Archive for the 'Activities' Category

Dec 27 2007

Asymmetry Of Ringing

Published by under Bell Ringing

I have recently just finished helping teach a beginners course for Church Bell Ringing.  It was a ten week adult education evening class that gave the learners a very broad over view of what bell ringing is about, getting them ringing hand bells and also giving them a chance to ring the church bells.  The course has been rung for several years now and the learners on this years course have really shone through and a few have even got to the stage of ringing rounds and call changes.

NB. For the rest of this article I’m going to talking in terms of open handstroke lead ringing, i.e. leaving a one-bell gap between last bell backstroke and first bell handstroke.

Once you progress past the basic handling of a bell and start ringing methods, it is assumed that you need no further tutoring on how to control the bell and get it striking at the right time. However, I’m sure more than a few ringers out there are tired of being told:

Pull your back stroke in!

What I have noticed is that invariably when someone is told to pull their backstroke in (ringing closer to the bell before them on backstroke) they then start clashing with the bell before them at handstroke.  This, I believe, is because most learners are never actually told that ringing a bell is an asymmetrical movement.  That is to say that the length of time that you hold up at backstroke is not the same as the length of time that you hold up at handstroke.

The reason for this is that there are an un-even number of stroke pull whole pull – each bell pulling handstroke and backstroke.  This is because of the one-bell gap that is left between the last bell backstroke and the first bell handstroke:


The numbers above represent 6 bells ringing two whole pulls, handstroke and backstroke. The first bell has to hold up slightly at handstroke in order to leave the gap which means that all the other bells have to hold up slightly.  At backstroke there is no gap and therefore the first bell does not need to hold up, meaning the other bells don’t need to hold-up.

I believe it is this concept of handstroke and backstroke being different in timing, and learners not being taught this that causes most of the problems.  Learners are taught about the theory of open handstroke leading and that you need to leave the gap but they are not told what it means for the actual ringing motion.


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Nov 20 2007

Test Driven Porting

Published by under .NET,Bell Ringing,Programming

Recently I’ve had reason to take an code library written in C++ and port it to C#.  Whilst I dabbled in C++ on a compilers course at university, I hated it then and I still hate it now.  I personally think it’s an abomination and should be consigned to the great garbage collector in the sky.   Whilst I can just about read the C++ syntax there is a lot that I don’t understand about it.

The library I was porting had semi reasonable documentation outlining what classes exist and their methods and a brief description of the overall usage.  This gave me a good starting point, however the documentation didn’t include example usages and expected results, for this I was forced to delve into the code.

One development paradigm I have been interested in but have been unable to find a decent project to test it on is Test-Driven-Development and this seemed like the perfect project to try it on.  So I set to work on the first iteration getting the test set up.   Without knowing exactly what results I should be expecting I was finding it hard going, so once again I dived back into the old code.

Thankfully, the developers of the C++ library had create a fairly comprehensive set of unit tests and with my limited C++ knowledge and a text editor with RegEx Find & Replace I was quickly able to convert their unit tests into NUnit based unit tests.

For example, what started out life as:

 1: void test_row_multiply_change(void)
 2: {
 3:  row r;
 4:  RINGING_TEST( ( r *= change( 6, "X" ) ) == "214365" );
 5:  RINGING_TEST( ( r *= change( 6, "1" ) ) == "241635" );
 6:  RINGING_TEST( ( r *= change( 8, "X" ) ) == "42615387" );
 7:  RINGING_TEST( ( r *= change( 5, "3" ) ) == "24651387" );
 9:  RINGING_TEST( row( "214365" ) * change( 7, "5" ) == row( "1234675" ) );
 10: }

Quickly became:

 1: [Test]
 2: public void TestMultiplicationByChange()
 3: {
 4:  Row r = new Row();
 5:  Assert.AreEqual((Row)"214365", r *= new Change(6, "X") );
 6:  Assert.AreEqual((Row)"241635", r *= new Change(6, "1"));
 7:  Assert.AreEqual((Row)"42615387", r *= new Change(8, "X" ));
 8:  Assert.AreEqual((Row)"24651387", r *= new Change(5, "3"));
 10:  Assert.AreEqual((Row)"1234675", new Row("214365") * new Change(7, "5"));
 11: }

Now, with a full set of unit tests at my disposal I was quickly able to bash away at the library and very quickly got working code without the need to trawl through ghastly C++ code.

