Thats Not My Name, Starbucks

Thats Not My Name, Starbucks. Following on from their dubious success in the US of A, Starbucks baristas will now ask for your name – possibly to be friendly – but most likely to ensure that people are getting the correct drinks.  Soon they’ll be asking the customers to wear name badges instead of the staff….



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Winter sun at caminos


Another unusually warm March weekend warranted a few small beers at Camino’s Spanish bar on the riverside at Canary Wharf. The photo was taken with an iPhone 4s, the and Camera Plus for editing.

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The HuMn Wallet – the best minimal RFID blocking wallet by Scott Hussa — Kickstarter

The HuMn Wallet – the best minimal RFID blocking wallet by Scott Hussa — Kickstarter.

The HuMn Wallet was born out of necessity and lots of traveling. Being two dudes on the go, we’ve tried almost every type of wallet, money clip, card case, and wallet mutation out there. We were looking for a way to keep what we needed in our wallets, while getting rid of the things we didn’t. Sounds simple enough right? Wrong.

Some card cases could hold cash and cards, but couldn’t hold business cards. Some could handle cash and business cards, but stored them on top of each other, which meant that you had to pull out all of your cards to find the one you were looking for. Others simply could only hold a fixed number of cards and cash.

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Proper Coffee Cold Drip by Bill Abbe — Kickstarter

Proper Coffee Cold Drip by Bill Abbe — Kickstarter.

The Proper Coffee Cold Drip has taken 14 months of 
development and several prototypes to achieve the final product we are offering here. It was completely designed in AutoCAD and Water Jet cut with a high precision jet of water out of Aluminum.

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From seed to healthy juice

After a week of soaking, sprouting, sowing and watering; I finally get to have a super food in a glass!

You cannot detract from the simple fact that wheatgrass:

  • 30mls of freshly squeezed wheatgrass juice is equivalent in nutritional value to 1kg of leafy green vegetables
  • Wheatgrass contains over 90 minerals, including high concentrations of the most alkaline minerals: potassium, calcium, magnesium and sodium
  • It contains the essential enzymes: Protease (assists in protein digestion), Cytochrome Oxidase (a powerful anti oxidant), Amylase (facilitates digestion), Lipase (a fat splitting enzyme), Transhydrogenase (strengthens the heart muscle) & Superoxide Dismutase (SOD) (found in all body cells and is known for its ability to lessen the effect of radiation and slow cellular aging)
  • Just one teaspoon of Wheat Grass powder, weighing a mere 3.5 grams, is nutritionally equal to an entire spinach salad weighing a full 50 grams – it packs a punch!
  • Wheatgrass has more vitamin C than oranges and twice the vitamin A as carrots!
  • Wheat grass juice helps your body to build red blood cells which carry oxygen to every cell. By increasing the oxygenation the body you can help offset smog and carbon monoxide and increase your endurance during physical exercise
  • It also contains 19 amino acids, the building blocks of protein

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Bright skies over Greenwich

The weather held out today – sunny skies and a little wind instead of the forecast which was cloudy. So, with iPhone in hand I headed of to borough market for a coffee and then Greenwich for a little exercise up and down the park. On the way back I captured the following 360° image using Photosynth on the iPhone.

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Trafalgar Sun

Trafalgar Sun by John Mason
Trafalgar Sun, a photo by John Mason on Flickr.

Taken with photosynth and edited by using camera plus on the iPhone 4S

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Diving apps for your iPhone and iPad

Diving apps for the iOS platform come in a number of forms.  There’s the dive magazine, dive logger, dive planner and now the divers social app.  Dive magazines come in two flavours – either a downloadable app (such as DIVE and Diver Magazine) and now through the Apple Newstand app.

