Category Archives: Just for fun

Web Services Go Greener

You may have noticed fuel prices going up. You may also know that Web Services are now located in the Durning Centre and that the building has received an award for its power saving features.

Ever mindful of the environment, Web Services have gone one step further and installed the next generation, leading edge clockwork servers. These servers will provide a constant service as long as I remember to wind them up every morning.

Wind them up! – get it?

Check the date!

How do I know if it’s Christmas?

Photo-A-Day #822b 07/09/07Its Christmas eve. Are you excited? In less than 24 hours Santa will have been, scoffed his mince pie and glass of port 😉 and gone on his merry way.

So just how long do we have to wait for Christmas?

If you Google “Christmas countdown” there’s a whole slew of sites with count down clocks (including some really old ones that I suspect were written as “my first javaScript program”). No, No, No, No, NoOne of the best, and very popular within Web Services, dedicated to the Christmas countdown has to be isitchristmas.com. Quite simply, every visit is met with an emphatic “No” until Christmas day. For rss die-hards there’s even a feed. You just know you’ll have to get the laptop out tomorrow just to see that is, in fact, Christmas. I’m sure, yule you’ll fit it in despite the present opening, bucks fizz, snowballs, Christmas breakfast, table laying, bird roasting, gut-busting pudding, family rows, tears, Queen’s speech, 3 o’clock film, mince pies, flat batteries, karaoke, Quality Street, After Eights, home-made sloe gin and droopy paper hats.

That’s for tomorrow. If you’re a believer (and you’ll only get a stocking full of sprouts if you don’t believe) or you have kids, you may also be interested in tracking Santa’s progress. HumbugYou’ll also find games for the kids to play.

Happy Christmas from Web Services, Edge Hill University. Now where did I put those humbugs?

Dreaming of a White Christmas

Number 19I wonder how many of you this year have visited a bookmakers and put on a bet for a ‘White Christmas’, not many I would imagine or maybe I’m completely wrong, one thing I do know however is as its more of a sure thing this year I can’t imagine any of them paying out. Well imagine my surprise when I visited a few betting sites just to see if they were taking bets on a ‘White Christmas’, do you know what, they are but at much lower odds! Pretty much an inevitable conclusion to expect one flake I would say, at least for this year.

Practically anywhere in the UK has roughly a 90% chance of seeing snow in the winter, it very rarely falls at Christmas (generally in January and February). However apparently it does occur approximately every 6 years.

I’m sure we all remember last year’s Christmas, 2009 and the start of 2010. The gritters had been out too early after the councils had not anticipated a big freeze, certainly nothing like we had seen previously since 1986. (I was 12 years old then and remember fondly the skiddy patches that would last for weeks). Britain was covered with thick lying snow which easterly winds had brought over the previous week. Travel over much of Britain was badly affected by ice and snow on the roads, and made more slippery by partial daytime thaw followed by overnight refreezing. It was the first white Christmas anywhere in the United Kingdom since 2004.

The second big freeze of this winter, due to start this week, is likely to last for as long as a month, putting the country on course for a winter which could be even colder than the notoriously treacherous 1962-63. This year however has been the coldest start to a winter for 100 years; bitterly cold winds from the ­Arctic will without doubt bring a blanket of snow to Scotland, the North, London and the South-east on December 25th. Wales, the South-west and central England will probably be a winter mix of sleet with snow on higher ground. So there you have it almost proof that this year will be a really cold, white Christmas. So wrap up, stay safe and warm and have a Merry Christmas.

No more kissing under the mistletoe!!

I have heard this warning before in the last few years from conservationists but it appears now to be a more serious issue; the future supply of traditional English mistletoe is under threat. Why I hear you say; mistletoe thrives in established apple orchards and if you follow conservation then you will know that our apple orchards have been in serious decline for the past 60 years, this has great impact on our traditional mistletoe.

Mistletoe is a parasitic plant that grows attached to and within the branches of a tree or shrub, mainly apple trees but it will also grow within birch, hawthorn, lime and poplar. If left the mistletoe will eventually kill its host so it has to be managed, regular cutting will protect the host tree as well as ensuring a crop of mistletoe each Christmas time. Most mistletoe seeds are spread by birds; they eat the seeds and then spread them throughout the tree branches in their droppings. Mistletoe was often considered a pest that killed trees and devalued natural habitats, but was recently acknowledged as an ecological keystone species, an organism that has an excessively persistent influence over its community. A broad array of animals depend on mistletoe for food, consuming the leaves and young shoots, transferring pollen between plants, and dispersing the sticky seeds.

All is not lost however, The National Trust want you to help by buying home-grown mistletoe in the run-up to Christmas, which means asking where the mistletoe is sourced from when you buy it. Allot of our traditions we have lost over the years and it would be a crying shame if mistletoe disappeared as well.

