The website of Ben Falconer


Yep, I’m starting up my blog again with news from me at uni.

Warwick is pretty cool so far, work is pretty good and at a level where you can do pretty much as much or as little as you like, though naturally you need to do more for decent grades.

I’ve joined waaaay to many societies and sports clubs:

Sci Fi
Video Game Design
Assassin’s Guild
Snow Sports
Student Cinema
(in no particular order)

Juggling is really fun, despite my crappiness at juggling, I tend to do diabolo or poi there instead.
There was a society trip to Leeds yesterday to a juggling convention which was awesome, especially the shows at the end. Thoguh I did somehow manage to spend a ridiculous ammount of money on a new diabolo and poi, though they’re pretty nice and should do me for a while.

Also heres a picture of me doing poi at 3 in the morning on top of a 12 foot sculpture wearing a toga…. don’t ask.
<img src="http://www click here to” width=”400″ />
(right click and view image to see full size)

Sci Fi club, however geeky it may be is pretty fun too, as the name suggests it is mainly to do with sci fi, but it isn’t actually movies rather than board games and pen and paper role playing games.

Climbing is great fun especially since theres an awesome wall in our sports centre, which at £40 for the year is pretty good.

Computing, or compsoc as its known is another geeky one, also fun, though I haven’t been along to many of their events, the exception being their 49 hour LAN party (note I didn’t stay in there the entire 49 hours like some did).

Mountaineering is good in that it gets me out walking some more (since my last post I’ve done barely any walking and I was disgraced the other day to find that me feet were aching after a 15 mile walk), there was a trip to Snowdonia two weeks ago which was great fun, we did some nice walks and scrambles as well as a lot of table traversing (climbing over and under tables without touching the floor) in the evenings. There is another trip, this time to Ambleside (in the lake district), next weekend which I am looking foreward to imensely.

Video Game Design is just what it sounds like, and also gives me an excuse to pla my DS with otuer people from time to time.

Assassin’s Guild is rather odd and apparently originated in Cambridge. Basically you sign up to a game over a few weeks, you get given a target who is someone else who has signed up, and you have to kill them in a novel way i.e. dropping a (polystyrene) fridge on their head, shooting them with a water pistol or setting up elaborate water traps. Unfortunatley I ahven;t managed to sign up for any games of this yet, but it should be fun.

Snow Sports is mostly a reason to go skiing, though they do a lot of socials too, I didn’t make it into the Christmas trip to France, but I’m probalby going somewhere with Warwick Mountains instead anyhow.

Student Cinema is what it sounds like, they take over a huge lecture theatre and then project a film every night. So far I’ve been too busy with work and other societies to go and see anything but I’m hoping to go and see Brick (an awesome film) late tonight after our lamb roast.

Well, thats what I’ve been up to since I got to Uni, more details will probably follow.

Stay Alive

…But I would walk five hundred miles…

…ok well maybe only one hundred…

Well I am glad to say that I managed it in a time of 33 hours and 59 minutes. I got to the last checkpoint at 7:20 (33 hours and 20 mins) with 3.2 miles to go over a hill and was wondering whether I would managed to finish in under 34 hours, I got in to the school at the end just as the church bell was chiming. =)

I was going to go for a Marvin like approach to this post (i.e. “The first twenty miles were the worst. The second twenty, they were the worst too. After that I went into a bit of a decline…”) but I changed my mind at about 80 miles round the route when I got into a checkpoint where they happened to be playing “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” as I left and it stayed in my head for a while and I decided it would make a good title.
You can listen to the whole song on the Proclaimer’s site here (Track 4 under “The Best Of…”) although unfortunatley you have to have Real Player (or Windows Media Player Classic).