Dive logging software has moved on a lot from the original paper based log books and  Suunto style desktop applications.  One thing divers like to do is to talk and relive their dives with friends over a beer.  With the advent of the iOS based dive loggin apps,  you can synchronise logs between your dive computers (I sync my Suunto and VR3), manual dives performed without a dive computer, pictures, ratings and equipment used easily out in the field.  My preferred dive logging app is Dive Log Manager for the iPhone.  It’s made up of the iPhone app and free desktop companion to synchronise with either your desktop software and/or dive computer.

The third category is dive planning – which can be split between recreational and technical planning. With Padi’s move away from teaching the basics of using the RDP process to using software and more people wanting to dive on Nitrox, it is certainly useful to have a dive planning tools for recreational dive purposes at hand.  I’ve seen far too many people dive “blind” by following a guide not knowing the implications of their choice of gas.  There are a number of free apps that allow you to plan repetitive dives with limits on the Air/Nitrox mix and several Pro apps which remove the restrictions.  They also have hand calculation tools all divers to work out the best mix for depth, equivalent air depths and max bottom times.  Apps such as iDiving, iDive and iDive Nitrox have similar functionality and costs.

Technical diving introduces a few more issues – multiple gasses including trimix, multi-level, gas bailouts, VPM models, conservatism and the list goes on.  Most technical divers would travel with a laptop installed with either V-Planner  or some derivative so that they can iterate through numerous scenarios to optimise depth, time, gas and risk.  A new alternative is to carry your planning software (and diving history) on your iPhone or iPad.  V-Planner was migrated over to the iOS platform early on and provides an excellent planning tool (Warning : Always double check you plan with an alterative source where possible to reduce the risk of error!). V-Planner presents the VPM decompression model and includes both VPM-B and VPM-B/E model versions. The diver can specify any combination of nitrox or trimix, and as many deco gases as required. Planning methods include both OC and Closed Circuit Rebreather. It includes planning for bailouts with SCR and OC legs in a CCR plan. Includes details of ppO2, END, and gas consumptions. It includes many of the features from the desktop version such as conservatism adjustments, extended stops, adjustable last stops, the planning monitor system and extensive control over many other planning features. Also included is a set of dive planning tools for calculating best mix, maximum operating depth (MOD), END, EAD and other planning considerations. The Mixer utility for blending nitrox and trimix, is included too.

A new app on the block is the Baltic Deco Planner, an app that is similar in functionality to V-Planner but a little more polished with respect to the user interface.  The best addition is the graphing capabilities – very useful for looking for your off-gassing points and on deeper dive profiles looking for potential isobaric counter diffusion events.

Finally, there’s the social apps and or travel tools.  There are a couple of niche players out there who think that the diving community need their own collaboration platform such as Diving Dude, DiveTime and the aptly named “The best scuba diving and snorkelling locations”.  Unfortunately, I find that little applications such as Facebook, Google and TripAdvisor cover those bases quite comprehensively already!


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An easy way of create polar worlds of your local area (or any where google streetmap has been!)

I have previously written about how to transform a panoramic image into a polar or stereographic image using photoshop or gimp, but the other day I stumbled upon a nice little github project that utilises the panoramic images generated from google streetmap and the webgl transformation capabilities of the newer browsers (I used firefox).

The project allows you to navigate google street maps as normal but has the added benefit of showing the stereographic image too.  Although not immediately useful and more of a technical demonstration, it’s quite a cool way to view your local area or some of the more interesting sites of the world.

Below are a couple of examples from around London.

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How to brew coffee with a Vacuum Coffee Maker

Here’s a simple video I shot using my Canon 7D + 50mm lens, an iPhone and my home built slider. The process is very simple and quite therapeutic :

  1. Fill lower bowl with pre-heated water
  2. Insert upper vessel containing measured amount of coffee
  3. Apply heat source to lower vessel – the water will rise and mix with the coffee in the upper vessel.
  4. Once all the water has migrated to the upper vessel (there will be a little residual water) leave heat on for approximately 1 minute
  5. Remove heat and watch the wonder of gravity and pressure differentials (the vacuum) draw the coffee back down
  6. Remove upper vessel and enjoy your coffee

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