• The run runs of 2014


    It’s more than 500km, but much less than 1000!

    Once again, I fell rather short of the goal of running 1000km in a year. It shouldn’t really be that hard - it’s just that I’m lazy.

    On a slightly more positive note, I ran more in 2014 than in 2013 (just):


    If you look at the months of 2014, you can see where it all went wrong.

    After getting into gear just after January 2014, I surged ahead through the summer and early autumn, before simply giving up!

    I think it got cold and dark. I hate running in the morning, so night is the only option. And the pub is just too enticing.


    Oh well.

    I’ve reset the bunny run counter for 2015, and what do you know it’s already 2.7km ahead. That thing is nothing but efficient.


    2.7km a day, every day for a year. It’s not hard to imagine, but as we’ve seen it’s slightly harder in practice.

  • The timeline of the Sydney Siege

    Watching the live news feeds of the Sydney siege, it soon became clear to me that a proper timeline of events leading up to the police raid needed to be done.

    So the day after, I grabbed as many TV news feeds as I could. I then went through each of them in an attempt to work out when each critical incident occured.

    I posted this on Twitter a few days ago, but I thought I’d write it here for a more permanent recording of it.

    The times (seconds in particular) are slightly different (3-4 seconds) on each transmission feed, due to the various delays that occur in any live transmission.

    2:04:00am - There is a sound of a gunshot, mentioned by a reporter on the scene. It can also be heard in one of the TV feeds. 2:04:02am - Seconds later, six people escape the cafe.

    Not much really happens after that for about 7 minutes, until the reporters on the scene report hearing another gunshot.

    2:11:16am - TV Presenter on 9 says there is news of “another bang”. It’s noted that it sounded very familair to the gunshot at 2:04:00am. 2:11:39am - Another hostage escapes. It’s likely that she’s a staff member.

    2:14:21am - Cops start the assault on the cafe, breaching the doors and going in.

    By my maths:

    • 17 hostages to begin.
    • 5 escaped that afternoon
    • 6 escape at 2:04am
    • 1 more escapes at 2:11:39.

    That left 5 in the cafe when the police went in.

    After the time of what is reported as the first gunshot at 2:04am - it’s 9 and a half minutes before the police are in the cafe.

    Additional times:

    • The shooting/explosions ended around 2:14:56am, about 35 seconds after the cops went in.
    • Interestingly, at 2:17:14am - about 2 minutes after the first lot of shooting - there’s another round of explosions of some sort. It seems like many of the police outside weren’t expecting it, because they all duck/take cover pretty quickly.


    • The times are taken as best I could from the transmission feeds of all the major networks - 24, Sky, 9 and 7.
    • The News24 feed I used is exported from the transmission log, which has a timestamp burnt into the vision.
  • A week with Phant

    I’ve written a bit over the last week about Phant, SparkFun’s data storage service.

    I just wanted to write a quick update on how it’s going.


    This is a screenshot of the ever reliable service taking data from my temperature and light sensor. Currently, the light sensor is between 444 and 447. That means the main lights are on (that’s how it’s set up at the moment).

    The temperature is supposed to be between 144 and 146. The 173 is a little odd. The Arduino does that from time to time, but I don’t know why.

    Random1 is the version of the code running.

    Random2 is currently reporting 1. That means the lights are on (according to simple code on the transmitter)

    if (LightReading < 650)
    	LightStatus = 1;
    	LightStatus = 0;

    Not very exciting or clever, but it’s creating useful enough test data.

    So far Phant has proved very, very reliable. Data is being submitted once every 11.5 seconds. There was a slight problem a day or so ago, but I think it’s with the Ethernet shield, because the problem was fixed as soon as I reset it.

    Next, I need to write a program (likely a web app) that takes the data from Phant and processes it into useful information.

    EDIT: SparkFun is having a sale until the end of the month, with 15% off sensors that could be used for with its Phant service! Cool.

  • Eagle and PCB design

    I’m currently trying to learn how to make little PCB boards in the computer via Eagle, so I can use OSH Park to print them (or via an interesting looking Aussie company Bread Board Killer)

    Anyway, these YouTube tutorials were really helpful.

    I’m yet to watch this one, but I’m sure it’ll be as helpful as the first two.

    (This page is really just here for my reference. I’ll likely need to come back to these soon, so why not just publish them on the blog?)


    I watched this last night too, and it was good. It goes through it a lot quicker, but it’s still useful.

  • Sensor Project - A small success

    I’ve been trying to create a bunch of little low-powered sensors for a month or so now, so I can use them to track various metrics around my house.

    I want to measure simple things like when the light is turned on/off, what the ambient temperature is, the times of doors opening and closing, etc. I also want to install a little sensor on my electricity meter so I can “count” the “pulses” (i.e., count the time it takes for the little wheel to go round - from this you can work out the amount of electricity usage across the day).

    Of course, having sensors measure things is one thing - getting the data is just as important.

    It was a very lucky coincidence, but the other day SparkFun released an awesome little service that is perfect for what I want. I’ve written a little bit about it here. Incidentally, I’ve also expanded my PHP class, PHPePhant, since then too.

    Anyway, on the sensor project, yesterday I had a very small win. I’ve not got a transmitter and a receiver - and amazingly, both are working!

    The transmitter sends data from two sensors - a light sensor and a temperature sensor - across the room to my receiver. That then pushes the data up to SparkFun. From there, I can plot the various changes in values.

    The links above will take you to the GitHub repositories where the code is. It takes two arduinos, one with an ethernet shield.

    There’s a lot more I need to do. Firstly, I need to introduce more sensors into the network. That way I can have multiple sensors around the house doing different things. Secondly, I want to investigate the use of a better radio transmitter. I’m using a very simple one at the moment that only sends data one way. It’d be nice if I could mesh them in some way, or at least have a two-way radio channel. Thirdly, I need to condense them down from a breadboard into a more permanent solution. I might start with a simple single-sided copper PCB prototype board, and once I’ve done that learn how to make a PCB board in Eagle and send it off to a manufacturing house for printing!