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Quentin Stafford-Fraser's blog

Last Build Date: Sat, 18 Nov 2017 17:30:23 +0000


Retro Space Invaders

Fri, 17 Nov 2017 14:12:08 +0000

I think this is wonderful. Today I got to play with Gareth Bailey’s Space Invaders game – a quick hack, he claims, which he put together yesterday. This uses an oscilloscope as an X-Y plotter to draw the graphics, harking back to the earliest days of computer displays. But historically, displays like this would usually Continue Reading

All you need is Lovie?

Fri, 17 Nov 2017 12:59:49 +0000

Last night we went into London because the kind people at the Lovie Awards, the European branch of the (rather better-known) Webby Awards, had been good enough to give me an award, mostly for the work that friends and I had done in creating the first webcam. I was a bit embarrassed about this, partly Continue Reading


Fri, 10 Nov 2017 20:59:22 +0000

Sean Riley creates the Computerphile YouTube channel, which has clocked up nearly a million subscribers, and produces some great stuff, especially for the geeks among us. I had fun talking to him about the early days of the Trojan Room Coffee Pot.

What 3 words?

Sun, 22 Oct 2017 08:52:23 +0000

This is a brilliant idea. Take the world and divide it into 3m squares. Then, given a modest vocabulary, you can label each square using just three words. For example, I work half-time at ‘’, which you can find by typing it into the What3Words map at, or you can turn it into a Continue Reading

Guaranteed way to cheer up your day

Wed, 11 Oct 2017 07:35:48 +0000

Spend 10 minutes with the brilliant Victor Borge.

Autumn comes to Grantchester

Thu, 05 Oct 2017 09:11:05 +0000

Speedy boarding?

Sun, 01 Oct 2017 22:14:36 +0000

Elon Musk’s latest rocket concept – the ‘BFR’ – would take you anywhere in the world in under an hour, and most destinations in about 30 mins. Oh, that’s plus, presumably, three hours for check-in, security and passport control. And another for baggage collection and immigration when you get there… However, if he can fix Continue Reading

The Dyson Car?

Wed, 27 Sep 2017 08:49:06 +0000

So Dyson are planning to make an electric car. Here are my predictions: It will be very expensive, but will look as if it’s made out of cheap plastic. It will incorporate a few very cunning engineering innovations, and many dozens of equally cunning patents. It will probably use some terribly clever steering mechanism. The Continue Reading

Swing Low

Thu, 21 Sep 2017 17:34:33 +0000

The song of most small birds just sounds like a stream of tweets and whistles to us, but if you slow them down, you can get a wonderful feel for what’s going on. Here’s a nice compilation of lots of them. I like the little wren at the beginning, the (rather quiet) skylark at about Continue Reading

Head case

Mon, 11 Sep 2017 16:04:23 +0000

Prof. Guglielmo Tamburrini posed an interesting question in a talk this afternoon. Imagine a self-driving car faced with the option of having to hit one of two motorcyclists. One is wearing a helmet, and the other isn’t. Should it aim for the helmet-wearing guy, to reduce the risk of loss of life? Philosophers must be Continue Reading

Italian transport

Sun, 10 Sep 2017 16:40:34 +0000

I’m at a conference in Modena, the city of balsamic vinegar and Enzo Ferrari.

Love in Paradise

Wed, 06 Sep 2017 09:45:42 +0000

I wrote a couple of weeks ago about my sadness that the Lovefilm by Post service was being discontinued, since nothing offered by the streaming companies could really compare with it. Well, I’m delighted to say that my friend Phil Ashby pointed me at Cinema Paradiso, which offers an almost identical service, and may even Continue Reading

Tristram Shandy on blogging?

Sun, 03 Sep 2017 09:15:51 +0000

Little boots it to the subtle speculatist to stand single in his opinions,-— unless he gives them proper vent:— It was the identical thing which my father did;— for in the year sixteen, which was two years before I was born, he was at the pains of writing an express DISSERTATION simply upon the word Continue Reading

Pied Piper

Sun, 20 Aug 2017 11:59:30 +0000

Every time I read something by Nevil Shute, I realise that this is something I should do much, much more frequently. He is truly brilliant, yet I have, so far, read only a few of his books. The latest one is Pied Piper, which I’ve just completed in the unabridged audiobook version read by the Continue Reading