Hooray for Test-Driven-Development and three cheers for Test-Driven-Porting.

ps. The library I’m porting is an open source library for Bell Ringing – yes I know I’m a geek but anyone that has followed everything else in this post must also be a geek ;-).  Once I’m finished I will be releasing my code under an open source license as well, I just need to pick the right one.

pps. I may have exaggerated my hate of C++ a little.  I believe all languages have their place, even the esoteric languages like LOLCode.

kick it on

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Oct 13 2007

Can I come?

Published by under Activities


I thought I’d try a different type of blog post today.

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Jul 27 2007

Framing Pictures

Published by under Activities,Photography

Since buying my wonderful Canon EOS 30D in January [2007], I have taken a few pictures that I would like to get framed. I have already got them printed up at 10×15 but this is not really a standard size to be able to buying a pre-made frame. I was rather shocked when I got a quote of £50 per picture.

Although I could probably get a better quote if I looked around I decided that I would instead have a go learning to make my own picture frames. I previously purchased some mounting materials and a 45˚ mount cutter so I can create a mount for my pictures, I got those from a local stationary shop (the Press Shop in Smith Street, St Peter Port). I also already had a craft knife for trimming down the mount.

What I didn’t have was the framing wood, glass, backing board, paper tape (for sealing the frame) or tools. The other day I came across, they can supply all the materials required for framing and a broad selection of tools for amateurs right though to professionals. In fact their main aim seems to be helping people set up their own framing businesses. To get me started I have ordered a start pack which contains glass and backing board, I also ordered framing wood and paper tape.

Rather that ordering online I phoned them up in order to check about postage to the Guernsey and also about getting VAT removed. The person that I spoke to was extremely helpful and was quite happy to answer all the questions I asked. With regards postage, they had to call me back the next day after weighing the items but it work out very reason able and, two days later, the parcel has arrived.

The last items I require in order to start framing is a mitre saw, some glue, and fixings. All of which I shall be getting from B&Q this evening.

In total I think this will set me back approximately £70. One the face of it that seems quite a lot to me (my friends know I don’t like spending money!) but that is considerably less than the £150 I was quoted for professional framing 3 pictures and most of the money was for tools which will be reused in future framings. If, but some strange quirk of fate, I manage to get good at framing I may even add it as an option to but I shalln’t make any promises just yet.

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Jul 11 2007

Submarine Builder In Guernsey

Published by under Activities,Guernsey News

Sometimes whilst using Google you happen across a website that is completely off the subject you were looking for but that is absolutely fascinating. Today this happened to me. I’ve completely forgotten what I was originally looking for, but I found a website for someone living in Guernsey that is building a Personal Submarine (psub).

When I first started reading the site I thought it must have been in one of the Guernsey’s in the USA, but as I continued reading it became obvious that it is indeed the little island on which I live.

I still haven’t been able to work out who it is, he is only referred to as Jim or James, and I don’t recognise him from the pictures or where the pictures are taken. He seems to have links to Peter and John Frankland but that is all I can work out. If anyone knows who the builder is or where it is being built please can you let me know.

I’m definitely going to be keeping an eye on the site and I’m going to make sure I’m there when it has it’s maiden voyage. It’s not every day something like this happens on this tiny rock and I wouldn’t want to miss it for the world.

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Jun 18 2007

Medical Care In America

I just finished watching Michael Moores new film Sicko which hasn’t yet been released to cinemas. Its a real eye opener about the state of health and medical care in the USA today. It seems that in the USA, even those that think they are fully covered by medical insurance are still getting a rough deal, with insurance companies finding any loop-hole to get out of paying for their clients care.

This is what happens when services are provided on a “for-profit” basis. Those that stand to make the most money will damn well make sure that they make as much money as possible and wont hesitate for a second to think about what affect that may have on other peoples lives, and I do mean lives. The Health and Medical Organisations (HMOs) of the USA are treating peoples insurance policies as if they are warranties for a computer or a car, rather than the difference between life and death, which they really are.

