Search engine rankings

I searched for myself in Google to find a brand new website already on page 3.

I searched for myself in Google to find a brand new website already on page 3.

I threw together a very basic website in a few hours yesterday.  I made sure it looked ok on a mobile and desktop and that it had semi decent code (mostly validated HTML and CSS apart from a few issues with a prebuilt fancybox script and associated CSS).

I decided to search for myself on Google this afternoon to see if I showed up.

The previous post on this site is on page 2, just beneath my Youtube account but the website I made only about 24 hours ago is already on page 3!

Yes, very few people will dig as far as page 3 (on Google) but 24 HOURS!

I have high hopes for front page action within a month or so.  Funny, given there is basically nothing on the site.

I am at the bottom of the screenshot not – that’s a different guy with the same great name.

Continue reading...

BBSRC 20 Year Anniversary Blog

I took some photos a few years ago when doing research in Oxford. I submitted them to a photo competition which unfortunately I didn’t win. However, they are now being used in a new blog aimed at young non-sciencey types to raise awareness and enthusiasm for science. The following is a copy and paste from the blog,, the post from the 3 March 2014.

BBSRC Photo 1

BBSRC Photo 2

BBSRC Photo 3


Lasers light the way to new drugs

Look beyond the pretty lights and lasers and you will see a Total Internal Reflection Fluorescence Array; a special type of model microscope that allows for multiple drug tests to be run simultaneously.

The test works by putting a drug and marker proteins inside an artificial cell, and then measures the effect the drug has on the speed that ions move into the cell.

This equipment, although only a concept device, could be key to new drug developments.

Research performed under Mark Wallace:

Images taken by BBSRC-funded James Berridge at Oxford University.

For more BBSRC-funded research go to:

Or for some images looking down a light microscope go to:

Continue reading...

Playing with a Lensbaby Composer

Winchester Highstreet A little over a year ago I got a Lensbaby Composer (on Amazon). For Christmas this year, I was given the Creative Aperture Kit 2 (On Amazon). Given the inactivity on this website I figured I should give a run through of the sorts of images this Lensbaby could produce and a few samples of how the creative apertures can help enhance them.

When I first got the lens I experimented a little indoors and outdoors. One of the first things you’ll notice about the photos is that not everything is in focus. The focal plane (ie the bit that’s in focus) is curved due to the type of lens. So if everything is set up straight, the middle of the photo will be in focus and as you get towards the edges it’ll become more out-of-focus. This can obviously be manipulated by tilting the lens in a particular direction in order to move the in-focus area around the photo.

This can allow your attention to be directed easily to a particular part of the photo.


Some other samples

CupcakesMini (2004 model)Winchester Highstreet


Using the Creative Apertures

RC Car with Christmas tree backgroundThe way you change the aperture with this Lensbaby is with a small supplied magnetic arm (ie manually). This also allows different shapes to be added which will change the way your image looks in an out-of-focus areas. There is one kit that allows you to literally make you own shapes (On Amazon). The kit I have comes with 9 pre made shapes. Once dropped into the lens, the first thing you’ll want to do is take some out-of-focus photos of fairy lights! Thankfully at Christmas these are not usually far away. The photo on the left was one of the first few that I took showcasing the star aperture.

I’ve included a few more samples below showing the other shapes in use. I just wanted to explain the last one though. For this one I wanted to enhance the fairy lights in much the same way as an out-of-focus shot would have done, while still retaining the detail of an in focus one. I considered multiple exposures then ‘photoshoping’ then but, after some trial and error, managed to get it on a single exposure by adjusting the focus mid-shot. The result is weird and interesting… not unusual for any photo taken with a Lensbaby lens.

If you want a cheap lens for your regular photos this is not it, you cannot get ‘normal’ photos due to manual everything and the curved focal plane means you’re only going to get half a photo in focus at best. However if you want a (relatively) cheap lens that you can have some fun with, then this is for you. The photos have a distinctive arty look which after a little practice, can produce Instagram beating photos with full DSLR quality straight from the camera.


More creative aperture examples

Greetings card Presents around the treeFocus effect Christmas tree

Continue reading...

New toy – Polar RC3 GPS

RC3 GPS + sceneryI’ve been doing a lot of cycling recently in an effort to keep fit. In order to help maintain this new found momentum and add a further dimension to the stat-staring, I wanted to add heart rate data to my current GPS tracks.

Having read loads of reviews around different cycle computers and watch-type fitness computers I decided upon the Polar RC3 GPS BIKE (on Amazon). The bike version comes with a cadence sensor (for peddle RPM) and a generic watch mount for the handlebar. If this interests you, there is a really detailed review by DCRainmaker. This guy has also reviewed loads of other similar devices so well worth checking out if you’re in the market for one.



Strava data graph Strava HR analysisI use Strava to track my rides. I’ve used others too but what I like most about Strava is the clean interface which has plenty of features even in the free accounts. Now with the new watch I not only have maps with distances and speeds but also cadence and heart rate data. I find it mildly addictive to look at all different stats from my rides particularly in the segments covered in the ride.

Segments are user submitted sections of roads/tracks that Strava then collates everyone’s data and creates a leader board. From one ride to the next, it will tell you how you’ve performed informing you via achievements if you’ve got a personal record, 2nd or 3rd best time on a segment.

 How to get data from the watch to the likes of Strava?

Unfortunately Polar uses unusual file formats for it’s heart rate data. From the Polar software you can easily export gpx and hrm files (thats the GPS route in one and everything else in the other). Everything accepts gpx files but not everything plays nice with the hrm ones.

After a little bit of search I found PC Thoughts blog on which the author has made a script which will combine the gpx and hrm to a tcx file which everything (specifically Strava) gets on with.

  1. Simply download the script (here)
  2. Plus the batch script (here)
  3. Finally “install” UnxUtils (here – simply copy contents to your x86 program files folder)

To use, put the script and batch in a folder with the gpx and hrm files and run the batch file… magic… you’ll find tcx files for all your pairs of files.

If that sounds too tricky I did stumble across this website but have no experience using it. Looks like you upload your files to the website and it does it for you.

EDIT 13/1/14:

Since writing this post I have been using TcxCreator. This works really well for me… set a default output folder and simply drag/drop your gpx and hrm files and  it’ll merge them together as tcx files. If you have done multiple rides it recognises this and keeps them as separate files. I found it also works with only the hrm part, I wanted to put my heart rate tracking info onto Strava as a stationary bike session. I was able to drag the hrm file and it was converted to a tcx and loaded seamlessly into Strava.

A reader has also brought my attention to This is web based, so no installation needed. However it merges the heart rate information into the gpx file, this is useful if your preferred tracking service doesn’t like tcx files.

Cadence sensor RC3 GPS

Continue reading...