Cooking with insight

I just took delivery of a new kitchen gadget, this MEATER+ thermometer.

IoT cooking with connected oven thermometer

I had been meaning to get one for a while but was reminded about them during a conversation with predate 1.0 about what IoT actually is and what I cover in my job as an analyst.

It’s a clever piece of kit, it sits in a joint of meat or fish whilst it is being cooked and tells an app remotely what the internal temperature is, so you can get things just right. It is actually a bit more clever than it may seem though. It is really two thermometers one inside the meat and one outside testing the surrounding ambient temperature. That means it can do some calculations and present on the app predicted the predicted time a temperature is reached. It factors in resting time too in the time and the ready indicators. I cooked a chicken breast yesterday for the first time with it, and it had around 5 minutes of resting time once it came out of the oven where it was clear to see the meat was still cooking and getting hotter internally. The chicken came out brilliantly juicy and perfectly cooked. The external temperature sensor is also good because clearly a simple dial on a cooker setting may be a few degrees off one way or another so this instrumentation is providing an actual not a would like to be temperature.

What is also clever is that the wooden block the unit sits in when not in use is also its charger. For the the + version I opted for this block also acts as a bluetooth and wireless repeater, so you don’t have to stand next to the oven with your phone and app to check it. That is a bit frivolous but I like the idea that the holder was also a bit more functional.

The girls are away on New York for a few days for Predlet 2.0 and I have the place to ourselves, and I can experiment a bit more to see what difference it makes with a few smaller meals.

I do a lot of cooking of all sorts of type but I have never cooked a Beef Wellington, but now I think I have to to fully test this gizmo. Beef Wellington is of course notorious for being over or under done as the meat is encased in pastry and you can’t give it a little slice to see if its ok. I will wait until the family are all in one place to do that though.

This may sound like some sort of advert, but I just bought this myself because I like cooking and I like tech. It’s been around a couple of years I believe. Hmm, I am hungry now. Which is a pity as I am back not the Fast 800 track for a few weeks 🙂

Headbanging Easter

I had not got around to posting for a while despite lots of interesting things happening in the World. Primarily this was because on Easter Sunday whilst cooking a roast dinner somehow I managed to slip on oil on the kitchen floor and head butt the work surface on the way down. I/we think this is what happened as I was pretty concussed and the family did not see me go over. They just knew I was on the floor and there were garden peas all over the place. I seem to have been heading to drain the saucepan, but didn’t quite make it.

I knew I was not OK but kept saying I was in my confusion. There was no blood and the bump had not formed yet, but I was driven too Basingstoke Emergency room. I was seen very quickly as head injuries or the level of confusion I was exhibiting need sorting out quickly.

I was asked what happened, but I didn’t really know, also if I had been drinking, which I hadn’t except for a sip of a G&T. I was too busy preparing a meal for 6 of us. I got sent straight to a CT scan and when that was all clear I was discharged but told to not be left on my own for the next 48 hours in case of any complications

The advice was to rest, and so I went from doing lots of exercise ever day to almost nothing.

Slight break in activity
Not much activity!

That first week was a very strange experience. I likened it to being stuck on a very long flight and sort of zoning out. I watched loads of movies as I couldn’t face playing any video games. However, I can’t actually remember which movies I watched, or if I can I can’t think what happened in too much detail. It is hard to tell if this was the brain impact or the stress of thinking about the incident.

Even more strange was the following weekend I realised I had missed buying Mortal Kombat 11 on release day. I went to get it and saw that I had in fact bought it during the week at some point. I then had to check my credit cards to see what else I may have purchased. Luckily not anything else!

Mortal Kombat 11
Mortal Kombat 11

That made for a doubly troubling state to be in. I was busy trying to piece to gather the gap in my memory of Easter Sunday, and the following days. Working in a job as an industry analyst where we need to remember what we see and hear it felt a bit like being a footballer breaking their leg. You know it will get better but will it work quite the same.

I started back doing light exercise, but didn’t go to Choi Kwang Do classes for a few weeks. In part this was to ensure that I did not get any bumps on the head (not that I would normally) but also I was not feeling up to driving.

Luckily with work it was a bit easier to do bits and pieces. Eventually things seems to be pretty normal. I was/am still wary but got back to it.

My first big test was driving 100 miles to Coventry to present to the BCS branch there. The driving was not the worry as much as just not being able to enthuse and deliver a presentation. However, it was game related and on a subject I live all the time too. It seemed to work, I was still able to do that. I drove home right after. When I got home I was totally shot though. Usually presentations take a lot of energy out of me because of the way I do them, but this was quite heavy.