When I took my one and only holiday to the USA in 1996 (I think) I had an accident whilst ride the mountain bike I had just bought (Americans decided to switch the front & rear brake levers >_<). I sustained a cut to my leg that required stitches and so the person we were staying with took me to the local hospital. I’d heard stories about going to hospital in the USA but it still came as a shock when the first question asked was “How are you going to be paying?”. The fact that I had blood pouring out of my leg seemed irrelevant at the time, the hospital just wanted to make sure that they were going to get their money. Luckily we had good travel insurance that covered the treatment.

As with all Michael Moore files you need to watch the film with a rather large bag of salt, as he tends to take a rather extreme view of things. For example he paints a rosy picture of the British NHS, which anyone the reads the British papers will know isn’t doing too well at the moment. However, it is a very thought provoking film and well worth watching.

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Jun 15 2007

Weather and Live Data

Published by under Activities,Technology

Living on an island and having sailing as a hobby means that I like to keep an eye on the weather and emerging weather patterns. Normally this just takes the form of keeping an eye on the wind, pressure and precipitation forecasts for races.

Recently, however, with the start of the summer storms season I’ve started following the movements of thunderstorms across the UK and France with the help of the Isle of Wight Storm Tracking website.

Just before going to lunch today I checked on the storm site and noticed there had been a couple of strikes over the Cherbourg peninsular and over Jersey. As I was walking towards Cellar Door for lunch I looked over towards France and saw the tops of some big Cumulo-nimbus clouds and I thought “Wow… just over there is a big storm, but here I am walking in the sun”.

Despite being a software engineer and working with the latest technology, I’m always amazed and how much data is available, live, about the world around us, how it is collected, and how we take it for granted. I find it incredible that someone on the Isle of Wight can detect storms over France and relay that information to me so that, as I sit here eating my lunch, I can watch a storm unfolding on the horizon… amazing!

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Jun 05 2007

Testivus As Applied To Bell Ringing

Published by under Bell Ringing

Recently, whilst reading through my never ending RSS feeds, I came across a link to The Way of Testivus a good advice guide on developer and unit testing. Whilst the guide is quite humorous it also contains solid, sensible advice for anyone wanting to get started with unit testing, whilst not going into specifics.

As I am currently taking a journey through enlightenment and personal development I decided to see if I could take the Testivus advice and apply it to other activities and and aspects of my life. So, here I present to you Testivus – As Applied To Bell Ringing.

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Jan 18 2007

Too… Much…. Culture!

Published by under Activities,General,Night Life

Well, thats what a certain person close to me thinks I think.  Last Saturday I went to a piano receital at the Guernsey Ladies College.  It was the inaugural concert on the schools new grand piano, and the performing artist was Olga Bobrovnikova who really is a master pianist, especially when you consider she also suffers from MS.  Piano receitals really aren’t my normal cup of tea but it was good and got me thinking that I really should get out and experience more culture on this island.

My second taste of culture this week was going to see Oddsocks performing Shakespears Twelth Night.  I have been to see the Oddsocks company performing at Castle Cornet in the past but this was the first time I have seen them inside, at St James.  Whilst it was a very good performance with their usual apparent improvisation, and had me laughing most of the way through, I felt that they were maybe sticking too closely to the original text and at times this seemed to immede on the performance.  At other times however it seemed to aid the performance, so I guess it is down to the director to try and find a balance that is both in keeping with the companies style whilst also retaining as much of the original text as possible…. something that films makers don’t seem too concerned with!

Unless something else crops up in the mean time, my next taste of culture (if you can call it that) will be watching An Inconvenient Truth, which is going to be screened for free at Beau Sejour on the 6th February.

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Dec 04 2006

Grandsire Doubles: Check

Published by under Bell Ringing

Yesterday I finally got around to ringing my first Grandsire Doubles quarter peal inside.  I should have done it before but I’ve been having problems with balance recently and don’t think I could have stop up for that long whilst turning my head left and right the whole time.

If I remember correctly there was only a couple of minor hickups, one of which included me forgetting I was in the hunt and another where I forgot whether I was double dodging up or down when a bob was called.  At the beginning I was also unsure as to where I should be ringing when I was at the back a a bob or single was called but I soon got then ironed out.

I think the best piece of advice I could give to someone getting ready for their first Grandsire quarter is “watch the trebble”.  If its the last bell you ring over before leading, or the first bell you ring over when you get to the back you are in the hunt.

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