Archive for September, 2011


September 30, 2011

Not sure we’ve had a new search engine for a while and this looks interesting for finding data and statistics:

“Zanran helps you to find ‘semi-structured’ data on the web. This is the numerical data that people have presented as graphs and tables and charts. For example, the data could be a graph in a PDF report, or a table in an Excel spreadsheet, or a barchart shown as an image in an HTML page. This huge amount of information can be difficult to find using conventional search engines, which are focused primarily on finding text rather than graphs, tables and bar charts.

Put more simply: Zanran is Google for data.”

Lego multi-story carpark

September 29, 2011

For those who’ve complained that we haven’t had enough Lego of late (or that Monday’s TOTD was too static), try this:

An instructional video on how to build, and use, a multi-story carpark.

a Chinese story

September 28, 2011

TOTD has long had a fascination with languages and this delight is a story in Chinese in which every syllable is prounced ‘shi’.  With different tones of course.  If any Chinese speakers would like to drop by the office and record the story – there’s a lolly or two left over from Freshers’ Fayre for you!

Code Babies

September 27, 2011

For the geek with a little one – teach them early!

Thing of the Day extra: Robin Wight

September 26, 2011

Nearly a year ago to the day (2nd October), Thing of the Day posted an entry about the Zargonic Effect and an article we’d tried to write for Wikipedia:

Still no luck in getting an article written, but as it happened TOTD was at a conference where Robin Wight was delivering the keynote address.  He was the person TOTD first heard using the expression on the BBC documentary, so it was a great to meet him in person.

There’s a photo TOTD took at:

and here is some more info on Robin:

Lego Mobius

September 26, 2011

Good question as to whether these are actually mobius strips rather than toroids, but they look great anyway:

Satellite re-entry

September 23, 2011

Parts of the Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (UARS), deployed from the Space Shuttle in 1991, are expected to come crashing to Earth this evening. Quite where the bits will land isn’t known. James Naughtie onBBC Radio 4’s Today wanted to know if there was any way people could find out where it might come down, such as “over the Pacific or over Godalming”. Hopefully that didn’t panic the people of Godalming too much!

You can read about the UAR Satellite  here

In 2008 the European Space Agency’s Automated Transfer Vehicle “Jules Verne” re-entered the Earth’s atmosphere. Here’s a behind-the-scenes video that shows the fiery re-entry as viewed by scientists from a couple of NASA aircraft.


September 22, 2011

The Freshers’ Fayre has been in full swing and many students have taken part in our ‘Tiddlywink Olympics’ at the Library stand. In the highjump section, one student managed to shoot a wink over a staggering nine copies of The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians!

It was interesting how few students had even heard of tiddlywinks, so here’s some information about the game from the English Tiddlywinks Association.

Junkyard Poet

September 21, 2011

TOTD was in the village of Lizio, Brittany, recently. Deciding to skip the local insectarium (apparently the cafe actually serves crickets and meal worms!), it was decided to pay a visit to the Poet Ferrailleur where you can watch extraordinary animated sculptures made from scrap metal. There was a cinema too. Expecting a 5-minute introduction to the site, there followed instead two incomprehensible art house films that one is probably meant to take seriously. There are clips of “The Secret of Mermoz” on the website.

Attack of the display stands

September 20, 2011

It’s that time of year again when we have to give much thought to signs, posters and other ways of conveying information to all our new students as they join us for Freshers’ Week.

TOTD noticed a type of display stand that is being used by our Students’ Union and decided to check out the company web site. Among their promotional videos was this amusing, if rather creepy, short film.