Town And Street Name Nerdery

The Street With No Name
Unless you happen to live in Shitterton, or Twatt, the chances are that you enjoy seeing funny place names.

I wondered if there was an easy way of doing an online search for town and street names, so I could find funny ones. The popular mapping sites are great if you want to search for a specific name, but I was looking for somewhere you could do more general substring searches, or ideally regex searches.

I didn’t really find what I was looking for, so I decided to make my own instead.

Before I did that, after getting hold of street and place name data from the Ordnance Survey, I thought I’d do a bit of titting about with it first and see what interesting things fell out.
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Contrarian Movie Reviews

Rotten Tomatoes logoAs a movie fan/data nerd, I visit the website Rotten Tomatoes a lot. It’s a movie review aggregator site, which tells you what percentage of reviewers consider a movie a hit or a miss. Movies where more than 60% of reviewers consider it worth watching are classed as “Fresh”, while any movie with less than 60% good reviews is considered “Rotten”.

It’s not the most nuanced of review sites, but it gives you a good overview of critical opinion.

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ZX Spectrum Games – Orphaned Sequels

Kikstart2 inlay
I’ve been entering all my old ZX Spectrum games and software into a database. Whilst doing this I noticed something a bit odd.

One of the games I own is called Kikstart 2. It’s a motorcycle trials riding game, almost certainly inspired by the BBC TV show Kick Start, albeit with a spelling change to avoid having to pay licencing fees. I particularly liked this game as a child, possibly because it included a course designer which allowed you to make your own courses, which I enjoyed doing.

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Transcendental Music

Pi tuneWhen I was younger, so much younger than today, I went through a phase of memorising nerdy stuff. I don’t recall why. It was probably something to do with hormones. Anyway, I learned the colours of the rainbow, the order of the planets, the Greek alphabet, etc.

So it was almost inevitable that at some point I decided to embark on the holy grail of mnemonic nerdery – remembering Pi. ALL OF IT!!!

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Webpage Scraping Bookmarklet

Screenshot of online formI quite often have to add new films into the database of my website As well as adding the film I have to add data about the director and actors in the film as well. This is quite time consuming, so I created a system to simplify the task.

Firstly, I go to the page for the film on the Internet Movie Database, then I click on a specially-written bookmarklet. This runs some Javascript code which takes the IMDb URL, strips out the ID number of the film, and sends it to a PHP script on my website.

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Gleaming the (Rubik’s) Cube

Rubiks Cube
I’m a big fan of people who are really skilled at something – especially if that skill has no real-world applications. Cup stacking, flatland BMX, remembering digits of Pi, etc. It takes a certain kind of person to dedicate so much time to mastering something which serves no real purpose. Recently, I’ve seen numerous videos on Youtube of people solving Rubik’s Cubes in really quite spectacularly short lengths of time, sometimes even blindfolded!

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Jackie Chan’s Face

Like a modern-day Buster Keaton, the actor Jackie Chan is celebrated around the world for his physical comedy skills. His strength, acrobatic martial-arts expertise, and reckless willingness to risk injury have made him the world’s biggest action movie star.

I’ve discovered, however, that he also has an amazing, hitherto uncelebrated, control over his face. Allow me to demonstrate…

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SQIJ! – Worst video game ever?

Recently, I’ve been sorting my retro-gaming collection a bit. Specifically, I’ve gone through all my ZX Spectrum games, seeing if all the tapes/inlays/boxes/etc. match up. Also, I’ve been checking the games against the comprehensive World Of Spectrum online database, just to see if I have anything interesting or as-yet undocumented.

As it turns out, I do have something of interest: I happen to own a copy of the lowest-rated game in the entire database. You might think that in order for a game to be the lowest-rated – especially from an era when there were some really terrifyingly crap games released – it would have to be something a bit special.

And you’d be right.

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MPO to JPG converter

It’s funny what interests people on the internet. One of the most popular things on my website is my program for extracting JPG files from MPO files. I originally wrote it when I heard about the release of Fuji’s first 3D digital camera – more as a programming exercise than anything else. I just bashed it out without too much thought, and no optimisation, assuming that there were probably other, better, programs out there.

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Manchester History: ABC Television

On the western corner of the junction between School Lane and Parrs Wood Road in Didsbury, there is a block of flats called Capitol Court. Before these were built in 1999, there stood a building which started life in 1931 as the Capitol Cinema. Within a year the building was completely gutted in a fire, but after extensive rebuilding work it opened again in 1933.

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3D Films – A re-education is needed.

I’ve decided that it’s time I waded into the argument about 3D cinema with some of my thoughts. Firstly, I should tell you that I love the stereovisual effect – being able to trick your brain into giving the illusion of depth in an image where none exists. It has fascinated me ever since I was a child. At one point I had a large collection of holograms, and even now I own three 3D cameras – two of them use film, and one I hacked together myself to take digital 3D pictures. In the last year I’ve taken more 3D photos than 2D ones. Based on this I consider myself to be far more knowledgeable about the practicalities of 3D than almost anyone else you might have heard talking about it, outside the industry.
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2-4-6-8 Motorway

One of the consequences of having a job is that I frequently have to cross the Pennines on that wonder of modern congestion, the M62. If I’m honest, then I suppose it’s not such a bad drive – unless you have to go between junctions 24 and 27 during rush hour, or it’s raining, or both, in which case it’s really quite indescribably grim.
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Indiana Jones IV

It’s entirely possible, I suppose, that you’ve awoken this very hour from a long and deep coma; or you’ve just emerged after having been trapped by your father in an Austrian basement for 24 years; or you’ve only recently returned from a long stay on the far side of the Moon. Had any of these scenarios actually occurred, I’m fairly sure that you’d have better things to be doing than reading this ‘blog’, so I’m going to go ahead and assume that you’re aware that there’s currently a new Indiana Jones movie in the cinemas.
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My first date with Eliza

I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of the Turing test. Alan Turing was an English mathematician, cryptanalyst, and all-round geek. He was one of the pioneers of early computing, and is often regarded as the father of modern computer science. He was such a geek, in fact, that he once wrote a computer chess game, and then, because no computer existed at the time which was powerful enough to run it, he had to simulate a computer to run the game – doing all the calculations himself!
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