Anyway, onto the actual walk. I promise I will get photos up when they are developed (I wasn’t the one taking the photos) and I will then scan my certificate too.
The start was fairly easy and pretty fast, I did 8.12 miles in an hour and 50 minutes, ariving at the first checkpoint 10 minutes before they were allowed to let people through. From then on it got a bit slower although until the fourth check point at thirty miles it was reasonably fast going. After that the route went over Windy Gile among other bumps along the Cheviot ridge which slowed things down a little bit, however props to the mountain rescue who were on checkpoint duty there between 6 in the evening and 6 in the morning (on a bloody windy and cold ridge). I got down off the hills and into the next checkpoint just as it got dark and I spent a good twenty minutes there equiping myself with a torch and easting cheese pastys. Then we went up over a marilyn which my dad was very annoyed he had not yet been over and the Marshals walk skirted around (however he took some time to go up it as he was sweeping the route). It got light eventually and I got to my preakfast point which was great. Just after breakfast I slowed to a crawl but eventually sped up about five miles later just in time to avoid getting lost where the route description was rather vauge.
The 10th last to the 3rd last miles weren’t great as they were pretty much entirely on roads. =(
I did survive though and manage to do over 4 miles an hour at the end to get into the finish in a pretty good time.

My mum also drove around the route and walked along with me or some stretchs which was nice and gave me someone to talk to (though I talked to random other walkers that I happened to be walking by).
I was the only 18 year old to take part (the average entrant is about 50) although there were a couple of other guys below twenty (one of him had his 19th birthday two days beforehand).

Anyhow I’m glad its over and I’ve no idea how I got talked into doing something so stupid.

Its a long way to Tipperary

Yeah, well the title doesn’t have a lot to do with the post but anyhow. This time tomorrow I should be starting on the stroll I’m going on. I’m hoping it won’t take too long, I’m looking at around 36 hours (30 hours walking, 6 hours stopping at checkpoints etc) hop over to this site. The weather isn’t looking great, I suspect I’ll be pretty wet by the end, not that I’ll really notice it at that point.
My dad completed this walk in 28 hours a few weeks ago under tougher conditions but he has done 22 of them before…

I have now seen up to the end of season 2 of LOST, which as I predicted leaves a lot of questions, although you can answer a few of them by looking at the Hanso Foundation site. There are a few interesting sites and e-mail addresses connected to it (doing WHOIS etc) but so far they haven’t yielde anything of interest.

In other news: finishing work on Wednesday, not seen X3 yet.

It Takes a Lot of Balls…

To make something like this:

<iframe width="560" height="315" src=" diovan″ frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen>

In other news programing the DS is strange, lots of odd settings.


Having recieved my GBA Movie Player and got someone in Edinburgh to flash my DS I’m finally ready to start developing code for the Nintendo DS. I spent last night getting a development enviroment set up and doing a couple of demo programs, I’m happy now that I can take something a bit bigger so I’m hoping to do something a bit more complex than “Hello World” next, I’ll probably mess about with some sprite based games before heading towards 3D stuff.
So, any ideas for games?
BTW iDeaS is an emulator for the DS.
Also I’ve got a Game Boy emulator on my DS no so I can play old school games such as one of my favourite games of all time:

In other news:
E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo) looks interesting so far, Revolution (I refuse to use its new name) games look pretty neat, if, like the XBox 360, it has a VGA converter cable I may even have to get one for myself.
NWN2 trailer i out, just a pre-rendered cinematic though, looks rather different to the in-game graphics I’ve seen click this site.

The Bunkhouse

This past weekend I have been down in the Breacons (South Wales) on our annual family friend get together. We meet up with a load of my parent’s friends from CUYHA (Cambridge University Youth Hostel Association), which most of the people they have kept in contact since university were members of. So for the past 11 years a bunkhouse (a building with some beds and cooking facilities) has been rented and everyone has bundled in for a weekend of walking, playing football badly, pontoon (that looks odd when you write it out) and reminicing. Rather dissapointingly this year there were no actual games of pontoon and only one game of football, despite the great pitch we had (meaning it was roughly flat and reasonably sized) click now.
I also did two twenty mile walks in preperation for the hundred mile walk I’m planning to do at the end of the month. My dad did the marshals walk for the 100 (about a month prior to the actual walk a few of the better walkers go round to check the route description is accurate and it isn’t too too hard) and said it was one of the easiest walks he’d ever done. While this sounds promising he also said that there was a lot of walking along roads which doesn’t appeal to me a lot, walking along a road after 20 miles is bad enough let alone 5 miles after 80 miles of walking.

In other news I will also be finishing my job as a spy at the end of the month and I am planning to head to Canada for a couple of months after I go to Holyrood Palace to get my Duke of Edinburgh’s award on the 6th July.

