Open University IoP Lecture – Human Colour Vision

This week, I was lucky enough – or at least organised enough – to go and see a lecture at the Open University campus as part of their IoP Lecture Series, about Human Colour Vision, presented by Professor Andrew Stockman.

It was interesting, and covered the basics of both the biology and physics of human vision, as well as how easy it is to fool and confuse vision.

Being a bit of a vision geek, I understood most of the information coming in – although it seemed to boggle the minds of a fair few of the audience – but I still learned stuff about how light and colour are initially processed by the eye (“univariance” being particularly interesting) and the cell structures etc. that aid this process.

As always, the ways to mess with the brain about colour fascinate me – and although we didn’t see my two favourite images (below) on colour perception, there were others that were just as fun.

A and B are the same shade of grey - the brain just assumes they can't be

I’m hugely lucky, in that I live near the OU campus, so it makes it an easy evening of geekery – I didn’t know about this IoP series of lectures until recently, but you can be sure I’ll be going to more of them…


ReKindled (Again)

Just to top off a pretty expensive fortnight, while I was away over the weekend the Kindle broke. As with previous ones, the screen film cracked, so half of it is working and the other half isn’t. In short, fucked.

As it turns out though, I can’t be too annoyed (annoyed, sure, but not too annoyed) as it turns out I’ve had this one just short of three years. Considering that before that I had a spate of broken screens in less than a year, it could’ve lasted a lot less time.

Yes, I’d rather these things were more resilient, were designed to last longer than 18 months.

Anyway, it’ll be interesting to see how things have progressed with Kindles, and whether they’ve improved the ways to reload content onto a new device. It was horrific three years ago, so I’m hoping for improvements, it’s fair to say. (And if that doesn’t happen, I’ve got a backup from the old device – so maybe I’ll just be able to roll that onto the new one.)

We’ll see.


EE’s broken payments

As I wrote yesterday, I ended up having some major issues with the cottage’s already-installed 3G Dongle through EE.

Basically, it’s either not been used for a while, or the previous people ran the account into the ground – there’s absolutely no credit or data available on it.  That’s OK, you can connect to EE still and add a credit.  Or at least you should be able to.

Basically, the device is set up so that it can still connect to ee.co.uk , and that doesn’t come out of the data allowance. All’s well and good. But. Ah, but.

The thing is, when it comes to processing payments, the processing isn’t all done on ee.co.uk.  It also goes off to get the 3D secure (also known as “Verified by Visa” or “Mastercard [something]“) from the relevant bank.  Only that’s from a different (and thus not-allowed) domain outside of EE, and because there’s no data allowance, the connection is refused, and the credit transaction fails.

All you get to see on screen is “An error occurred” with “Try again”.  Which is… unhelpful.

What’s more unhelpful is that EE’s transaction system has pre-authorised the amount you’ve topped up by. So the funds are then locked by your bank. They’ll be released when the transaction doesn’t complete – but it can take two to three working weeks for that to happen, because banks are paranoid and slow and shit.  And EE are just shit, because their failed transaction doesn’t release those funds.

Even better, you can’t then offer feedback or contact EE. Because – yes! – all the online feedback is done through a third party, and goes off to a different domain.

So you’re basically left with no data, no top-up, locked funds, and no way to contact EE to tell them so.

Even worse, I suspect it’s only because I’m a techie that I understand it this much – for Joe Public it’d just be “it’s broken, and EE are shit”.  (Which isn’t something I could argue with either, but at least I can understand why it’s broken!)  It’s a simple scenario, but one I’m willing to bet they’ve never tested, going on the assumption that people would top up before they ran out completely, etc. etc.

I’ve written to them to explain the same situation, so it’ll be interesting to see what they come back with (if anything)


Time Flies

The Lead Developer conference this year was at the QEII Conference Centre – a spectacularly bad location (right next to Houses of Parliament, and round the corner from Downing Street) for the days of the Brexit Referendum and its aftermath.

It made me think of the last time I was there, though – which was for one of the @Media conferences, the first one I’d been to. Looking back, that was exactly ten years ago. Now that’s how to feel very old very quickly!

As well as the various talks and so on, it was also good to catch up with friends, including Topper and Pix, as well as meet some new people. It made me realise (yet again) that I really should be a bit more sociable, catch up more frequently and so on – although at the same time, it’s also always good to meet up with people and just drop into conversation as if you last saw them a couple of days ago, instead of a couple of years.

 


Unchecked

Last week, I was in London for three full days, travelling down each day. On both the Thursday and Friday (while attending the excellent Lead Developer conference) I was using the trains at peak times. Onn Saturday it was a busy time when I went down, and busy-but-late on the way back.

At no point in those six journeys did my tickets get checked. Not at platform gates, not on the train, nothing.  I could’ve gone through the entire thing without paying a penny to Virgin Trains.

Of course, Sod’s Law being what it is, if I had braved it and gone without a ticket, there’d have been about six checks per journey. I know that – and it’s why I always buy a ticket. But it does annoy me, how rarely these things are checked, and it makes me wonder how many people do take the chance, and go without paying for the ticket.


Lockdown (Experimental)

In the interests of – well, really just geekery – I’ve turned on HTTPS encryption on D4D™. It should be an invisible process to users of the site, but I want to know if it actually is or not.

I firmly believe in making all internet connections more secure, for a bundle of reasons I’m not going to go into right now. So I figure I might as well do some testing of it here (as well as on some other projects I’ve been running, or that are coming up and haven’t been mentioned here) to see how it goes.

In other news, it’s been a busy old week again, but I’ll write more about that in a different post.


Ridiculously Organised

So far, this year has been pretty non-stop with travel, visits, concerts and idiot day-trips (mainly to see concerts) and I’ve kept on saying that I must calm things down a bit, build in some time for myself and so on.

And I’m trying to, I really am.

But then cool stuff comes up that I want to go to – which means I now have plans all the way through this year. Not every weekend, or anything similar – but there’s already stuff planned right the way through to December.

The latest one, last night, was finding out that the Royal Albert Hall is doing a showing of Aliens – with the soundtrack performed by a full orchestra, as a celebration of the 30th anniversary of its release.  Even more fortuitously, it’s on the weekend of my birthday. Oh, I am so there.

And so yes, tickets are booked for it. I’d already got stuff booked in for December as well, so as it turns out, November was the only month this year without something already booked in.

Now my main challenge will be to not book up the rest of the year, and suddenly realise I’ve had ridiculously few ‘downtime’ weekends. Again.