The next big test was a conference in Cork. Flying really had me thinking, wondering if being pressurised was going to trip something. I was lucky it was a short flight though, less time to freak out about that. Also on arriving I was there with Christian Renaud, and we went out for a meal and a chat so I got to exercise my brain a bit in a normal situation. I did find I forgot a few things more than usual in general chatter but in part that probably always happens. Every slight stutter in my though patterns though I was analysing.

At the conference I was on a panel at one point and had to do some quick fire answers on artificial intelligence and industrial IoT. That seemed to work too though I think. The rest of the event went well. I took copious notes rather than relying on any short term memory.

One eventing we went and watch the awesome John Wick 3 and I can say I remember everything that happened in that still. So that’s a good progress marker.


The following weekend was my daughter’s 16th Birthday so a lot of things going on including a meal out to celebrate with her and some of her friends too. I don’t think I went to weird chatting.

Then I was back on a plane again and an 11 hour flight to California. I was off to the 10th Augmented World Expo. A full on event chatting with vendors and also meeting friends from a long time ago, back in the 2006 Metaverse days. My enthusiasm for the space of course carried me through, but equally made it all a bit tiring. Luckily I could pop back to the room in the hotel and just take 5 mins every now and then.

Reconfigure and Cont3xt were also free for the week so I did let everyone know 🙂 too.

#AWE2019 San Jose augmented world expo
Headset museum (extra exhibit at AWE2019)
#AWE2019 San Jose augmented world expo
#AWE2019 San Jose augmented world expo

The hotel on the last night had a fire alarm that had us all out on the street at 1am, which is never good. No-one was hurt and about an hour later we were back inside.

I got back on Sunday afternoon, so Monday was mostly jet lag and doing expenses. No idea what happened Tuesday either. Wednesday I wrote a report which flowed nicely. The tiredness of jet lag masks most things. Yesterday (Thursday) though I had a hectic morning with doing a school run twice, early morning food shopping too. Then I had 2 back to back inquiry calls, where our customers pay to talk to us. So you have to be with it for that. At the end of the second one I couldn’t remember the name of a few companies, and then felt a little off. In part I thought this was because I was also trying to get back onto the diet regime again and maybe that was too soon. I ate a bit more healthy food and went to Choi. That all seemed to be OK but still felt a little off. Again, this may not be related but you start to doubt yourself I think. I felt a little off this morning too but dived into a report and avoided too many distractions. I think this will pass and is just another kick form the jet lag. It makes sense that it takes as long to clear jet lag as it does for the amount of time you are away.

Anyway, well on the way to normality again, whatever that is. I think like all injuries there are elements of feeling recovered but then overdoing it but exercise seems to be a good thing, lots of blood flow to the brain and positive thoughts.

All in all this could have been a lot worse, if I had still been 20 stone instead of 15 (and less soon) then the angular momentum of that additional weight might have knocked even more out of me.

Watch out out for oil on the floor. It reminded me of this public safety film, one of the many we had to watch in the 70s

Maybe time to bring these back ? 🙂

Games programming – 1984

A wonderful hashtag #MyFirstGamesJob has been doing the rounds. Whilst I am not totally in the games industry, I am not exactly not in it. I tweeted that my first games job was writing a C64 lunar lander that was selected to be printed as a listing in the magazine Computer and Video Games. I had be reunited with a copy of it back during the Wimbledon days at IBM (15 odd years ago and hence lost again!) but now it is sitting online in the wonderful Archive.org

the first 2 pages
the last page

They appear in the issue 28 from 1984 ! the full document is here https://archive.org/details/cvg-magazine-028

I got a whole £10 and a copy of the magazine. The C64 was my second home computer after the ZX81 and really set me on the way to being a programmer and doing al the things I have done in my career.

I had a different back story to this xmas gift one but that’s OK, the writers and producers did what they needed to 🙂

I still lover the analogue nature of gravity simulation and thrusters in Lunar lander. It was a go to genre to try and learn any new machine or language. Also in this version I couldn’t;t get the sound chip to do a long booming noise, it kept only clipping and making a splutter, so I changed the description to say it was running out of fuel. (Need must sometimes 🙂 )

So here’s to 35 years of being officially being a techie, a programmer, a geek and of course a minor celebrity 🙂 I am going to have to get this into book 3 somehow.

(UPDATE 10/4/2019- Thankyou so much to Mark Hardisty for spotting this link to the game with images and a listing 🙂 the internet is fantastic isn’t it !) Going to go get and get the emulator running!

C64 Planet Qwarrk

Target Met

Its March 29th 2019 and I am really happy to have hit my initial weight target after my 800 Kcal/per day plus loads of exercise especially my Choi Kwang Do training. My use of Nutracheck on my iPhone to track everything, my Nokia/Withings Wifi connected scales tracking weight and body composition, my Hykso punch trackers keeping my punch power tracking and my Apple Watch keeping the rest of the activity recorded and my heart rates all logged. In addition I have been eating many of the same things I have always eaten and having little impact on the cooking I need to do for the family. All there to get me to 94.8Kg down from 120Kg at Christmas.