GIMPing around

It may seem like cheating a bit to pretty much copy/paste a tutorial I wrote for another site on a wave thing I made using GIMP (google people, don’t be too scared of the results), although the end result isn’t as good as I missed out several of the tweaks I did.
Anyhow, have a shot, just for sniggles and gits

Note that this is a tutorial for GIMP so you may have trouble following it with Photoshop or any other image editor. And images that are too small to read you can right click and view image for a larger version. Anyhow, here you go:

I followed this tutorial for a while, but changed several things to get this:

However I have forgotten how I made that and annoyingly the product I got while making this tutorial doesn’t look anything like so good but it should be possible to make it look not too bad with a few adjustments.
Hope you enjoy it.

Note I used a 1024×768 canvas but I have scaled the images down.


First use Filters>Render>Solid Noise…:

You may want to then adjust the contrast a bit, depending on what your image is looking like, here is what I used:

Then use Filters>Light Effects>Lighting Effects…

(all options not shown are at their default values)
Giving something like this:

Because of the way the clouds rendered mine is upside down so I reflected it both ways to get it where I wanted:


Make a new layer on top of that one and use Filters>Render:Solid Noise… again:

Then Filters>Distorts>Wind…:

Giving this:

Twirl it using Filters>Distorts>Whirl and Pinch…

You should get something that looks vaugely like a wave:

Use Paths or the lasso tool and clear a wave shape:

At this point duplicate the layer.
Using the top layer colourise the image (Layer>Colours>Colourise…):

Then you are ready to use Filters>Light Effects>Lighting Effects… again, make sure you enable bump mapping and that it bump maps with the current layer:

Your wave should look nice and shiny:

Copy the Background layer (the sky) and place it between the coloured wave andthe grey one, then set the Mode of each layer like below:

Right click on the top sky layer (the one set to Overlay) and click Merge Down:

Then Merge the top layer down (so you only have one Wave layer)

Use the Eraser on the tip of the wave with some grunge brush, you may want to smudge it a little too:

Then create a New layer and use a grunge brush to paint some spray on the crest of the wave (I found that a reasonably light grey worked better than white):


You’ll probably want to get this in the right position for the lighting of your wave, thats why we’ve left it ’til last, anyway use Filters>Light Effects>GFlare… to get a good sun:

You’re done and with any luck you should have something looking considerably better than this:

Just for Jezi

I thought I’d post the original Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy game:

Moved here to save on load time.

Au Revoir

Well I failed to post again on Monday and I’m afraid this post will also be a little short.

I’m going off to France Skiing for 9 days this afternoon (something like 15 hour train journey from Leuchars, to London, through the tunnel and across France to Val Thorens. I’m not sure whether there will be any internet access there although I do have my trusty Backtrack Live CD to crack into any wireless networks that may be floating about.

The skiing will hopefully be good, I need to try out my snow-blades more, although for the majority of the time I will be on skis. I’ve not been there before so I hope the snow is still decent.

For anyone who is interested I’ve been developing that graphy thing, it is now here (moved from my normal webspace to somewhere that can handle with php). You can now upload a .obj file (can be saved from most 3d modelling programs) and view it in wire frame, sudo-render or a combination of the two.

Well until Mondey after next Au Revoir

Too Much time on my hands….

That was Keir’s comment when I showed him something I had been working on over the last week. Inspired by <a href="http://www crestor”>Canvascape by Benjamin Joffe I have had a go at deeloping a 3d graph plotter using Javascript and the new canvas tags. It is in no way finished but you can look at what I’ve done here. Currently you have to move the graph about using the boxes below (note that instead of clicking loads you can click once and then hold down enter), I am currently working on mouse support. Then I’ll probably have a look at rendering surfaces.
You also need to have a browser which supports the canvas tags (currently Firefox 1.5, Opera 9 and Safari 1.3 I believe)
This is also vaugely related to some work my mum is doing on e-learning but I’m not sure whether it will get used or not.
Oh, and apparently theres some javascript you can’t put on you blog.

In other news: I went for a nice walk at the weekend, 23 miles up and down hills in the North of England in the snow.