Neodymium magnets and nail polish.

Nail polish and magnets

After playing around with various numbers of magnets and formations I came to the conclusion that it was best to have a few lining the edges of my nails. That way I could feel the magnets move against skin (which would be more sensitive than the nail area) while the magnets could be firmly attached to the nails. I also found that trying to place as many magnets as possible on a nail had the problem of them pulling together and detaching due to the nail surface being curved, as well as having the undesired effect of being shiny and eye catching.

Magnetic fingers

The end result was slightly reminiscent of the website Human Upgrades. Sadly though I can’t feel the oscillations as described with the implant equivalents but I can feel the presence of magnets nearby such as near the speakers or the lid of my laptop. The sensation is similar to someone tugging at your nail (obviously) but also feels a bit like when the hairs on your arm stand on end. A future attempt will probably involve slightly larger magnets and perhaps attaching the magnets to the fingertip rather than nail.

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Shinkutanku; Japanese for “Think Tank”. A very infrequently updated blog by your average code-monkey cum photographer.

Twitter: @CiaranEaton