This was a facebook comment that got out of hand. If this isn’t the kind of pointless string of words that belongs in a blog, I don’t know what is. The first part follows the Rime of the Ancient Mariner reasonably closely. The rest correlates with the worst excesses of Roald Dahl at his most metrically depraved. It is an ancient housemate, And he washeth one of three. ‘By thy long grey beard and glittering eye

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The thing about living on a boat is that there is more than likely a hatchet to hand. Which means that if you come home from the shops with a can and realise that you have no can opener, you can puncture holes in the lid. Using the hatchet … and get at the insides. Try doing that in a house. I dare you.

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On Monday 9th January 2011, version 4 of FolkTuneFinder.com went public. It was a bit of a journey getting to this point. I run FolkTuneFinder in my spare time. Mostly it runs itself without intervention. I keep an eye on things, monitor spam (except for a recent occasion when it got out of hand) and answer mail. There is a fair amount of programming behind it, and I’ve re-written the search engine a few times over the years.

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When searching FolkTuneFinder, you may find search results that you don’t agree with or can’t understand. You may think tune has nothing to do with your query, or the highlighted notes bear no relevance to what you typed. Here’s why. The thing about folk tunes is that they’ve survived in the aural tradition, in many cases for quite a long time. A good tune spreads because people like it, and different parts of a tune may appeal to different people.

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The first version of FolkTuneFinder was written in a combination of Java and PHP. I was still working out the best way to do melodic indexing, and the index build process was parallelised. The job ran across 14 Apple Xserves, made available to me by my university. That was back in 2008. These days it runs in a single virtual machine … somewhere.

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It’s annoying leaning a bike up against something, especially on a train, only to have the handlebars rotate and for the bike to fall down. Or to be carrying a bike on your shoulder and have the wheel come round and smack you. A simple lock on the front of the bike which could be flicked to stop the steering from moving whilst it’s being transported would solve this problem.

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I started FolkTuneFinder as a student project back in 2008. I’d done websites for a few years before, but this was the first serious one with any kind of heavy lifting or interesting behaviour. Over the years I added features that allowed people to interact, such as the commenting and FolkTuneFinder blogs, which has been surprisingly popular. I have always had a very small problem with spam: I received perhaps a small handful of blog posts a month, which was fine to deal with.

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I don’t drive, but being a passenger and a cyclist, I imagine dazzling lights can be something of a problem to drivers. To combat this, a camera could be mounted in the head-rest of the driver’s seat of a car, so that it was able to see what the driver saw from the same perspective. It could identify where egregious bright lights were coming from. A liquid crystal matrix could be embedded into the windscreen.

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Limescale is a problem in areas with hard water. No more so than in kettles which need occasional de-scaling. How about making a dispenser which sits in the kettle and provides de-scaling acid in very small quantities. The acid would be food-grade. It would be adjustable to give just the right amount for the hardness of water so that the acid is completely used up in dissolving the limescale. A testing kit could be sold, or a national database could be built up giving local values based on post-code.

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People like taking photos of themselves in the mirror, it seems. Especially with iPhones. The trouble with taking a photo in a mirror is that the image is obviously mirrored. Here’s my idea. An iPhone, or other phone with a prominent logo on the back, can do some basic shape recognition to decide whether or not there’s a logo reflected in the mirror. It can then decide whether it’s taking a photo in a mirror or not and automatically flip the image if needed.

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