There is so much more to mistletoe than its “romantic role”, buying mistletoe helps traditional British cider apple orchards thrive by removing mistletoe from the trees, so you are doing 2 things, helping a tradition to continue which in turn helps apple trees to flourish and let’s not forget it keeps us kissing!!

I don’t get the point of this dream

This one also goes in the weird category.

I had moved out of my shared accommodation to live with my girlfriend. One night we were in bed when I was woken up by my girlfriend shaking me. I was kneeling down with my head on the bed between the pillows.

“What’s up? What are you doing?” She said.
“This sound stupid but I though I was a ???”!

I just had a very strange dream.

I was down stairs in Bevs house (she is a friend) watching television; I turned the TV off then went to bed. I was lying down getting comfortable ready to go to sleep when I felt a piece off cotton touching my face. I lifted my hand and grabbed it when I opened my hand it was spider. Of course I woke up and had nothing in my hand. I lay back down and went to sleep.

This time I remember a door opening. The room I was in became very light. Then I was out of that room but just in a much bigger room. I could see the top of a sewing needle. To me it looked quite large and it seemed to be held quite rigid. I had the feeling that I was being pushed towards the eye of the needle, it felt like I was going to go through the hole but I went off to one side. I was drawn back then once again had the feeling of being pushed towards the eye of the needle. This happened a couple more times then my head was in the eye being moved from side to side. The movement of the pillow woke up my girlfriend and she woke me.

“What’s up? What are you doing?”
“This sound stupid but I though I was a piece of cotton being threaded through a needle”

Is that weird?
Has Anyone else had a dream like this?
What does it mean?

Dreaming of Travel

My youngest son is 9 now and last night he came running into our bedroom, jumped into bed, he said he was having a bad dream then he just went straight to sleep.
When he was 3 until about 6 he would do this quite often sometimes 3 times a week, he always said he was dreaming about lions being in his room, his name is Daniel, I am not religious in any way but this did always make me think about the New Testament, Daniel Chapter 6, which we read at school.

Anyway this got me thinking about dreams that I have had. I love dreams normal dreams, nightmares or weird dreams. I can also lucid dream which I count as any dream where I know I am dreaming and then can pick what I do.
This dream I would put in the weird category.

I was travelling on a bus, no one else was on the bus and in fact it never even had a driver. I was near the front of the lower deck and suddenly the windscreen was hit by a lot of water, like when you drive through a deep puddle and it splashes your window. A windscreen wiper swept across the window. Then a glass appeared on the front of the bus, then I was a windscreen wiper inside a glass which was full of water and I was trying to get the water of the sides. I started to spin round in the glass trying to get the inside of the glass dry but I just went round faster and faster with obviously no hope of repelling the water. Then I shot out of the glass and I woke up with a bit of a shock.

I did not wake up feeling dizzy or soaking wet. I had not been drinking I was not taking any medication nor was I ill. I had never dreamt I was an object before, has any one else?
Is that weird?
What does it mean?

I have since dreamt I was a different object.

I will tell you about it in my next post tomorrow.

Lego Printer

While the problems we’ve been experiencing with printers over the last couple of days are no laughing matter, this Lego® printer is quite cool:

I know this is so before-the-summer but I thought it was appropriate today 🙂

Street View trike on campus

Google Street View trike on campus

Back in March, Google added Ormskirk – and most of the rest of the country – to Google Street View. Today we were visited by the Google Street View trike to take imagery of the Ormskirk campus. Unlike roads which are photographed using a car, private property like university campuses and Disneyland Paris are photographed using a trike allowing them to get along footpaths.

Most of the campus was covered today in just an hour or so but it’ll be somewhere between a couple of weeks and six months until it’s live on the website. Until then you can check out a (very) short video of the trike on campus:

QR Treasure Hunt

Yesterday, Learning Services launched their Code Breaker Challenge – aimed at getting new (and returning) students to find their way around the facilities and try out a bit of new technology along the way.

It makes use of QR Codes – 2D barcodes that can be scanned with a smartphone.  The payload of a QR code can be quite flexible – it can contain text, a web address, contact information or even send a text message.  In this case it launches a web page on the Learning Services blog – chosen because it’s already mobile friendly for a number of common devices.

There are four locations to scan – start in the entrance to the University Library.  Give it a go and you could win a £50 Argos voucher.

From my point of view this is a really interesting trial. Awareness of QR codes – while certainly not universal – is growing and as I’ve mentioned before on this blog we’re now in a position where significant numbers of students have modern phones with free or cheap data.  QR codes in themselves are not a solution to any particular problem we have but they have some interesting potential uses in connecting physical and virtual information.

Many companies are starting to use them on posters, cans of pop and all sorts of other places – the 2d code blog has some great examples of QR codes popping up in unusual places.

There are loads of QR code readers available for lots of different devices – i-nigma suggested on the LS blog is one of the better ones for iOS (sorry, I’ve only tried on iPhones!) but to find one for your phone type tigtags.com/getqr into your mobile’s browser to get suggestions.