Now I switch to 5:2 – 2700Kcal 5 days a week and 600KCal on two other days, plus the constant exercise. Another interesting experiment in the journey.

I have been really interested in seeing and feeling my speed and power increase in my Choi training and the image below shows the increase in contact speed in general over the last few weeks. I had stepped up training before my 2nd Dan Black belt a while back but this is even more significant as my mass is decreasing and Force = Mass * Acceleration. The indicative impact speeds have gone up due to more to the speed than to the application of weight. Here the total across both my hard pressing PACE drills (2min,1min, 30sec, 15 sec) and my general training and experiments in tweaking technique sees the total average impact speed over the year rising. So it’s gone from 9.5Mph to just over 11Mph. The leap Jan to Feb was higher too.

The individual sessions here below on days right to left and timed top to bottom as the full on impact drill (with kicks too that are not tracked) show a general overall increase balancing number of punches and speed. The last bottom right session dropped a little but that is something to work on next time. The last 15 seconds are at max heart rate when already worn out from the previous sessions. It was still 25 punches (plus some kicks) making contact in 15 seconds.

Having all this tech is awesome 🙂 Lots of IoT measurements to tweak. Now with a new Apple Watch (series 4) I bought to celebrate I will get even more accurate data too on the rest of the moderate exercise and impact on heart rate etc.

Looking forward to a bit more food during the day on 5:2, it seems an awful lot to eat now!

I can haz FPV drone

Father’s day saw my headset count++ with the google cardboard style parrot headset for the iPhone to let me fly the Mambo drone and its camera. Its great fun as you would expect. Unlike VR where you move your head to see you end up keeping still as you have to move the drone, but it is like sitting on it. For a little drone its very fast about 10mph according to some of the logs it generates.
I also used Swift playgrounds to program it to fly under code control on the iPad. Which is awesome too. Writing code, flying drones and VR headsets seems like some sort of perfect geek storm to me.

Internet of Training – Hykso

My hand mountable punch trackers from Hykso arrived last week. I can’t quite remember when and where I pre-ordered them but I have been looking forward to trying them out. They are designed for boxers and so geared around punching but I figured that they would be able to respond to our Choi Kwang Do techniques, which include punching of course.
Internet of Training #hykso will see how they cope with Choi
The two sensors, one lights up red one lights up blue need to be strapped to the back of the hand just behind the wrist. I bought some hand wraps but they are a lot of faffing around and I found that my gel hand protectors with the larger wrist wrap hold the sensors nicely. The only problem is that I like to wear my fitbit for hear rate data, and that sits just behind the wrist too. So i placed the left one a bit closer up along the hand.
Pairing on IoS was straight forward, wakes them up with a tap and then assign to a hand.
I tested them just after a class so I was warmed up but in my own dojang. I dived right into a 2 minute PACE drill punching Bob and the bag, to realise I had actually set a 2 minute until we start recording delay. Some techie I am !
So after being even more warmed up I tried again, this with another 2 minute mix of punches, palms and knife hands. It certainly counted all the punches, something that is very hard to do at speed. That in itself is a useful extra training aid especially in the punch for 2 mins, count then, now punch for 1 min and try and get more than 50% of the last count, repeat for 30 seconds and a 15 second blast.

It can be distracting to get lost in numbers, but equally it provides relative indications. The app generates these images for social media, but internally shows a lot more detail, a speed, counter and “effort” monitor breaks down punches and power punches, which I think are anything not an inwards punch in Choi.
What I did notice in the graphs were my “intensity” score dropped mid session but thats when the speed rocketed up. As we often point out in training the more relaxed you are the more velocity you can punch with. A counter intuitive but effective way to focus on effort without effort.
Next I tried just the deceptively powerful reverse known hand for a few seconds. This number may be because it is confused as the hand angle on contact compared to a round punch but to go from 8mph average to 27mph strikes is very telling.

I have seen this on other equipment watching a 3rd dan get triple what most of use could register on an instrumented shield with a reverse knife hand. So for pure contact it is very effective. I suspect elbows, one of my favourite to drive a shield holder back would be along those lines but they are unlikely to register as an impact on the accelerometers in the device. I am not complaining as these are boxers tool not martial arts tools.
If the data is tracking movement and streaming it it would be really interesting to be able to profile moves such as a block and still count them. That would need an open Api or some data export but I look forward to giving it a go.
It fits with the other work I had done exploring using the Kinect
Once I get these darn wisdom teeth all extracted and sorted I can get back to proper training heading to EE Dan (2nd) and these will definitely be a tool in my conditioning arsenal. Lookout Bob!

