Archive for the ‘Lunch’ Category

Social Media for authors

March 9, 2016

I spent the afternoon at the University of Nottingham’s Horizon centre helping a researcher on the CREATe project explore how authors use social media.

This was a fascinating workshop with lots of discussion of the pitfalls and problems of using Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the rest when you are writer trying to reach an audience. Issues up for debate included privacy, keeping work and social stuff separated, dealing with unwanted comments and postings, how to stream different types of updates and coping with the perpetual beta.

Oh, and how to get any writing done when there is social media available.

And, fans of this blog will be pleased to know, there was a decent lunch. It’s been a long time since I had a free lunch.



Aurora restaurant

July 16, 2012

I dined at Nottingham’s newest restaurant over the weekend, the Aurora, and it was a fine experience. The menu is described as eclectic modern british and the setting is a lovely old lacemarket warehouse basement. If you are visiting Nottingham, I can highly recommend, not least the stunning desserts:

Aurora’s modern twisted on rhubarb parfait.

Book cakes

July 12, 2012

For all those of you at my recent book launch who complained that this blog has been slacking with respect to the lunch side of matters. These book-themed cakes were brought to the editing course I’m doing at the moment.

Not quite sure how they would handle “The loneliness of the long-distance runner”…

Famous books on cakes (cakes by


A spicy lunch

March 27, 2012

If your idea of a good lunch is a spicy snack, then you’ll enjoy reading my good friend Raz’s blog item on the secrets of a good Bombay Mix. It is an extraordinarily thorough review of what’s on the mix market and shows the attention to detail for which he well known in techie circles. Eat your heart out Which?

If hungry Then pizza

December 12, 2011

For some time I’ve been thinking about a device that silently measures my growing hunger pangs and, when they reach a pre-defined threshold, automatically orders a hot veggie pizza from our local delivery shop. Pizza would be on the office doorstep just as my brain is deciding it’s time for lunch.

This of course is part of the vision for the Internet of Things. Perhaps not the pizza scenario per se, but the idea that ordinary, every day appliances and gadgets will be hooked up to the Internet and start communicating with each other. So far, one of the obstacles has been how to connect devices with software services, which in turn communicate with other devices.

Thanks to a heads-up from a friend I’ve been playing with one possible solution. If This Then That (or ‘IfTTT’, pronounced as ‘lift’ without the ‘l’) is a website that allows the user to build Web service ‘recipes’ in which online tasks are triggered by actions. So, for example, I’ve just created a recipe that will send me an e-mail when the weather forecast starts to warn of rain. Other examples include an SMS alert when someone uploads a photo to Facebook that has been tagged with your name.

The data that initiate these triggers and actions come from ‘channels’ and at the moment these are the usual Web 2.0 suspects – Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, weather services etc. So far it’s fairly basic stuff but hopefully you can see the potential. The number of channels could be expanded to include the kind of Internet-enabled devices that would re-categorise the Internet of Things from pipe dream to killer app. We could have fridges co-ordinating electricity consumption with kettles, or even responding to an external service that triggers switch on/switch off actions in response to the load on the National Grid. Indeed, another website, Pachube, already provides some of the software infrastructure to do aspects of this.

Surely this is a marvellous time to be one of those cubicle jockeys who toil away for Internet start-ups? Any day now that age-old techie conditional statement will be automated:

IF hungry THEN order pizza ELSE carry on programming.

The Naked Chef goes 3-D

February 25, 2011

Thanks to the monastic life imposed on me by the demands of writing a book it has been some time since the I had an opportunity for a pukka tech lunch. So I relished the chance yesterday for a business meeting at Nottingham’s new Jamie Oliver restaurant in Low Pavement.

To add to my prandial joy there was the opportunity to view pictures of the dishes on the menu in 3-D using a device called an Image3D. These devices were meant for the kids I think (allowing them to see what they were ordering rather than reading the menu). However, children of my age will remember these toys  – then called ViewMasters – from the 1970s (see picture).

After exploring the technology for a while it was time for the main event. As a lover of pasta I was in seventh heaven and can thoroughly recommend the Turbo Fusilli Arrabiata. Sorted.

