Friday, 23 October 2009

Midnight Commander for Editing on E71

I use putty on the E71 to ssh into various server to do sys admin type things and also to do a little python programming remotely. I'd not found a nice unix editor to work over putty from the limited keyboard on the phone. Recently I started playing around with Midnight Commander (mc). It turns out that the internal editor to Midnight Commander, mcedit, is actually reasonably easy to use on the E71.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Geocaching on the Nokia E71

I was just typing up my thoughts about how to use the Symbian Python interpreter on the Nokia E71 to write a quick and dirty Geocaching application using the phone's GPS when a Google search found 'Geocaching Live'. I'm going to give that a go first.

Review of Land of Play

Our younger two kids and I, aged four and nearly two, had a very nice Monday morning at the Land of Play in Manchester's Trafford Park. The place is very new, as of October 2009, and all the equipment is practically pristine. The unique selling point of Land of Play is the electric go-karts. Both kids loved them. The four-year-old was off on his own one and I could sit on the tail fin of the two-year-old's correcting the steering as subtly as possible. There was the standard climbing activity area, of medium size compared with the others of our acquaintance. The climbing was fine for the two and four-year-old, but would have been too easy for our seven-year-old.
The entrance fee was very reasonable. It was about £4.50 each after a 10% discount coupon that the Google Maps entry for the company offered me. The kart rides cost another £1 each, but you got a reasonable length go for the money. It has a cafe serving reasonably priced, if basic grub.
The main disappointment for me was that the environment didn't manage to shake off the feeling of industrial park. Sure it was clean, but there was only a passing attempt made at child-friendly decoration. That said I think we liked it enough to make another visit.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Friday, 2 October 2009

Fire Balloons

Inspired by Roald Dahl's 'Danny Champion of the World', we've decided that our current project is to make a fire balloon. In the book, Danny and his father make a balloon out of tissue paper, wire and a cotton wool ball soaked in meths. Our first attempt copied this pattern. We used fuse wire to hold the wool and made a cylindrical envelope out of tissue paper. Unfortunately on an attempted launch we had a spectacular, if predictable failure with the tissue paper going up in flames.
There has been many discussions about the causes of the failure. The key problem seems to have been that the fuse wire was rigid enough to support a dry ball of cotton wool but the weight of the meths caused the wire to bend. Design efforts are now focusing on the fuel-holding mechanism. One theory is that we can use wooden cocktail sticks. The objection is that the wood will burn through before the meths has run out. We think we're going to try an experiment to find out. That should be fun!