Sega – Outrun – Spotify

Those of you of a certain age, maybe not quite as old as me but close, will have really enjoyed played Sega Outrun in the arcades back in the day. Possibly in full car mock up. This tune Magical Sound Shower is a classic from then and I can see the pixelated Ferrari drifting across the track and through all the zones just listing to it. All not on spotify, well done Sega for publishing it!

Also this ! love Nights

And Space Harrier 🙂

Jet Set Radio – Oh no this is becoming a playlist 🙂

Reconfigure nomination for Sci-Fi book of the year

Whilst on our summer holiday in glorious California I got an email from the Independent Author Network book of the year awards. It said that Reconfigure was nominated as sci-fi book of the year. This is of course excellent news. I am not sure if I can fit the badge on the front cover, as some of the Amazon rules seem to say you can’t from what I remember.
Anyway here it is. I will add it to the book’s page too
It is still just 99p and sales seem to have picked up recently too. So hopefully people will enjoy it and then come and discover Cont3xt too.
With more reader there is more potential for more reviews, and that all keeps the ball rolling.
My page over at #ian1 will need updating too 🙂

Bloxels – Physical game creation tool

Before the advent of the high end PC and Mac with all the wonderful graphics tools anyone doing any game like programming would be more than accustomed to used some pencil and paper tools to build their graphics. Small square lined paper was the main tool there. Shading in individual little pieces for 16×16 sprite. Usually then converting the rows into the binary, then hexadecimal values that would drop into the data structure to the make the on screen character. Pixel art is still a big thing though and a genre in its own right.
It was interesting to see the emergence of this game making/editing toolkit that abstracts that graph paper a little, not dealing so much with pixels but with larger block and constructs in a game environment. Family Gamer TV posted this video showing it in action.

It is the physical nature of the building and configuration that makes this different to the regular point and click builds, though it can be used for that too. Having a large number of plastic blocks in different colours means kids, or adults for that matter, can gather around the “graph paper” and chop and change their design on the table top. It is not totally clear how you go back to your source code though. Generally building something you have the base components always there. Here you will clear the rack and start again on the next one. Now if it could 3d print you the “source” if you wanted to start editing from a point in someone else’s rig that would be truly awesome.
It seems that Bloxels are doing something right as they can now only ship in the US due to a lack of inventory. I think it might make an interesting change and tool in primary schools though it suggests ages 8+ I know kids younger than that would get the concept pretty quickly.
One thing with graph paper, back in the day, if you knocked it on the floor you still had your design!

Technology, under the veneer

I tend to do the family food shopping, being based at home it is good to get out and head to the supermarket, rather than online deliveries. I usually head to Sainsburys because the local store has self scan as you go around. The handset lets you scan the items as you pack them in the bags in the trolley. You then just pay by handing the scanner over (apart from occasionally getting a full rescan by the till operator to check you are being honest), and pay. A benefit of this is that you entire shop is listed on the screen and the price of the item. It is building the list as you go along and giving an indication of the amount you are spending. As the device is so small it does not contain the entire product range/barcode and price references so it is connected to a local network. Interestingly, though, it does not process the multi-buys and offers until it is handed to the cashier. I think this may be partly a systems decision and partly beneficial as the bill is always less than your handset shows.The network connection becomes apparent when something goes wrong with it. Occasionally you scan an item and the device hangs for a little while. Very occasionally, as happened yesterday it hangs completely and looks like it is not coming back. As I was at the end of my shopping trip and heading to the till, I thought I would wait rather than just hurtling off to customer services. The device shutdown and rebooted. I thought at that point I would loose everything from my 45 minute self scanning and have to do the old fashioned way of taking everything out of the trolley and put it on the conveyor belt again. The screen sparked back into life and this happened.
Sainsbury reboot
Sainsbury Reboot
Sainsbury reboot
There were a few more screens but it as interesting to see the boot sequence.
Then all the data I had scanned appeared. It was probably only a minute or so, but I was very impressed that the system had a continuous backup, or maybe it is a local cache, of the details. I had to rescan my last two items, as they were the ones it had hung and crashed on, but it worked fine.
Retail is great at mining data and working out who buys what, I assume that they use richer data from the scanners to determine when something is bought. With this constant network connection there is scope for the next generation of these hand held units to deliver more than just the occasional information message.
I can imagine some less tech savvy consumers might be a bit freaked out by the apparently simple little listing device doing all this, and rebooting, which is why it is handy to have some background knowledge of the technology. It made it an interesting little sojourn and break from the current workload. It also showed we are already in an age of IoT, this constantly connected device sorted its own problems out and came back working. Lets hope all the new devices connecting can do the same thing.