View Master (Source: Enokson, licenced under CC BY-NC 2.0)(


October 14, 2009

It has been some time, so I thought I would restart proceedings for the autumn with a quick link to Cambridge computing lab pioneer Quentin Stafford-Fraser. Here truly is a man after my own heart as in between blogging about 3G femtocells and recursion he’s found time to consider the future of puddings.

He proffers the idea of a social networking site for recipes as a means to further their evolution, although I have to say it’s not the first time I’ve come across this idea. When I first started working at Intelligent Content one of the development projects that (fortunately) never came to fruition was of a similar ilk – although the concept of social networks didn’t exist then, of course. Quentin has form in this area – he was one of the instigators of the Trojan Room coffee pot affair.

Scanatomy of a lunch

June 19, 2009

Office parties have a reputation for being a time when the photocopier or scanner gets used for anatomical experiments. Jon Chonko, proprietor of the blog has gone one better.

Tagged as ‘scans of sandwiches for education and delight’ this seems to me to be an excellent juncture of technology and lunch. Whilst many of the scans are a little on the meaty for this poor veggie, I was particularly intrigued by 1st May’s entry. It was also good to see an ice cream sandwich making the grade (15th May) as this is a format that often gets overlooked.

Definitely one for the blogroll.


June 1, 2009

Friday lunchtime I escaped the shackles of my desk for a rare, UK exhibition of the work of Catalonian artist Joan Fontcuberta at Nottingham’s Djanogly art gallery. According to the curator, Neil Walker, Fontcuberta’s work questions the nature of truth and, in particular, the reliability or otherwise of photographic documentary evidence. The artist’s previous works include a complete portfolio of faked photographs purporting to document a Soviet space mission that went badly wrong in which a cosmonaut was lost in space. However, that’s not the TechLunch link. What interested me was the current display: Googlegrams.

Googlegrams are large photographs (about a metre square) constructed from thousands of small photo ’tiles’ in the style of a mosaic. Each tile consists of a tiny image taken from the Web, sourced from Google’s image search engine. Fontcuberta takes an image from current affairs, for example there is one showing a number of drowned African refugees who have been washed up on a Spanish beach, and replicates it in Google-sourced tiles.

In order to make this work, Fontcuberta has doctored a piece of freeware software, used for what’s called photo mosaic-ing, which selects tiles that correspond to the colour and shading of the large image. The software works out that it needs, say, 80 tiles that overall correspond to a particular shade of light blue and when it finds a tile that fits its requirements it will fill in the image accordingly.

In order to source the tiles, the ‘artist’ has to type in search terms to query Google’s image search engine. In the case of the refugees, Fontcuberta typed in the names of the twenty-five richest men in the world. The images that Google throws up are used by the software to find the right colours and shades to use as tiles.

Walker argued that the artist is setting out to challenge the prevailing view that accurate information is available from the Web. Fontcuberta is sceptical of the idea of a universal, democratic source of truth, exemplified by the work of Wikipedia. The Googlegrams are metaphors for the inherent instability and transient nature of the information and truth on the Web.

The exhibition not only shows various examples of Googlegrams, but there’s also a live demonstration of the software that allows you to construct your own image. The gallery is also right next door to its own eatery – so a bit of tech and a spot of lunch – although I’d advise you to eat before one o’clock as the servery is pretty much stripped bare by then.

The exhibition runs until 14th June, but if you can’t get to Nottingham, the gallery has produced a YouTube video, including an interview with the artist.


May 25, 2009
Luscombe's Ginger Beer

Luscombe's Ginger Beer

My blogging rate of late has been, to use a recently popularised word, lamentable. My excuse is that I am knee deep in the technical editing of two big reports for JISC.

However, I did find time to slip down to London for a meeting of government futurologists. Whilst waiting for a train I enjoyed a new drink: Luscombe’s Organic HOT Ginger Beer. Note the capitalised word ‘HOT’, an apt description of the drink which is made from fresh, root ginger and Sicilian lemons. Dangerous stuff. And not just because of the involvement of the Sicilians.